Fear, Insecurity, Suspicion and Grief. Feelings in the Time of a Pandemic
Prison, wrote the Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky, is essentially a shortage of space made up for by a surplus of time. A similar case could be made for social isolation during in the Covid-19 era, albeit in relative terms. So much has already been said about this isolation in the context of hygiene, the economy and politics, but it is now time to develop an adequate language at the human level.
Women’s Strike will not protect doctors from punishment for performing abortions
“Doctors will be under pressure from two sides: pro-life and pro-choice proponents. It is a hugely uncomfortable position for the doctors, and puts patients at risk,” says Professor Ewa Łętowska.
Poland’s independence must lead to laicization
Throughout Polish history, the weaker the state, the stronger the Catholic Church. Poland has been a sovereign state since 1989. It will surely laicize itself in the following decades.
Alternative publishing. Coronavirus and alternative-internet in Poland
According to right-wing vloggers, as many as 500,000 people gathered on 30 August in Berlin to protest under the slogan “call off the pandemic”. A similar event was planned in Warsaw, with participants organising everything via Internet.
Will the year 2021 see the end of the gold era of illiberal populists?
“Law and Justice’s approval ratings have fallen significantly in recent months, possibly in part due to the pandemic, responses to which require a politics based on solidarity, cohesion and trust. And yet, Jarosław Kaczyński continues to the same tools that brought him to power.”
2021: the year of anger
Coronavirus has provoked a new political agenda and new emotions. Donald Trump lost the presidential election, but thanks to existing trends, including the prevalent emotion of anger, he can continue to undermine American democracy. In the coming months, anger will work as it did in the cases of Black Lives Matter and women’s rights protests: it takes one spark to fuel a fire.
This is not a temporary crisis
“Last week, I believe, a further step was taken on the road to full-out authoritarianism.”
Does Poland have “too much” history?
I have always been uncomfortable with Tony Judt’s famous observation that while Western European nations have too little history, Eastern Europeans have too much. Judt held that while Western Europe’s…
The most corrupt administration in American history
“This is the most corrupt administration in American history. By any measure. The president continues to operate a global company and received payments from people around the world. It is obviously…
Are you rich? It all depends on comparisons
Emilia Kaczmarek: Are you happy with the amount of money you have on your disposal? Philip Zimbardo: More than happy. I was born in 1933, during the Great Depression. I grew up in family of second generation…
Trump is not going to implode
“The idea that Trump’s presidency will implode or that he himself will come to a conclusion that this job is too demanding is a fantasy. He is either going to survive his term or we will see a political…
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”
“There’s a famous line in English which says that «patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel». A lot of it is just flag waving which really disguises the desire of uncompetitive industries and groups to…
Nations are our creation
“We need to recognize the importance of nations but insist nations are constructed. That means we have a choice about how we are going to continue with this process of construction”, claims the current…
Capitalism is finished
“The way capitalism is going is towards creating more and more low-wage, low-skill jobs. We face a choice – not only political but also a moral choice. Do you want to increase the amount of work for low-wage…
Poland will be fine
It’s entirely possible that things are going in a positive direction. Ironically because of brexit. The Brits would always veto further European integration and with Britain gone the EU might have just moved to a place where this type of political consolidation became possible.
On polyamory, the migration crisis and right-wing populism
We meet Peter Singer in a Warsaw bookstore. The biography of Singer’s grandfather, “Pushing Time Away: My Grandfather and the Tragedy of Jewish Vienna”, has just been translated into Polish. Although the…
Bauman. Not for dummies
Bauman claimed that chronic attributes of the “post-modern” lifestyle involve “a lack of coherence, of consistent activities, fragmentation and the temporary nature of the various spheres of activities…
I still believe in progress
The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of one of Francis Fukuyama’s most famous works, The End of History and the Last Man, which argued that the worldwide spread of liberal democracy may…
Hate at “The End of History”
In the 1990s, Fukuyama had the impression that his ideas were better understood in post-communist countries than in the West. This is no longer true. We are now closer to attaining a Western style reality than…
We live in the world of losers
“The dominant narrative after the end of the Cold War was that everybody was a winner. Not a single state or society was defeated – communism lost but it was overthrown by Russian citizens, there were no…
How to preserve liberal values when institutions undermine them
Adam Puchejda: For more than 30 years, you have been saying that liberalism is in decline and that liberal institutions are not necessarily serving to advance the ideals of justice and freedom. But when we look…
For France, it’s her last chance. On French presidential election
The French Front National (the FN) under the leadership of Jean-Marie Le Pen has been a radical anti-Semitic party on the fringe of a political spectrum. Yet, since coming to power in 2011 Marine Le Pen has…
Orban crossed the red line
Łukasz Pawłowski: Why has Viktor Orban attacked the Central European University? What political points he wants to score by closing the CEU? János Kis: The attack on the CEU is part of a larger xenophobic…
Donald Trump and the post-truth era
“The point is that we lie and don’t feel ashamed about ourselves, we lie with a very little sense of there being any reasons not to – this is what I called a post-truth era.”
Populists are here to stay
“For many years European elites believed that populists cannot take over the power; it simply sounded too terrible and crazy. It somehow created a false sense of security, the unconscious hope that in stable democracies populists would always lose in the last minute. That bubble burst with this year’s results in the UK and USA.”
Trump will not change
The obvious thing for Europe to do now is to rethink its security arrangements. The time of being able to count on the United States to provide security for the whole Continent is over.
Too Much Democracy
“That is the problem of too much democracy – when it turns into a system able to legitimize even illiberal and unconstitutional actions”.
The real dangers are still to come
“We need to be more prepared to deal with the unpredictability of Russia. Russia is opportunistic in the sense it is ready to use military force, when opportunities arise”, claims former Prime Minister of Sweden.
Referendum – the worst political mistake in decades
The Management Editor and ‘Schumpeter’ columnist for “The Economist” magazine discusses the consequences of Brexit and explains why the leave campaign has so far been so successful.
“Just because something can’t work or doesn’t work, doesn’t mean people aren’t going to try it. Just because it’s a bad idea to break up Europe doesn’t mean people won’t want to try that too”.
The Great Theft
Łukasz Pawłowski: In one of your essays you wrote: “People in the East developed a bunch of stereotypes about the shiny democratic West, while westerners had a sense of superiority. A lot of lies were there…
Modern liberalism from a personal perspective
In what follows, I will offer an annotated list of works in modern liberalism. The selection will be in one sense subjective. Not in the sense of offering works “of my liking”, but rather in the sense that…
Poland in an “awkward squad”?
Brussels correspondent for “The Economist” on the reactions of European politicians to the first steps of the new Polish government and a growing frustration with Central Europe.
Can there be peace in Europe?
Łukasz Pawłowski: Has Chancellor Merkel made a mistake when she opened the door for migrants without first consulting it with other European countries? Can this decision cost her the role of the European…
You never go back, not exactly
You can stop going forward, but “reverse gear” does not exist in political history. Nation-states are probably more effective than the European framework, being much better equipped when it comes to building the welfare state. But in terms of human rights, for example, or worker-friendly ideas, Europe has been always extremely effective. European laws and institutions can have a restraining influence on the development of particularist political practices. This, I believe, is important and a…
Islamic hordes, Asian invasions, social jihad. How do Polish media write about refugees?
Thousands of refugees and migrants from Africa and the Middle East reaching Europe in the last few weeks, camping on EU borders and train stations, have become lead stories in the Polish media, causing all…
A pocket dictionary of radicalisms in Polish media relating to the refugee crisis
European self-destruction – a turn of phrase often to be found on the pages of the portal fronda.pl, used to describe today’s European tendencies, or – to be more precise – strategies of the EU. At times,…
War will not win democracy
Adam Puchejda: The conflict in Syria has been going on for almost four years now and it does not seem to be close to a resolution. In fact, it is getting worse, as new players – like Russia – become engaged. In…
Reagan was right
American historian and a former member of the National Security Council speaks on on Western policy towards Russia and Russian military involvement in Syria and Ukraine.
What does Russia want in Syria?
In late September Vladimir Putin visited the UN for the first time in a decade and upstaged everyone, including the US President. In his address, the Russian President warned against “playing games with…
Endangered European Democracy
The ongoing debate about the generosity or lack of generosity of Eastern Europeans, because reality seems to fade away, could remind us of a theological strife with a cunning moral twist inducing “Western” compassion or “Eastern” selfishness.
Say it loud and say it clear: Soviet values are still here
This is perhaps the coldest fact the current refugee crises has exposed. The cultural and political mentality of post-communist countries is in some fundamental respects still deeply rooted in the patterns that have evolved here during the communist era.
Gross denounces Poles
By publishing his latest article in the German press Jan Tomasz Gross in a way “denounced” Poles. As if absolving Germans from their sins by saying: “remember, there are always the Poles – equally maleficent, but less settling”.
The West overestimates Putin
“Should Russia withdraw support for separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine and say “Sorry, that was a mistake”? Big powers don’t do such things, if they wish to remain big powers.
Five European Crises
Karolina Wigura: There are at least four major crises currently happening in Europe: the Ukrainian crisis, the migrant crisis, the Eurozone crisis and the crisis in Greece. Have these four made Europe less…
[Hungary] Beshbarmak and oranges
What sorts of plans does the star of the biggest political scandal in the history of modern Hungary have for his future, and does it involve any chance of a return to power? Do you remember the name Ferenc…
Mass migration will blow Europe apart
The issue of immigration demands a compromise between idealism and realistic models of assistance – argues Aleksander Smolar.
Litvinov’s Glasses and Polish soft power – on the crisis in the East (at the start of 2015)
Litvinov’s Glasses On the 6th of October 1944, a secret meeting between Maxim Litvinov (1876-1951), the Soviet Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, and a certain American journalist took place. One to one, they…
[Putin’s Parade] The Ministry of Truth – on Petersburg’s troll factory
In Petersburg, under the guise of a firm specialising in internet research, there hides an Orwellian Ministry of Truth. Hundreds of young people – day and night, up to 12 hours a day – express their…
ISIS as pop-cultural product
It’s rather strange that Slavoj Žižek hasn’t yet devoted one of his Lacanesque analyses of ISIS to the idea of it being a figment of Western pop-culture, in its most covert and simultaneously desirable form. It seems Islamic State Jihadists are made for such an interpretation.
[Putinada] The worst political class in Europe
“Twenty three years of having the worst political class in Europe can’t leave no mark on the society”, claims a British historian, expert on Ukraine.
The price for our security
Pierre Buhler talks to ‘Kultura Liberalna’ about the postmo- dern character of international relations, war in Ukraine, the Islamic State, challenges facing Europe and about his new book ‘On the Power in the 21st Century’.
Passivity is no longer an option
The shootings in Paris and the massive reaction of the French people reached unknown dimensions in a European post-1945 context. But the targets were not only French. And the answers cannot be limited to one country.
Google cannot beat the state
The Management Editor and ‘Schumpeter’ columnist for “The Economist” magazine discusses the role the state has currently to play and explains why it cannot be replaced neither by big corporations nor international institutions.
Open letter on CIA secret prisons in Poland
Numerous public figures have recently made statements, in which the use of tortures on the territory of the Republic of Poland was justified in different ways. It is hard to measure the harm of spreading such…
You will have it worse!
The financial crisis is also a crisis of young Europeans. How many young Poles are concerned with the problems of unemployment and lack of perspectives? And how to help them? Katarzyna Kasia, Jacek Męcina, Piotr Szumlewicz, Joanna Tyrowicz and Karolina Wigura discussed these issues at “Kultura Liberalna”.
Different Ukrainians, different Poles
My friends in Ukraine want to know what Poles are like, since they know I lived in Poland for two years. Poles, on the other hand, ask what we Ukrainians are like. I never know what to tell either group. Each new story I come across is different – the more I learn, the more I am afraid of getting things wrong.
Europeans feel disempowered
German political scientist from Princeton University describes dangers and challenges which are waiting for the European Union in the near future.
Energy, ecology and freedom. On the unfinished liberal revolution in the energy industry
Edward Gierek, former First Secretary of the Polish Communist Party, had energetic dreams about power. Back in the days of General Jaruzelski, work had begun on building an atomic power station in Żarnowiec….
Liberalism, the Right and the Left – points of contention
EVALUATING POLAND’S POLITICAL TRANSFORMATION Both the Left and the Right wings of Poland’s political divide see the post-1989 Transformation in a singularly negative light. For the Right, the Round Table…
‘To place Poland in the centre’- table of contents
‘To place Poland in the center’ is a book on the Polish transformation 1989-2014, fully available free of cost at Liberal Culture. Introduction: The Horizons of a New Freedom Jarosław Kuisz …
Introduction. The Horizons Of a New Freedom
Maria is a 70 year-old retired engineer. Following the Transformation of 1989, she worked for over a decade outside of Poland, then returned home to retire. Maria and her family enjoy a decent standard of…
Memories of the transformation or transformed memories?
Interest in the concept of collective memory tends to grow during extraordinary moments, in times of crisis or change. More “round” dates allow us to reinterpret the past. At times, this is merely a…
Choosing a New Commission President in the European Union: Whose Authority, Whose Power?
A letter signed by a number of influential European academics urges the members of the European Council of the European Union to propose Jean-Claude Juncker to the European Parliament to be the new Commission President.
“What a beautiful catastrophe” … ?
Listening to media commentary covering the 25th anniversary of the first partially free elections in Poland, I couldn’t shake off the impression that older generations – the initiators and participants of…
The Third Polish Republic – our humble modernity
The debate about the recently ended 25-year period of Polish history is becoming enlivened by the voices of critics of modernity. This simple story of historical triumph is now contrasted with apocalyptic…
The Feast of Imperfections
In the spring and summer of 1989, the people of Poland had no energy and no desire to celebrate their revolution. Does it make sense, however, to now regret this and to try to “make up” for lost time? How…
A whole new sense of frustration
My hypothesis is as follows: in order to sum up the past 25 years of Polish history, we must take into account the sense of frustration which comes with being offered endless possibilities. The map of Polish…
Broken windmills – interpretations of success required by Poland today
The time has come to change the story we tell about contemporary Poland. The 25th anniversary of the first free elections in its modern history appears to be a celebration which has Polish citizens smiling, but…
On the trolls patrolling the Crimean conflict information front
The Ukrainian revolution, the annexing of Crimea by Russia and subsequent attempts at destabilising south-eastern Ukraine have led to the most severe crisis between the Russian Federation and the West for a…
Personal Reflections 20 Years after the Rwanda Genocide
Horrific scenes of Rwanda’s genocide, etched in my sub-consciousness, to me seem ever present, but my students naturally see 1994 as a past event quickly receding into history.
[Hungary] a Leader and no Compass
Viktor Orban will maintain his tight leadership. No political career in the Fidesz, no major decision will escape his personal guidance. Unfortunately, his people did not grasp the immensity of his genius.
Twenty years after the rwandan genocide: preventing renewed artocities
The Rome Statute of 1998 was a response to the genocide in Rwanda and the slaughter in Serbia, and an attempt to create an effective judicial mechanism that would be more enduring and more global in its jurisdiction than the existing special ad hoc tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and any new ones that might be established.
Achieving Reconciliation in Divided Societies [Rwanda 20 years after genocide]
The onset of the twenty-first century has been marked by numerous transitions from repressive rule to democracy throughout the world. Given that many displaced regimes are often characterized by large-scale human rights violations, the manner in which new democracies reconcile with their oppressive pasts will have a marked impact upon transitional societies’ chances for long-term peace, stability, and reconciliation.
Reconciliation after Putin
Questions regarding forgiveness following the bloodshed in Maidan are for Ukraine just as vital as those of its economy or politics. But what points of reference can it make use of today?
They aren’t just responsible for hail, earthquakes and whooping-cough –this is the impression one might have reading ongoing attacks unleashed a full 25 years after the Transformation against liberals and…
Chechen Stories at the Polish Borders
Whether or not the story is real, no one can really assure. But it has been heard for a while among the Chechen refugees’ contingents on their way far from their war-ravaged homeland in the early 2000s.
Affluent Poles looking at Ukraine – too much lecturing, not enough support
Poland has become a part of Western Europe – for better or for worse. In the face of the escalating Ukrainian conflict it definitely seems for worse. The Poles have become wealthy enough to forget where they were 25 years ago. The memories of our own poor condition are so faded that we can no longer empathize with the Ukrainians’ violent struggle. And yet it seems so easy to keep convincing everyone in Brussels that Poland will teach its European partners to think in terms of solidarity.
The Bolivarian Venezuela: A Declining Revolution
In the last fifteen years, a leftist wave has characterized Latin America. Marking a rupture with the past, leftist forces have been able to win power and secure re-election in a significant number of countries.
The Round Table – the meaning of the game
Many people believe the events which took place in Poland 25 years ago should today be reviewed with sobriety, leaving aside all unnecessary emotions or nostalgic tendencies. The problem with this apprach is…
Squabbles and saintliness. The Left and the Right and their problems with the Round Table
Disputes over the Round Table are also disputes over our present-day democracy. Tomasz Sawczuk presents his commentary on the debate which took place in the Presidential Palace as part of the celebrations of…
Today words have little meaning
Guy Sorman, an economist and philosopher, in an interview on the French Left with Łukasz Pawłowski
Swiss cheese of privacy protection
Interview with Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Internet offers, it doesn’t promise
Łukasz Pawłowski in conversation with Andrew Rasiej on Internet, American politics and the future of democracy.
Frivolous cohabitation. Preparing the soil for a Jobbik takeover?
János Mátyás Kovács, a Hungarian economist, talks to Karolina Wigura about deep sources of Jobbik’s popularity and longue durée consequences of Victor Orban’s legal carpet bombing.
It is time we challenged the global economy
Jakub Krzeski: In „Respect in a world of inequality”, recently published in Poland, you discuss the lack of institutional respect towards individuals. The background of your arguments is the American social…
Freedom of speech should protect the weak
Freedom of speech should serve higher aims and shouldn’t only be the right to ridicule others, yet we use it in order to protect the strong, rather than the weak, as claimed by the American political scientist Benjamin Barber.
The harmfulness of protecting religious feelings
Karolina Wigura: Liberal rhetoric is in retreat everywhere. Hilary Clinton declared herself as being “more progressive than liberal”. In Poland, Donald Tusk wrote about abando- ning the idea of…
Multi-culti is a complete misunderstanding
Karolina Wigura: ‘A total disaster,’ ‘a complete disgrace,’ ‘a serious mistake.’ These are a few of the opinions recently expressed about multiculturalism. Anti-immigrant rhetoric is…
Between passions and moderation
Quentin Peel, international affairs editor for the “Financial Times”, on contemporary democracy, political passions and the role of media in politics.
An Era of Global Competition
Frederick Kempe, CEO of the Atlantic Council, on the need of closer cooperation between the United States and Europe and the challenges of authoritarian capitalism.
Do not democratize Russia. We will do it ourselves
Lilia Shevtsova, a senior associate at the Moscow Carnegie Center and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, on Russian politics, democratic opposition and on why Putin may be better than Medvedev