As most of you well know, Poland is near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, it has become a worrisome signpost towards what happens when we reach, as Francis Fukuyama is quoted in last week’s New York Time’s Magazine article “The Party That Wants to Make Poland Great Again“, “the end of history.” This is a reference to Western liberal democracy as being the best that we ever, as a species, can achieve in terms of fair governance.
When we think of Poland, we think of a country that weathered the Nazis, then weathered the Soviets, and emerged as a shining beacon of light, hope, rainbows, and unicorns from the former Eastern Bloc.
Or, was that just what it seemed like?
In the US, 8 years ago we elected Barack Obama. Had we reached the end of our history, where, supposedly we did have a post-racial, post-sexuality, post-gender society? The backlash of Trump, the unsubstantiated vitriol towards Hillary Clinton, the active implementation of systematic racism via policing on minorities, and the hatred towards non-white, non-Christian, non-European immigrants would belie that state.
Or, did we reach it and now we are in a retreat?
What is happening in Poland with the Law & Justice political party is the same as what is happening in Britain and Brexit, in Belgium and the Walloons, and in Sweden, and in the US. We are having a schism between global elite liberals and their liberalism with the local, protectionist conservatives and nationalists. Populism is on the rise and there is much we can learn from Poland if we pay attention. Why? Because they are ahead of the rest of us in terms of this retreat.
The coming election in the US will not end this; the coming implementation of Brexit will not end this. We have a real problem on our hands and if we do not address it…
2 Nov 2016, The New York Times Magazine: “The Party That Wants to Make Poland Great Again”, James Traub