Polarization in Poland: A Warning From Europe - The Atlantic


63 bookmarks. First posted by farley13 10 weeks ago.


"The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth. But—once again—separating the appeal of conspiracy from the ways it affects the careers of those who promote it is very difficult. For those who become the one-party state’s gatekeepers, for those who repeat and promote the official conspiracy theories, acceptance of these simple explanations also brings another reward: power."
poland  hungary  politics  authoritarianism  conspiracy  smolensk 
2 days ago by arsyed
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
politics 
5 days ago by casfindad
This is not 1937. Nevertheless, a parallel transformation is taking place in my own time, in the Europe that I inhabit and in Poland, a country whose citizenship I have acquired. And it is taking place without the excuse of an economic crisis of the kind Europe suffered in the 1930s. Poland’s economy has been the most consistently successful in Europe over the past quarter century. Even after the global financial collapse in 2008, the country saw no recession. What’s more, the refugee wave that has hit other European countries has not been felt here at all. There are no migrant camps, and there is no Islamist terrorism, or terrorism of any kind.

More important, though the people I am writing about here, the nativist ideologues, are perhaps not all as successful as they would like to be (about which more in a minute), they are not poor and rural, they are not in any sense victims of the political transition, and they are not an impoverished underclass. On the contrary, they are educated, they speak foreign languages, and they travel abroad—just like Sebastian’s friends in the 1930s.

What has caused this transformation? Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades? My answer is a complicated one, because I think the explanation is universal. Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.

******

Polarization is normal. Skepticism about liberal democracy is normal. And the appeal of authoritarianism is eternal.

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Americans, with our powerful founding story, our unusual reverence for our Constitution, our relative geographic isolation, and our two centuries of economic success, have long been convinced that liberal democracy, once achieved, cannot be altered. American history is told as a tale of progress, always forward and upward, with the Civil War as a kind of blip in the middle, an obstacle that was overcome. In Greece, history feels not linear but circular. There is liberal democracy and then there is oligarchy. Then there is liberal democracy again. Then there is foreign subversion, then there is an attempted Communist coup, then there is civil war, and then there is dictatorship. And so on, since the time of the Athenian republic.

******

Democracy and free markets can produce unsatisfying outcomes, after all, especially when badly regulated, or when nobody trusts the regulators, or when people are entering the contest from very different starting points. Sooner or later, the losers of the competition were always going to challenge the value of the competition itself.

More to the point, the principles of competition, even when they encourage talent and create upward mobility, don’t necessarily answer deeper questions about national identity, or satisfy the human desire to belong to a moral community. The authoritarian state, or even the semi-authoritarian state—the one-party state, the illiberal state—offers that promise: that the nation will be ruled by the best people, the deserving people, the members of the party, the believers in the Medium-Size Lie. It may be that democracy has to be bent or business corrupted or court systems wrecked in order to achieve that state. But if you believe that you are one of those deserving people, you will do it.
authoritarianism  europe  politics  america  history 
6 days ago by corrales
Been haunted by this piece all day. Must read —-> offers a warning from Europe:
from twitter_favs
8 days ago by mjpost
A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come via Instapaper https://ift.tt/2x3b9HK
IFTTT  Instapaper 
17 days ago by rpnicholls
The emotional appeal of a conspiracy theory is in its simplicity. It explains away complex phenomena, accounts for chance and accidents, offers the believer the satisfying sense of having special, privileged access to the truth.
politics-poland  culture-fake-news  the-atlantic 
29 days ago by lorenzck
über den Rechtsruck in Polen, die Dreyfus-Affäre, und das genrelle Problem sich schnell zu autoritären Regimes verschiebender Gesellschaften
Geschichte  Politik  Faschismus  Demokratie  Polen 
6 weeks ago by movation
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
6 weeks ago by yudha87
From orwell to koestler, the European writers of the 20th century were obsessed with the idea of the Big Lie. The vast ideological constructs that were Communism and fascism, the posters demanding fealty to the Party or the Leader, the Brownshirts and Blackshirts marching in formation, the torch-lit parades, the terror police—these Big Lies were so absurd and inhuman, they required prolonged violence to impose and the threat of violence to maintain. They required forced education, total control of all culture, the politicization of journalism, sports, literature, and the arts.
politics  ugh  shelf 
6 weeks ago by nimwunnan
If you believe, as my old friends now believe, that Poland will be better off if it is ruled by people who deserve to rule—because they loudly proclaim a certain kind of patriotism, because they are loyal to the party leader, or because they are, echoing the words of Kaczyński himself, a “better sort of Pole”—then a one-party state is actually more fair than a competitive democracy. Why should different parties be allowed to compete on an even playing field if only one of them has the moral righ...
authoritarianism  politics  poland  history  democracy  fascism 
6 weeks ago by evilsofa
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the question: Is democracy dying?
On december 31, 1999, we threw a party. It was the end of one millennium and the start of a new one; people very much wanted to celebrate, preferably somewhere exotic. Our party fulfilled that criterion. We held it at Chobielin, the manor house in northwest Poland that my husband and his parents had purchased a decade earlier, when it was a mildewed ruin. We had restored the house, very slowly. It was not exactly finished in 1999, but it did have a new roof. It also had a large, freshly painted, and completely unfurnished salon—perfect for a party.
The guests were various: journalist friends from London and Berlin, a few diplomats based in Warsaw, two friends who flew in from New York. But most of them were Poles, friends of ours and colleagues of my husband, who was then a deputy foreign minister in the Polish government. A handful of youngish Polish journalists came too—none then particularly famous—along with a few civil servants and one or two members of the government.
gov2.0  politics  poland  europe  democracy 
6 weeks ago by rgl7194
Unique perspective, persuasive warning. For conservative intellectuals (few remain!) who say things aren't "so bad". //@clarkgoble
s 
7 weeks ago by jgordon
Democracy and free markets can produce unsatisfying outcomes, after all, especially when badly regulated, or when nobody trusts the regulators, or when people are entering the contest from very different starting points. Sooner or later, the losers of the competition were always going to challenge the value of the competition itself.
greece  hungary  fascism  poland  democracy 
7 weeks ago by davidkoren
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
7 weeks ago by scottsin
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
politics  authoritarianism  democracy  history  Europe  america 
8 weeks ago by famous
In truth, the argument about who gets to rule is never over, particularly in an era when people have rejected aristocracy, and no longer believe that leadership is inherited at birth or that the ruling class is endorsed by God. Some of us, in Europe…
Authoritarianism  Politics  Poland  trump 
8 weeks ago by loughlin
She tweets about Jewish responsibility for the Holocaust; she once posted an image of an English medieval painting depicting a boy supposedly crucified by Jews, with the commentary “And they were surprised that they were expelled.” She follows and amplifies the leading lights of the American “alt-right,” whose language she repeats. In October 1989, Jarosław went to work as the press secretary to Lech Wałęsa, the leader of Solidarity, who, after the election of Poland’s first non-Communist government, felt out of sorts and ignored; in the chaos created by revolutionary economic reforms and rapid political change, there was no obvious role for him. They could accept—even though Law and Justice is supposedly a “patriotic” and anti-Russian party—Macierewicz’s decisions to fire many of the country’s highest military commanders, to cancel weapons contracts, to promote people with odd Russian links, to raid a nato facility in Warsaw in the middle of the night. Schmidt embodies what the Bulgarian writer Ivan Krastev recently described as the desire of many eastern and central Europeans to “shake off the colonial dependency implicit in the very project of Westernization,” to rid themselves of the humiliation of having been imitators, followers of the West rather than founders. “We survived the left-wing populists,” several people told me gloomily, “and now we are bracing for the right-wing populists.” A nasty argument had long been brewing about the name and status of Macedonia, the e
8 weeks ago by sechilds
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well. On December 31, 1999, we threw a party. via Pocket
Pocket 
8 weeks ago by driptray
The authoritarian state, or even the semi-authoritarian state—the one-party state, the illiberal state—offers that promise: that the nation will be ruled by the best people, the deserving people, the members of the party, the believers in the Medium-Size Lie.
democracy  poland  politics  hungary  europe 
9 weeks ago by soobrosa
how polarization and fascism gain steam
politics  history 
9 weeks ago by inrgbwetrust
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by mleduc
What has caused this transformation? Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades? My answer is a complicated one, because I think the explanation is universal. Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.

Perhaps this is unsurprising. All of these debates, whether in 1890s France or 1990s Poland, have at their core a series of important questions: Who gets to define a nation? And who, therefore, gets to rule a nation? For a long time, we have imagined that these questions were settled—but why should they ever be?
politics  history  culture 
9 weeks ago by bradleyrturner
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well. On December 31, 1999, we threw a party.
IFTTT  Pocket  poland  politics  to:read 
9 weeks ago by travellersam
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. History can tell us where this leads.
anne  applebaum  atlantic  october  2018  politics  poland  hungary 
9 weeks ago by pnjman
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by jrheard
Polarization in Poland: A Warning From Europe in depth on Poland, Hungary (a…
from twitter
9 weeks ago by nwhyte
@AnneApplebaum in depth on Poland, Hungary (and Trump) and the parallels with the Dreyfus case.
politics  poland  hungary  uspolitics  democracy 
9 weeks ago by nwlinks
On December 31, 1999, we threw a party. It was the end of one millennium and the start of a new one; people very much wanted to celebrate, preferably somewhere…
email  from instapaper
9 weeks ago by rboone
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
9 weeks ago by ennylg
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by zsoltika
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
1 
9 weeks ago by noiseguy
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
Instapaper 
9 weeks ago by Devje
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.
EUinterest  democracy  politics 
9 weeks ago by kosmopolit
A personal view of the origins and appeal of the modern authoritarian state.
history  politics 
9 weeks ago by idleroux
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by divigation
Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.
resistance 
9 weeks ago by souldoubt
Illustration: Mike McQuade; Janek Skarzynski / AFP / Getty; Kacper Pempel / Reuters Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that attempts to answer the…
from instapaper
9 weeks ago by johnrclark
rising authoritarianism in Europe
Air  Politics  Authoritarianism  Society 
9 weeks ago by laynelebahn
Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. History can tell us where this leads. On December 31, 1999, we threw a party. It was the end of one millennium and the start of a new one; people very much wanted to celebrate, preferably somewhere exotic. via Pocket
IFTTT  Pocket 
10 weeks ago by Werderbach
via Global | The Atlantic http://bit.ly/2twmf6m
NEWS 
10 weeks ago by aebraddy