Saturday, February 17, 2007

The gibberish of Maciej Giertych


Take a deep breath and come with me as we delve into a mind stuck in the 1930s.

‘Jews form ghettoes’….’they settle in our civilizations, preferably among the rich…’

That’s one of the classic lines in a just released ‘scholarly pamphlet’ you can be sure will be on all Polish school students’ reading lists, any time soon. His son is the present education minister, Roman Giertych, and the magnificent piece of scholarship is LPR Member of the European Parliament Maciej’s rambling ruminations on Civilizations at war in Europe.

I just read the whole thing. It’s…..er...

Maciej Giertych goes neo-con?

No, no, no. This tract is not the product of the pre-Iraq war neo-conservative ‘battle of civilizations’, but back, way back to the 1930s, to nationalist politics frozen in time from 1945 - 1989, now seen staggering around Poland like a man recovering from long Soviet years of frozen animation, into the blinding light of post-Communist Poland.

That was a long sentence, wasn’t it?

Civilizations at war in Europe is based on what Giertych believes was a truly marvelous writer, odd-ball Polish historian Feliks Koneczny, the founder of the so-called ‘comparative science of civilizations’, who died in 1949. It takes in garbled sociology, tongue-tied linguistics, and a bit of 1930s race biology is thrown in for good measure.

Giertych on race
Civilization is a strong marriage barrier. People normally look for a spouse from the same [culture] as their own. They expect to share civilizational norms with the spouse. As a result the covilizational barrier becomes a biological one. In biology animals and humans develop as a consequence of isolation.

In the introductionary passage he seems to use the concept ‘human race’ and the differences between races of animals, synonymously. Whites, Arabs and Africans are, for Giertych, like the biological variations between wild cats and domestic cats.

That’s something mainstream biology gave up decades ago when categorizing humans. Human races – in the plural – is not a biological concept, but a social one.

But no matter, Giertych is not using race to explain the growth of societies – at least not in this essay. Civilizations are not formed from races, he says but from culture.
.
Giertych on Civilization

He says in the ‘method’ section that the categorization of cultures:

’…will be used hierarchically. Thus within the Latin civilization there are such cultures as British, Spanish, Polish and others. Within the Jewish [civilization] one can find Sephardic, the Hassidim, the Karaim and other cultures.”

Note ‘hierarchically’… But which civilization is on top, we wonder, breathlessly?

He spends rather a long time on trying to demonstrate certain defects in writing expressed in other than the Latin script. He claims that Chinese pictorial writing inhibits abstract thought [?] and that written Hebrew, because it expresses no consonants, leaves ambiguity in meaning[!].

Arabic script, though, is good, because you can scribble it quickly[!!].

Latin civilization (and he uses civilization and culture interchangeably) is the most enduring and successful [shock!] only spoiled if it comes under pressure and does not defend itself from either the outside (historically Byzantine and Turanian cultures, - meaning basically Russia and Germany) or from Jews from within.

It’s a Rip van Winkle world view in a 1930s rain coat. And there is a hole in his sock.

Giertych has a coded go at Law and Justice.

He fights his long dead 1930s nationalist dad’s battles for him, saying that Pilsudski-ites, followers of Marshall Jozef Pilsudski – and arch enemy of Giertych’s nationalist idol Roman Dmowski - were characteristic of the Russian and German cultures, in their preferred political system of a strong leader, leaving decision making to the higher-ups. That’s why they went along, as the Dmowski nationalists did not, with the Pilsudski led coup of 1926.

It’s a historical reference with a contemporary inference: the present Law and Justice led coalition government – of which Giertych’s League of Polish Families is part – consider themselves ‘Pilsudski-ites’.

Giertych’s whole view of today is informed by the nationalist struggles of the past. By bringing up Pilsudski as some kind of example of how Byzantine strong leader culture had infiltrated Poland’s ‘Latin’ culture, he is back fighting the inter-war struggle between the nationalist Endecja movement and the Sanacja government, filled with Pilsudski-ites.

Come on Maciej, isn’t it time to move on, old boy?

Giertych on Jews

Jews are not a race. So, logically, he says, almost proudly, “It’s a mistake to think that anti-Semitism is racism”.

Er….

“We [Poles] consider the Jewish people today as a tragic community, a people that has not recognized the time of its visitation,’ he says.

The real problem with these people, writes Giertych, is that they are still waiting for the messiah, when everyone knows he turned up 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. Jews have suffered for this religious blindness ever since.

The cultures that recognized Christ flourished, but the Jews did not, and:

‘…became wanderers, jealously nurturing their Chosenness, this messianic consciousness, which gives a defining mark to their [culture].'

The essay really starts to pick up speed now, and it all just comes tumbling out.

On intercultural relations

Cultures – civilizations – must remain separate, otherwise they weaken.

This is why a Jew cannot be a Pole. Neither can Gypsies.

“Can a Gipsy become a Pole? Though [sharing the same language and religion] I think most Poles would tell you, and most Gypsies, that no, they cannot.’

After a brief detour into the Arabs (they are coming to get us, you know) he concludes:

‘…differentiate civilizations are mutually exclusive. Integration, middle ground, the ‘melting pot’ are not possible.'....The war between civilizations will be fought in the schools. Who will have the greatest influence on the minds of the young? Who will education our children?

He then makes a little detour back, way back, into his family’s past, to a golden age when men were men and women did what they were told. He bizarrely accuses the work of Polish Nobel prize winning author Wladyslaw Reymont of exhibiting un-Polish, un-Latin, elements.

‘In 1925 my grandfather forbade my mother of a standard text in her school, Chlopi, by Wladyslaw Reymont, because he considered it had immodest content. The whole class read it, but my mother did not…she never did read the book.

Which European school today would respect such a wish….?'

Giertych’s essay is a hymn to the ‘Latin culture’ and how it should defend itself against the invasion of other cultures; divorce, homosexuality, abortion and the EU are all symptoms of this creeping occupation. Poles, with a higher sense of national identity, have a lot to teach other Europeans, if we are to won the war of civilizations.

and so it goes on...and on...It's a pamphlet that should not be put on the shelves of the national library, but the natural history museum, where it belongs.

Maciej Giertych’s diatribe to the dinosaurs, which, in its richness and modernity, and it’s breaking of intellectual barriers, will be poured over by scholars for years, is here. Do not read just before bedtime.

54 comments:

geez said...

I recall when Sophie's Choice came out that there were a lot of Polish folk saying how there were never guys around like Sophie's father. But Giertych sounds like he could have fit the bill.

Michael Farris said...

Now if he'd just changed' "Jew" to Muslim everywhere, he'd be able to get a gig a the AEI....

opamp said...

He bizarrely accuses the work of Polish Nobel prize winning author Wladyslaw Reymont of exhibiting un-Polish, un-Latin, elements.

By immodest he probably means the descriptions of sex in the book (I remember there is one at least).

Martin said...

Beatroot,

Don't you think the gentleman in the picture bear a strong physical resemblance to the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley?

Funny...

Michael Farris said...

I think that's a trick of the angle of the picture. This picture doesn't look so much like others I've seen of him (I've been fortunate enough to never meet him so I can't say what he looks like in person).

beatroot said...

I think martin's 'angle' comes from him like me having to listen to Dr Paisley all his adult life, and indeed they come from the same generation, and indeed are both stuck in the 1930s. The photo is taken from the perspective of the 1930s...that's the similarity.

Kuba said...

More than one sexual scene (quite blurry) it is about an on going extra marital affair. and as we know Chlopi (Peasants) are good-naturedly patriotic and healthy Catholic. The simply can't have extra-marital affairs!

~JS said...

poland sure honors jews in a significant way -- take the mother of jesus, mary, and of course jesus himself...

poland needs to return to the memory of when jews were enriching polish culture...before wwii, the memories must not start from the shoah for people, but from the days of co-existence, this is the key to re-building what poland lost...and could have...

beatroot said...

Every report is concentrating on the anti-Semite bit, although this is hardly going to come as a surprise to many.

Why I put up the post as I did was to point out that the guy is a fossil, taking his ideas from out dated pseudo scientists on ideas such as race, linguistics, culture and a whole host of different things. Let’s not just limit the discussion to Giertych and his well known ideas about Jews. The guy has much wider prejudices than that.

nemeczek said...

There is nothing incorrect in Giertych's take on our inner racism in selecting our lifelong partners. We, as humans, are in this respect ultra racist. If this were not the case, we would not have distinct races anymore (and this very fact would have rendered racism obsolete). Of course interracial relationships, marriages, etc. do happen but, because they are so uncommon, they hardly make a dent in the grand scale of things.

steppx said...

Well, whats astounding is that this man has ANY credibility....or for that matter his son. Its a really good post, Beat. Depressing, too.

Racist in the extreme, xenophobic, and basically bigoted and reactionary. Great...send him to the EU.

Anonymous said...

Just catching up on all this now ... great post Beat. I will turn to this blog when I need a fix of Poland. I spent two months travelling all through the country last year and struggled with it .... and ultimately fell in love with it.
(You sound like a Northern Irish fag Catholic - or am I just fantasising? Even if you aren't, I still love you.)

Lili x

beatroot said...

Not fag nor catholic but the NI bit is right. My mum was actually church of Ireland, who thought that Paisley was a rabble rouser, trouble maker and a general bigot. She was a protestant who thought Paisley was the main problem – not the catholics.

Anonymous said...

Maciej Giertych is A GREAT MAN!
HE DARES TO SAY THE TRUTH!

beatroot said...

Go on then...why is Maciej telling the truth and why so great. About what? Try and make an argument and not just screaming ....

beinghad said...

Perhaps a better question, would one want to be a Pole? I wonder how Jan Gross would see this pamphlet. For me, and I know I am stereotyping, I just think it is par for the course. You asked the question months ago whether or not anti-Semitism was a part of the Polish mindset. To me, this is not an isolated old man, I think he represents a line of thinking that is very much going on, not only in Poland, but in many places around the world in connection to Anti-Americanism in the Middle East. And none of this is new either. Benjamin Disraeli was a racist. And so are orthodox Jews, I would imagine. Perhaps the problem is not whether or not there is racism, but rather how to allow for cross cultural communication without violence.

~JS said...

maybe he should get together with louis farrakhan -- a case of "my enemy's enemy" teaming up for a speaking tour...it could unite catholics and muslims!

beatroot said...

The point about endecja, sanacja, Piksudski, Dmowski is that you see how much relevance, sadly, 1930s politics has on Polish politics today. Parts of the culture couldn’t move on under communism. It was isolated from the outside world. And then the can of worms opened. Poland has a lot of catching up to do.

sonia said...

Actually, your description (perhaps unintentionally) reveals Giertych's text as far more progressive and 'left-wing' than you realize:

1. Giertych denounces Pilsudski, a dictator who forcibly overthrew a democratically-elected government.

2. By claiming that 'cultures that recognized Christ flourished, but the Jews did not', Giertych DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS the 2,000-old tradition of anti-semitism that always claimed that Jews prospered on the backs of Christians...

3. By praising the banning of politically-incorrect books from schools, Giertych is in the same league as American leftists who want to ban Huckelberry Finn because it contains the word 'nigger'...

dorota said...

As I've learned studying Molecular Biology and Genetics, from a genetic standpoint, "race" does not exist. Sure, there are many different polymorphisms across geographical regions, but there are no distinct genetic boundaries. I was surprised to see that people are still using the word "race."

beatroot said...

i think you make good points.

Giertych denounces Pilsudski, a dictator who forcibly overthrew a democratically-elected government

It is amazing how readily Poles explain away that.

But…if Dmowski-ites were dominant then Poland would look like what Giertych has in his mind. Not pleasant.

By claiming that 'cultures that recognized Christ flourished, but the Jews did not', Giertych DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS the 2,000-old tradition of anti-semitism that always claimed that Jews prospered on the backs of Christians...

again, true – but what he is saying is that Jewish culture was somehow defective in the first place

Progressive?


I completely agree about the point about the censorious left.

beatroot said...

Exactly Dorota. What's weirder is that the guy is a biologist.

nemeczek said...

"from a genetic standpoint, "race" does not exist"

From the genetic standpoint Hitler is 99.9% (or even 99.99% if he spoke Albanian) Mother Theresa (and vice versa). Race is as real as Fat Thursday's donuts. Is Giertych a polymorphist, too?

Michael Farris said...

"how much relevance, sadly, 1930s politics has on Polish politics today. Parts of the culture couldn’t move on under communism"

And parts of it can't move on _from_ communism either. Instead they want to undo everything that happened then (unless it benefitted them somehow) or refuse to acknowledge its existence (except as a club to beat opponents over the head with).
The reason 30's politics are important aren't that communism 'blocked' some kind of natural development but that they don't like what's happened since and the scope of the history they want to erase keeps expanding. The whole concept of the IV Republic is puerile nonsense, the political equivalent of slash fiction.

The overall system of 1945-89 may have been (mostly) imposed from outside but over 90% of what Poland was in those years was what Polish people made of it.
I think the communist period has to be integrated into Polish history as a (mostly) Polish phenomenon and not glossed over.

Michael Farris said...

The extent to which 'race' exists in biological terms is a function of the geographical distribution of phenotype markers and the tendency for most people to mate with those in the immediate physical or social environment.

If you walk from Poland to China (theoretically possible) you don't see sudden or abrupt changes in phenotypes (except in the cases of politically managed borders). What you have are changing distributions of variation.

Within the European context the desertification of NAfrica also appeared to create a larger 'racial' gap between subsaharan WAFricans and NAfrican Berber Maghrebi Arab populations than really existed. In reality there are/were minority groups that combined and mixed phenotypical features in ways similar to those in Ethiopia and Somalia so that the difference between Ghanians and Spaniards belong to locations on a spectrum rather than discrete categories.

BPG said...

Giertych seems to be stuck in the past - but the past (as his son career and his own election to EU oarliament shows)does cast a shadow over many people. Is antisemitism a part of Polish psyche? Of course. Over 700 years of uneasy coexistence does not evaporates into thin air. But there is so many other positive examples.For every old angry Giertych there is an old nobel Bartoszewski. I would rather concentrate on the positive. A good example goes a long way. And for almost every citizen of Poland of Jewish ethnicity who survived the II WW there is a heroic (and heroic in truly bilical proportions) story od Polish citizen of Polish ethnicity who risked his/her life and that of his/her family. And many times he/she paid that horrific price. Thanks God other nations in Europe did not have to go through the same agonizing choices.
As for the old teories of racial/cultural segregations? These should be foght at every turn as the most demonic of all. There is but only one human race. There are many shades, colours and differences in there - but not truly racial. Not biologically speaking, anyhow. And thanks God Almighty for it. Can you imagine if the Earth was populated by a race called "Giertych"? We all wold be lining up for immigration papers to Mars in search of sanity.

bpg said...

as the link to my site (in case someone wants to visit) did not appear correctly here is the right one: http://uk.360.yahoo.com/strumien
good blogging beatroot, bravo. Why "burak"- pun?

beatroot said...

Pun

geez said...

MH: "I think the communist period has to be integrated into Polish history as a (mostly) Polish phenomenon and not glossed over."
___

Mike, I always read your posts and am usually really impressed with your insights into Polish politics and society. But your observation above is simply horseshit (actually, horseshit is more useful).

I mean you can certainly insist that to understand the complexities of the communist period in Poland, it's necessary to consider a uniquely Polish brand of communism.

But bottom line, the system was imposed from the outside. Of course, people make what they can of a bad situation. But that doesn't alter that the system was imposed. What was in Poland post WWII was 90% the Poles own making? Sorry, that flies in the face of reality.

geez said...

bpg wrote: "I would rather concentrate on the positive."
___

Put forward the many positives to establish a good example, yes. But let's not gloss over or ignore the many negatives, either. Let's not use the negatives, however, to indict the whole of Polish society forever and for evermore. That's happened and continues to happen far, far too often. Nore should we so concentrate entirely on the positives lending to a filiopietistic view of history, much like that of the Giertychs and les Dux.

Michael Farris said...

"I mean you can certainly insist that to understand the complexities of the communist period in Poland, it's necessary to consider a uniquely Polish brand of communism."

Yeah, that's what I mean. I think it's stupid and counter-productive to act like everything that happened in that period was imposed. The broad outlines of the system were imposed, yes. What Polish people did with that was their choice.

And let's face it, it's not like Poland is free from imposition from outside today. The degree of imposition is far, far less of course, but the Polish government is not and will probably never be free to do just as it pleases.

In the final analysis I'm not big on scapegoats or rewriting (or trying to erase) history. Too many people try to blame anything wrong with Poland on the communists (or WWII or some other real or imagined corrupting or destructive force). Sorry, I'm not buying.
Well over 90% of anything wrong with Poland (which isn't in nearly as bad a shape as some people seem to think) is the direct result of choices that Polish people have made on their own.

Take Maciej Giertych, please!
It's not the communists' fault that he's a fan of discredited, corrupt and evil philosophies. Those are choices he's made. And he's spent enough time of his life outside of Poland presumably exposed to alternate philosophies that I'm not willing to cut him any slack whatsoever for his loathesome ideologies by spreading the responsibility for them around.

Albert said...

Well said Mike! This way of thinking is not much different from the Germans trying to make the Nazi movement sound like something marginal and quite foreign to the well meaning, gentle majority of the German society. There is a DSM for that fellows: it's called schizophrenia! The polish communists are still Polish as much as some people would like to deny it.

Mike is right on the second point as well: All Soviet block countries had their own brand of communism. Poland was no exception.

geez said...

Communism was/is quite foreign to the vast majority of Poles.

And I certainly don't agree that 90% of what is wrong with Poland is the direct result of choices that Polish people have made on their own. Would you deny current day problems caused by the legacy of slavery? Why deny the lasting impact of the legacy of communism?

Michael Farris said...

"Would you deny current day problems caused by the legacy of slavery? Why deny the lasting impact of the legacy of communism?"

The "legacy" of slavery in the US is the sum total of the conscious and unconscious choices of Americans during and after slavery.
I'm not interested in making excuses for latter day racists and segregationists by blaming their cretinous attitudes on "the legacy of slavery".
As the group with the greatest power I tend to blame whites more for continuing racism in the US but blacks as a group are certainly not blameless in this regard either.

Communism in Poland (like communism in other countries in the region) interacted with local cultures in various ways, most (though not all) of which were pretty bad.

But blaming current problems on "the legacy of communism" is treating Polish people like children incapable of making decisions for themselves. It denies them their own moral agency and feeds into the least attractive cultural trait of Central and Eastern Europe - the continuing desire for scapegoats to blame one's problems on.

BPG said...

What is the most positive of this blog (on this subject anyway) is that it allows for an iteligent discours.
Nothing is easy in looking for answers in the past. History rarely is objective. You could prove and dissprove many points using the same historical data. It is the genuine desire to find truth, not an excuse for wrong actions that is healthy in historical analogies. Maybe there never was that many Polish communists - but there were quite a few Polish colaborants in the Soviet aparatus of oppresion in Poland. Maybe there was never that many Polish fascists - but there were those who murdered antyfascist Poles serving in AK (Home Army) and civilian Underground during the II WW (the murderers were often themselves in AK to infiltrate the political movements in Underground). That should never be forgotten. You do accept it from invaders (being Geman or Russians)- but not from compatriots.What we should be proud of that there was never Polish Quisling or Petain or that Slovak priest who was Prime Minister of the Slovakian Protectorate.
People like Giertych and that monk or priest from Radio Maryja(is it Rydzek the name?)have no right to pretend to carry out the work of Dmowski or Pilsudski. They are not their ideological children, not even bastards. In Polish you would call them at the most podrzutki (random imposters?).

beatroot said...

Why deny the lasting impact of the legacy of communism?

And of course, this is the nub of many a debate in Poland.

It would be silly to deny that there is something called ‘culture’ and that culture gets reproduced by new generations – that’s how societies have a ‘culture’ in the first place. In Poland’s case, cultural practices built up during communist times still get reproduced today.

So people are the transmitters of culture. But they are also free autonomous individuals, who make choices.

So when I look at two people are work, the same age: one honest hard working, the other a petty corrupt little shit, I wonder why one turned out the way he did and why one turned out the way she did.

One of them obviously has escaped the past quicker than the other.

So, although we are dealt cards by our culture that we did not pick, the way we use that hand of cards is up to us.

It’s a ….conundrum.

Michael Farris said...

Culture (when used by some, at least me) is only a group phenomenon. Individuals don't have cultures, they have personality, individuality, whatever you want to call it.
This is why I'm not a cultural determinist, cultures may push individuals in certain directions but they never completely succeed with everybody.

Within any culture that's large enough you'll find the entire range of human behaviors as these are determined at the individual level. But compare cultures and the percentages of people behaving one way or another change.

To take a trivial example. A study between Chinese and Americans on work preferences (do people prefer to work on their own or in a group). Both research groups had members that preferred each, but while abot 90 % of Americans prefer to go solo, about 90 % of Chinese preferred working in groups.

beatroot said...

Of course, culture is a group phenomenon - and we both reproduce it and change it at the same time - which is not a determinist position.

But when individuals make choices they do so in circumstamces not of their own choosing. So no indivisual act can be taken outside the context of the culture that it is situated.

It's not so easy to seperate out..

geez said...

This is actually one of my favorite theoretical debates, not only vis-a-vis Poland, but generally.

I will probably be unable to respond today though given that I'm going to be pretty busy with other things. But I hope folks continue the debate coz it seems to me to be at the crux of what is shaping and/or holding back Poland, somehow especially Poland, today.

beatroot said...

It’s an essential debate that I have never come to a conclusion about. It’s relevant to all the social sciences and history as well…I spent four years studying it (I was into theoretical sociology) and then I spent four years teaching it. And the more I did it the murkier it became.

But the next time someone says “Well, it’s their culture, innit?’ , they are wading into those murky waters.

europejczyk said...

I feel everybody who wants to learn about the roots of the political philosophy of today's Polish ruling classes MUST read Maciej Giertych's booklet. The alleged superiority of the "Latin" - think: Polish - national culture above the cultures of Polands "eternal enemies" - Germans and Russians from outside, Jews from inside - and the concept of an eternal struggle for dominance - who doesn't hear an echo of Carl Schmitt? - doesn't guide only Giertych's own fringe political party LPR (Polish Families League), but is also fundamental for the belligerent ideology of the ruling PiS (Law and Justice) party. At the moment, access to Giertych's booklet is not easy. It can no more be downloaded from his Web site. But luckily other antisemites provide us with the full text. I went to "National Vanguard" and found a link there.

What Giertych writes about Jews and Judaism is - pardon - sheer nonsense. It only demonstrates that he hasn't got the slightest idea of the matter. As an example may serve what he writes about language. According to Giertych, Jews do not write "consonants" (he states it twice) and therefore their language is "ambiguous." (Read: the Jew has an innate tendency to cheating). Fact is that Hebrew omits most of the vowels - not all - in writing, but never a consonant. The reason is that the Hebrew language - in contrast to let's say German or Hungarian - has very few vowels. Where unambiguity is necessary, however, diacritical signs ("neq'udot" in Hebrew) are used that unambiguously denote the vowels. (Exactly the same, btw, holds for Arabic writing, but went unnoticed by Giertych.) It is indeed not very easy to read a Hebrew text written without neq'udot, such as an article in an Israeli newspaper. One has to know the language quite well, particularly its grammar.

I don't want to comment on the nonsense Giertych writes about Judaism. Everybody who attended a basic course in Jewish Studies will be able to show this. Let me only, as an historian, comment on two topics about Christian religion. Giertych peddles the Polish national legend that there were no pyres in Poland, in contrast to the rest of Europe. Fact is that in Poland the pyres began burning when they had ceased to burn in the rest of Europe. Admittedly, the Poles did not burn people on pyres for witchcraft. But they did it on a massive scale (vide Norman Davies' History of Poland) for heresy.

The second point is the alleged religious tolerance of Catholicism, particularly in its Polish variety. Giertych points to the fact that, in 1400 odd, the Polish delegate at a Church convention demanded that the Teutonic Knights would no more try to convert Lithuanian "heathens" to christianity by the sword. From this time, so Giertych, Christian faith was no more spread by force. Maybe he's never heard about the forced conversions of Muslims and Jews in the aftermath of the Spanish reconquista, of the forced baptism of the indigenous population of that what today is America Latina, or the forced conversion to catholicism of Polish Protestants during the times of the counter-reformation or of Ukrainians in - at that time Polish - East Galicia even in the 1920s/1930s? The exponent of a party that always accuses its opponents and "enemies" - Germans, Jews, and Russians - of trying to "falsify history" should better keep his mouth shut instead of spreading easily refutable falsehoods.

tato said...

I run into these issues after recently having an experience with the small but troubling resurgence of the ND (for National Democratic) ideology in Poland. Most astounding is the degree to which the LPR and Radio Maryja have their roots planted in the XIX c. controversies!. One is the legacy of the Catholic church skirmishes with Disraeli and the British "liberals" of Queen Victoria. This history of the papal and aristocratic opposition to the free trade reforms was somehow resurected in a creation of a boogeyman composite of "Jews+Masons+Liberals".

What the heck all this XIX c. Western stuff would have to do with resurgence of the ND ideology in Poland?!. Well, this ideology has its roots in North-Western Poland which was controlled by Prussia. Prussian conquest and suppresion of Poles had a Protestant vs. Catholic dimmension. Some of those misguided if fervent small-town patriots from Western Poland looking for the enemies of the national cause easily found the "Jews+Masons+Liberals" as a convenient scapegoat. Did they come up with this by themselves or was it to some degree convenient for some factions in the Catholic Church?. Probably both. Afterall this skirmish made popes infallible.

Poles are no different from the rest of the world in their susceptibility to conspiratorial theories. For prussian subjects who experienced this "army with the state" first hand, it was easy to see that both Windsors and Romanovs had family ties with Hohenzollerns and Prussian aristocracy, that masonic influences were very strong and anticlerical, and that enlightened and welthier Jews had better access to the state apparatus than agrarian, catholic, restless indigeneous Poles. No wonder that some of their scarecrows took the shape of a "Jew/Mason/Liberal".

Coming from California it was especially hard for me to figure out who were those devious "liberals" so much despised by Giertych, Rydzyk and their clientelle. At first I thought that it is a problem of confused labels. After all a "liberal" in the US is a very different animal than in Europe. Curiously they see little difference and keep all liberals in the same shoebox.

Initially it seemed that the designation should be closer to that of a "libertarian". After all, much of the political buoyancy of these guys is based on a populist appeal to older and provincial groups suffering a double economic whammy of demise of totalitarian socializm, and of the open market economy. After the exhiliration of "sending Communism to the dustbin of history", their current poverty and marginalization is only exacerbated by utter incomprehensibility of the new and fluid system, which in itself is in flux of globalization. It is only natural for them to be easily persuaded that it must be a work of some "dark forces" conspiring for demise of all what is dear to them. "Liberals" is a code name, a negative label, even if it is not clear to whom it applies. It is a new "them". Or the "Illuminati". Yes, it includes "Jews-and-Masons". In current polish however, this "Jews-and-Masons" sounds very archaic, quiant and tragicomical. When an elderly of similar persuasion was complaining that the sour cream does not taste like it used to because all the good bacteria are dead, I quipped that probably "Jews-and-Masons" conspired to kill them. It brought a good laugh.

It is hard for people in the West to comprehend the degree to which the last two hundred years of struggle for national survival and identity still reverbates in the collective Polish psyche full of hang-ups and fobias. For me it was hard to realize that after the blowoff of Soviet Communism and reconciliation over the WWII, the ghosts of older history have renewed currency in darker corners of the country. Paradoxically, even the relatively large size of the population and territory does not help to soothe their insecurities. Different sectors of society have developed different concepts of imaginary and real enemies, and still argue with each other over their favorite fears, fobias, martyrologies, imaginary enemies, mutual betrials, etc..

So, LPR politicians with ND roots whipped this one up for the expediency of a known brand. Otherwise it would take forever to build the coherent image and costituency. They found an easy prey in a constituency which is really strugling. It also gives them an altruistic cover of "acting on behalf of the downtrodden" who vanguished the socialism just to fall under the foot of an uggly "international capitalist from EU". Sounds like a familiar code word?. Well, it depends how sensitive or oversensitive one's ear is. To people who see it as another resurgency of "polish antisemitism" it is probably a small consolation that it is "fear-and-inferiority-driven" as opposed to "superiority-driven" animus. Both are uggly, but the earlier one is a lot more defensive and transient. It is more likely to evaporate together with the feelings of victimhood.

Before we hold our noses over these dregs of political writings, let's remeber that this stuff appeals to a small and disappearing fringe of the Polish society. And that generation suffered mightily. There is plenty more of similar and more dangerous dregs in the Western political literature. Fascist, National Socialist and Communist writings in late XIX and early XXc. were flowering everywhere. Many followed rather sanctimonius motivations. Their current reverberations in politics also show up pretty much everywhere. Where in this spectrum should we place the "Neocon" prescriptions for a happy world?.

What is more insiduous - our politicians and merchants of power are as always eager to whip up our sense of victimhood and fear - in order to get from us a permission to play uggly games of control over us. "Us" on all sides, here and everywhere. Aren't we in a deep doodoo because a majority of an electorate of the premiere democracy fell for the same old shtick?. Nurture of victimhood is both demeaning and dangerous. it makes the proclamation of "never again" sound more like a threat than a solemn honest promise to future generations.

geez said...

Inuresin, Tato.

Let's not forget, too, that there were various more progressive populist traditions in each of the three partitions dating back to the mid-late nineteeth century.

In any event, the Rydzik supporters are indeed pretty much old ladies in mohair berets - yes a small and disappearing fringe as you put it.

But it seems that there are younger folks supporting the likes of the younger Giertych. How many, I don't really know.

Then too, I've always wondered how much tradition really plays into the collective psyche of a group of people who are plunged into a world of rapid change. For example, did a new way of life in America have more of an impact on shaping an early 20th century Polish immigrant's world view and actions than his/her old way of life in Poland? Ultimately, I'd say sure. But it takes time, different periods of time for different people to change. And not all change was/is good.

beatroot said...

Wow. Very high standard of comments.

Thing is though, has this kind of nonsense any chance of getting bigger than it already is? I doubt it – Maciej may still be living in the 1930s, but the rest of aren’t. That’s why we shouldn’t over react every time he comes with another loony pamphlet.

europejczyk said...

I'm afraid, beatroot, that there are more people in Poland than the "mohair berets," the audience of Radio Maryja, who share Maciej Giertych's views. There is e.g. Rafal Ziemkiewicz, a well-known columnist. He staunchly defends Giertych, equalling his booklet to Samuel Huntingtons study about the clashes of civilizations. His argument goes with "quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi": Huntington receives praise, since he is an American, Giertych is - metaphorically - bashed, because he is a Pole. Go to www.interia.pl, there to "felietony" and there to "Rafal Ziemkiewicz." And take a look into the hundreds of consenting readers'commentaries. Interia.pl's forumowicze are in their majority young people and no "mohair berets" at all.

Very typical for this discussion is that Ziemkiewicz accuses the Polish EU MPs who condemned Giertych's pamphlet of "acting against the interests of the Polish nation," of feeding anti-Polonism, etc., an opinion which falls on fertile soil in a country, where a manichaic PiS/LPR ideology - everybody plots against us, and the traitors are in our middle - has created a "laager" mentality in broad strata of society.

beatroot said...

I don’t think you can accuse the Pis leadership of going along with Giertych’s gibberish. Kaczynski did come out very clearly against what is it.

LPR have around 5% of the vote. And I don’t think anti-Semitism is growing here – it’s more that the can of worms has opened and they have come wriggling out..

Neither do I think that Giertych’s type of trash is difficult to refute by logical argument.

So I would encourage these types to keep coming out with this tripe…so much better to ridicule them with.

europejczyk said...

To beatroot:
Please read my post again: I did never say or even insinuate that Kaczynski goes along with Giertychs antisemitism. My point of view, however, is that the Kaczynskis (together with the LPR) fan a political climate of US vs. THEM in Poland, a "laager" mentality, in which accusations against Giertych's critics, such as those made by Ziemkiewicz, viz. that Giertych's critics behave anti-Polish, fall on fertile ground. IMO, Giertych already did quite a lot of damage to the image of Poland and the Poles in Europe, and that makes me angry about him.

I fully agree with you that Giertych's strange ideas, be it creationism, be it the superiority of the "Latin" (read: Polish) civilization over all the others in the world, are not difficult to refute by logical arguments. As a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian, I am against legal or administrative suppressive measures against Giertych, such as trying him in court under the Gayssot law. To paraphrase H.C. Andersen: I would rather expose him to the public, showing that "the Emperor is naked," than forbidding to look at him.

Lech Bajan said...

Just read Prof. Maciej Giertych entire booklet or book before you make any statements.
Please do not read some small incorrect reviuw and make you comments. Tell what is incorrect and provide research source which information in Prof. Maciej Giertych book is incorrect providing your source.

Maciej Giertych was born March 24, 1936 in Warsaw, to a notable politician of the National Democracy movement Jędrzej Giertych. In 1945 his family left Poland for Germany and finally settled in the United Kingdom. In 1954 Giertych passed his final school exams and entered Oxford University. He received the BA and MA in dendrology. Between 1958 and 1962 he studied at the University of Toronto, where he received his PhD for studies on tree physiology.

In 1962 Giertych returned to Poland, where he completed his qualifications for an assistant professorship at the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) in Kórnik near Poznań. In 1964 he married Antonina née Janik. In 1970 he received his Habilitation degree for his studies on forest genetics at the Agricultural University of Poznań. Since 1976 he has lectured at the Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń. He has also published more than 200 works and studies, mostly on forest-related topics. The same year he also became a member of the Forest Sciences Committee of the PAN.

In 1981 he received the grade of common professor.

This book is shortening of the famoust scientist of the turn of the 20th century.
Book is based on the teaching of Feliks
Koneczny, a Polish historian and philosopher, who developed his own school of thinking on civilisational differences. Feliks Karol Koneczny (b. November 1, 1862, Kraków - d.
Feliks Karol Koneczny (b. November 1, 1862, Kraków - d. February 10, 1949 Cracow) was a Polish historian and social philosopher. Founder of the original system of the comparative science of civilisations.

Feliks Karol Koneczny was a professor of history but it is primarily during his retirement years that he produced his most important historiosophical works.

Koneczny graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and began work as at the Jagiellonian Library. After Poland regained its independence, he became an assistant professor in 1919. In June 1920, after he had qualified received the degree of doctor habilitatus, he became a professor of the Stefan Batory University in Wilno. After having retired in 1929, he came back to Kraków.[1]


[edit] Works
His interests moved from purely historical research to the philosophy of history, religion and philosophy.[1] His pioneering works dealing with the history of Russia. Koneczny authored extensive monographs of Byzantine and Jewish civilisations, which he considered to be less developed than the Latin civilisation of catholic Europe. In 1948, after sixty years of research work Koneczny calculated that his written scholarly output encompassed 26 volumes, each of them being 300 to 400 pages long, not to mention more than 300 articles, brochures and reprints.
Almost all of his writings were in Polish and until now, only On the Plurality of Civilisations (Polonica Publications: London 1962) has been published in English. This book
has a lengthy introduction by Prof. Anton Hilckman from Mainz University,
Germany, a former student of Koneczny, who explains Koneczny's scientific
method. The book also contains a preface by Arnold Toynbee. It is Arnold
Toynbee and Oswald Spengler that Koneczny should be compared with. He
belongs to their class of thinkers. Toynbee and Spengler are well known to
students of civilisations. Koneczny is not, yet it is Koneczny who developed a
truly new approach to the issue of classifying civilisations and is deserving of
universal acclaim.

Lech Bajan
Washington DC
USA

Bugaj said...

I'm Pole and I must admit I am ashamed, whole family of Giretych's is laughed at in Poland, thier opinions, aren't common. But it is sad true, that people, who share hi vision of world, more often go to vote. It's the olny explenation that I could think of that made him a member of parliament.

Anonymous said...

Dear Beatroot

Your attack on Giertych's book is very shallow indeed.

1. Some of the incongruities in his book are due to his lack of total command of English. It is very shallow to distort the idea because of the language.

2. Your attack is philosophically loaded. You do not attack him on his own terms, but on your own terms. Given this invalid premise, it is only logical that you should judge his ideas as you do.

A true attack would be on HIS own terms. Otherwise, you are just juxtaposing your own ideas against his and (given that you think your ideas are right and his wrong) conclude that you have demolished his thinking.

Wishful thinking, my friend. You fail abysmally in your self-imposed mission.

Anonymous said...

Let's talk.

Anonymous said...

Certainly. All above told the truth. Let's discuss this question.

Anonymous said...

You guys keep blaming him for being stuck in the thirties, but maybe that is because we as a society have just ignored the issues of the thirties. Everything he says seems to be as valid as anything we think. He says that Jews are ostricized because they are stand-offish and they want to be rich. Some people believe that the west has a Jihad against it because it is stand-offish (i.e. non-inclusive) and it is rich. Who are we to say he is wrong and we are right?
His whole paradigm reveals how little we have changed since the thirties. It only requires a bit of nuance to see that what we think about the world is merely popular right now not what we genuinely belive.
If he had said that the poor are locked out of the system and can therefore not be capitalists and are of necessity Socialist, Communists, Marxists, Lenninists, or what have you, all the people on this thread woould probably have praised him as a far-sighted prophet of great wisdom and bravery.
I think he shows us that all the fluff we have today cannot invalidate old unanswered questions. The nature of Man's relation to men, men's relation to eachother, and what is right and what is wrong are not solved by facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Google. Techno-morality/superiority are very weak armor indeed.

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