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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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II. Historical Contexts of the LPR Discourse

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The genre of the nationalist discourse, to which the discriminatory discourse of the LPR belongs, requires orientation with the “deep” common knowledge stocked in the lifeworld. This chapter presents such common knowledge em- bedded in Polish culture to offer the most relevant cultural-historical contexts to the analysis of the Polish nationalist discourse. Following a brief introduction of the susceptibility of culture to ideology (including nationalism), the national “cultural resources” that are crucial to the Polish political discourse will be in- troduced. The selected resources are the following three “traditions” of Polish patriotism: 1) the attachment to the “national will” = “collective sovereignty” held by the early-modern Polish gentry; 2) the loyalty to the “national idea = ideal” and its “other/stranger” crystallized in the literary works of Romanticism; and 3) the National-Democratic concept of “national interests” that justify the exclusion of the political “other/stranger” from the Polish nation. The first section shows the peculiarity of the concept of “sovereignty” in Polish culture. Differing from the sovereignty possessed by a single person in early modern European polities, the Polish sovereignty signifies the collective “national will” endowed to a social group of the gentry. Contrary to the reputa- tion of golden liberty, the “collective” sovereignty is a cultural resource, which possibly functions to impose the unanimous “will” on the imagined Polish na- tion. The second section presents a set of “ideological fantasies” regarding “oth- ers/strangers,” created vis-à-vis the “national idea = ideal” in the period of Ro- manticism. The fantasies are represented by: 1) the...

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