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Polish Patriotism after 1989

Concepts, Debates, Identities

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Dorota Szeligowska

This book analyses the concept of patriotism and the contestation over its meaning in key public debates in Poland over the last twenty-five years. It focuses on the strategies used to define, re-shape and «bend» the notion of patriotism, which during this period has become a central issue in Polish political discourse. Contemporary Polish society is characterized by a growing polarization of the public sphere. Rivalry between former communists and former dissidents has been progressively replaced by internal opposition within the ranks of once-dissident allies, now divided into civic-minded «critical» patriots and nationalist-oriented «traditional» patriots. This division re-emerges regularly during key moments in Polish public life – most recently in the aftermath of the highly contested 2015 parliamentary elections. By tracing the evolution of the debate over patriotism since 1989, this book provides crucial insights into the current political situation.
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Chapter 4: Progressive Polarization of the Contestation over the Modern Form of Patriotism

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CHAPTER 4

Progressive Polarization of the Contestation over the Modern Form of Patriotism

The previous chapter focused on three discussions between intellectuals that occurred during the first decade of the democratic transition and which fostered the re-definition of key political concepts, such as fatherland, patriotism and nationalism, and the recovery of their meaning after years of communist manipulation. I have shown how these discussions concerning the form of the new regime and the heritage of the former regime signalled the emerging opposition between liberal and conservative positions, but remained open in nature.

This situation was to change progressively, following the emergence of a new strong intellectual conservative circle and the growing impact it was to have both on the nature of public debates and on politics. The importance of this circle will be exemplified in this chapter by an analysis of two ‘discursive events’ that fostered the contestation over the concept of patriotism: one that took place in 2000 and the other one between 2005 and 2007.

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