Concepts, Debates, Identities
Chapter 5: The Development of ‘Critical Patriotism’ within Debates About Polish–Jewish Relations
Chapter 5 The Development of ‘Critical Patriotism’ within Debates About Polish–Jewish Relations The previous chapter has shown how the emergence of a consolidated conservative intellectual circle had a structuring impact on the discursive field of contestation of patriotism. The consolidation of the conservative mind-set and its transposition onto the political sphere in the context of the conservative government of the PiS contributed to a progressive polarization of the public sphere on the whole. This chapter will focus on the concept of ‘critical patriotism,’ coined by the conservative intellectuals to denigrate the critical approach to national history. The concept of ‘critical patriotism’ will be set in the context of three formative texts published in the 1980s that according to the conservatives were its alleged inspiration. The analysis will focus on the evolution of public debates following the publication of three books by Jan Tomasz Gross about Polish–Jewish relations (Sąsiedzi, 2000, Strach, 2008, and Złote żniwa, 2011). I will demonstrate the transformation of the nature of the contestation, which in the beginning of the 2000s was much more open and deliberative, and became increasingly polarized in the second half of the decade. While critical introspection into historical memory is incompatible with the conservative mind-set, it has liberal and left-wing proponents who consider it ‘mature,’ and consequently intend to re-label ‘critical’ patriotism as ‘mature’ patriotism. The subject and the nature of the Jedwabne debate1 in 2000/2001 pro- voked a number of commentators to liken it to the...
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