There is no fascism in Poland?

I’d like to share with you an announcement of an event that will take place in the Common Theater in Warsaw this month - on the 23rd of February. Both the program and the text of the invitation are around various instances of fascist gestures and acts that took place in the past years in Poland.

It talks about an organisation “Pride and Modernity” that organised Hitler’s birthday in May 2017 (and later on the pro-government media called it a “photo-op” cooked up by journalists from the biggest commercial television in Poland - not necessarily warm towards the current government.

It mentions the now-famous march that happened last year in Warsaw, where the government walked along ONR’s members (an extreme ultranationalist right-wing party) and some of the international fascists, i.e. Forza Nuova from Italy. Only a week ago, another group decided to disturb the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. This time the event was led by Piotr Rybak, a person already known from burning a puppet of Soros in 2017 and being convicted for that. The group demanded that “Poland fought the Jews”. The list is a bit longer and terrifying.

I am bringing it here also as a possible source of interesting people and stories to the platform - the Common Theater has invited various organisations, university groups and collectives that work against fascism in Poland to join a one-day discussion and to understand if there is fascism in Poland, and how to deal with the wave of xenophobic, violent acts that shake Polish society.


Thanks for posting Nat! I wish some of us could monitor those events, go and take stock, they might be interesting entries into a community conversation.
I am less and less surprised that Krastev in his latest media article calls Poland the “posterchild of the new populism”. A big generalization as it is, alongside what you write above it opens many ways into better understanding what is going on - especially since his argument leans towards emotional reactivity - a common sense of loss and shame. Also pointed out by Rotschild in her book.

The five stages of grief…

Dear all,

Marta Kotwas, my doctoral student at UCL and I just published a blog post on the March in 2018. We attended it. And we just completed an extensive study of some elements of the far right/right culture and the role of Catholicism in it. Blog here: Article here (pre-publication version):
We will love to have your reaction, as we hope that reading it may help to get a better senses of what is going on there.

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Thanks for such a thorough description by Marta and you about that March. Did you see any non-polish people there or even nearby?

@johncoate and others: there were representatives of several far right groups (we list them in the blog entry). We saw some members of German Pegida very close to us.

Any people of colour or Moslems?

Did not see any. Doubt it. It is a very monochromatic country. A big part of the problem.

And a quick glance at a couple of reference tells me that not nearly so many refugees came to Poland compared with, say, Hungary and Serbia. Thus, refugees would not define populism in Poland quite as much as with those other countries?

They do for the refugees are intensely “imagined” by the right-wing media and politicians. And many hierarchs of the Catholic Church.

Even though the numbers don’t support it. Or their bar is just set very very low. I was reading about Hungary recently in the New Yorker and it says before 2015 Hungary received about 3,000 asylum requests per year. Then in 2015 hundreds of thousands of people came through there trying usually to get to Germany.

Like here, with Trump, those are imagined realities. The problem is that the hatred these images generate is very real.

Hungary also doesn’t have a huge number of migrants - and those who enter do not want to stay there anyway, both because the economical situation is pretty bad since many years, but also because of the hostility (and possibly the language). So it used to be a route for them to more prosperous European countries, but it isn’t anymore as much.

The fear of refugees is fueled by the notion that Orban has been actively promoting since a long time, that Hungary is the natural border and defender of Christian Europe - as it used to be in the Ottoman times, they are fending off the Muslim invasion. It’s classic fascist tactics - create a fear of a phantom threat and unite people around the idea of defending their own, white identities that are seemingly endangered. It has always worked in fascist rhetoric, despite being completely made up.