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Discrimination for the Sake of the Nation

The Discourse of the League of Polish Families against «Others» 2001-2007

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Yasuko Shibata

This book examines the intertwined relationship between contemporary Polish politics and national culture by focusing on the phenomenon of discrimination. The object of the analysis is the language of the League of Polish Families, a populist party that recreated the climate of pre-war National Democracy in Poland from 2001 to 2007 by negatively labeling the nation’s Others. Through the political party’s discourse of discrimination, the book grasps a peculiar moment of Poland that faced uncertainty of identity upon its accession to the European Union. By adopting a method of critical discourse analysis, the author attests to the party’s political use of different layers of national traditions in denigrating Jews, sexual minorities and feminists while sanctifying the Polish nation.

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Introduction

Extract

In March 1999, during a lesson at the Music Academy in Warsaw, an engaged reaction of the professor to my prepared piece of Frédéric Chopin surprised me, a high school student visiting the country for the first time. The acute tone of the Polish pianist in the remark that “you have not understood” a crucial point of his music contrasted with her kind critique that I had an innate sense for performing a Mozart sonata and Ravel’s Jeux d’eau. Though having tried dearly to absorb the tradition cherished in the composer’s birthplace, after the lesson, I held an unusual doubt if “I had understood” the crucial point, i.e. the “Polishness” pre- sumably reserved only for Poles. A six-day trip thus ended with such a sense of incompleteness. In choosing to remain an amateur, the problem of the “proper” meaning of Chopin was left unsolved in my mind for some years. I can say that during a ritual wandering in a library in Tokyo at the end of my college time, it was the remaining sense of confusion about the Romantic music that had led me to pick up an English title on Polish nationalism, and later, made me decide to begin my own study on this phenomenon – in Poland itself. The gap between such an episode and my academic focus on the League of Polish Families, a radical rightist party of contemporary Poland, is not huge. The problem of Polishness that captured an outsider’s mind continues to circulate...

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