The Future of Polish Nationalism: A Slippery Slope

In the third and final instalment of a Warrior News series on Polish Nationalism, Natalia Sosna looks at the future of nationalism at home and abroad.

Over the past year, the idea of Polish nationalism has developed a very negative connotation, becoming just another insult used against the current Polish government party, along with adjectives like “xenophobic” and “racist.”

Downtown Warsaw as seen from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Natalia Sosna.

“It is not a surprise. It is a very polish way, to be honest. (…) We as a nation, (…) are incapable of compromising ideas and making alliances. We have always had a problem with that,” says Adam Gąsiejewski, a 9th grade history teacher at ASW.

In an attempt to justify its actions, the current Polish government disguises itself as a defender of Poland’s patriotism. However, this patriotism has begun to morph into a matter of what some might call extreme and distorted nationalism, which sparked racist and xenophobic outlooks among right-wing supporters.

An example of this is the march on November 11th, Polish Independence Day, a time to celebrate breaking free from the shackles of living under occupation for hundreds of years and becoming an independent nation. This year’s march became a celebration of the past, as streets are filled with raging protesters,shouting profanities against refugees and branding this racism as “expressing patriotism.” As it is evident, the right-wing propaganda has created a “new and improved” Poland that manages to justify hate speech and narrow-minded thinking.

This includes turning away from the European Union’s centralism and multi-cultural perspective. While happily accepting any financial support, Poland has recently dissociated itself from Brussels. Due to the propaganda, many Poles are feeling that the EU is “robbing them of their dignity,” according to Polish writer Inga Iwasiow, and is only constricting Poland with “limitations, problems and moral relativism.”

Throughout history, the inferiority complex has always been a factor that has affected Polish people, leaving a nasty scar in the Polish hearts to this day. According to Mr. Gąsiejewski, “The ruling party has identified the soft points in the Polish soul and are pressing these soft points really effectively. They use fear to control people. And yes, the ruling party is using nationalism to their benefit.”

With these international and external relations, nationalistic government, and easily manipulated conservative majority in Poland, what could the future have in store? How could this affect our international community in the future? The answer remains unclear, just as the actions of the PiS political party remain unpredictable.

Evidently, these strained relations have guaranteed that the road to harmonization and full democracy in the EU is still a long one. In a worst case scenario, if Poland continues to isolate itself, there is the possibility of cutting ties with the EU completely. This scenario is definitely a scary one for some, but it is a reality that is becoming more and more likely by the minute.

“It is happening. And it is not only with the EU, but with the whole world,” Mr. Gąsiejewski states.

As part of an international school here in Warsaw, many high school students have also expressed their concern for the future of Poland. Some look out into the future in distress, fearing that xenophobic outlooks among right-wing supporters will create a less friendly environment for our international community.

“It worries me. I definitely feel like the current actions of the polish government could create…an unfriendly environment…for people from different countries.” says Lilliana S., a highschool student.

On a more positive note, many people have voiced their concerns and disagreement in response to Polish government action. This includes not only Polish residents and politicians, but even representatives of other countries in the EU as well as worldwide. Despite these offers to help Poland get back on track, nationalists interpret this as further oppression.

“This insane policy is being presented by the ruling party as this patriotic movement of going back to ‘pride Poland.’ Yes, we might be proud, but we are on our own. And when we are on our own, we don’t mean anything,” Mr. Gąsiejewski insists.

Thus, despite the PiS intense propaganda with their nationalistic actions, many people have seen straight through this facade. This undeniably gives us hope for a different future. One that can embrace both true patriotism and our identity within an international community.

“I am hopeful that the younger generation will be more open to the world and less infused with this idea of  Poland focusing on the national disasters and failures,” Mr. Gąsiejewski concluded.

 

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