Weaponizing the Past: Collective Memory and Jews, Poles, and Communists in Twenty-First Century Poland 9781805390510

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Weaponizing the Past: Collective Memory and Jews, Poles, and Communists in Twenty-First Century Poland

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Part I. Theory
Chapter 1. Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics
Chapter 2. Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics
Part II. Weaponizing the Past: The Case of Poland
Chapter 3. The Patriots – Using Memory Openly and Belligerently
Chapter 4. The Managers – Using Memory Covertly
Chapter 5. The Liberals – Using Memory Defensively
Chapter 6. The Objectors – Refusing Memory as Political Weapon
Conclusion. Looking Beyond: Weaponizing the Past and a Populist Moment

Citation preview

Weaponizing the Past

Worlds of Memory Editors: Jeffrey Olick, University of Virginia Aline Sierp, Maastricht University Jenny Wüstenberg, Nottingham Trent University Published in collaboration with the Memory Studies Association This book series publishes innovative and rigorous scholarship in the interdisciplinary and global field of memory studies. Memory studies includes all inquiries into the ways we— both individually and collectively—are shaped by the past. How do we represent the past to ourselves and to others? How do those representations shape our actions and understandings, whether explicitly or unconsciously? The “memory” we study encompasses the near-infinitude of practices and processes humans use to engage with the past, the incredible variety of representations they produce, and the range of individuals and institutions involved in doing so. Guided by the mandate of the Memory Studies Association to provide a forum for conversations among subfields, regions, and research traditions, Worlds of Memory focuses on cutting-edge research that pushes the boundaries of the field and can provide insights for memory scholars outside of a particular specialization. In the process, it seeks to make memory studies more accessible, diverse, and open to novel approaches. Volume 11 Weaponizing the Past: Collective Memory and Jews, Poles, and Communists in Twenty-First-Century Poland Kate Korycki Volume 10 The Right to Memory: History, Media, Law, and Ethics Edited by Noam Tirosh and Anna Reading Volume 9 Towards a Collaborative Memory: German Memory Work in Transnational Context Sara Jones Volume 8 Carnivalizing Reconciliation: Contemporary Australian and Canadian Literature and Film beyond the Victim Paradigm Hanna Teichler Volume 7 Nordic War Stories: World War II as History, Fiction, Media, and Memory Edited by Marianne Stecher

Volume 6 The Struggle for the Past: How We Construct Social Memories Elizabeth Jelin Volume 5 The Mobility of Memory: Migrations and Diasporas in Europe and Beyond Edited by Luisa Passerini, Gabriele Proglio, and Milica Trakilović Volume 4 Agency in Transnational Memory Politics Edited by Aline Sierp and Jenny Wüstenberg Volume 3 Resettlers and Survivors: Bukovina and the Politics of Belonging in West Germany and Israel, 1945–89 Gaëlle Fisher Volume 2 Velvet Retro: Postsocialist Nostalgia and the Politics of Heroism in Czech Popular Culture Veronika Pehe

WEAPONIZING THE PAST Collective Memory and Jews, Poles, and Communists in Twenty-First-Century Poland

Kate Korycki

berghahn NEW YORK • OXFORD www.berghahnbooks.com

Published in 2023 by Berghahn Books www.berghahnbooks.com © 2023 Kate Korycki All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission of the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Korycki, Kate, author. Title: Weaponizing the past : collective memory and Jews, Poles, and communists in twenty-first-century Poland / Kate Korycki. Other titles: Collective memory and Jews, Poles, and communists in twenty-first-century Poland Description: New York : Berghahn, 2023. | Series: Worlds of memory ; volume 11 | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2023007754 (print) | LCCN 2023007755 (ebook) | ISBN 9781805390503 (hardback) | ISBN 9781805390510 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Collective memory—Political aspects—Poland. | Poland—Politics and government— 1989– | Poland—History—20th century—Historiography. | Antisemitism—Poland. | Jews— Poland—Public opinon. | Communists—Poland—Public opinion. | Polish people—Attitudes. Classification: LCC DK4449 .K679 2023 (print) | LCC DK4449 (ebook) | DDC 943.805/7— dc23/eng/20230501 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023007754 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023007755[to come]

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-80539-050-3 hardback ISBN 978-1-80539-051-0 ebook https://doi.org/10.3167/9781805390503

This book is for Kate Banks and Cedar Averill, with love.


List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations






Part I. Theory Chapter 1. Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics


Chapter 2. Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics


Part II. Weaponizing the Past: The Case of Poland Chapter 3. The Patriots—Using Memory Openly and Belligerently


Chapter 4. The Managers—Using Memory Covertly


Chapter 5. The Liberals—Using Memory Defensively


Chapter 6. The Objectors—Refusing Memory as Political Weapon


Conclusion. Looking Beyond: Weaponizing the Past and a Populist Moment







All figures have been created by the author unless otherwise stated. Figure 1.1 Political Identities of Parties in Poland as Given by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 2.1. Political Parties in Time, Assigned to Positions Organized by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 2.2. Political Field Divided by Issues.


Figure 2.3. Political Identities of Current Parties as Given by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 2.4. Patriots’ Allocation of Roles.


Figure 2.5. Managers’ Allocation of Roles.


Figure 2.6. Liberals’ Allocation of Roles.


Figure 2.7. Mnemonic Procedures and Effects on Democracy and Nation-Making.


Figure 3.1. Patriots in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 4.1. Managers in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 5.1. Liberals in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.


Figure 6.1. Objectors in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.



Acronym 2nd RP 3rd RP




Meaning Druga Rzeczpospolita

Translation 2nd Republic of Poland (1918–1939) Trzecia Rzeczpospolita 3rd Republic of Poland (1989–2015), used mostly as a discursive trope Armia Krajowa Home Army (WWII) Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność Electoral Action Solidarity (electoral coalition from 1997–2001) Gazeta Wyborcza Electoral Gazette (daily) Instytut Badań nad Institute of Literature of the Literaturą (PAN) Polish Academy of Sciences Instytut Pamięci Narodowej National Remembrance Institute Instytut Sławistyki (PAN) Slavic Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences Komunistyczna Partia Polski Polish Communist Party (1918–1925) Komitet Samoobrony Social Self-Defence Społecznej - Komitet Committee - Committee Obrony Robotników for the Defence of Workers (1977–1981) Narodnyi Komissariat People’s Commissariat for Vnutrennikh Del Internal Affairs (Soviet secret police)

x • Abbreviations



Narodowe Siły Zbrojne

National Armed Forces (WWII) Prawo i Sprawiedliwość Law and Justice (party) Platforma Obywatelska Civic Platform (party) Polska Partia Robotnicza Polish Workers Party (active up to 1948) Polska Partia Socjalistyczna Polish Socialist Party (active up to 1948) Polska Rzeczpospolita People’s Republic of Poland Ludowa (1944–1989) Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe Polish Agrarian Party Partia Zieloni Green Party Polska Zjedonoczona Partia Polish United Worker’s Party Robotnicza (1948–1989) Razem Together (party) Ruch Sprawiedliwości Social Justice Movement Społecznej (party) Socjaldemokracja First communist successor Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej party, transformed into the SLD in 2001. Sojusz Lewicy Democratic Left Alliance Demokratycznej (party) Stowarzyszenie Wolnego NGO devoted to free speech Słowa and political refugees Twój Ruch Your Movement (party) Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Security Police (1956–1990) Ukrayins’ka Povstans’ka Ukrainian Insurgent Army Armiya


. . . and here I find that young artists can badly deceive themselves: . . . they can fail to realize that the purpose of scanning contemporary art is to use its articulations for the purpose of realization of their own work. As a carpenter might reach out for a newly invented saw, the work of other artists may suggest techniques or solutions. But the essential struggle is private and bears no relations to anyone else’s. It is of necessity a solitary and lonely endeavor to explore one’s own sensibility, to discover how it works and to implement honestly its manifestations. —Anne Truitt (1982: 63)

This is my first book. It is thus my first public attempt at the discovery of my sensibility and its honest manifestation. Indeed, although this is not explicit in the text, the book is both the means and effect of the most profound reshaping of mental categories by which I understood the world: I began a child of anti-communist dissidents (I call them the Mangers in this book), then after a long sojourn abroad, I returned to Poland they created, I reread their work and felt betrayed; then I encountered Objectors. . .1 Both anonymous reviewers of this work commented on an impossibility of bringing all the people found on its pages into one room. This is because the people and their camps shape themselves into implacable enemies, as they compete for power. Bringing them together—if only on a page—made their political machinations and social stakes visible. But it also required a new language and a new way of thinking about the past and the present. The book is the result of that search. Different people guided, supported, and held me. I want to thank them deeply. Courtney Jung brought me to the field of knowledge that constitutes my enduring scholarly and normative preoccupation. She guided me to the discovery of the emergent and relational nature of group identities; she implanted Stuart Hall’s dictum that “theory is always a detour on the way to something more important” (2019: 64); she made me forever suspicious

xii • Acknowledgments

of essentialism and psychologizing. She asked good questions and insisted on a good story (the remaining failures are mine). In short, she shaped and created a Jungian. Conversations with Sara Dezalay brought me ever closer to the Bourdieusian conviction that “sociology is a marital art” (2001), or that it is a particular tool in a deconstruction of the workings of power; and conversations with Ania Zawadzka sparked the deepest introspection and tilling of habitus that underlies this project.2 Jan Tomasz Gross, Irena Grudzińska-Gross, Patrick Macklem, Ron Levi, and Ed Schatz shared their wisdom and warmth, and their questions, comments and encouragement opened doors and shone light on dark corners. Jenny Wüstenberg, Jeffrey Olick, Matt James, Joanna Quinn, Eleanor MacDonald, Rebecca Dolgoy, and Angela Failler, guided much of my thinking on collective remembering more generally and offered generous and heartwarming endorsement, as well as a necessary sense of a community. Anonymous reviewers of the manuscript read attentively, and their comments and suggestions made me pause, rethink, rewrite. I thank them all, for their kindness, patience, impeccable critique, and suggestions. This book would not be in anybody’s hand, or screen, if not for the labour and love of three people, whom I am luckiest in the world to also call mentors and friends: Edith Klein, the editor extraordinaire, with overwhelming generosity and a good eye whipped the unruly work into shape. Grahame Lynch, an artist and an inspiration, gave its cover an artistic expression with speed and intense understanding. Anne Hines, a master of words and meaningful connections gave it a title, as well as giving me unflagging support and belief. They make this text better and their generosity humbles me. The patient folks at Berghahn Books guided the process and me well. I have to especially thank Ryan Masteller for his attentive and careful reading and Keara Hagerty for keeping me on track and feeling like I was in good hands. Field research is one of the most exciting and difficult of moments in the scholarly project. Here it was made all the more rewarding by the generosity of my guides and respondents in Poland. Peter Solomon sent me off with good thoughts, books, and letters that opened doors. Krzysztof and Agnieszka Jasiewicz eased my landing and the first moments of disorientation. Kasia Wichrowska supplied a warm harbour and most ingenious contacts. Ania Zawadzka offered a space in which I could breathe. Kasia Dębska proved to be an assistant extraordinaire. Agata Tuszyńska marshaled Warsaw’s glitterati to my cause. Just as generously, Andrzej Górski sent me well recommended into the circles of old and grizzled oppositionist printers and “foot soldiers.” And with long-practiced skill he evaded all my attempts to interview him, or at least repay his kindness with vodka or cake. Robert Krzysztoń from the Stowarzyszenie Wolnego Słowa, with his humour, passion for round-theclock human rights work, and cigarettes, transported me to Poland of the

Acknowledgments • xiii

eighties. Joanna Tokarska-Bakir peeled a kilogram of carrots in Princeton, as we were falling into a whirlwind of a five-hour-long conversation. . . I met and interviewed one hundred and fifty people in Poland, and later in the US. In time, I felt as if I had met everybody. This was of course not true, but with the possible exception of businessman and priests, I entered every professional and class milieu: from the supreme court justices to anarchist squatters, from politicians to writers, from academics to shopkeepers. I found their readiness to share their homes, time, and thoughts, generous and overwhelming. I hope that some felt repaid by the richness of our conversations. In addition to scholarly and emotional support, my research has been made possible by generous financial contributions from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario government, University of Toronto, and Polish Ministry of Culture. Lastly, friends and family of many species shared in this project and in all the living that happened while I was thinking and writing. Luke Melchiorre and Melissa Levin restored me, enlarged my intellectual horizons, and brought much joy. They were my necessary and much-loved companions, whose gifts are many. Kara Santokie, Omar Sirri, Carmen Ho, Eleanor MacDonald, Celia Romulus, Yasmin Djerbal, Emma Donoghue, and Chris Roulston were essential fellow travelers, and more, who nourished me with invaluable conversation, good company, and stories of shared pain. My larger family: Colleen Schindler-Lynch and Grahame Lynch, Edith Klein, Jen Baldson and Gigi Knowles, Sarah Box and Colleen Stubbs, Andrea Swanson, and Liz Early and Anne Hines believed in me, suffered my writer’s weirdness, and offered good cheer and love. They all made my life better and richer. Lastly, my little family—Kate Banks, Cedar Averill and now Sophie and Pete—who endured much, and whose love, cooking, silliness, and laughter, sustained me daily. This is for them.

Notes 1. Managers and Objectors are two out of four political camps explored in this book. Adam Michnik may be called the parent of the first, Jan Tomasz Gross of the second. 2. Habitus is a Bourdieusian term describing socialized structures and ideologies that are reproduced in daily and bodily practices and ways of being and acting in the world (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992).

INTRODUCTION Poles, Jews, and Communists

8 The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honored disguise and this borrowed language. —Karl Marx (1963: 15)

History is the most dangerous product evolved from the chemistry of intellect. . . . It causes dreams, it intoxicates whole peoples, gives them false memories, quickens their reflexes, keeps their old wounds open, foments them in their repose, leads them into delusion either of grandeur or persecution, and makes nations bitter, arrogant, insufferable and vain. History will justify anything. It teaches precisely nothing, for it contains everything and furnishes examples of anything.1 —Paul Valéry (1962: 114)

On 26 January 2018—one day before an anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz—the Polish parliament, the Sejm, passed an amendment to the Criminal Code criminalizing the defamation of the Polish nation. According to this amendment, the defamation involved any mention or suggestion that Poles participated in the Holocaust (Sierakowski 2018). Immediately after the passing of the law, the Polish premier, Mateusz Morawiecki, turned his attention to three groups of people: first, he met with the Righteous Among

2 • Weaponizing the Past

Nations—Poles who were honored by the Yad Vashem Memorial for saving their Jewish neighbors during the war (Wiadomości dziennik 2018). Second, on a visit to Munich, he placed a wreath on the commemorative stone of the anti-communist unit of the National Armed Forces, a unit that collaborated with Nazi armies and left Poland with them in the face of the Red Army advance (Wiadomości gazeta 2018).2 Last, on the same visit in Munich, in conversation with the children of Holocaust survivors—the third group—he spoke of “Jewish perpetrators” (Noack 2018; Wieliński 2018). In the understandable outcry over the law and the subsequent antics of the premier, two issues escaped general notice. When the antidefamation law was debated and voted on in the Sejm, it was opposed by five deputies. More specifically, 279 deputies hailing from the ruling party and their acolytes voted yes, 130 deputies from the opposition abstained, and 46 deputies were absent. In other words, 5 deputies out of 460 actively objected to the law as presented (Uhlig 2018). Second, Polish political and media elites narrated the ongoing events in different ways, but they all advanced the same interpretive frame. This frame saw the passing of the law, the premier’s actions, and the subsequent international outcry as a crisis in Polish-Jewish relations. More specifically, it cast the events as a conflict between Poland and Israel.3 The politicians and commentators alike were preoccupied with Poland’s image in the fight with Israel—some claimed to defend it, others saw it as being besmirched—but they all agreed that Poland had a great and heroic history, which appeared to be under attack. These much-abbreviated but emblematic events offer a snapshot demonstration of a political space structured and constricted by memory. In such a space elites of all stripes politicize the past—that is, they use and manipulate it for present-day political payoffs, and they channel the political conversation into identitarian frames—that is, they turn it into a fight between nations, or kinds of people. In this book, I explain this generalized preoccupation with the past—or more specifically for the story at hand, with the communist past—and its connection to national identity construction. Communism, by the way, was not referenced directly in the events recounted above, but, as I will show in the chapters to come, it was why Nazi collaborators came to be venerated, and it was why the Jewish people came to be called perpetrators. To be clear, Weaponizing the Past is not a book of history in which I examine whether Jewish people were guilty of crimes against the Poles; rather, Weaponizing the Past is a book about memory in which I explain why, how, and to what effect Polish contemporary elites narrate the Jewish people as having perpetrated crimes in the past.4 To be clear again, I take the broad, active, and multifaceted participation of Poles in the Holocaust as an established historical fact, and I examine how this established fact is treated and used by

Introduction • 3

Polish political classes. I also show that my straightforward confirmation of this fact reveals my political identity in Poland, in the same straightforward way that a declaration of being pro-life or pro-choice reveals party affiliation, and a vision of national belonging, in America.5 In empirical terms, I follow and analyze the articulations of contemporary antisemitism as I examine the present-day stories of Polish and Jewish imbrications with communism. In theoretical terms, I explore the reasons, mechanisms, and stakes of politicizing the past as I track their effects on democracy and national belonging. Antisemitism and exclusionary nationalist rhetoric and violence are on the rise globally. Their increased intensity and frequency are usually seen as a result of the assent to power and growing legitimacy of new right-wing populist leaders, who mobilize voters and organize their resentments with nostalgic appeals to long-gone folk nirvanas. In this telling, right-wing populism, exclusionary frames and collective memory of some imaginary past are empirically and conceptually entwined. My account does not challenge this view but complicates it. It shows that all dominant parties in Poland played with memory for political ends, and even though each one narrated and condemned communism differently, they all ended up conflating it with Jewishness. In doing so, they gained sharp political identities and polarized the political discourse; they also elevated a narrowly ethnic vision of the national community. Antisemitic tropes in Poland, therefore, even if they appear to be more directly visible in the rhetoric (and actions) of the current rulers, have a continuity and universality. They were used by liberal and neoliberal parties, and this trend need not end if the current ruler leaves office. This suggests that even if right-wing populism relies on memory narratives, not all memory narratives, even if they advance exclusionary imaginaries, need to be classified as populist.6 (I return to this theme more fully in my conclusion, in which I tie the insights from the Polish case to the present-day theorizing on the right-wing populist turn.) To repeat, all the major political parties, which have held power in Poland since 1989, condemned communism, and all of them conflated it with Jewishness. But why did they bother with the past at all? Why did they dress their identities in costumes borrowed from history—to paraphrase the opening quote—and why did they not simply and directly discuss taxes and hospitals? The expectation that political parties establish their identities by dealing with mundane policy issues originates in stable regimes, and in a discipline reluctant to see identities as imagined, constructed, and changing, often through narratives, or what Rogers Smith called “ethically constitutive stories” (2003: 59).7 There is no reason to suspect that democratic regimes in the process of forming—emerging from transition, or conflict, or some other dramatic past—will simply turn toward the future and “move on,” or that they will

4 • Weaponizing the Past

follow models formed elsewhere, or that they will not engage in their own “muddling through.” There is also no reason to suspect that they will not use resources available to them or, more precisely, that they will not invent and invest in new resources, ripe for the picking in their contexts. The context I have in mind is an end of a protracted conflict, in which no clear winner emerges (as in Northern Ireland, for instance), or a normative collapse of a regime, in which the adversaries—the compromised ruler and its dissident opponent—negotiate their way to the new order, in which both are legitimate political players in the emerging democracy (as in the end of apartheid in South Africa, or slavery in the United States, or indeed communism in Eastern Europe). In the context of such transplacements, to use Samuel Huntington’s term (1991: 113),8 the transition lacks purity, as its losers emerge standing and its winners get to power by negotiation. As I will show, the degree of legitimacy of the old ruler and the purity of the new one will become the subject of a political struggle and will implicate narration and judgment of the past. In other words, it will open up the past as a political resource in the present. In short, in weaving my tale, I will show how Polish elites engage the narratives of the past and implicate two conceptual fields. First, I will argue that they structure political competition through a political resource I call mnemonic capital. That is, they gain political identities and appear distinct from one another by narrating the past and judging the past. In a clear breach of expectations of scholars studying political parties, local actors compete fiercely, but they do not use platforms to do so. Instead of platforms, they use differentiated stories of the pre-transition past. Second, I will show that in weaving the stories of the past, the parties circulate particular imaginaries of national belonging. That is, they reinvent the nation (Wodak et al. 2009). Contrary, again, to mainstream literatures on the topic, which see nations as historical and static—invented in their generality about two hundred years ago, implemented in their particularity and plurality since then, and simply persisting by the force of their normativity (Anderson 1991; Gellner 1983; Hobsbawm 1972; Tamir 2019)—political elites in Poland demonstrate active engagement with (re)shaping the nation, or who is “we” to what “them” (Brubaker 2009).“They,” in Poland, are narrated as hostile and ethnically coded, and “they” are narrated in stories of the past. As my account will show, however, even though “they” are narrated in the past, the way “they” are imagined both shapes and constricts the notions of the present-day “we.” In pursuing this dual line of inquiry, and in heeding Bernhard and Kubik’s call for more explicit theorizing of memory in politics (2014), I draw on, adapt, and braid three distinct scholarly literatures spanning political science, sociology, and collective memory studies. In the process, I formulate an interdisciplinary politicized memory framework, a framework that explains

Introduction • 5

why political parties engage the past, what work it does for them, and how it affects democracy and national belonging. Since my home discipline of political science approaches past-related issues—legacies, commemorative rituals, and transitional justice practices—as singular events that need explaining, and since it looks to political and institutional arrangements of the polity as a source of that explanation, I reached to collective memory studies and to Bourdieusian forms-of-capital analysis to illuminate an inverse relationship, one in which the stories about the past told in the present by political actors affected the electoral game and reshaped the notions of present-day nation. Political science, in other words, supplied the puzzle and questions animating the book, sociology provided theoretical insights that explained the puzzle, and collective memory studies gave me the apparatus to articulate a constructivist approach to political identity of political parties, and a constructivist approach to nation-making as done by the political parties. Together, the three fields allowed me to show empirically and explain how Poles are imagined—that is, made or created—into a narrowly ethnic nation, and how the turn to the past and condemnation of communism are inimically entwined with the contemporary production of antisemitism.

Plan of Work Multiple audiences may reach for this book, and for different reasons, and to ease their entry into the text I divided it into three parts: part I is devoted to theoretical reflection; part II offers a deep reading and reinterpretation of the Polish contemporary political sphere; and the conclusion specifies my Poland-inspired and memory-related theoretical contributions to the most recent writing on right-wing populism. More specifically, part I introduces the theoretical language I develop to intertwine the insights of three disciplines, and it also explains my framework. It comprises two chapters: the first presents the theoretical preoccupations of the book, deals with questions and gaps in extant literatures, and explores the power of mnemonic capital in post-regime transition settings as it introduces the collective memory field to political scientists and political sociologists. It answers the questions, “Why do elites weaponize and politicize the past (or reach for mnemonic capital)?” and “What effects does this weaponization produce?” Very deliberately, to make the theory generalizable to other settings, the Polish case with its narratives of communism and Polish and Jewish imbrications makes almost no appearance here, and when it does, it is only in passing. In chapter 2, I introduce the Polish actors of the drama, constituted according to my theory, and I present the main themes of their narrations of the past. In doing so I demonstrate their mild programmatic differentiation

6 • Weaponizing the Past

and their efforts to achieve relational, sticky, and memory-derived identities. The chapter compares them across the political spectrum, first concentrating on differences of narrated themes—to show their productivity in creating political identities; and later concentrating on the similarity of themes—to show their productivity in shaping the notions of the national “we.” It is here that I specify how, despite the differences among the narratives of the past, and despite their explicit avowals to the contrary, the main parties in Poland conflate communism with Jewishness, and how, in so doing, they retrieve a narrowly understood and ethnically derived vision of the polity. In other words, I show how memory constricts progressive and inclusionary politics in Poland. This chapter, although empirical, localizes and historicizes my theory, or it retells the theory with stories. I place it in the theoretical part I precisely for this exemplifying effect, but also because I return to theoretical reflection at the chapter’s very end. I do this to explore the inductively derived concept of mnemonic procedure, which helps me demonstrate how turning to narrate and judge the past creates structuring effects on the polity. Chapter 2, therefore, provides a bridge between the theoretical propositions of chapter 1 and the empirical case explored in depth in part II. In part II, I trace the stories of the past seventy years, as told by Polish political actors in the present. I use and employ deep interpretative analysis of party platforms, party historical narratives, and 150 semistructured interviews with politicians—ranging from former presidents and sitting MPs to leaders of anarchist urban social movements—as well as parties’ intellectual milieus, mostly in the media, think tanks, and academia. I subject my data to two sets of comparisons: as mentioned, in chapter 2, I compare platforms, strategies, and stories across party lines; and in chapters 3–6, I compare the “what” with the “how” of the presentation within each party’s narrative. In making both comparisons, I identify the assumptions, meanings, and effects of the political language; that is, I decode or translate that language. If the theoretical part I allows me to answer why questions, the deep ethnography of one political space carried out in part II permits me to explore the how and to what effect questions; that is, the mechanisms by which the past enters and structures the politics of the post-transition polity. To trace the politicization of the past and its stakes, I anchored my inquiry in the 2015 Polish parliamentary election. By all accounts, the election was a watershed moment in the Polish post-transition trajectory. It brought to power the first majority government since transition, and a government now considered populist, ethno-nationalist, and displaying authoritarian tendencies (Bonikowski 2017). The 2015 election spelled out the end of one of the three major political blocks represented by the postcommunist successor party (the party continues to operate at the subnational and extranational

Introduction • 7

levels, and it may yet revive, but it has not done so as of this writing), and the election was emblematic of the political conversations that defined Polish politics since the transition. (It bears noting that the majority winner of the 2015 election repeated its feat by winning a second term in office in 2019, again as a majority. In the 2019 election, the past-related themes were present but muted, and the party concentrated its attacks on the invented “gender ideology” [Korycki 2022].) In chapters 3–6, I delve into the actual stories, as told within the four stable camps of Polish politics—I call them the Patriots, the Managers, the Liberals, and the Objectors (I explain the monikers in chapter 2). This static presentation allows me to show the internal dynamics of the clusters’ selfpresentation, the narratives of the past, and the emergent views of belonging. Each chapter follows a parallel structure: the first section explores how the cluster (or its political parties) presents itself to the electorate and how it manages the political field; the second section analyzes how the cluster narrates the past; the third confronts the two preceding sections—that is, it compares within, and teases out, the emergent imaginary of belonging. The conclusion of Weaponizing the Past explores the mechanisms of rightwing populist parties, based on the trends observed in Poland. It also proposes a causal account that explains their emergence. In other words, the conclusion reinterprets the Polish case as the case of a populist moment’s prehistory. That causal story, or that prehistory, was not in itself the point of this book, so its articulation in the conclusion means to serve as an invitation, indeed a provocation, for more sustained research on the questions of why right-wing populism emerges and why it succeeds. In doing so, the concluding section spells out the contribution of memory studies to the field of populist studies.

Notes Parts of this book rely on data and analysis contained in the following two articles: “Politicized memory in Poland: anti-communism and the Holocaust,” published in the Holocaust Studies on March 31, 2019 (copyright Taylor & Francis), available online at https:// www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17504902.2019.1567669; as well as “Memory, Party Politics, and Post-Transition Space: the case of Poland,” published in the East European Politics and Societies, and Cultures, Volume 31, Issue 3 (copyright Sage Journals). It is available online at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0888325417700263. 1. Despite the protest of historians debunking Valéry’s view of history, his quote proves prescient in this work, which deals with politicization and manipulation of the past. For more, see Butterfield (1985), Trask (1985), and Lowenthal (2015). 2. Brygada Świętokrzyska, or the Holy Cross Mountain Brigade, left Poland with the Nazis escaping the Red Army.

8 • Weaponizing the Past 3. The frame was replicated by most major news outlets regardless of ideological bent. 4. For a similar strategy attentive to the uses, longevity, and historical specificity of examined tropes, see Hanebrink (2018) and Olick (2016). 5. As always with categorical grids, these are not tight containers, and personal self-identifications are usually more complicated than the binary allows. I will trace four possible positions in Poland and two visions of national belonging. 6. Memory narratives are in no way inherently exclusionary: indeed, they may be instrumental in the formulation of challenges of the excluded—remembrance of slavery in the history of the United States may be one example (Hartman 2007), its reparations another (Coates 2014); they may contribute to the broadening of democratic debate, like the bottom-up organizing for a critical examination of the Nazi past in Germany (Wüstenberg 2017) or the Palestinian plight in Israel (Gutman 2017). 7. With the exception of those who study the politics of identity, or those who hail from the constructivist school in international relations, many in comparative political science treat identity as an independent variable to whatever dependent variables are being explored. This view and approach are inverted in this work. 8. His other types include a replacement, in which the opposition deposes and replaces the old regime, as happened in Romania; a transformation, in which the ruler liberalizes and democratizes without being compelled by the opposition, for instance in Hungary; and an intervention, where the old ruler is removed and delegitimized by an external force, for instance in postwar Germany (Huntington 1991: 113–14).



Chapter 1


8 Through the past . . . we venerated ourselves. —Pierre Nora (1989: 16)

[I]t mattered whether the “we” was called we who become together or African people or slaves, because these identities were tethered to conflicting narratives of our past, and, as well, these names conjured different futures. —Saidiya Hartman (2007: 231, emphasis in original)

Fantasies of the past determined by needs of the present have a direct impact on realities of the future. —Svetlana Boym (2001: xvi)

I was eighteen when I left Poland and forty when I returned. The Communist Party was in power when I was leaving, but even though I did not know it at the time, its remaining days in office were few. Within a year, Solidarity and the party would face one another in the Round Table talks, and within a year and a half I would line up at the Polish consulate in Toronto to vote in the first, semi-free, election.1 When I returned to begin what turned out to be more than eight months of research, Poland had been democratic and capitalist for over twenty years. As much as everything was the same, nothing was the same.2 The first thing that struck me was the pervasiveness of remembering. The past, and communism especially, were not missed, but they were invoked,

12 • Weaponizing the Past

toyed with, referred to. It was as if memorializing constituted a peculiar new language in which to apprehend the world. On my first walk in Warsaw’s Old Town, I encountered nine temporary art installations, six of which were memory related. In a matter of weeks, I attended four out of eleven marches that took place in Warsaw alone. The marches grouped tens of thousands of people commemorating, in their separate ways, the restoration of Polish statehood on 11 November 1918. In due time, after I had conducted 150 interviews with politicians and their intellectual circles, I confirmed that all political debate was conducted through the medium of the past. What many intuited, and some expressed, was that not only was there a lot of talking about, commemorating, and referencing the past, but that the past was the structuring principle of public space. One could not enter that space and be perceived as a legitimate public participant if one did not, somehow, relate to the past. Many deplored this and tried ostensibly to reject it, but, as Foucault showed, to resist an ordering principle of public life is to also, simultaneously, legitimate it (1990: 95).3 Whether they embraced, repudiated, deployed deliberately and instrumentally, or punctured it, my respondents were clear that talking about the past, communism especially, organized their public identities and lives in the present. This was true to such a degree that the 2015 parliamentary and executive elections were overwhelmingly won by a party claiming that communism—communism, which had ended in 1989—was a continuing and present danger in Poland. The pervasiveness of remembering and preoccupation with communism were compounded by a sharp antagonism of political views. This was a second powerful surprise. I sensed it first in the 11 November commemorations, in which some marched under heavy police protection, fearing the violence of others.4 I encountered it in the most naked form in my interviews, in which politicians of different stripes discussed their adversaries as irreconcilable enemies. They did not see each other as political opponents but as hostile tribes. Surprisingly, they did not refer to policy differences when drawing these sharp distinctions. Instead, they narrated the past to paint the others as treasonous, irrational, or authoritarian. In my deep analysis of their platforms, I confirmed that the sharp antagonisms marked political opponents who did not diverge greatly in terms of their programs.5 In matters of policy they differed in style, less so in substance.6 In this book, I want to apprehend and interpret this post-transition political landscape. I am especially interested in understanding how the past—or more specifically representation and narration about the ancien régime and its passing—enters and persists in the political language, and how it affects politics. My work is animated by a curiosity as to how societies that experienced dramatic change process that change. Rather than being concerned with

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 13

what happened, and rather than assuming that they “come to terms with the past,” I track how the past is made into a political resource and what effects it produces. In pursuing the usability of the past, I follow, gingerly, in the footsteps of Michel-Rolph Trouillot, who studied the uncomfortable relationship between the history of Haitian Revolution—that which happened, he called it—and the silences and inclusions of its narratives—that which is said to have happened—as productive of power and identity (1995); I also draw on Paul Hanebrink and his exploration of the political work performed by JudeoBolshevism mythology (2018), Tony Judt and his investigation of various efforts to establish national innocence in post–World War II Europe (2014), Katherine Verdery and her examination of regime legitimation in postcommunist spaces (1999), and most recently Jelena Subotić and her study of the uses of misremembered Holocaust in postcommunist Europe (2019). Like them, and borrowing heavily from Jan Assmann and Jeffrey Olick, I am less interested in the “factuality” of history and more in its “actuality” (Olick 2016). And like them, I seek to decode the constitutive features of pastrelated talk as I illuminate the work that past-talk performs for the political and cultural entrepreneurs who use it. In order to understand the promiscuity and productivity of the past in politics, I rely on the concept of collective memory, and I apply it to two distinct but interacting conceptual fields. Those fields are political competition and the politics of national belonging. Turning first to the field of political competition and following Pierre Bourdieu, I propose that political parties emerging from the fog of transition have unequal access to necessary capitals, or political resources. On the one hand, there is the transition loser—that is, the former ruler—who has the material resources to be a functioning party and the experience, know-how, and networks to create its identity and to mobilize support. The loser therefore has, what Bourdieu calls, material and cultural capitals required to be a successful party.7 On the other hand, there is a transition winner—that is, a group or movement of former oppositionists (Solidarity trade union, for instance)—who have none of the necessary resources: they do not have the money at first, nor the organizational structures or the expertise of formulating platforms, mobilizing voters, and achieving political identity thorough their platforms. What the winner does have, and the loser does not, is access to a symbolic, or what I call mnemonic, capital of having won a moral victory, or on being on the right side of history. (This is not a banal claim in which one party lost and one party won. The point here is that the winner uses its moral victory over the opponent to create identity and mobilize support.) The word “moral” is important here because mnemonic capital accrues to parties based on two factors: turn to the past and turn toward judgment. A

14 • Weaponizing the Past

party may be past-, present-, or future-oriented: in post-transition space the winner will be interested in being turned to the past, that is where it has won, and the loser will have an interest in being turned to the present/future, as that is where its sins are forgotten, so to speak. A party may also judge the past by attributing its evil to the bad (foreign) others, who perpetrated it—here the evil and the person merges; it may judge it based on moral principles that it offended; or what happened in the past may be attributed to circumstances (this is clearly the least harsh of the condemnations, the first one being the harshest). The generalized turn to the past and to judgment establishes the field of legitimate players. In other words, it constitutes a condition of entry to the political field: if one does not repudiate the past, one has no legitimate political standing. The particular way in which a political actor turns to the past and judges that past endows that actor with sticky political identity. That is, the way one conceives and narrates the past establishes a sharp political differentiation, so much so that even players whose programs differ only slightly appear to each other and to their voters as irreconcilable enemies. In regard to national belonging—my second conceptual field—I argue that the process of narrating the past, which political elites undertake to gain mnemonic capital, reveals and constitutes the imaginary of who is considered a legitimate member of the collectivity. The matter of political competition recedes here, and the content and meaning of stories take center stage. This content and meaning specify the boundary of a community (who is included and who is excluded), a principle by which the boundary may be crossed (whether and how the excluded can become included), and internal hierarchies (who is a full citizen and who less so). Past narratives articulate and constitute this imaginary of national belonging not only by positing significant categories, hierarchies, and principles of inclusion and exclusion but also by specifying the legitimate authority to name the boundary and the principle. Retracing the stories of communism, as told by the political players in Poland, I aim to illuminate the effervescence on the one hand and stakes on the other of collective remembering in the present electoral and nationmaking politics. I get to these stories in the chapters to come, but before I do, in this chapter, I first sketch how the issue of troubled past is addressed in various fields dealing with the political realm; I then introduce the major insights of collective memory literature and my contributions to the “politicized memory framework.” I end the chapter with a theoretical elaboration of mnemonic capital and reinvention of nationhood. Not much in this chapter relates to the Polish case specifically, except how it presents an intriguing conceptual, empirical, and normative puzzle. Rather, I concentrate this chapter on elucidating the language I develop to chart and explain the use and productivity of past in politics in post-transition settings.

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 15

The Past in Politics: What Do We Know and What Don’t We Know? The past enters the writing on politics in three distinct ways. The communist legacies literature looks to institutional traces of old regimes and considers how these traces affect the process of democratization (Beissinger and Kotkin 2014; Ekiert and Hanson 2003; Grzymała-Busse 2002a, 2002b; Wittenberg 2015). Scholars here track how the traces wither, how they adapt, how they survive, and, if they survive, whether they derail the process of democratization. The past here is understood as (a) an independent variable of the process of democratization; but (b) it is a past that is corporeal, institutional, or material. In a different vein, the transitional justice literature looks at how emerging polities come to terms with the past, how they put the past to rest, and how they rely on the retributive, conciliatory, and restorative justice practices to do so (De Greiff 2011; Torpey 2006). In the postcommunist setting, this literature is primarily concerned with lustration, which refers to vetting and purging the old regime’s officials from public life (Nalepa 2010; Nedelsky 2004; Stan 2009a and 2009b). The third literature deals with political commemoration of past events. Its most recent and ambitious contribution develops a theory in which a “mnemonic regime”—that is, a way in which a particular event is commemorated—depends on a combination of mnemonic actors present. Kubik and Bernhard identify four types of actors and their dominant strategies: “warriors,” “pluralists,” “abnegators,” and “prospectives” (2014: 14–18). Warriors and prospectives are presented as identities, or kinds of actor: the first are fundamentalists seeking to establish an authoritative and single truth about the past and are frequently found in postcommunist states; the second seek utopian futures and are rare in postcommunist space. Pluralists and abnegators are presented more as strategic stances rather than identities, and the same actors may adopt them at will: thus, pluralists accept multiple versions of the past, and abnegators do not care about the past at all (2014: 20–28).8 My findings and my theory confirm the presence of four ways of relating to the past in the post-transition context. Our works diverge in the causal direction of the inquiry: as was the case with the retributive justice literature, Kubik and Bernhard’s study seeks to explain (historical) policy variation by proximate political factors. In other words, they explain why an event was commemorated in particular ways, not why and how the commemoration was productive of politics. As useful as these frameworks are, they provide no conceptual apparatus to grapple with the past as a protean and promiscuous discursive principle of public and political life. They do not address what I encountered on the

16 • Weaponizing the Past

streets and in my interviews, which was not so much emanations of institutions or historically oriented policies but representations. I encountered the past as it was narrated and presumably doing some work in the present. Addressing this conceptual gap became important because the language of the past was used to create sharp and deeply polarized identities among political actors, identities that the actors fashioned in the absence of sharp programmatic differentiation. The political parties literature, when it addresses itself to democratic systems, takes it as a given that (a) in order for parties to engage in competition, they have to appear distinct from one another, and (b) the parties use political programs and platforms to achieve their differentiation. Whether they write about the articulation of clear “ideologies” to reduce transaction costs for voters with competing demands on their time (Downs 1957), or whether they theorize the modes of organization, aggregation, and representation of the prevailing interests and cleavages in society (Kitschelt 2000; Lipset and Rokkan 1967), or whether they explore the difficulty of differentiation between ideological versus pragmatic, or catch-all parties (Kirchheimer 1966; LaPalombara and Weiner 1966), they all confirm the necessity of differentiation and the centrality of platforms in the process of that differentiation.9 Poland appears to meet the first expectation of the political parties literature, but it does not meet the second. The country has multiple parties, which appear different to their voters in that elections happen and produce different winners. But—and this is especially true for the elections prior to 2019—the parties that compete for office do not appear to be sharply differentiated in terms of programs. More to the point, they do not appear to use their policy differences, such as they are, to compete. Addressing the conceptual gap became even more important, as the language of the past appeared implicated in the creation of exclusionary and closed visions of society. This was cast in a sharp relief during the European migration crisis of 2015–17. During the crisis, close to three million people arrived in Europe fleeing war and violence.10 With the exception of Germany and Sweden, which accepted large numbers of resettled migrants, many Western European countries accepted limited quotas for relocation, and most Central European States (CEE) resisted accepting many, if any at all. (Hungary, of course, already had a large number of newly arriving refugees, whom it did not want to keep.) Without overstating the difference, the Western states talked of acceptance while capping the accepted numbers low, while Eastern states talked of refusal and followed suit with exclusionary polices (Kaźmierkiewicz 2018). Indeed, Poland reneged on its acceptance commitment—capped at six thousand people—after electing a majority center-right government in 2015, and it admitted no refugees at all (2018: 7). Notwithstanding the lukewarm welcome to migrants from the vast majority of the EU states, the strength of the reaction emanating from CEE states surprises.11 In

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 17

most of those states, all non-native-born inhabitants, pre- and postmigration crisis, represent less than 1 percent of the population (2018: 5). If this surprising hostility is ever theorized—surprising, in that, why a society of thirty-five million should fear the arrival of six thousand—it is usually subsumed under the ethnic-nation explanation (Brubaker 1992).12 This explanation assumes that demographically ethnic nations are somehow automatically normatively so. But if this were the case, why did political leaders continue to “work” the national story? And why did so much of that story involve not only the present-day migrants but also those of the past? Most importantly, what were the visions of the community the stories articulated, and were they in any way echoed in attitudes of the present? With these questions in mind, Poland, it seems, represents a curious empirical and conceptual puzzle. On the one hand, it does not conform with, nor is it explained by, the existing political science literatures. On the other hand, it presents a challenge to the existing past-related frameworks, which do not address the issue of the past as the language of politics. In other words, contemporary Poland presents an opportunity for cross-disciplinary theorizing. In order to meet this challenge, I reached to the collective memory studies and expanded its reach to electoral politics and politics of national belonging.

Collective Memory Explained The field of collective memory studies foregrounds the fact that memory is socially constructed, that the process of remembering is a dialogic one, and that it constitutes identities and collectivities. In seeing memory as social, the field locates its central concept between the processes of personal or individual recall and history as a scholarly discipline (Halbwachs 1992; Olick 2016). On the one hand, groups provide individuals with an impetus to remember, and they are a site of processes and practices of telling and retelling of stories of collective past. In being so, they provide group members with collectively shared frames that shape understanding and interpretations of the past and of the present. In being so again, collective memory narratives constitute the group’s sense of identity. On the other hand, even though social remembering relies on historical events, it narrates them in ways and for reasons that are distinct from the strictures of historiography. As Michel-Rolph Trouillot explained, history is that which happened, historiography and collective memory are those areas of scholarly and social endeavors that articulate that which is said to have happened (1995). The distinction between the processes of history and their multiple representations is important analytically, but fraught with tension, negotiation, and power relations in practice. Yes, history changes our lives, but how we interpret the changes is shaped by the narra-

18 • Weaponizing the Past

tives and stories we weave about them. Historiography is one way of giving meaning to past events, a way concerned with facticity of history, its causal process, and credible presentation. Collective memory, or what Jan Assmann called mnemohistory, is another way of relating to the past, one that actualizes the past in the collective life of the living (Assmann 1997; Olick 2016). In other words, history by historians is not primarily concerned with identity of groups constituted in the communal telling and retelling of history, while mnemohistory analyzed by collective memory scholars always is. To be sure, some historians engage in the processes of collective remembering—many of the narratives analyzed in this book, even if they were written for and used by political elites, were penned by historians—but historiography as a field overlaps with collective memory slightly and arguably uncomfortably. This is because the fields are organized by different rules and purposes, even as both may relate to the same events. This is best exemplified by collective memory’s presentist outlook. Those who work on collective memory may quarrel about the degree of manipulation of the past, but they all agree that social remembering pulls and arranges from the past that which is deemed important in the present.13 In the sections that follow, I explore collective memory field to specify my borrowings, modifications, and additions. In other words, I articulate a politicized memory framework and spell out its terms and assumptions. I do this to explain why political actors turn the past into a political resource, how they make it productive, and how their remembering affects contemporary notions of belonging. As will become clear in the chapters that follow, their memory narratives represent practices not concerned with legacies, commemoration, or transitional justice, but encompass mundane political speech and popular historical storytelling. Product or Process, or Collective Memory and Memory Talk I rely on collective memory literature but rarely use the term “memory.” Instead, I refer to past-talk, memory-talk, deployment of mnemonic capital, narrating the past, or simply remembering. If I do speak of memory, I mean it only as shorthand to these processual terms. I use process- rather than outcome-related terms for two reasons. Collective memory is a category of practice and of analysis. As a category of practice, it is a medium used by actors in the world to create identities and shape collectivities. More specifically, it is a tool that (a) brings groups into being and (b) makes them appear as eternal and natural. It may in itself be a way of dehistoricizing, a means of mystification, a mode of straddling the Andersonian paradox in which recently imagined groups (nations in Anderson’s example, creeds in Halbwachs’s [1992]) become experienced as old and everlasting (Anderson 1991: 5).14 If, therefore,

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 19

my aim is to analyze the machinations that turn the emergent into the natural and explain how they work, I do not want to confuse categories of analysis with categories of practice. More to the point, I do not want to reify that which I aim to explain (Brubaker 2009; Brubaker and Cooper 2004; Lambek 2003; Olick 2016). Second, “collective memory” as a category of analysis is static, and in being so, it deceives. It refers to an outcome, a result that obtains, rather than a process in which it engages. Most importantly, it suggests that a process of remembering will result in something called memory.15 In so doing it turns attention away from that which is most useful and valuable in the concept: narration, contestation, and manipulation (Olick 1999, 2015). In Olick’s words, “collective memory” as a term “substantializes what is in fact a fluid process. Where remembering is a quintessentially relational phenomenon (what is it, if not relating?), memory is a grossly substantialist metaphor, implying cold storage, rather than hot use” (Olick 2003: 6, emphasis in original). To avoid reifying what I analyze as dynamic and emerging, and to avoid predetermining the outcome, my analysis attends to the hot process of talking about the past. Collective Memory and Narrativity As many in the collective memory field agree, collective memory is forged through negotiation, conversation, and mediation (Halbwachs 1992; Hodgkin and Radstone 2006; E. Zerubavel 2003). It does not come into being by simply sharing experiences. The meaning of the past must be framed and fought over and then judged vis-à-vis various and changing current needs. Scholars in the field look to a variety of sites and modalities in which contestation and meaning mediation happen. They write extensively on commemorations and other symbolic gestures such as renaming of streets, setting up archives, and establishing museums and public holidays.16 They deal with monuments.17 They address school curricula18 and the writing of history.19 Finally, they look to more directly political gestures, such as historicizing strategies,20 actual political debates,21 and social activism and contestation.22 I hasten to specify that, in my approach, not only is memory forged—if it emerges at all—in the process of mediation and negotiation, but it can only be apprehended in such a process. As Olick put it, storytelling about the past “‘per-forms’ the group by ‘re-membering’ it” (2016: 14). In other words, there is no collective memory—or no epistemological access to collective memory—other than in the instance of it being expressed. I also want to specify a more discursive modality by which collective memory processes are conducted. To that end, I turn away from material sites and look to political speech, or stories, about the past.

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The preference to study the material within the collective memory field takes us back to the formative writing of Maurice Halbwachs. In his “Legendary Topography of the Gospels in the Holy Land” chapter (1992), Halbwachs made two important claims. First, he argued that the people who wrote the Gospels could not have known Christ. Christ’s contemporaries, his disciples, and the direct witnesses and participants of his life would write a story of their shared life and not one in which Christ’s life is one long preparation for death. In their account, his death would recede. But the Gospels are not written that way. On the contrary, they present Christ’s life whose telos is death (and resurrection and ascension). More to the point, they are an elaboration of Christian dogma, in which the Son of God comes to earth to redeem original sin through death. If we take the presentist bent of the collective memory field seriously, claimed Halbwachs, this can only mean that the Gospels were written by those who did not experience a life with Christ but who, from a distance of time, attempted to constitute a new religion and identity. Second, Halbwachs claimed that even though the authors did not experience life with Christ, they wrote the Gospels to vivify that life (and its progress to death) and to allow generations of believers to share, as it were, in the experience of that life. They therefore strove for the account to appear authentic—we have more than one story, and each is presented as if from an authoritative, firsthand, source. More importantly for Halbwachs, they specified the rituals and sites that allowed believers to experience the sacred as concrete, and, in doing so, they ensured group reproduction. He claimed, “If a truth is to be settled in the memory of a group it needs to be presented in the concrete form of an event, of a personality, or of a locality. A purely abstract truth is not a recollection” (1992: 200). This formative text turns the field of collective memory toward concrete events, sites, and rituals. In an ironic twist, just as Halbwachs analyzed the narrative structures of texts, he turned the field of collective memory toward experiential modalities of creating shared “memories.” He was aware that he was studying stories; he analyzed the productivity of similarities and dissimilarities among those stories; and he looked to discursive moves aiming at the credibly authentic voice. But the fact that what he studied was a story remained untheorized, and its productive potential unnoticed. Wishing to compensate for this bias, I concentrate on political and cultural elites’ narratives of the past. I want to capture the mundane rather than the spectacular, or the dynamic rather than the settled. To that end, in the chapters to come, I trace how political elites weave stories of the past seventy years, and I trace the meanings the stories establish and the effects they produce. In this way, narratives—as epistemological entry points—are both methodological and conceptual tools. I analyze the story that is being woven, and it matters that it is a story. On the one hand, I follow Somers (1992), who claims

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 21

that analyzing narratives allows a glimpse into the meaning-making process of the groups or, better yet, storytellers who deploy it. On the other hand, I treat the entire communist period as a realm, or a fault line (Nora and Kritzman 1996), or as a mine of memory (Neumayer and Mink 2013). Approaching this period in a holistic way allows me to track how elites select the elements of their stories (what they include and omit), how they causally emplot them (how they construct causal chains), and how they arrange them in time and space (Somers 1992).23 Seeing stories as concrete sites of remembering and meaning-making makes possible the analysis of relations that are being set up, or, more specifically, it allows for the glimpse of discursively relational identities as they are being constituted (Laclau and Mouffe 2001). In this way, narratives are a means of gaining access into the circulating political discourses, the relations they constitute, and the imaginaries they engender (S. Hall 1980). Collective Memory and the Constitution of Groups: What Kind of a Group Is Imagined? Those who work in the field of collective memory see it as an elastic, abstract concept (Pakier and Stråth 2010: 4), connected with other abstract notions, such as time, past, and history, but also groupness and identity. In their view, collective memory locates in the realm of cultural production, actualizing the past in the lived reality of the living (Le Goff 1996; Olick 2016) and constituting the group by articulating its relationship to the past. While drawing on actual historical events, collective remembering subjects them to selection, ordering, and interpretation meant to serve present needs.24 Some call this process the invention of “usable pasts” (Pisano 2014). The “usability” refers to those aspects of identity production that rely on the past for their construction. These could mean the establishment of either distinctiveness (Horowitz 2000; Smith 2003),25 or sameness over time (Gillis 1994), or superiority (Hodgkin and Radstone 2006; Pakier and Stråth 2010), or a sense of worth (Uhl 2010 quoting A. Assmann 1992; Smith 2003). I propose that the collective memory processes constitute identities and groups not so much by establishing their relationship with the past but rather by using the story of the past to articulate the imaginary of present-day belonging. To concentrate on the past only presupposes the group as distinct from others already, and it treats it as a thing in the world rather than a thing that becomes knowable to itself and others in the practices—including the practices of remembering—that it employs (Brubaker 2009). The assumption that groups emerge (and re-emerge) only in instances of practice is a difficult proposition. It presupposes that humanity is sorted in many different ways: one may be a woman, a birdwatcher, a Canadian,

22 • Weaponizing the Past

or a cyclist—but which of these lines of division is activated depends on social and political conditions. It is not enough to ride a bicycle daily (for instance) to “become” a cyclist. For the identity to emerge, a person needs to get involved in a conversation about the organization of transit in a context of resource competition with cars. In this situation, one “becomes” in the process of a debate in which distinction and relation (vis-à-vis cars) is posed as significant. Furthermore, this identity in no sense need be enduring. It may disappear after the conflict and contestation. More relevantly, it is not enough to be subject to structural inequality organized by skin color to consider oneself racialized. For identity to emerge, one needs to become involved in a collective process of remembering the past and contesting the present inequality, and its racial marker. It is in the process of talking (and acting) and remembering that a group coheres and becomes visible to itself and to others. Outside of these processes, all we have is people riding bicycles and struggling against cars, or people with different access to resources, with access dependent on skin pigment. Each emerges as a group—and becomes visible to its members and others—in the process of narrating (Jung 2009). If structural inequality and the process of remembering and contesting last for some time, they may create subjects who hold identitarian self-understandings.26 That is, the subjects may think of themselves as Black (for instance), and they buttress the identity with a memory of subjugation and contestation. This is a valid view for actors in the world. The job of the analyst, however, is to deconstruct its emergent nature. One may claim that the process of identity construction is analytically distinct from the process of remembering. On this understanding identity is formed in relational terms—I am an employee to my employer, I am a daughter to my mother, or I am white, that is, I have access to benefits and privileges not available to Black people—whereas memory is a process that gives this relationship a duration, and it extends it back in time—that is, my employer and my mother create the meaning of our relationship by narrating it in temporal terms, and white and Black identities, although marking the structural hierarchy in the present, can be traced historically. This is a useful distinction only if we do not lose sight of the larger identity game, and if we do not lose sight of the processual nature of its becoming. Memory-talk, on my understanding, is a method with which cultural entrepreneurs establish groups by giving historical depth to the posited distinction from others and posited sameness with “us.” The “historical” narrative is important because it naturalizes divisions as it institutes them in the present. I argue, therefore, that through the process of debating and narrating the past, the weavers of stories posit the relevant categorical grids—they establish the way humanity is to be sorted, and then they establish a principle by which one is to be placed in a particular categorical box. In other words, they estab-

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 23

lish the cartography of inclusion and exclusion. This conception encompasses distinctiveness (what makes us other than them?) and sameness (what makes us us?),27 and it posits the porosity/fixity of the boundary (can they become us, and on what conditions?) and way of relating (are we different but equal to them, or are we related hierarchically?). Telling stories of the past can accomplish all these moves, and it is what makes the past relevant in the present, so much so that the posited history of the relations may authorize their perpetuation in the present. As the examples above and chapters to come will show, the lines of divisions that get activated need not concern nations or races only. A cyclist may have access to an identity, if only fleetingly. So may a political party, or a party system. This way of approaching collective memory focuses analysis on the narrative of the past as revealing the imaginary of the group. More importantly, it focuses the analysis on the kind of group that is being imagined in the past, and therefore in the present. Just as it focuses, it also broadens the analytical gaze to encompass both the boundary and the principles of group reproduction. Presentism and Its Limits: Actors or Structures? Collective memory as a scholarly field (as opposed to a field of practice) agrees on memory being a presentist project. The process of recalling, done in the present, invokes that which is past. This process is always partial and selective. Contrary to those who seek to establish historical truths, collective memory scholars assume that the past is not knowable in its entirety and any representation of that past is inherently selective.28 This need not mean that what is being recalled is a pure invention, or what some call a myth.29 To claim that collective memory is made in the present and that it is selective and partial, but that it is not a fiction, opens the first debate of the field. Olick represents one side of this debate, and he is accompanied by a great majority of those who analyze memory. He claims that the concept’s great added value lies in its sustained attention to a multiplicity of voices, distortion, and contestation over meanings (1999, 2015).30 Schwartz represents the other side of the debate, claiming that the sustained attention to contestation and distortion has led collective memory scholars away from theorizing that which collective memory does best, namely, how it binds and works to establish collective self-understandings (2015). Put differently, this disagreement concerns the appropriate focus of study: the present shape of the group made visible in the way the past is narrated, or the past vivified and uniting the living. My work does not resolve this debate but pulls the strands closer together. On the one hand, I enter my topic at the time of post-transition flux and study how powerful actors capitalize on the past for immediate political gains. Here, I am interested in how differently they narrate the past and what the

24 • Weaponizing the Past

differences signify. On the other hand, I rely on Schwartz’s concept of redundancy to identify the tropes organizing the emergent imaginary community. Here I pay attention to the similarity of the narratives, following Schwartz’s intuition that what is repeated and amplified in multivocal stories, what is consonant despite differences, is indeed what shapes belonging (2015). Taking Olick’s approach, if applied to the Gospels, I am less interested in the life of Christ than in what the stories about Christ’s life tell us about the community the storytellers imagined. Like Schwartz, however, I also look to the similarities in accounts to tease out that which will form the backbone of communal self-understanding. The second problem that emerges in the collective memory field’s presentist outlook concerns constructivism and instrumentality. Not only do scholars in the field agree that recalling the past is done in the present, and is therefore subject to change and distortion, they also agree that the recalling is shaped by the present. This presentist view may be divided into two schools of thought. One sees the past in purely instrumental terms: cultural or political entrepreneurs use and manipulate the past for particular purposes (Alonso 1988; Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983). The softer variant of the first school sees interest as constituted in the very process of debating and shaping the past (Polletta 2003). The second school sees the present as being less intentionally implicated. In its telling, people and groups recall the past in the present, and they interpret and enfold past events into coherent narratives based on their existing cultural frames and experiences (Mead 1959, referenced in Olick 1998: 128). The issue here is framed as instrumentality versus meaning-making. As with the malleability versus persistence debate, I do not resolve but reformulate it: I conduct my analysis assuming the past is used for present-day purposes. My approach is therefore presentist-instrumental. But as my analysis makes clear, not everything about the deployment of mnemonic capital or the emergent imaginary of belonging is a matter of agentic purposeful action (what Olick calls voluntarism [2003: 6]). As I explain in detail in chapter 2, narrating the past structures and constrains subsequent narration and structures and constrains the emergent imaginaries of the collectivities. In other words, the coherence of narratives demands that if one remembered A, one cannot also remember not-A. Furthermore, the interaction between the two fields enables and constrains future discursive maneuvers. As such, my analysis pays attention to choices made by agents, and it pays attention to the structural constraints on emergent meanings resulting from instrumental deployment. Judgment—The Past as Remembered and Judged Finally, I supplement the concept of collective memory with sustained attention to moral judgment. In the presentist vein, I claim that the past is not

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 25

only manipulated but also judged. The intuition that judgment matters in memory (both in practice and in analysis) has been articulated before, but not foregrounded. On the one hand, the consideration of judgment (and critique) pertains to the originary turn toward memory as an analytical tool. Notwithstanding Halbwachs’s early contributions (1992),31 the collective memory field did not experience a flourishing until Holocaust studies and postcolonial critiques challenged the supposedly objective practice of historiography and its active involvement in nation-making (Olick and Robbins 1998; Schwartz 1996, 2015). Judgment here concerns the motivation to deploy memory as a field of analysis. On the other hand, and more importantly for conceptual reasons, judgment was seen as important in the writing of those who saw stories of the past as instrumental in providing models of collective life or creating a sense of collective worth (Uhl 2010, quoting A. Assmann 1992; Margalit 2002; Nora 1989; Smith 2003). Inversely, some signal its importance as a means of closure and exclusion (Jung 2011; Korycki 2019).32 I pay attention to retroactively meted judgment of the past, or more specifically, I trace the variation among elite narratives of the past, and elites’ efforts to establish an authoritative version and valuation of the past. It is not enough to say that postcommunist spaces (or any “post-” space, whether postfeudal, postcolonial, or postapartheid) are predicated on repudiation (or veneration) of the past—one needs to look at how exactly the past is made to be “evil” (or idyllic). I argue that in the minutia of that construction—revealed in the narrative—lies the key to the past’s productivity both in terms of proximate effects and a more enduring imaginary of belonging. To summarize, I use collective memory as an analytical tool to study stories of the past woven in a post-transition setting. I do so not to uncover historical truths (although I indicate the fabricated elements of the story) but to reveal the present-day preoccupations and imaginaries of the narrators. In other words, I treat memory-talk, shaped into a narrative, as a way of gaining insight about meaning- and identity-making in the present. The past matters to me only to the degree that it is shaped and manipulated. My staunchly presentist approach is founded on an assumption that telling the story of one’s past is politically productive. I identify contingent and immediate payoffs that affect, if not structure, political competition. I also explore the substantive stakes of memory-talk and how they reveal and constitute the imaginary of common belonging.

Memory and Electoral Competition The main political parties in Poland fashion their political identities, and legitimate the post-transition order, by turning to the past and by judging

26 • Weaponizing the Past

communism. They all remember—or more specifically, narrate, refer, and invoke—communism as evil, but they establish this evil differently. This has three effects. First, turning to the past and to moral opprobrium defines the boundary of the field of political competition and designates its legitimate players. In other words, political aspirants must relate to the past if they wish to enter the field. Second, the particular way of turning to the past and the particular mode of judging endow the actors with their political identities. They give the actors a base of political visibility and distinctiveness. I understand identity here as an achievement, a form of political capital (Bourdieu 1986b, 1998)—as mentioned, I call this capital mnemonic—and a matter of productive labor rather than an inherent quality of an entity (Jung 2009). Third, different deployment of mnemonic capital structures the field of political competition relationally and hierarchically: each party claims a role for itself and for others. In this field, narratives that judge the past become the tools of the game and a source of mnemonic capital; political legitimacy, identity, and hierarchy are the stakes. I show how this game is being played in detail, in chapter two. Mnemonic Capital Post-transition (and more specifically, post-transplacement) spaces emerge from their negotiations with two broadly defined actors: the former ruler, who lost the transition, and the former opposition, who won the transition. The former ruler is considered a loser in that it now needs to share power, but its loss is not total in that it remains a legitimate player (Huntington 1991; Jung and Shapiro 1995; Przeworski 1991, 1992).33 The two actors are not homogeneous. The ruler is divided into the reformers and the hardliners, and the opposition is divided into the moderates and the radicals (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986: 15–17). For a negotiation, or a pact, to be successful, the reformers and moderates have to be ascendant in their respective camps, and they have to be able to control their more radically conservative or militant flanks.34 Control involves using the flanks, as threats vis-à-vis one’s opponents, but also preventing the flanks from realizing the threats they pose (Przeworski 1992: 117).35 If the pact is successful, the post-transition electoral politics will be divided into two broad camps of consolidated old ruler and consolidated opposition; or three camps of consolidated old ruler and a divided opposition. The division of the ruler is less likely, in that the hardliners will have had to be neutralized (or co-opted) so as not to spoil the transition; if they remain unrepentant, hardliners will lose legitimacy in a democracy. Thus, positioned actors emerge into the post-transition order and face a task of forming themselves into political parties competing for power.

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 27

My theory picks the thread where the transitions to democracy scholars leave off, and it introduces two complications. First, I argue that the former oppositionists are transition winners in two ways: they gain access to real and normative power. Notwithstanding the negotiated nature of the agreement, the point of transition is to end the old regime and begin a new one. The old ruler recognizes it of course—that is why it began to negotiate—but the old ruler’s recognition does not diminish the fact that its normative order has been deemed illegitimate. The pacted transition, therefore, represents not a simple broadening of the political base but an elevation of one model of a polity over another. Democracy won and authoritarianism lost, for instance, and those who stood for one model or the other partake in their valuations. As chapters 2–6 will show, the valuation itself, its bases and scope, as well as its heroes and villains, will become a matter of political manipulation and competition. It is precisely the presence of the legitimate actor tainted by a connection with the repudiated regime that opens the political space for the past, and judgment, to rush in. In other words, it is the pact that creates a condition of possibility for the past to become politicized and for memory to become a political weapon. Second, I argue that players emerging from transition do not have equal access to the necessary resources, or forms of capital, necessary for political competition. By capital I mean an asset that can be harnessed and deployed in order to compete. Three such forms of capital seem essential: material resources, skills and organization, and identity. Financial and material assets help fund strategy formulation and implementation; skills and organizational structures help mobilize the cadres, and indirectly the electorate; identity, as we were told by the political parties literature, is produced through platforms and programs and is a condition of the competition. I contend that to formulate a platform and translate it into an identity is a skill that needs to be learned, and that it is not a skill that the post-transition actors readily posses. And yet, they have to compete. Their endowment in what I propose as necessary capital is, therefore, as follows: the transition winner lacks the expertise, structures, and material resources to be a well-oiled party. The transition loser has them in spades. Neither has the skill to formulate programmatic identities. I argue that the transition winner compensates for its lack of material and cultural resources by developing and deploying a symbolic capital rooted in memory. The transition winner has access to mnemonic capital because it has won a moral victory over the past and is on the “right” side of history. The actor uses this capital to fashion its political identity and mobilize voters. If post-transition parties rely on mnemonic capital to achieve political distinction—if, in other words, mnemonic capital is a resource that parties gain and claim—it must be conceived of as a divisible variable. If it does not vary in deployment and intensity, it cannot produce differentiation among

28 • Weaponizing the Past

those who wield it. As I alluded to above, I theorize mnemonic capital as constituted by a temporal orientation and a moral judgment of the past. It is precisely the differences in the ways in which parties turn to the past, and the distinct ways in which they make that past evil, that they accomplish their sticky identities. Temporal orientation refers to the discursive outlook of the party: it may be past-, present-, or future-oriented. In general terms, conservative parties tend to invoke nostalgia for the past; single-issue parties, or brokerage parties, are concerned with the present; and radical, utopian parties are organized toward the future (Judt and Snyder 2012: 91).36 In more particular terms, in post-transition spaces, the winner will have an interest in turning to the past to emphasize its accomplishment in having overturned it; the loser has an interest in turning away from the past, where it has lost, and adopting a present- and future-oriented outlook (Grzymała-Busse 2002a, 2008). Moral judgment refers to the ways in which party elites narrate the past and the ways in which they venerate or repudiate it. In the context of pacted transition, which generally leads states to democratize, the transition is uniformly seen as progress, and the pre-transition past as worthy of repudiation. Judgment, for me, will therefore concern the location and the level of saturation of the offending difference. I find three ways in which one can render the past condemnable. The strongest repudiation externalizes the past regime: its architects will be declared and judged as foreign to the collectivity and rendered as essentially and existentially hostile. The second way to excoriate the past identifies the moral principles that it offended. In this telling, the former ruler does not designate an “essential” other but marks a morally repugnant adversary. The third, and weakest, way to repudiate the past renders past decisions as mistakes, or errors in judgment. If the first repudiation locates the evil in the essence of a person and the second invokes a moral principle, the third attributes it to circumstances. The winners may decide which type of strong rejection to deploy, but it seems safe to say that the loser will invoke the third. Let me now return to the issue of divided actors of transplacement. As mentioned, the opposition was divided into the moderates and the radicals, and the ruler into the reformers and the hardliners. If the divisions within camps persist into the post-transition order, the divided actors will use mnemonic capital to fashion identities to compete—that is, they will adopt different temporal and evaluative stances—but they will implicate the transition itself in its deployment. Thus, the split winner one, or the winner adopting a radical posture, will use the fact that the transition was negotiated and that it produced an order in which the former ruler has legitimacy, to challenge the purity and thoroughness of the transition. In its telling, only a total repudiation of the past will guarantee a real change. This actor will shape its identity by turning to the past fully and repudiating it by externalization. The split

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 29

winner two, or the one styling itself into a moderate, will fashion itself as the protector of the transition and a guarantor of its gains. It will be turned to the past and the present both, and it will identify moral reasons to cast the past as repugnant. The reformer loser will be turned to the present, and if it does turn to the past, it will do so to repudiate it mildly. The turn to the past and to judgment, however instrumental or mild, will ensure its continued legitimacy. As I will trace in detail in chapter 2—a chapter that localizes and historicizes the theory in the Polish political scene and introduces the particular actors of this drama—political positions in Poland followed a three-way division from 1989 to 2015, even as the particular parties that occupied them came and went. The field originally split into two positions: the loser turned to the present and the winner to the past. The winner quickly subdivided into those who turned to the past fully and those who did so only partially (or covertly). The split winners competed with each other, but owing to the surprising electoral successes of the transition loser (the loser may be quite successful in the post-transition, given the party’s experience of being a party37) they remained partially united by its strong presence. That is to say, transition winners formed strategic alliances with each other—which they held on and off—but never with the transition loser. This ended in 2005, when the loser lost the government and the presidency in the context of a scandal (Zarycki 2009). At that point, the split between the two transition winners became the predominant cleavage of the field, in which the loser remained an important, even if wounded, player. The party’s presence ensured that the three-way split managed by memory continued to organize political identities. More than that, the past-oriented language was by then constitutive of the field: that is, all parties who wanted to be perceived as legitimate contenders for power had to use it. As means of illustration, figure 1.1 offers a visual representation of the positions given by the distribution of mnemonic capital in Poland. Through its deployment, the clusters—a party or a group of parties that fit the temporal orientation and the principles of judgment—achieve political identity. The names that I assigned to political identities correspond to the way in which the participants deploy mnemonic capital. Thus, the Patriots represent transition winner one, who is fully turned to the past and who externalizes communism. The currently ruling party in Poland is the main representative of this cluster. I devote chapter 3 to the particulars of its narratives. The Managers represent transition winner two, who is oriented to the past substantively and to the present nominally. Put differently, the Managers guard the gains of transition, and they look to the past to find justification for the ways they manage the present. The opposition party, which was in power for eight years prior to the 2015 election, is a definitional Manager. I explore their stories in chapter 4. Liberals represent the transition loser—that is, they include

30 • Weaponizing the Past

Turn to the Past


Turn to Judgment

Actor’s Identity

Turns to the past fully and openly

Externalizes (and ontologizes) past evil

Transition winner 1 (radical) Patriot

Turns to the past covertly and to present overtly

Identifies a moral principle offended in the past

Transition winner 2 (moderate) Manager

Turns to present (and to past, mildly, in time)

Attributes ‘badness’ to circumstances

Transition loser Liberal




Figure 1.1 Political Identities of Parties in Poland as Given By Mnemonic Capital.

a communist successor party—who turns to the present substantively and to the past strategically. In a provocative move, I call the cluster of communist successors Liberal to recognize the effort expended in building an identity that is the opposite to the communist one.38 Through those efforts, the cluster's present-day commitments to democracy and markets represent (a) the repudiation of the past and (b) an effort to correct the mistakes made in that past. This construction makes the Liberals oriented to the present, and it makes them relegate the evil of communism to circumstances. I explore their approach to memory in chapter 5. Finally, I call the groups who refuse to turn and judge the past—or more specifically, those who refuse to judge the past as a means of political engagement—Objectors. They consist of small parties and social movements who face high barriers to entry and legitimacy. I devote chapter 6 to their plight and do so for two reasons: first, I do not want to replicate the silencing of this position performed by the powerful players, and second, I use them for demonstration effect. Exclusion of Objectors shines the light on how mnemonic capital designates the field of legitimate players and organizes political identities.39 Political parties in post-transition environment compete with each other using all assets, or forms of capital, at their disposal. In addition, they use the structural condition of the pacted transition—that is, the continued partial legitimacy of the past, in the shape of the old-ruler successor party—to develop a new capital crucial to the development of sticky political identities.

Memory and Belonging In describing the field of post-transition electoral politics, I referred to a party’s political identity. I saw identity as a manufactured distinctiveness, a brand

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 31

and an achievement, which was the condition of competition in elections. What was important was that identity was necessary, and that it was created. I argued that even if parties spring into existence with a clearly developed sense of ideological commitment, it takes skill and labor to translate that commitment into a mode of self-presentation and a way of communicating that will achieve differentiation and attract voters. Put differently, newly emergent parties resemble gawky teenagers, sure of their desires more than of ways of satisfying them, but also inventive. In the context of post-transition elections, that inventiveness led parties to use their past moral victories as the material with which to shape identity. In other words, the use of past, or memory-talk, in the realm of electoral politics was instrumental, or strategic: it endowed parties with identities and allowed them to vie for power. The substance of stories—rather than strategic deployment of the stories— becomes central in a different conceptual field, that of national belonging, or what I will refer to as national imaginary. As mentioned, the canonical view sees nations as a modality of groupness invented about two hundred years ago, implemented through efforts of nation-makers soon after, and persisting as a universal form of organizing societies through sheer force of their desirability (Anderson 1991; Gellner 1983; Hobsbawm 1972; and Tamir 2019). Further, if scholars of nations look to uncover the meaning of national belonging, they explore formal citizenship provisions. The paradigmatic text here is Brubaker’s exploration of the ideal types of ethnic versus civic nations, imagined as such by their makers operating in the context of varying state strength (1992). The empirical test of a nation’s classification is usually determined by examination of formal citizenship provisions. As useful as this framework is in cross-country comparisons, it does not help in understanding the gap between the ostensibly equal legal citizenship provisions, and systematically produced unequal citizens—that is citizens whose access to social privileges and benefits is organized by ethnicity, sex, skin pigment (or race), class, sexuality, religion, or ideology, within the nation. In other words, the cannon does not allow for an examination of the meaning—or a vision or an imaginary—of nations. And it does not register changes in the imaginary, which may be as sudden as an election of a new party/leader.40 In this work, I use the term imaginary to capture the emergent and changing nature of notions of belonging (Wodak et al. 2009) as I attend to the hierarchies between people it groups. The term recognizes that Poles or Americans do not enter the world as Poles or Americans, they must be made into these. And there is more to how they understand themselves as notional beings than the passport or legal provisions entail. National imaginary captures the supplementary meaning organizing belonging, and the hierarchies it authorizes, and it gestures to the content to stories of the past—rather than the strategic use or intent of the storyteller—as empirical means of analyzing its content.

32 • Weaponizing the Past

The meaning of national imaginary pertains to three characteristics: relationality, which means that “we” emerge and become visible to ourselves in relation to some “them” (Appadurai 2006; Benhabib 1996); boundary, that is, a marker or a trait that is chosen as significant in determining the “us” vis-à-vis the “them” (Barth 1969; Brubaker 2004, 2009); and the principle of boundary crossing. Thus, if one is a Pole by speaking Polish, this suggests a nation in which language is elevated to the marker of group boundary, and one that makes the principle of boundary crossing porous: one can learn the language and join the community. If one is a German by living on German territory, this suggests a nation in which residency sets a boundary, and the principle is even more porous than language in that all it requires is relocation. The point here is that the boundary and its porosity are decisions that create a group. Further, the boundaries and principles of crossing them are contested and changing. If one is to take a cue from a number of Polish towns, which, since 2018, started declaring themselves “LGBTQ-free zones” (Noack 2019),41 Polish citizens who happen to desire/love a person of the same sex become not Polish. And if we consider desire for sexual partners to be more or less stable in one’s life, this move signals a principle of boundary crossing that is fixed, or impermeable. The persons thus excluded and included are made so reliably and permanently. I identify three broad principles of boundary crossing, starting from most open to most restrictive: participation, self-identification, and ascription. Membership through participation in the community’s common projects is arguably the widest, least restrictive, form of belonging. The boundaries of a community it delimits are porous in that those who enter the community are not restricted by anything other than willingness to share in communal tasks. Self-identification, or a choice of identity, is the second way one enters and belongs to a community. This form of belonging assumes more than one line of identification—one may be a woman, a youth, a farmer, a Pole—and it rests on a respect for members’ choice. The choice here is more confining than in participation, in that choosing to participate in a project and choosing to self-identify are choices of a different kind, if only because they speak to engagement of different duration and depth. One may join an antitorture movement, but one does not become trans for five years, for instance.42 The last principle is ascription, which is the most restrictive. It refers to those aspects of one’s identity which are hard to choose, like place of birth, nationality of parents, religion, race, sex, sexuality, or past actions. Designation of a boundary along non-choice-based characteristics delimits a group in a stable way (until the principle is relaxed or changed, of course). Imaginary of belonging is shaped by external and internal legal citizenship provisions, by symbolic politics of statehood, as well as by the distance between the legal provisions and state practice;43 they are affected and cir-

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 33

culated by school curricula in history, literature, and civics, and by familial rituals. They are also affected by political and cultural elites and their narratives. The elites do not weave the stories anew, but following the insights of collective memory filed, they pull from the repository of historical and contemporary facts that which suits their current needs and arrange and judge them in new ways. The process is ongoing, and so are the emergent notions and visions of national togetherness. • • • In conclusion, let me address the final point: how do the stories of the past affect the present? In other words, why should talking about communism and/or Jews matter in present-day Poland, a country that has no communists and almost no minorities? First, as explained above, no country “has” minorities that it does not designate and create as such. That is to say, who is a minority to what majority is a matter of political decision and labor (Appadurai 2006; Bourdieu 2001, 2011; Jung 2009). To posit the existence of minorities as “things in the world” is to reify an imagined and constructed reality (Brubaker 2004, 2009). Second, the way authoritative elites narrate, and therefore create, minorities in the past reveals how they imagine, and therefore create, them in the present. It is not only the designation of categorical grid and significant principles of boundary crossing but also the nomination of the powerful authority that decides identities and their relations (Bourdieu 1986a and 1997) and posits them as true and eternal just as it calls them to life (Bhaba 1994). In more theoretical terms, this book shows that even though historical narratives concern that which is past, they show who in the present has the power to nominate significant or insignificant categories of membership and who in the present has the power to specify and impose the principles of inclusion, exclusion, or accommodation of difference. In this way of conceiving of narratives, stories of long-gone communists reveal how otherness is imagined and accommodated in the present. The stories matter because they articulate the imaginary of present-day belonging. In other words, they provide an epistemological entry point into the interpretative frames of the present “we.” In August 2016 Anna Zawadzka wrote an open letter to the Polish LGBTQ community to ask why the community protested what it saw as Israeli pinkwashing of the occupation of Palestine while remaining silent about the antisemitic bent of the official commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the Kielce pogrom (on Kielce see Gross 2007; Judt 2005; on the letter see Zawadzka 2016). At the base of Zawadzka’s challenge was an assumption that to (not) engage local politics of the past had present-day effects, and that it was not simply a matter of concrete politics of the living trumping the symbolic politics of the dead. In the case at hand, she claimed,

34 • Weaponizing the Past

the commemorative practice in Poland circulated a model of a hierarchically organized community, in which some members deserved different treatment than others. In other words, this particular commemoration of the past authorized stratification in the present. Zawadzka’s gesture provides an example of the logic animating this work, which holds that past-derived stories—independently of the past itself—constitute society in the now.

Notes 1. The election of 4 June 1989 is considered semi-free, as only 35 percent of the parliamentary seats were contested. (The newly established one-hundred-seat Senate was freely elected at the same time.) The remaining 65 percent of seats were reserved for the ruling Communist Party. Solidarity (running candidates under a banner of Lech Wałęsa’s Citizens’ Committee) won all the contested seats, except one seat in the Senate. Within the parameters of this election, it was a landslide. 2. For a fruitful exploration of an insider-outsider status in identifying historicity of continuities and raptures in structures, see Reed (2022). 3. See also Bourdieu and his concept of symbolic violence (2001, 2011). 4. The marches erupt into violence yearly (Lewis and Waligórska 2019). 5. I will substantiate this claim in chapter 2. 6. The currently ruling party comes close to authoritarianism, which makes them sharply distinct in terms of policy, but this development is new—post-2015, that is. I will return to this in chapter 3 and even more directly in the conclusion. 7. For more on material and cultural capital, see Bourdieu (1986b, 1998). For more on a social capital, see Putnam, Leonardo, and Nanetti (1993) and Putnam (2000). Putnam’s understanding of capital diverges from mine in three profound ways. Putnam wrote about social groups facing collective action problems, and I write about political parties, who do not face such a problem in their internal organization. Further, Putnam argued that the fortuitous nexus of trust, norms of reciprocity, and networks, which is present or absent in societies, affects democracy; political parties reflect the general distribution of social capital within the societies in which they operate but do not differ in its endowment among themselves. Lastly and most importantly, Putnam’s capital is not an asset in a competitive setting, and for political parties in democratic spaces, such a setting is definitional. My understanding of capital comes close to the “moral capital” analyzed by Kane (2001). In his analysis, Kane concentrated on spectacular individuals—Nelson Mandela, for instance—endowed with symbolic political resources through their visibility in progressive struggles. 8. A clarifying example, relevant to this work, is given in Bernhard and Kubik’s chapter on Poland (2014): the PO, the party in power during the 2009 commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Polish transition, acted as an abnegator during the commemoration of the Round Table Accord in February of 2009, but it was fully engaged as a pluralist during the June commemoration of the first semi-free election (2014: 70–72 and 74–75). 9. Kitschelt (2000) agrees on the importance of programs and platforms. He also identifies two other ways in which parties can connect and mobilize voters, which he refers to as

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 35

10. 11. 12.






18. 19. 20.

clientelist and charismatic linkages. He further clarifies that programmatic linkages are more prevalent in developed democracies; however, party systems with close constituency connections, as in first-by-the-post systems, may encourage clientelist models. His analysis does not, of course, negate the need for differentiation, it only identifies other ways in which parties convince voters to their causes. Eurostat reports that EU states as well as Norway and Switzerland received 1,321,560 asylum claims in 2015; 1,260,900 in 2016, and 704,600 in 2017 (n.d.). Kaźmierkiewicz (2018) provides a recent and comprehensive review of seven EU states: both the distribution of attitudes (some supportive of migrants) as well as their reasons. For a deep exploration of the fear by many of a few, see Appadurai (2006), especially his eponymous chapter 4. Appadurai’s conception of the emergent “predatory identity” undergirds my work. We differ in that he writes on actual violence, whereas for me the formation of identity is central. When it comes to Eastern Europe, the fear is often blamed on media framing and right-wing populist agitation. Both of these explanations appear constructivist, but they also assume preexisting attitudes derived from stable identities (Kaźmierkiewicz, 2018). I list Halbwachs as the father of the presentist tradition in collective memory studies (1992; Olick 1999 and 2003) and Schwartz as a qualifier of that tradition (2000 and 2015). I explain their disagreement when I discuss the importance of historical facticity and the issue of redundancy. Further, I rely on Somers’s concept of narrativity to emphasize the importance of weaving stories in the constitution of identities/groups (1992). Other authors who see nations as produced by nation-makers include Brubaker (2009); Gellner (1983); Hobsbawm (1972); Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983); and Kaufman (2001). The nation-makers have a long record of deploying memory and calling it history (Olick 2003, 2016). There are many ways in which collective memory is subdivided (Olick and Robbins 1998). The most fruitful distinction for me is articulated by Aleida Assmann (quoted in Olick and Robbins 1998: 111) and Schwartz (2015). It distinguishes between communicative memory, which refers to a process of recalling, contesting, and debating in which authoritative meanings have not been settled, and cultural memory, which refers to past as cultural knowledge and taken for granted script (see Bourdieusian doxa [1998], or Zubrzycki’s thin coherence [2006, 2011]; both terms denote an unreflexive understanding of prevailing tropes. For more on doxa, see also Bourdieu and Wacquant [1992]). For examples, see Bernhard and Kubik 2014; Davis 1994; Gillis 1994; Hałas 2004; Lebow 2006; Matsuda 2003; Nora 1989; Rév 2005; Savage 1994; Schwartz and Zhang 2003; Troebst 2010; Verdery 1999. Others include: Bodnar 1994; Forest and Johnson 2002, 2011; Forest, Johnston, and Till 2004; Gill 2005; Janicka 2011; Light 2004; Rév 2005—especially the chapter called “The Pantheon”; Trouillot 1995; Young and Kaczmarek 2008; Verdery 1999; Wagner-Pacifici and Schwartz 1991; Y. Zerubavel 1994; Zubrzycki 2006a, 2006b, 2013a, 2013b, 2016. Not all of these authors use the term “collective memory.” Zubrzycki most notably does not, but her considerable output on Poland concerns the use of the past in the present. (Zubrzycki did write about “narrative shock,” “reactive memory,” and “multi-directional memories” when discussing the changing landscape of the Holocaust memory in Poland; 2013b). Judt uses myth and memory interchangeably (2014). Others still locate myth in pure fiction (Schwartz 2000). For more, see note 29 below. Others include: Carr 2006; Christou 2006; Giroux 1981; Gur-Ze’ev 2003: Shevel 2011. Others include: Alonso 1988; Corney 2003; Zawadzka 2009, 2013. In usage narrower than mine, Mink understands such strategies as deployment of particular historical events for political use. His examples include German expellees’ claims

36 • Weaponizing the Past

21. 22.









for reparations, or Polish uses of Katyń (Mink 2011; Neumayer and Mink 2013). For further discrete examples on specific deployment of the past in politics, see Clarke (2014); Ghodsee (2017); Judt (2014); Subotić (2019); and Zubrzycki (2006a). For examples, see Polletta (2003); Zubrzycki (2001). For examples, see Gutman (2017); Wüstenberg (2017). My list of modalities that allows scholars to explore collective memory is by no means exhaustive. For a good overview of the field, which spans cognitive psychology, anthropology, social geography, sociology of knowledge, political sociology, political science, and cultural studies, and which looks to everything from the formation of individual memories to particular commemorative practices to abstract notions of collective identities, see Olick and Robbins (1998); Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011); and Radstone and Schwartz (2010). For a good example of a volume that also includes exploration of art as involved in collective memory, see Pakier and Stråth (2010). Somers identifies four features of narratives: relationality of parts, selective appropriation, causal emplotment, and temporality, sequence, and place (1992: 601). The features interconnect in that relationality is established by selective appropriation and emplotment, and emplotment is rendered by appropriation and sequence, for instance (1992: 601). For those who share this view, see: Chmielewska 2011; Eyoh 1998; Gillis 1994; Ghodsee 2013, 2017; Hobsbawm 1972; Hodgkin and Radstone 2006; Kubik 2003; Le Goff 1996; Martin 1995; Neumayer and Mink 2013; Nora 1989; Novick 2000; Rév 2005; Simon and Rosenberg 2005; Subotić 2019; Y. Zerubavel 1994, 1995. Horowitz’s (2000) understanding of ethnicity hinges on a concept akin to memory— the propagated belief in common descent—which is affected by structural conditions and manipulation. I refer to him here for the explicit account of establishing group boundaries. Smith (2003), on the other hand, refers to ethical stories of peoplehood— again, partly relying on processes here termed memory—as instrumental in the endowing groups with a sense of self-worth. Inequality itself creates subjects who may internalize and reproduce the structures of inequality. These are not yet, analytically speaking, identities (Baldwin 1998: 302; Bourdieu 1986a, 2001, 2011; Brubaker 2015; Foucault 1990, 1995; Jung 2009). Also, if we continue with the example of race, the process may be different for the white majority. Here collective memory process may be used to erase—forget—race as on organizing principle. It may be complicit in creating a vision of universal humanity of whiteness, not constituted on the inequality and constitution of Blackness. This may call for significant forgetting, or erasure of difference (Bhaba 1990; Brubaker 2015; Conner 1972; Ghodsee 2013; Renan 1992; Rév 2005; Scott 1998, 2009; and Subotić 2019. Scott writes on the resurgence and resistance to the state rather than a nation, or any other sense of groupness. I list him here as states rely on the created sense of groupness to ensure governmentability, and they emerge by homogenizing local diversity.) I do not want to overstate the distinction, as no historical account, no matter how true, represents the entirety of history. Selection and silencing, as per Trouillot, are always present (1995). Schwartz sees myths as inventions (2000: 6). Bouchard (2013a, 2013b), Judt (2014), or Zubrzycki (2006a, 2011, and 2013a) do not. They use memory and myth interchangeably. For conceptual clarity I stick with Schwartz and consider myth to be a fiction and collective memory as partial representation of historical facts. For more, see note 17 above. I do not want to overstate Olick’s commitment here. He does see memory as conceptually valuable for the reasons I quote. But he does resist what is closely associated with presentism of instrumental variety. I discuss this next.

Weaponizing the Past, or Memory as Politics • 37 31. Halbwachs died in 1945. His Social Frameworks of Memory was published in France in 1925, The Legendary Topography of the Holy Land in 1941, and his latest volume, The Collective Memory, appeared posthumously. I rely on the 1992 Coser translation (and compilation) of his work, which appeared under the title On Collective Memory and included “The Legendary Topography of the Holy Land,” as a chapter. For more, see Olick et al. (2011). 32. Jung does not write on collective memory or judgment directly. But she explores how transitional justice interventions into the past may act as means of closing painful chapters in history and constricting further claims for equality. 33. Contrary to “transitions to democracy” canon, Jung and Shapiro’s work represents a cautionary tale about transplacements and the type of undemocratic institutions they may produce. 34. Note that the opposition moderates and radicals need not differ in their goals. The first may simply be more or less risk averse (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986; Przeworski 1991). Or they may be ideologically diverse. This matters for the possibility of coalition forming and/or splits post-transition. 35. Challenging this elite-centric account, both Bunce (2003) and McFaul (2002) argue that opposition relied on mass mobilization. 36. For an explication of the history of revolutions and a moment in which they became synonymous with utopian futures, see Hartman (2007). 37. This is true both in Poland and Hungary, but not in Slovakia or the Czech Republic (Grzymała-Busse 2002a and 2002b). 38. In a postapartheid setting, the previously ruling party may invoke equality in fashioning its post-transition political identity. 39. The identities I describe correspond loosely to the ones identified by Kubik and Bernhard (2014): Patriots are the mnemonic warriors, Managers the pluralists, and Liberals the abnegators. Objectors are not quite the same as prospectives in that they exist and articulate a political option not predicated on commitment to utopia. In my presentation, they function as a null hypothesis. 40. The most recent and dramatic change may be observed in the 2016 election of Donald Trump, who redefined American belonging along anti-immigrant lines (among other things). His rhetoric is as important as exclusionary policy. Policy is felt mostly by those held at borders and detention centers, but rhetoric affects and shapes the majority’s conceptions (both in their approving and rejecting stances). 41. In a clear recognition of a connection between boundary and meaning of national identity, Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński declared that “LGBT ideology is a threat to Polish identity, to our nation, to its existence and thus to the Polish state” (Noack 2018). 42. For an elaboration of distinction between acts and identities, see Foucault (1990, 1994). In brief, one may feel homosexual desire and perform homosexual acts, and one need not identify as gay. One may also declare being gay, and then change that self-identification, even as one continues to desire and act in a homosexual way. The point here is that both moves are more involving than leaving a social movement. 43. LGBTQ+ Poles barred from practicing their desire in openness and safety or Black Americans dramatically overrepresented in American prisons have little reason to believe the equality of their citizenship provisions.

Chapter 2


8 What we do know is that speech is power, and that a group of people, somewhere between corporation and social class, are well enough defined by the fact that to a varying extent they wield the nation’s language. —Shlomo Sand (2018: ix, quoting Rolland Barthes)1

Time is always now. —James Baldwin (2014: 14)

Observers of the Polish political scene depicted it as intensely competitive (Grzymała-Busse 2008). Participants went further and declared it a space of “tribal warfare.”2 That warfare engulfed the Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the Civic Platform Party (PO)3—the split post-Solidarity winners of the transplacement and the currently ruling and opposing parties—but until recently it had also enveloped the communist successor party, the so-called transition loser, the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).4 Their pugnacious language suggests an investment in a conflict of irreconcilable positions, indeed, a conflict of different kinds of people. This was so evident that since 2005 a coalition between the PiS and the PO has been unimaginable; and a coalition between the PiS and the SLD was never thinkable. Given that the PiS and the PO emerged from a coalition as recently as 2001, and given that all parties did not differ programmatically to a great degree, this is surprising. The most profoundly felt difference located in the way the parties related to and judged the communist past.

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 39

To underscore the bellicosity of the stance and the role of past-talk in generating that stance, here are some of the metaphors used by my respondents to describe representations of the past in Polish political debate:5 a “bomb,” a “flail,” a “hammer,” a “stick,” a “shield,” a “weapon,” a “bogey,” a “cage,” a “slur,” a “stigma,” a “threat,” an “excuse,” and a way to “discredit,” “mobilize,” “sort/divide,” “deny voice,” “create an enemy,” “humiliate,” and “erase.” The mildest description judged the past as “used too often.” Nor was the power of past- or memory-talk diminishing. Until the 2015 election, which anchors my analysis, all respondents agreed that the past became more valuable as a political resource the more time passed since transition.6 (Since the 2015 election was won by the PiS, that is the Patriot or the definitional mnemonic warrior, the past is used still, to consolidate and project power, but it is now supplemented by other invented and contemporary “threats.”) In this opening empirical chapter, I want to introduce the actors of the Polish political drama, constituted by the mnemonic capital. The actors are of course political parties, which I will group into historically stable clusters. I will first go back in time and describe the invention of the new memoryderived resource and the formative turn to the past, in 1989. I will then explore parties’ programmatic identities to show that their differentiation over matters of policy was weak,7 and I will specify how they solved the issue of weak programmatic differentiation by politicizing the past. This politicization resulted in a stable division of the political field into four pillars, or political identities. The division was stable in that particular parties came and went, they changed names, joined forces, or disbanded, but the four-cluster split remained. The boundary of the field was maintained by the requirement of anti-communist discourse, or the need to condemn the past: three positions complied with the requirement, and they therefore appeared legitimate; one did not and was therefore excluded. (It is important to emphasize that what determined the legitimacy of players and delimited the field was a political decision and an ongoing process. And it was a decision and a process that served the “old transition guard” at the expense of the new entrants into the field. In other words, there was not much natural and automatic about posttransition politics having to be organized by the condemnation of the past. On the contrary, the fact that thirty years after the end of communism political parties had to condemn it to enter the electoral field signifies the political productivity of the condemnation, not so much the supposed villainy of communism.8) The three-way division within the field was constituted and maintained by the particular way parties decided to condemn the past. In contrast to the chapters to come, in which each political position, its program, and its historical narratives are described, compared, and analyzed in depth, in this chapter I place the parties, or the clusters of parties, in conversation with each other. That is, I tease out how they not only condemned

40 • Weaponizing the Past

the past but also how they did so relationally. I do this to specify how the moves of one player affected and were parried by others. This comparative, relational, and dynamic context matters, in that political parties exist to compete, and they do not do their competing in a vacuum; in other words, they create their identities by positing roles and identities of others. While they do this, while they conduct the political conversation and competition, they also imagine and reimagine the larger community in which they exist. After I trace the historical division of the political field, I concentrate in the second part of the chapter on the difference of party programs and the difference of approaches to the past—I do this to show how parties create their distinct identities. In the third part of the chapter, I concentrate on similarities in their narratives—I do this to tease out the repeated and amplified themes that bind a community and establish the meaning of the emergent collective memory of the polity. In the final section, I return briefly to theory in order to think through how exactly the moves performed in the field politics affect the field of belonging. This short reentry into a theoretical account is inductively derived and relies on the introduced Polish actors for illustration.

The Long Shadow of Transition As I theorized in chapter 1, political parties emerging from transition have an uneven access to relevant political resources (or capitals): on the one hand, the winner of the process, the erstwhile oppositionist, has little economic and cultural forms of capital, while the loser, the former ruler, has them in abundance; on the other hand, the winner has significant symbolic, or mnemonic, capital, of which the loser has none. Bourdieu explains cultural capital as knowing the rules of the game one is entering and having access to relevant networks and organizational structures (1986, 1998). The relevant rules do not relate to democratic competition—here all parties have little experience—but to the organization and mobilization of the party base or fashioning political identities. In the context of post-transplacement, I identified a new form of political capital related to memory, which accrues to those who have been on “the right side of history” and who use this happy occurrence to create their “brand,” compete for power, and justify their political choices. The simple binary division, as given by access to mnemonic and other capitals, is complicated by two factors: first, there is no reason to suspect that opposition actors, united in their pre-transition struggle by a despised ruler, have the required ideological homogeneity, or indeed a discipline, to remain a single party once they emerge into democracy. Second, the negotiated transition occurs because the moderates among the oppositionists and reformers within the ruling party came to an agreement on the sharing of power, which

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 41

is predicated on sidelining or managing their more radical or hardline flanks (O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986; Przeworski 1991, 1992). This negotiation and sidelining introduces a condition of possibility in the post-transition moment, one that may hasten divisions within the winning, yet ideologically heterogenous, side. In such a scenario, the putative purity of the transition, and the legitimacy of the former ruler in the new order, may become a matter of contestation and positioning. The field will therefore be dominated by a three-way split: two divided winners (or more than two) and a loser. (As mentioned before, it is less likely that hardliners split from the reformist core of the old ruling party—if they do, they still have to accept the new democratic rules or lose a way of gaining power.) Each will have to define its identity to appear distinct and legible to the electorate, and the winners will have to achieve their identities by vying for some share of the mnemonic capital. They will do so by approaching the past and judging communism, but by doing so differently. (It remains a theoretical possibility that when transition winners divide, they may create identities by reference to their ideologies and policy orientations. But it is difficult to imagine that parties, which have little skills in creating identities through platforms on the one hand, and which have just won a moral victory on the other, would renounce its use. This is especially true as they have little else to go on, and events are moving fast, and there is no manual on how to proceed. Developing programs and building political identities around those programs are part and parcel of cultural capital, or experience and expertise of being a political party in stable orders. The former oppositionists have neither that experience, nor that sort of capital, nor that circumstance. Mobilizing voters around mundane policy solutions requires time and economic resources, which they also do not have. It is understandable that they reach for something that can accomplish political differentiation and that they already possess.9) In Poland, political positions followed this three-way division of the field from 1989 to 2015,10 even as the parties that occupied them changed names and members: the field originally split into two, the loser turned to the present and the winner to the past (slightly). The originary move may be traced to the policy of the “thick line,” with which the first post-Solidarity premier marked the beginning of the supposedly forward-looking reform (Mazowiecki 1989). Mazowiecki’s gesture is mistakenly interpreted as a wish for a temporal rupture, a way of forgetting (forgiving even) and moving forward. I read it differently and claim that Mazowiecki turned away from the past ostensibly while casting it as a broad justificatory backdrop of the present. In his words—“We separate the past with the thick line, and we will answer only for what we do to lift [Poland] out its collapse”—communism does not disappear, it simply becomes (and continues to be for the descendants of

42 • Weaponizing the Past

Mazowiecki’s winning cluster to this day) a dark screen against which one performs one’s brightness. In other words, the legacy of communism and its undoing are the tests by which one is to be identified and judged. Mazowiecki’s realignment of the temporal landscape was met by his winner-opponent with a full and saturating pivot toward the past, predicated on the putative impurity of the transition and the continued “offending” presence of the postcommunist successor party. The transition-winner parties reproduced this way of self-identifying until 2015, even though they both, by then, shared the material and cultural resources of seasoned political organizations. They need not have relied on mnemonic capital to fashion identity, and yet they did. And they continued to do so, even though the transition loser, who opposed the activation of the past, lost power (which happened in Poland in 2005). Not only did they not stop remembering and judging communism, the transition loser, and by 2005 a weaker player, began to do this too. The Polish case, therefore, suggests that the deployment of mnemonic capital has its sequence: 1. The immediate post-transition is characterized by a winner-loser binary in which, as Mazowiecki’s move shows, winners turn to the past, even if surreptitiously; losers turn to the present. In Poland, the winners were grouped in Citizens’ Committee (KO), and they faced the losing United Polish Workers’ Party (PZPR).11 2. In the second moment—which in Poland happened as soon as 1990 and lasted until 2005—the winners divide, and since the moderate winner turned to the past mildly, the opposing radical winner turned to the past fully. The radical winner staked its program and identity on de-communization campaigns, and later on challenging the purity of the transition; the moderate winner kept defending the gains of transition and undoing the damage of communism. The field was stably divided into three positions, even though the split winners were able to form strategic alliances, surprised by the electoral strength of the communist successor party (Grzymała-Busse 2002a, 2002b). Thus, the radical Center Agreement (PC) joined forces with the moderate Freedom Union (UW) and became the Electoral Action Solidarity (AWS), in 1994, to compete with the (loser) Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP).12 After the opportunistic joining, the AWS split again in 2001, with the emergent Law and Justice (PiS) taking the position of radical winner, and the Civic Platform (PO) taking over the moderate one. 3. In moment three, the loser stops being seen as a serious competitor for power. In Poland this happened in 2005, when the postcommunist successor party, by then renamed the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), left office mired in scandal (Zarycki 2009). Since then, the two transi-

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 43

tion winners turned the full power of their enmity on each other. This led scholars to declare the end of the post-communist period of Polish politics (Grabowska 2004; Szczerbiak 2008, 2013). As I show, however, the remaining winners, and by then the much weakened loser, continued to fight each other using mnemonic capital. This was true in the 2005 election, was muted in 2007 and 2011, and as this book shows, returned full force in 2015. What matters is that in moment three, even the transition loser, the SLD, began to strategically and deliberately use the past to compete. It too began to vie for mnemonic capital, and in so doing it confirmed its power and stakes a claim to its share. 4. In the theoretically possible moment four, the loser may revive. It may join those who refuse to use memory—who have thus far not been able to win power—or it may reenter the field wielding mnemonic capital, conceivably recreating the conditions from moment two. This has not happened in Poland. Figure 2.1 offers a pictorial rendition of the three positions and the clusters of parties that occupied them, as given by the turn to the past and by judgment of the past. The table lists smaller parties—the Agrarian Party (PSL), the Together Party (R), and Your Movement (TR)—that did not use mnemonic capital to compete, even if PSL condemned communism in its program.13 The clusters of parties grouped in the three positions condemning communism were all electorally successful. The radical winner holds power since 2015, and before that it held government from 2005 to 2007; the moderate transition winner was in power from 2008 to 2015. The transition loser was in office from 1993 to 1997 and from 2001 to 2005. AWS and KO, who are the predecessors of the split winners, held power from 1989 to 1993 and from 1997 to 2001. Parties that did not use mnemonic capital, mainly the PSL, have joined various coalitions but have not held government on their own. Judgment/Temporal Orientation



Condemns communism

Radical Transition Moderate Transition Loser: Winner: Transition Winner: PZPR t SdRP KO t PC t KO t UW t t SLD AWS t PiS AWS t PO

Does not condemn communism


Figure 2.1. Political Parties in Time, Assigned to Positions Organized by Mnemonic Capital.

44 • Weaponizing the Past

Thus the most powerful players in the Polish electoral field relied on memory-talk to achieve their identities and compete for office. As of 2015, the mnemonically derived identities have by then become a part of the parties’ identitarian repertoire, a vocabulary, a competence even. They allowed the parties to compete and win office, all in the context of mild programmatic differentiation.

Programmatic versus Political Identity Political parties in democratic settings exist to compete for political power.14 To accomplish this, they need financial resources, skill and experience, and organizational structures (those are their capitals), and they need an identity, or a brand. In other words, they need to be perceived as distinct by their competitors and most importantly by the electorates. Normally, parties establish their identities through programs (I call this programmatic identity)—that is, in their platforms and official statements, they announce, “We are for regulating the market,” “We are for laissez-faire state,” “We are for broad social rights . . .” In Poland, parties have access to programmatic identities; that is, they do differ in terms of what they are about, but up to 2015 their differences were not very pronounced. Figure 2.2 divides the field of Polish politics according to parties’ main programmatic preoccupations gleaned in their 2015 election programs. As mentioned before, the parties do not differ greatly in terms of their approach to the state and market, although the PO is friendlier to it than either the PiS or the SLD. The parties differ somewhat in how they wish to engage with the EU and the world: they all seek engagement, but the PiS is more suspicious than others. The issue on which there exists the most salient programmatic difference locates in the way the parties approach the church and civil liberties (Jasiewicz [2003] calls this a “rosary split” of Polish political culture). Programmatically speaking, the PiS resembles a Christian-Democratic party.15 It is friendly to the church, socially conservative, skeptical of the EU, Parties/Issues



Church (Civil Rights)

World (EU)








V. Friendly








Figure 2.2. Political Field Divided by Issues.

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 45

and supportive of local market. It derives political advantage by presenting the EU as threatening and styling itself as a defender against its threats, but these discursive maneuvers should not have been confused—up to 2015—with an actual desire to exit the EU or to stop participating in its structures (thus far). The party was on the record as not wanting to join the Euro zone (PiS Program 2014: 19), but given the zone’s difficulties since 2008, this is hardly surprising. The PiS declared an activist social agenda (in that it seemed attentive to poverty and unemployment), but it was driven to do so by its social conservatism and concern for what it identified as a “crisis of the family.” The PiS is explicitly not a welfarist party (PiS Program 2014: 12), but it seeks a strong executive and an efficient state (Wroński 2015; PiS Program 2014: 11–13, 47–72).16 The PO may be characterized as neoliberal. It seeks to limit the state and promote market solutions to economic and social problems (PO Program 2015). It is mildly less friendly to the church than the PiS, and mildly less socially conservative (Szczerbiak 2008, 2013). It paints itself as progressive (and contrasts this progressivism with the PiS’s conservatism), but this is mostly declarative. While in office, the PO made few moves to limit the church’s influence on policy and/or expand civil liberties. For example, the PO has not challenged religious instruction in schools or the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe (Grzymała-Busse 2014, 2015; Stan and Turcescu 2011). Its latest electoral platform includes limits on state financing for the church, but this is a recent development (PO Program 2015: 84). It declared support for same-sex partnerships, only to vote against them.17 In keeping with its image of openness, the party is staunchly pro-EU, at the level of both declarations and actions (PO Program 2015). The SLD is close to a liberal party—friendly to business, firmly committed to the EU, and more than the PO or the PiS suspicious of the church. The party’s commitment to civil liberties is ambiguous: strong in the declarative sense, and cautious in terms of policy action. Thus, the party voted for legalization of same-sex partnerships in 2013 (it advocates such equality in its program [SLD Program 2011: 24, 122]), but did not undo restrictive Polish abortion regulations while in office (Grzymała-Busse 2014, 2015; Stan and Turcescu 2011). This is true even though its program and historical narrative abound with references to women’s rights (SLD Program 2011: 118; SLD Historical Kit 2013: 40–45). The current program talks of extensive state intervention to ensure the economic well-being of citizens, but these concerns are always mitigated by the need to balance state budgets (SLD Program 2011: 101–2, 195, 201).18 In our interview, President Kwaśniewski explained that it is the responsibility of an individual to grow and realize her aims. The role of the state is to prevent discrimination and to soften the most nefarious edges of market discipline.19

46 • Weaponizing the Past

Political Identities and Mnemonic Capital This brief foray into programmatic identities—or the ways in which parties identified and proposed to solve issues facing the polity—shows that all the parties were located on the right side of the political spectrum (in the way it is understood in the West) and differed mostly in terms of their approach to civil rights.20 And yet, these parties with only mild programmatic differences between them narrated themselves as being in a state of “tribal war” with each other. The perception of strong—categorical even—political distinctions, made visible both in the references to tribal difference and in the metaphors I listed in the opening of this chapter, suggest that party competition occurred on a different register than that of programmatic prescriptions. This competition occurred at the level of political identities, which the parties accomplish by constituting and deploying their mnemonic capital, that is, by orienting themselves temporally, and by judging communism.21 As mentioned, all major players narrated the past, and all of them condemned communism; but the narration of the past and the content of their judgment differed. These two aspects of mnemonic capital allowed the parties to delimit the field of political competition, and they identified the players. Given the sequencing of the post-transition party development, the field eventually divided into four positions, which I call Patriots, Managers, Liberals, and Objectors. Their approach to the past and judgment of the past is summarized in figure 2.3. (I assign names to the analytically derived political positions for three reasons: the positions have been stable from 1989 to 2015 regardless of the parties who occupied them, and the identities they denote were created actively with little reference to programs. I therefore want to highlight the durability and the active construction, and I want to lift the analysis out of the immediate day-to-day battles of the particular parties. I also want to make the Turn to the Past


Turn to Judgment

Actor’s Identity

Turns to the past fully and openly

Externalizes (and ontologizes) past evil

Radical Transition Winner (PiS) Patriot

Turns to the past covertly and to present overtly

Identifies a moral principle offended in the past

Moderate Transition Winner (PO) Manager

Turns to present (and to past, mildly, in time)

Attributes ‘badness’ to circumstances

Transition loser (SLD) Liberal



Objector PSL, R, TR

Figure 2.3. Political Identities of Current Parties as Given by Mnemonic Capital.

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 47

account more readable by assigning monikers speaking directly to what the parties do in the electoral field.) The PiS styled itself into a Patriot, or it gained this political identity, by being definitionally turned to the past and by painting communism as essentially anti-Polish—thus, the party had a strong past orientation and invested in the strongest condemnation of communism. The PO fitted into a Managerial position in that it was nominally turned toward the present, but substantively to the past. On the one hand, it painted itself in nonideological and technocratic terms, and wanted to be perceived as the party of the economic management of post-transition gains. On the other hand, it used the backdrop of communism as a justificatory frame for its policies. The PO repudiated communism based on moral principles, which it specified as important; it thus exhibited past-present orientation and strong condemnation of communism. The SLD fashioned itself into a Liberal by being the party of the present, a present in which it corrected the mistakes made in the past. It was a present-past-oriented party, which condemned communism moderately. Those parties that did not condemn communism or did not turn to the past—the PSL, R, and TR—were not dominant political players.22 Political Identities and Relationality Political parties in Poland deployed mnemonic capital—that is, they turned to the past and judged that past. To achieve distinct identities, they did it differently. They also did not do it in a vacuum. Rather, they used the capital in a relational way, by simultaneously assigning roles to themselves and to their adversaries. As a Patriot, the PiS defined the political problem of the country, and its own role in solving that problem, in terms of persisting communism. The party claimed that the system, which it considered (and narrated as) the most evil and inimical to Polishness, was not yet over in Poland. It was perpetuated by communists and their current party, the SLD (the Liberals), shielded in its position of power by former dissidents and now supposed allies the PO (or Managers). This way of narrating the story gave Patriot PiS access to the language of existential crisis, polarizing the political field. Nationally inimical forces were again, or still, occupying and threatening the state. This framing shortened the normative distance between the PiS’s adversaries—in the PiS’s telling, the PO and SLD became as if one—and extended the distance between those now combined adversaries and the PiS, the nation’s savior (see illustration in figure 2.4).23 This polarizing move injected a blaming dynamic, which no contender could ignore. Both the SLD and the PO needed to counter the PiS’s charges, and in doing so, they entered the PiS’s game.

48 • Weaponizing the Past

“Savior” Patriots


“Communist” Liberals´³ Managers

Figure 2.4. Patriots’ Allocation of Roles.

As a Manager, the PO was nominally oriented toward the present, but it relied on past-talk politically.24 On the one hand, the party claimed to be post-ideological and not interested in imposing worldviews or in turning to the past. It then claimed that it was organized for the smooth and efficient management of the present, and most importantly, the economy. On the other hand, the party narrated communism as economically inept, unnatural even, and it claimed that it was so because it was authoritarian and organized for power. In such a narration, communist economic ineffectiveness served to justify the speed and bent of the Manager’s economic policies; and communist ineptitude and authoritarianism designated the present-day dangers embodied by the Patriots and the Liberals. Rather than explaining and justifying the cost of market reform and state retrenchment, which they promoted, the Managers narrated communism as immoral because it was not market based. This past, morally inflected ineptness and present-day necessity of change emerged rhetorically rather than substantively. As did the roles of the players: the PO’s mode of narrating communism allowed it to occupy a rational middle-ground Managerial position between the “authoritarian and irrational” Patriots, and the immorally “inefficient” Liberals (see figure 2.5).25 As a Liberal, the SLD was turned to the present substantively and to the past instrumentally. The party styled itself as modern and present-day oriented, but it was also—since 2011—very deliberate in treating the past as a resource. More specifically, the party presented itself as being for democracy and for the rule of law—the qualities that communism had in short supply. This move made the SLD into Liberals by orienting them to the present and by repudiating their own past. Furthermore, the party, by 2011, started deliberately using history to undermine the PiS’s strategy to have them cast as automatically evil and foreign, and to neutralize the PO’s attempts to paint them as inept.26 In this instrumental narration of their past, Liberals repudiated communism while simultaneously retrieving some of its positive aspects (the expansion of women’s rights or the rapid modernization of the country, for instance). This presentation of the past gave them purchase on a political identity of the supposed “left,” opposing the thus constituted “right” of Patriots and Managers. As I showed above, however, the reference to leftism was more a function of the storytelling and less of the party’s platform. The party “Inept” Liberals

³³ “Rational” Managers ´´

Figure 2.5. Managers’ Allocation of Roles.

“Authoritarian” Patriots

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 49

located its constitutive outside—the “them” to its “we”—in their own past and the current post-Solidarity parties, or transition winners. For illustration of this move, see figure 2.6. “Left” Liberals


“Right” Managers ´³Patriots

Figure 2.6. Liberals’ Allocation of Roles.

The position of the Objector was occupied by small and new parties, urban social movements, and politically engaged academic bodies. These groups were turned to the present in a substantive sense. That is, their party programs made no direct or indirect references to communism. They did not mention the transition or the need to “catch up” from past-created backwardness. Rather, they specified present-day problems and proposed solutions. Some within social movements explicitly rejected any engagement with the past. Others, more often in academia, explored the past, not to establish their political standing but to expose the work of past-inflected narratives in the emergent models of belonging. This cluster fills a counterfactual position in my model, in that its lack of anti-communist rhetoric makes it a weaker, if not illegitimate, political player. The three powerful participants in the Polish political scene narrated the past for political ends. They claimed and deployed symbolic—or mnemonic—capital to achieve distinct political identities. Rather than debating policies, they turned to the past, or to communism, and the various ways in which they made it evil, in order to assign roles to themselves and their adversaries. Stated more theoretically, they used mnemonic capital to delimit the field of political competition, designate the positions of players, and, through relational deployment, organize their positions hierarchically. All in all, they established past-talk as the vernacular of politics.

Nation-Makers and Their Creation The previous section traced in brief how political actors remembered the past in their electoral games and what results the remembering produced for their search for power.27 Analytically, the section focused on variance and dissonance of actors’ stances, and also relationality. Empirically, the section focused on difference in anti-communist narratives and its productivity. In this section, I introduce the second field implicated in the process of collective remembering, the field of common belonging. I concentrate on the dynamic and relational aspect as well, but the relations explored here implicate different entities: not political parties and their identities but the polity as a whole as imagined by the parties. In what follows, I briefly summarize what

50 • Weaponizing the Past

the political parties and their leaders say about their ideal group belonging in their official documents and our interviews. I then confront their visions with the way they tell the stories of the past and identify areas of convergence, divergence, or ambiguity. My focus here is not so much the difference of the accounts but their similarities. Differences among narratives are significant in the field of politics, as they establish relations and identities of players. Narratives’ similarities are of interest in the field of belonging, in that they posit and circulate the relations with those who are narrated as external to, or hierarchical within, the polity. As Schwartz argued, that which is repeated and unchallenged (he called it redundant) works to bind a group (1982, 2015), or to use my more processual term, that which is reiterated, and through reiteration amplified, works to bring a group into being and gives it meaning. If dissonance of narratives resulted in political identities of political players, the consonance of their stories brought forth a community. The main political parties in Poland referred to and used the communist past in their party programs or platforms. In addition to programs, all parties and their intellectual milieus produced historical narratives for wide public consumption. Thus, the Liberal story was penned by a think tank connected with the SLD (SLD Historical Kit 2013).28 The Managerial accounts were written by Jacek Kuroń (with Jacek Żakowski, 1995) and Adam Michnik (1998, 2009), all of whom are (or were, since Kuroń’s death) the most articulate theorists of the transition winner who is turned to the present and to the past simultaneously—the Managers. The Patriots’ text was published by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN).29 The institute, as I explain in detail in chapter 3, was not coterminous with the party in 2009, when the text I use was published. I use this account because the retrospective and judgment-oriented mandate of the institute is definitional to the Patriots’ position, notwithstanding the ebb and flow of personal and public connections between the party leadership and the institute’s management.30 I begin with the parties’ stated positions on common belonging, after which I confront those explicit accounts with themes emergent from narratives of the past. In both instances I concentrate on the following themes: who is included in the conception of the “we” and who is excluded; are the excluded simply different, or are they posited as inferior; what is the principle by which the border between “them” and “us” can be crossed: in other words, can “they” become “us” and how? In identifying the principle of boundary crossing, I examine whether it is choice-based, either requiring participation and/or self-identification, or if is it ascriptive. In other words, is the emergent vision of the community closed (or exclusionary) and not a matter of choice of either exit or entry, or is the emergent vision open (or inclusive) and on what conditions?

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 51

Expressed Imaginary of Belonging Membership through participation is arguably the most inclusive form of belonging. Group boundaries are permeable, and those who enter belong as long as they willingly partake in the communal tasks. They do not need to self-identify with the group. This open and wide mode of membership was articulated by the Objectors. As will be made clear in chapter 6, Objectors rejected ascription, and they were suspicious of self-identification. In the context of majority-minority relations, they saw the requirement to self-identify with the majority as a form of domination.31 Self-identification was the second way to participate and belong in a community. This form of belonging assumes multiple lines of identification and rests on individual choice to claim them. The choice here is narrower than in participation, in that choosing to participate in a project and choosing to self-identify with a project are choices of different weight. For instance, one may feel and act on a homosexual desire in a stable way and not selfidentify as gay (Korycki and Nasirzadeh 2013, 2016), and one may be born to Polish parents and not declare, “I am Polish.” The point here lies in the person deciding/declaring the identity, not having it be assumed (ascribed) by others. Both Managers and Liberals claimed to hold such an understanding of the national belonging. They maintained that it was the individual who decided to become—or call herself—one with the group (Michnik 1998; Kwaśniewski 2013). They complicated this understanding, however, by listing many conditions with which the choosing person had to identify, or which the choosing person had to share. The ambiguity between choosing to identify and sharing traits was embedded in the visions: some of the conditions are clearly a matter of choice, others less so. As President Kwaśniewski (SLD/Liberal) explained in our conversation, a nation encompasses a community of “language, culture, traditions, dispositions and comprehension of the symbols.” He added that “the most significant threat to this way of belonging lies in new communication technologies, which make it possible for people to conduct their lives without reference to nationality.”32 Adam Michnik, here speaking for the Managers, added two more conditions to the mix: acceptance of national myths and Catholicism. He did not claim that one needed to become a Catholic, but one needed to share an understanding of the centrality of Catholicism to Polishness. This is how he phrased it: “Society is not simply a collection of hostile strangers, but a community inhabiting a shared home. . . . In Poland, Catholicism provides this homing element. The Christian system of values, and its mentality, culture, and ethics, are inalienable elements of the Polish home” (2009: 237).

52 • Weaponizing the Past

The self-identification advocated by the Managers and the Liberals, and their veneration of individual choice in matters of identity, were undermined by the simultaneous expectation that members meet certain conditions and share certain characteristics, and by a subtle suspicion of choice. Thus, one could (choose to) learn the language and become proficient in the cultural codes of the locality, but one may find it hard to join the local traditions or appreciate the role of Christianity in that tradition. Even if one were to accept the alleged historical importance of the church, one may not translate it into a contemporary homing element. Furthermore, the choice of identification was said to be worthy of respect, but it was also feared if that choice allowed a life outside of national vocabulary. The suspicion of choice, and a long list of conditions—many of which could act as barriers to entry—made the vision of common belonging emanating from the Managers and the Liberals ambiguous. In some of its elements, it hewed surprisingly close to the ascriptive belonging advocated by the Patriots. In their own vision of membership, the Patriots venerated the nation. They posited it as the only relevant axis of identity, and they did not make it a matter of choice. Rather, they made it a function of language, culture, traditions, dispositions, and comprehension of national symbols (as did the Liberals) and added “historical experience, civilizational values and experienced fate” (PiS Program 2014: 9). In agreement with the Managers, Polish coincidence with Christianity was here taken to be self-evident (2014: 9),33 and it most likely filled the content of the vague category of “civilizational values.” Even though many of the shared characteristics obtained in retrospect only—one cannot join a fate that has been shared by others in the past—the Patriots rejected a label of ethnic nationalism. They claimed that Polish multicultural history, and the reciprocal recognition of other nations’ right to exist, guarded against a biological definition of belonging (2014: 9). I call this vision ascriptive in that the Patriots did not make room for individual choices—national belonging was the only belonging, and in Poland it was synonymous with religious one—but they based it on sharing a number of majority-derived traits. In an answer to my question about the meaning of a nation, Minister Macierewicz said, “It was a political and a cultural concept.” He added, “Poland was unique in that the vast majority of the population was homogenous and could claim long-lasting roots in the country.” He specified that his conception was not ethnic because it did not matter if Poles had Armenian, Jewish, or Lithuanian parents. I asked if Polishness was therefore a matter of choice. The minister demurred, visibly uncomfortable with my formulation. On reflection, he seemed to agree. He said, “Yes, of course, one [as in, a Pole] can become Chinese. But one first has to learn the language.”34 Minister Macierewicz’s derision of choice brings to the fore the ambiguity of the Patriots’ vision. On the one hand, belonging was simply a matter of facts—where

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 53

one lived, how one spoke, who one worshipped, etc. On the other hand, there seemed to be no provisions for otherness to enter. Despite the ostensible rejection of blood-based belonging, the Patriots resurrected it by not imagining an opening into the community other than by birth on a particular soil.35 Liberals and Managers faltered on choice. On the one hand they venerated it, but on the other they feared and denied it. Patriots faltered on ethnicity. They repudiated it as a principle guarding access to the community, but they reinserted it by not imagining any other way of entry. These ambiguities were clarified in their narrations of the past. All parties—in narrating communism for political use and in particular ways of rendering it evil—recovered and circulated an ethnically bound and closed imaginary of belonging. The politically motivated anti-communism emergent in their narrations landed them in a similar position in regard to the way they imagined and constituted national belonging. I turn to the important elements of these narrations now. Emergent Imaginary of Belonging: Or Stories of Jews, Poles, and Communists Polish, Jewish, and communist imbrications were central to the account of the Patriots.36 In Patriots’ narration, Poles were placed in competition of suffering with the Jewish people; and Poles were narrated to win this competition: they were narrated as having suffered more than the Jews in the Holocaust. This was achieved by first making communism as equally repellent as Nazism, then making it to be existentially threatening to Poles, and third making it coincidental with Jewishness. In this construction, Jews became communists, they became carriers of communism—as if a pestilence—and as such, they became existential enemies of the Poles. This of course excused all violence that Poles perpetrated on Jews, and communism as a hostile force became inscribed in the person. It became a sign of an irredeemable other, invented as if biological—that is, racial. In contrast, Polish–Jewish relations were marginal in the account of the Managers. The party spokespeople deplored the tropes of Polish innocence advanced by the Patriots. Instead, the party called for a deep self-reflection about societal indifference in the Holocaust. Ostensibly, nothing could be further from the narrative of the Patriots. However, the story was told in a strange fashion—and this fashion, or a structure, emerged in every narrative emanating from the intellectual milieu of the Managers—it always invoked the heroic and by definition extraordinary Polish helpers of Jews; it relegated Polish violence against Jews to again extraordinary pathological criminals; and in doing so it discursively created the vast and indifferent—and guilty only of being indifferent—majority.37 The story of the communist successor party did not address the Holocaust or Polish, Jewish, and communist involvements at all. The Liberals

54 • Weaponizing the Past

condemned antisemitism in three short remarks, and then they left the topic shrouded in silence.38 The silence was significant in this narrative, because their authors wrote it explicitly to correct stories told by others (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 2). In such a context, silence indicated agreement. As different as the stories were, they shared a number of features and themes. First, each advanced the story from the point of view of ethnically defined Poles. No matter how much the narrators invoked a civic conception of belonging or claimed to respect individual choice in the matter of self-identification, and no matter how much pride the narrators took in the tradition of Polish multiculturalism, they all segregated the communities in their storytelling. They assumed the authority to decide who was a Pole and who was a Jew—this deciding was based on ascription—and they relegated the story of those who had made Poland diverse to the role of a prop in the drama of the majority, or its primary villain. Second, and most concretely, the narratives of the party currently in power and its Managerial predecessor conflated communism with Jewishness. Patriots did so directly and openly. The Managers ostensibly rejected the Jew-as-communist conflation. Its storytellers called it a myth and a superstition. Curiously however, when Jewish people actually made it into the story, they were narrated at the helm of the secret security apparatus—the main tool of Stalinist terror in Poland—where they were declared, by the Polish storytellers, to be Jewish and legitimately vengeful (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 35–38). The effect of this new myth—and it is a myth—is similar to the direct conflation of the Patriots. In lieu of the racially coded communist, the readers were given a vengeful Jewish torturer. Both were invented, and both were invented as acting against the Poles. The Liberals did not undermine this hegemonic narrative; indeed, they strengthened its power by silence and agreement. As such, the three major political camps supplied their citizens with a consonant story of the past-derived, ethnically coded enemy-other. In doing so, they elevated the ethnic principle of nationhood, in which one is a legitimate member only by sharing in and self-identifying with the Polish “version” of history, or Polish memory. The only vision of nonmembers is also ethnically coded and made to be inherently hostile.39 This is true for the main political entrepreneurs described in this work. But not so for the counterfactual actor of the story, the barely legitimate player of Polish public space—the Objectors. To repeat, the Objectors refused to claim and deploy mnemonic capital. They explicitly rejected ascription and were suspicious of the requirement for self-identification in matters of common belonging. The boundary they drew, if it can be called so, concerned common participation in the political project. But their engagement did not end there. Mindful of participating in the public space organized by memory,

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 55

the Objectors had little choice but to engage with it. They therefore entered the fray and punctured the stories of others. They did not do this to establish political identity (as the Liberals did), but to expand the narrow and elitedefined vision of belonging. As chapter 6 makes clear, they explicitly rejected the communist-Jewish conflation and all discursive maneuvers that assert it. More to the point, they analyzed the productivity of this conflation in Polish historiography and politics (Janicka 2010, 2011, 2015a, 2015b; Zawadzka 2009), and they retrieved the stories of those relegated to the status of props and enemy-others.40 In their analysis and in their stories, they respected the right of the subjects to self-identify and therefore recovered their personhood. They also exposed the sources and effects of inequality of majority-defined positions. These moves concerned the stories of Jews, the memory of whom is not allowed to disturb the Poles, but the aim was broader still. The Objectors did not mean to delegitimize the single category of difference, and in so doing prop up a national project, now wide enough to accommodate more than one nationality. Rather, they challenged the power of sorting humanity according to arbitrary principles manufactured as significant. Keeping true to their present-day orientation, they articulated a radical project of postcategorical solidarity.

Theory Revisited: Politics and Belonging Interacting Engagement with memory—narrating and judging communism, or playing the anti-communist card—constricts Polish democracy and the meaning of Polishness. On the one hand, it changes the tenets of democratic conversation from issues of putative import for citizens—be it climate, jobs, reproductive rights, forests, healthcare, to name just a few—to the pursuit of power only.41 On the other hand, it reinserts and circulates a closely ethnic imaginary, or an ascriptively organized vision of national belonging. In order to explain how such effects obtain, I theorize—this time inductively, basing my propositions of the particularities of the Polish case—three interrelated mechanisms or paths. Each path relies on Schwartz’s concept of redundancy (2015), but each deepens its reach and understanding. First, and most directly, the process of remembering communism restricts democracy and closes the imaginary of belonging. In a cacophony of the narratives of the past, knitted for the present-day political payoffs of the transition generation, some themes emerge as common, universal even. These common, made-to-be-universal, or in Schwartz’s terminology (2015), redundant themes establish the core of what is remembered, and as such, the core of the authoritative imaginary. And since all major political actors in Poland tied communism to Jewishness, and since they did so by ascription—that is

56 • Weaponizing the Past

without attention to the self-identification of those thus named and outed— they therefore imagined a hierarchically organized society, in which the ethnically derived majority designated a minority and accorded it lesser worth. It mattered not that the narration concerned groups and categories of people who supposedly no longer live in Poland. What mattered was the consonant principle, which articulated a model of an ascriptive and stratified community emerging in all stories. The model of an ascriptively organized community denied legitimacy of choice of belonging and identification and granted power of access and rights to thereby created majority. The model—and this is key—emerged not because the actors willed it as such. It emerged as a byproduct of anti-communism, which the parties engaged to win office. Second, and more indirectly, anti-communism narrows democracy and constricts belonging as a particular ideology. What matters here is the ideational content of what is being rejected, combined with the redundancy of the rejection. The redundancy here works somewhat differently—it is not so much the commonality of the emergent themes but the thoroughness of condemnation and the absence of alternative interpretations of the past. The more blanket the rejection, the more comprehensive the tarnishing of the old ideas. It may seem paradoxical that anti-communism—a condemnation of a system that was famously undemocratic—restricts democracy now. And yet it does. This has to do with the fact that while political actors in Poland turn to remembering and condemning, they also bury ideals like equality, the activist (welfare) state, and nonethnic belonging.42 All these may have been practiced badly or were short-lived in communist Poland, but they matter to democracy now, both as principles of belonging and as policy options on the table. To have them all summarily cast out, as communist-thus-evil, removes them from popular political vocabulary.43 Stated differently, a political decision to establish identity through the deployment of mnemonic capital, in the context of postcommunist space, foreclosed ideational commitments of democracy and belonging that had been espoused, even if not practiced, in the past. In this case, the forgone commitments related to substantive equality and mutual care. Anthropologists refer to this type of communism not so much as a system of property relations but as a ground of sociability everywhere, one that designates the specific contours of care that the community agrees to provide to its members in need (Graeber and Wengrow 2021). In lieu of that equality and care, the emergent imaginary furnished Polish citizenry with an ascriptive nation fighting demons from the past. (Anti-communism as a rhetorical device has this effect anywhere it is deployed, be it America, Columbia, or Poland. Blanket rejection of communism elevates political, or narrowly understood electoral, rights and delegitimates civil or economic rights protected, if poorly, in actual communist regimes [Dean 2012; Ghodsee 2013, 2018]).

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 57

The third path relates to the specific rhetorical or discursive strategies of political actors, which they deployed in narrating the past. Each procedure represents a particular connector, or mechanism, that binds the field of political competition to the field of belonging and restricts its meaning. Relying on the Polish case, I identify four such strategies—I call them mnemonic procedures—of ontologizing, inverting, instrumentalizing, and puncturing. Generally speaking, each procedure corresponds to a particular political cluster, and it reflects the patterned way its parties narrate and thus relate to the past. The procedures work as they do because they are internally consistent, creating an appearance of commonsensical self-evident coherence. This locks them in the imaginaries as if their content was true, even as it is being invented. (Procedures are therefore a third redundancy—the first referred to commonality of themes, the second to the thoroughness of judgment, the third relies on the consistency of discursive devices.) Concretely, internal consistency means that those who approach the past instrumentally also narrate its subjects that way; those who invert meanings in the way they see the past repeat that move in their narration; those who ontologize difference in the past do so again the present. Figure 2.7 offers a schematic view of the mnemonic practices employed by actors in Poland, and their effects on democracy and belonging. The arrows under each procedure Mnemonic Actor & Procedure

Common Belonging Effects

Turn field of politics to memory and designate essentialized identities of participants

Patriots ontologize difference by tying communism to Jewishness. ÃÄ

Nation emerges as an exclusive category. It is based on ascription operating with racial fixity

Adapt to memory as language of politics, achieve political identity and justify own policies

Managers creatively invert meanings Ä

Nation emerges as primary category. It is based on ascription masquerading as choice

Adapt to memory s language of politics and achieve political identity

Liberals instrumentalize the past Ä

Nation emerges as primary category. Based on ascription predicated on a fear of choice

Refuse memory as language of politics

Objectors puncture mainstream narratives ÃÄ

Choice and participationbased belonging predicated on the plurality of identity axes

Democracy Effects

Figure 2.7. Mnemonic Procedures and Effects on Democracy and Nation-Making.

58 • Weaponizing the Past

in the table indicate the direction of the process. Ontologizing works on both fields simultaneously, whereas inversion and instrumentalization proceed from democratic competition to belonging. Punctures again affect both, or at least attempt to. Punctures are indicated in the faded-out arrows because, since they were deployed by Objectors—that is, by actors with little political power—the procedures have the potential force but did not, as such, affect the political discourse and practice at present. The first mnemonic procedure ontologized political difference and was (and continues to be) performed by the Patriots. The procedure has two elements of (a) conflating communism with Jewishness openly and (b) collapsing time. The first element moved the site of political difference into the essence of a person.44 Jewish people were understood as a race apart—in ways similar to proponents of scientific racism that tied traits to biology—and they were made to be the carriers of communism, an ideology narrated as deadly to Polishness. In the second move, according to the Patriotic narration, the communists—the immutable enemies—were still ruling Poland as the transition lacked purity. This procedure resembles the process described by Michel Foucault (1990, 1994, 1995), in which an individual who performed homosexual or criminal acts began to be seen as a homosexual or criminal person (1990: 43; 1995). In other words, the individual act became a marker of deep internal characteristics. To be sure, nothing changed in the individual’s behavior; what changed was how the individual began to be perceived and treated and how in time she began to view herself. In other words, ontologizing described a movement in the categorical grid organizing social perceptions and interpretations: an offending difference—in Polish example, holding a particular worldview—stops being seen as a transitory and redeemable act and begins to be seen as a mark of deep personal essence (ontoi). Ideological difference becomes fixed in identity. In the context of post-transition societies, positing past-related difference as significant, and locating that difference in the personal essence, has had three effects. First, it turned the field of political competition into identitarian politics in which political opponents become existential enemies. The verb “become” is key here, for although identities are invented, they only do the political work they do if they appear natural and fixed (Bhaba 1994; Bourdieu 2001; Foucault 1990, 1995). The invention and the fixing is accomplished by narrating and historicizing events, that is, by placing them in chains of like events and interpreting the newest iterations as instances of old trends (Schwartz 2015; Zubrzycki 2006a).45 Second, the move elevated the nation—under threat of the newly invented internal enemies—into the only relevant category of groupness. It also closed belonging to ascription by nominating the authoritative majority designating national enemies (and thus creating itself ). In so doing, ontologizing tied the

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 59

two fields, or, more precisely, the move in one field affected the availability of options in the second. The third consequence affected the democratic process in that it imposed new rules and language on the electoral game. Despite the original pivot being performed by Mazowiecki’s thick line, it was the Patriots’ ontologizing that locked the game in place. No matter how quickly it came in the sequence of mnemonic procedures, when it did come, it had the force of Bourdieusian symbolic violence (2001). It moved the democratic contestation from conflict over ideological positions to conflict between kinds of people—the so-called tribes—and it made the field of political competition into a field of essential enmity. Since in Poland this was done with mnemonic capital, the field became locked to morally charged memory.46 Political opponents were cast as enemies—communists, or helpers of communists—and national enemies at that. This placed them in a precarious and defensive position, in which they could defend themselves only by adopting a newly imposed language, and thereby legitimating it. While they defended themselves against the charge of essential otherness, they ended up elevating nationhood to its saturating status.47 One adaptive technique that opponents of the Patriots adopted involved a creative inversion of meanings. It was made visible in the way one actor—the Managers—achieved political identity and justified its present-day policies.48 This involved a number of seemingly contradictory (inverted) moves. First, the turn to the past and judgment were ostensibly repudiated, and the repudiation acted as a source of political differentiation from the Patriots. Second, communism was nonetheless invoked and judged, indirectly, and it was made into a screen, a dark backdrop, against which the present shined with an automatic glow. Third, the discursively established glow, or goodness, concerned a specific aspect of present-day policy, whose desirability was not defended on merit but only justified discursively vis-à-vis the backdrop. In a mutually constitutive move, the invented badness of the past buttressed the goodness of the present, and vice versa. Thus, the Managers relied on inversion to appear present-day oriented, while they used the past to justify their policies. They did so by narrating communism as irrational and repressive because it had not been ruled by markets. This construction elevated market rationality, made it coincidental with freedom, and sank communism. It also—and this is a fourth result that I described above—allowed the Managers to magnify the threats presented by others: Patriots were cast as authoritarian and Liberals as economically inept, and the threats gained depth by connection with communism. The present-day moves—moves that establish political identity and justify policies—affected the vision of common belonging and occasioned the last inversion. Befitting an actor venerating freedom and choice, the Managers

60 • Weaponizing the Past

spoke of promoting communal openness, plurality of coexisting identities, and choice-based belonging. And yet the “why” and the “how” of the justificatory narratives undermined the articulated commitment to openness and choice. As chapter 4 will show, the Managers wove the narrative of the past to justify the present and to limit democratic debate over policies. Furthermore, in the process of doing so, they narrated communism without regard for the identity choices of the people they described, and they granted power of ascription to the titular majority. It was precisely the move to anticommunism that landed actors in the position of recycling the imaginary they claimed to repudiate. I use the verb “land” to underscore the structuring power of this move. Once actors turned to repudiate communism without explicitly challenging the communist-Jewish conflation—as I alluded to above, the repudiation offered by the Managers was mild and itself an inversion—it ended up affirming that which it claimed to deny;49 and once they turned to narrate communist evil in order to venerate freedom and choice, but did so without paying attention to the identity choices of their heroes, they ended up confirming the validity of the ontologizing move and recycled the ascriptive version of religious-ethnic belonging. They retrieved ascription masquerading as choice. It bears repeating that this masquerade was a result of the memory game the Managers decided to enter, and less so of subsequent substantive choices they made. Yes, they chose to be pro-market, and they chose to use communism to justify their stand. But once this happened, their subsequent choices became constrained by the foundational tropes of the memory field as locked by the Patriots. If they did not attend to the tropes of the Jewish-communist conflation, they ended up reproducing them. The next procedure—instrumentalization—resembled inversion in its effects, but it did not rely on the disjuncture between stated commitment and revealed principles. The procedure involved an open and deliberate turn to the past in recognition of the structuring effects of memory on politics (without it, the actors would not be seen as legitimate). It represented adaptation by acquiescence and turning the past-talk to advantage, that is, the creation of legitimate political identity. This mnemonic procedure was used by the Liberals, who were the descendants of the pre-transition communist party. As I showed above, Liberals had little mnemonic capital, and what capital they did have did not locate in history. They had a vested interest in not turning to the past. And yet, they did turn to it, and in the most self-conscious way. They did so to invent their ancestors, and to prove their patriotic credentials. In other words, they took up memory-talk, counterintuitively, to get proximate political payoffs. Furthermore, they espoused open and choice-based belonging, and normatively oriented state policies toward the rights of persons.

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 61

Just as with inversion, however, the instrumental turn to anti-communism narrowed maneuverability and the imaginary of belonging. The “how” of the narration confirmed the utilitarian bent of the original choice to turn to the past, and it ended up undermining the stated commitment to open, rights-based belonging. Establishing their identity by narrating the past, the Liberals turned the past, and the people in it, into props. They skirted the Jewish-communist conflation, they named minorities with no regard for their identity choices, and they awarded the minorities lesser rights than the majority (more on this in chapter 5). In other words, the Patriots made it necessary for the Liberals to prove political legitimacy, and the Liberals adapted—they turned to the past to prove their patriotic credentials, and in so doing they exulted the ascriptive majority. The narration of the past, woven for presentday payoff, undermined the espoused vision of common belonging and reconfirmed the image of ethno-religious community. Puncture was a mnemonic procedure used by actors who had minimal or no political standing, that is, Objectors. Objectors were interested in the past only to the degree that it structured the present, and they were not automatically anti-communist. This means that Objectors used punctures, not so much to tell their own story but to interpret and disrupt the stories of others. Thus, they charged major political players with weaving anti-communist narratives to justify present-day policies, foreclose democratic debate, and propagate a narrowly national conception of belonging. They, the Objectors, on the other hand, talked of the past to expose the mythical and ideological quality of the narratives woven by others and to demonstrate its productive force on the present. They also talked of the past to retrieve the stories of those who were made into props, or irredeemable others, by other narrations. As such, the Objectors analytically and explicitly tied the need of actors in the political field to democratic and communal effects. They also explicitly denied the automatic assumption of communist evil predicated on Jewish-communist conflation. As will be made clear in chapter 6, they did not venerate communism either but showed how it was timid and conservative in matters of civil and social rights. In doing this work the Objectors ended up promoting broadly participatory belonging. The Objectors and their puncture provide a counterfactual element in my analysis. They were the only actor who refused anti-communist discourse, who explicitly denied its founding myth, and who was not either in form or in substance turned toward ascriptive notions of belonging. They were also the only actor with no political legitimacy. Their presence in the field of political conversation—however inaudible to others—shows the structuring power of memory-talk. It makes visible the three-way relationship between political legitimacy, political identity, and the emergent shape of a community, predicated on the turn to and judgment of the past. Anti-communism

62 • Weaponizing the Past

established the boundary of the political field and bestowed the mantle of legitimacy on the players. Its various modes of deployment allowed those players to achieve differentiation (identity). Anti-communism, finally, foreclosed the visions of open and participatory belonging as it retrieved a closed and stratified vision of a national community. • • • Having introduced political actors in Poland, and having shown how they structure the electoral field, create their identities, and affect the meaning of national belonging in dynamic ways—that is, ways in which actors spoke to, related with, and affected each other—in part II, I turn to a deep exploration of each individual cluster’s maneuvers. In other words, having compared them across party lines, I now move to compare within each position. To that end, in the chapters to come, I explore each party’s program and its historical narrative, and then I tease out the assumptions and meaning by comparing the “what” with the “how” of the presentation. The deep exploration of each individual actor allows me to demonstrate how each player operates and affects the field. It also allows me to retell and analyze the stories that Polish elites weave about the past and how they actualize that past in the present.

Notes 1. I apply Barthes’s insight to political classes and claim that their language and stories structure their internal divisions and identities and shape national imaginaries. 2. Antoni Macierewicz and Adam Michnik used this term in our interviews on 10 July 2013 and 28 November 2013 respectively. Macierewicz was a defense minister from 2015 to 2017, held other high posts while in government before that, and has been a Sejm and Senate deputy on and off since 1989. Michnik is the editor in chief of the Electoral Gazette [GW; Gazeta Wyborcza], the largest Polish daily. Even though both men were long-time dissidents in communist Poland, they now represent opposing sides of the split post-Solidarity transition winner. 3. Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS), Platforma Obywatelska (PO). 4. Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej (SLD). 5. All translations are mine, unless otherwise indicated. 6. For more on the growing salience of past-talk, see Żakowski (2002) and the unnamed authors of SLD’s Historical Kit (2013), as well as scholarly work compiled in the edited volumes of Neumayer and Mink (2013) and Pakier and Stråth (2010). For an exploration of how the past’s role—visible first in lustration and decommunization debates—became politicized, and how it became more rather than less salient in the decade after the 1989 transition, see Szczerbiak (2002). My analysis shows that the past’s growing salience stems from the logic of mnemonic capital and the payoffs it provides. 7. Since the PiS won both the 2015 and the 2019 elections, its opponents talk of the winner’s authoritarian appetites. They still rely on allusions to communism to draw it out,

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 63



10. 11. 12.

13. 14. 15.




19. 20.


but their policy differentiation has increased precisely because of the present authoritarian nature of the PiS. A similar process is observable in Northern Ireland, where in order for a party to enter Stormont (the parliament), the party has to declare its position on the Good Friday agreement. Parties that want to debate roads and school taxes rather than the Unionist vs. Republican conflict must comply—and thus legitimate the requirement—or be shut out of the conversation. In the words of one young participant: “The past matters more than the present and the future” (Noble 2017). To emphasize, my aim is to describe what the parties did and to identify systemic, not so much agentic, features of the post-transition order. This is a story of muddling through and innovating, not of rational choices. Poland had no hardliner party split away from the reformer loser. Komitet Obywatelski (KO), Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (PZPR). Porozumienie Centrum (PC), Unia Wolności (UW), Akcja Wyborcza Solidarność (AWS), Socjaldemokracja Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej (SdRP). The UW was itself a result of a merger of Kongres Liberalno-Demokratyczny (KLD) and Unia Demokratyczna (UD), which happened in 1994. The two parties differed slightly in terms of programs, but they belonged together based on their approach to memory. Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (PSL), Razem (R), Twój Ruch (TR). Parts of this account may be found in Korycki (2017). The PiS’s 2014 program meets four of the five criteria of Christian-Democracy spelled out by Bale and Szczerbiak (2008). It sees society as an organic whole, it is staunchly supportive of families, it is pro-market but wants to provide for the poor, and it roots its values in religiosity. The PiS diverges from the model only in being emphatically nationalist. Its rooting in religiosity has by now led it to be more theocratic than Christian Democratic, but this is true only since 2015. In ideological-relational terms, the PiS is to the left of the SLD and the PO in its redistributive agenda, but the base of that agenda is conservative rather than progressive. Nobody would call them a leftist party, not they themselves, and not their adversaries. For more, see notes 18 and 20. Sejm records of the 25 January 2013 vote, which meant to reject the same-sex partnership proposal on the first reading, shows 101/202 PO members voting in favor of rejection, 72 voting to accept the bill for future readings, and 28 abstaining (Sejm Vote Registry 2013). Welfarist parties counterbalance market fluctuations regardless of budgetary deficits. To foreground a balanced budget, rather than market intervention, the SLD moves from the left to the center of the political spectrum. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. Approaches to economics do not appear to drive party identification. Economic effects can be seen as, at best, confounding. Left-right cleavage in the West pits socially open and economically redistributive parties against socially and economically conservative ones. This relationship is inverted in postcommunist Europe where the left comprises socially open and economically conservative parties versus socially conservative and mildly redistributive parties of the right (Jasiewicz 2003, 2009, 2016; Szczerbiak 2001). This view contradicts the findings of Tucker (2006), who argued that economic conditions result in patterned ways of voting. In his telling, regions with higher levels of aggregation of transition losers tended to vote for the transition losers as well. This is less possible for them since the Liberals’ loss of power in 2005. Georges Mink also explores communism as a political resource (Mink 2011; Neumayer and Mink 2013). Although Mink’s terms “historicizing strategies” or “games of memory” indicate exactly what I trace, I diverge in their use. First, my “lieu de memoir” (Nora

64 • Weaponizing the Past






27. 28.

29. 30.

31. 32. 33.

1989) or “mine of memory” (Neumayer and Mink 2013) concerns representation of the communist past as given in current parties’ mundane narratives, whereas Mink looks to particular deployment of individualized tropes. In other words, for him politics turns to memory, or it becomes a memory game, when a historic event is deployed and manipulated. I see memory-talk as more pervasive. The 2015 parliamentary elections saw two newcomers: Kukiz’15  Movement (Ruch Kukiza), and Modern (Nowoczesna), both of which gained around thirty seats in the Sejm. Both parties resisted references to communism in their programmatic pronouncements. For more on crisis-savior rhetoric with regard to the PiS, see Jasiewicz 2008. Note that the PiS’s predecessor has been the most persistent and insistent in calling for decommunization (or strong lustration) of the state in the 1990s, and the PiS’s 2005 calls for the installation of the 4th Republic can only be properly understood in connection to allegedly persisting communism. This is not to say that the party does not vary the intensity of their cleanse-the-state appeals: for a nuanced exploration of the PiS’s strategic turn to the past, see Szczerbiak (2008, 2013). Note also that the PiS played its Patriot card most consistently in 2005 and 2015, and in both cases it won the election. It downplayed this identity in 2007 and 2011 and lost. In chapter 4, I offer a detailed analysis of the PO’s narrative. The analysis makes clear that Managerial references to the past were indirect and at times appeared inadvertent. Yet they were pervasive. The invocation of irrationality and danger are constant in PO characterizations of PiS. After the 2015 election, the repertoire of threats that the PiS’s represented expanded: Polish demonstrators, foreign commentators, and even the EU were concerned about the PiS’s commitment to democracy and rule of law (Duval Smith 2015a, 2015b; Garton Ash 2016; Rankin 2016). They described its rule as authoritarian and populist. Some of those charges were and are justified, while some are discursive inventions that mean to delegitimize the critique of the status quo ante that the election of the PiS represents. For more on this, see chapters 4 and 5 (see also Eribon 2013). See the SLD Party Program (2011) and SLD Historical Kit (2013). And here is Leszek Miller, SLD Sejm deputy and party leader in 2013: “Politics of history is one of the tools of power. Creating a dark legend out of the old system, serves to legitimize the current system. We face a paradox in recent years, in that the longer the 3rd RP lasts [posttransition Poland] the more resources it spends on vilifying PRL. De-legitimating PRL seems to be the most effective way of legitimating the 3rd RP” (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 2). Portions of this section can be found in Korycki 2019. SLD Historical Kit (Niezbędnik Historyczny Lewicy), the Kit for short, has no identified author. It was published by the Ignacy Daszyński Center (Centrum im. Ignacego Daszyńskiego). Instytut Pamięci Narodowej. I rely on the English version of the publication It All Began in Poland (2009). When referring to it, I use the names of the contributing authors. The volume has no identified editor or translator(s). For the exploration of the changing personal and political connections between the PiS and IPN’s milieu, see Dudek (2011); Friszke (2011); Mink (2013); and Szeligowska (2014). Objectors did not articulate this model of belonging directly. The formulation is mine, based on the analysis of texts and interviews that I list and decode in chapter 6. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. I do not wish to suggest Michnik’s vision is equivalent to the Patriots’. They differ in the way they see the role of the church in political life—Michnik wants it out of politics

Theory Localized, or Dramatis Personae of Polish Politics • 65

34. 35.

36. 37.

38. 39.


41. 42.

(2009), the Patriots want it in (PiS Program 2014). But the matter of cultural fusion is uncertain. Michnik rejects Pole-Catholic conflation, in that not all need to be or become Catholics. Patriots agree. Michnik then reinserts Catholicism as his “homing element” (2009), as do the Patriots when they claim a special status for Christianity. For a liberal critique of Michnik’s views, see Chmielewska and Żukowski (2006). For a historical and sociological analysis of the Pole-Catholic fusion, see Porter-Szücs (2011, 2014) and Zubrzycki (2006a, 2006b). Antoni Macierewicz, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. Minister Macierewicz’s comment is interesting in that in terms of formal citizenship provisions, Poland relies on ius sanguinis—children of Poles are automatic citizens—but has very limited ius soli provisions, which only apply to stateless children born in Poland. That is to say, a child of any nationality born on Polish soil is not a Polish citizen (Honohan 2010). The point of our talk, however, was not so much the formal arrangement but the way the minister drew the boundary of the “we.” In our interview that boundary appeared ambiguous—on the one hand, the minister seemed to claim that if a child born to Chinese parents in Poland spoke Polish and partook in Polish cultural code, she would be Polish. On the other hand, he claimed that this birth, language, and cultural participation were not a matter of individual choice. The full stories are recounted and analyzed in chapter 3. The full stories are recounted and analyzed in chapter 4. For the forceful repudiation of the mythology of Polish innocence or indeed indifference, see Engelking 2011; Grabowski 2008, 2013; Grabowski and Engelking 2010; Grabowski and Lebionka 2014; Gross 2000a, 2000b, 2007, 2014; Janicka 2015a, 2015b; Machcewicz and Persak 2002; Tryczyk and Szmulowicz 2021; Żbikowski 2011; Żukowski 2018. I list a small sample of the scholarship emerging from Poland, as it is more likely to affect historical understandings of Polish elites. The full stories are recounted and analyzed in chapter 5. One may claim that elites narrate the nation the way it is understood by current citizens, or even citizens in the past. In other words, causality may work in the opposite direction to the one posited here, and elites may simply reflect prevailing attitudes. Three issues arise here. First, whence those alleged popular attitudes. Second, even if we assume the attitudes exist, this does not change my contention that by narrating the nation as ethnic, elites legitimate it. Third, even if the attitudes described in the past were true, given the enormity of war and its destruction, one may inject a normative distance to the old attitudes, unless they are taken to be unproblematic. (I take this up in detail in chapter 4, where I explore how the Managers imagine the society they wish to lead.) This formation does not comprise the so-called philo-Semites, that is, people who seek new ways of remembering the Holocaust but do so in a national image-saving way. In my taxonomy the group belongs to the Managers cluster. For analysis of the phenomenon, see Janicka and Żukowski (2013) and Zubrzycki (2016). Note, my work challenges the binary split of the Polish political field advanced in the later reference. I rely on Kaplan’s distinction between thin and thick democracy, without sharing his lament for the idea of democracy as a Western capstone project (1997). I do not claim that the Polish communist state delivered on these promises, or that it did so consistently. The nonethnic belonging was especially short-lived. Notwithstanding the practice, the principles that framed the past regime’s ideational horizon shaped its policy, even if unevenly (for more on this see chapter 6). Second, the most telling example of how thoroughly some ideals are tainted is found in the PiS’s 2014 program. The party invoked equality as an ideal, but all it could say on the topic was that equality had been compromised in communism. The passage in the program shows the degree to which

66 • Weaponizing the Past








language and ideational horizon are limited by politically motivated blanket rejection (2014: 8; for more on the PiS, see chapter 3). A contrasting example may be found in South Africa where capitalism continues to rule the economy. This occasions a fractured condemnation of the apartheid regime, which spares that which is retained in the new one. I follow this line of logic based on Mamdani’s claim that South Africa democratized in 1994 but did not decolonize (2002). Zubrzycki called this process “ethnicizing of political difference,” and in 2006a she claimed that all major political players used it. She complicated this story in 2016 when she identified a split of political identities accomplished by using the paradigmatic “other,” the mythical Jew. She claimed that some (in my analysis, the Patriots) close the national boundary with the Jew; others (in my nomenclature, the Managers) differentiate themselves from the first camp, espouse national openness, and commemorate Jewish life in Poland. Zubrzycki then claimed that both parties end up invoking ethnic belonging, even the one who wants to appear open. My analysis identifies four positions and explains how, in their use of mnemonic capital and narration of communism, the three major players converge on the ethnic model, while the last one is shut out of the conversation. For a recent exploration of Jewish-Bolshevism in Poland, see Śpiewak (2012), and for its critique, see Zawadzka (2013). For more on the mythology, see Gross (2007) and Zawadzka (2009). For more on how Managers recirculate it—that is how they end up ethnicizing political difference—see chapter 4. Mink (2011) and Neumayer and Mink (2013) use the concept of historicizing strategy as well. They interchange it with broader concepts of memory game and reactive memory (see note 21 on the difference in our approaches). Schwartz (2015) uses the term keying to describe historicizing strategies. In other settings the identitarian tilt is accomplished by “immigrants,” “globalization,” or “liberalism” as seen in the threats invented and deployed in recent US, UK, or Hungarian campaigns. Polish elites find/create significant others in the past, hence memory as the structuring language of politics. In the most recent election, in 2019, the ruling Patriot located the threats in the communists, as always, but also in feminists espousing “gender ideology” and permissive queers (Mole, Golec de Zavala, and Ardag 2019). This recalls and challenges Subotić’s claim that states’ ontological insecurities make them manipulate or appropriate Holocaust memory (2019). My analysis disaggregates the state, and it shows active production of “insecurity”: even though Managers and Liberals are powerful political actors, they are created as internal national enemies. In defending themselves against the charge, in securing their identity, they enter and play the game as set by the Patriots. For a similar process in a context of emergent nation-states see Hobsbawm and Ranger’s exploration of the invented traditions that act to legitimate new arrangements of rule and belonging (1983). This move may simply be part of the logic of the competitive political field, the point of which is to establish distinctiveness and defeat one’s opponent. If, therefore, one party says A, the other may want to say B. Zubrzycki confirms that parties in Poland appear to behave according to the expectation, but their stance gets inverted (2016; see notes 40 and 44 above for more details). The contortions in the Managers’ narrative, which I reproduce in chapter 4, show how much they want to appear different from the Patriots, how they succeed and how they fail.

Part II


Chapter 3


8 This chapter begins the detailed presentation of political actors in Poland and introduces the first, and arguably the most powerful, memory agent, a veritable mnemonic warrior (Kubik and Bernhard 2014), the Patriots. It is the peculiar achievement of the party, or the cluster of parties that style themselves into Patriots, that the past-talk, or anti-communism, continued to be pervasive and productive until 2015, that is over twenty-five years after communism officially ended. The Patriots’ identity designates political actors who are definitionally turned to the past and most unambiguously anti-communist (a shaded quadrant in my typology of post-transition political positions—see figure 3.1). The purity of their stance gives them access to ample mnemonic capital and, through that capital, a distinctly sharp political identity. Not only does it make them the Patriots, it also affects the field of political competition and the field of belonging. Patriots’ use of memory talk compels others—that is, the parties turned to the present—to deploy their mnemonic capital and employ the language of the past to conduct political debate. In the chapters to follow, I explore their adaptive moves and their consequences. Judgment/Temporal Orientation Condemn communism Do not condemn communism

Past Patriots

Present Managers Objectors

Figure 3.1. Patriots in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.


70 • Weaponizing the Past

In the first section of this chapter, I describe the field of party politics as conceived by the Patriots during the campaign and 2015 election—an election that they won. I summarize the Patriots’ political program and analyze how the cluster framed and proposed to solve its 2015 electoral challenge. I demonstrate that, rather than relying on their programmatic identity, the Patriots turned the political field to memory by focusing on allegedly enduring communism. More than a quarter century after the transition from communism, they claimed that communism was still ruling Poland. Then they assigned blame for this state of affairs to their current political adversaries. I call this two-step maneuver a deployment of mnemonic capital, in which the winners of the transition question its purity and identify their adversaries as responsible for the alleged persistent evil of the past. Deploying mnemonic capital allowed the party to (a) assign roles to participants, (b) organize them hierarchically, and (c) constitute its own political identity, as Patriots. Most importantly, it allowed the Patriots to polarize the field of political competition and change the terms of the democratic debate. In the second section I explain how the Patriots achieved the political results described in the first section by analyzing how exactly they harnessed their mnemonic capital and made the charge of persistent communism productive. Here I investigate how the cluster narrated the past and how it made communism evil. I identify the main mnemonic procedure used by the Patriots and call it ontologizing. Specifically, the procedure relies on the discursive conflation of communism with Jewishness, and, more generally, it represents a move in which “communist” comes to designate a kind of person. “Communists” stop being holders of a political ideology and become people who are essentially, and irredeemably, “other.” What is of particular import is that in the Patriots’ telling, political difference is taken to be as if racial, understood by them as if biological, unchangeable. Furthermore, it is understood—or made by them—to be foreign and inimical to “Polishness.” Ontologizing transforms communism from a debatable political position to a nonnegotiable personal essence. When this maneuver is combined with the Patriots’ insistence that the transition from communism was not complete, it manufactures a sense of crisis, and an existential one at that: communists, who are narrated as inherent enemies of Poland, are said to be still ruling the country. This construction gives Patriots access to a powerful narrative of existential crisis, in which political enemies become enemies of the nation, and the Patriots emerge as its saviors. This powerful externalizing technique locks the political field into a mnemonic contest, in that Patriots’ adversaries must defend themselves against the charge of otherness. In the final section, I confront the self-presentation of the first section with the mode of “making communism evil” described in the second section. By confronting the “what” with the “how” of the narratives, I engage the second

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conceptual field and decode how the cluster conceives common belonging. Here I show how the mnemonic procedure that ontologized political difference affects the contemporary imaginary of the “we.” I find that the Patriots’ conception elevates national belonging to the primary—if not exclusive—axis of identity. It makes national belonging necessarily coincidental with Catholicism and biologically derived. Predicated on the conflation of communism with Jewishness, the Patriots’ narration establishes a tight boundary for the “we” in which all detractors and all who do not share certain narrow ascriptive criteria are imagined out of the community. The discursive moves undertaken by the Patriots for the sake of political competition affect and constrict the emergent imaginary of the “we.”

The Patriots’ Cluster—Political Program and the Main Challenge The Patriot cluster in 2015 comprised the Law and Justice Party (PiS), the Polish Solidarity (PS) Party, and the Poland Together (PR) Party. They signed a unity pact on 12 July 2014.1 The most powerful partner in the cluster, the PiS, registered as a party in 2001 after a disagreement with and a split from the Electoral Action Solidarity (AWS)2 parliamentary coalition, which held the government at the time. The PiS won the government and presidency in 2005. It lost the government in 2007 and the presidency in 2010 (PiS History n.d.).3 The party formed the official opposition between 2007 and 2015. It won the May 2015 presidential election and achieved a majority mandate in the October 2015 parliamentary election (37.58 percent of the popular vote, resulting in 234/460 seats in the Sejm).4 Their electoral success was unprecedented in post-transition Poland, in that no party, until 2015 that is, held a simple majority of the legislature. Programmatically, in brief, the Patriots are in favor of a limited, but strong and efficient, state, and they believe that such a state is friendly to local markets. This is true despite recent moves to present themselves as mildly interventionist by paying attention to poverty in their programs. The cluster is socially conservative, friendly to the church, and skeptical of the EU. The EU skepticism is also mild: the cluster wants to demand more and to be seen as demanding more from Brussels, and it opposes joining the Euro zone, although it in no way proposes an exit (PiS Program 2014).5 The cluster regularly sends deputies to the EU Parliament, where they are part of a conservative bloc. As such the party is at best, if loosely, characterized as Christian Democratic.6 As I trace below, despite this programmatic bent, the PiS and its allies created their political distinction/identity as Patriots by relying on their mnemonic capital: they occupied a space of transition winner who is turned to

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the past, and who profoundly repudiates that past. The Patriots might deploy their mnemonic capital and activate their political identity—they did so in 2005 and in 2015; they might also mute it—which they did in 2007 (PiS Program 2007); or they might apply it inconsistently—which happened in 2011 (PiS Program 2011; Stróżyk and Wybranowski 2011). It is not part of my analysis to tease out what motivates the contingent strategic decisions to deploy memory or not; my aim here is to use a recent election to analyze how the Patriots constitute and deploy their mnemonic capital and to evaluate its productive force. To that end, in this section I give voice to the cluster’s members and show how they presented themselves to the electorate and how they construed their main electoral challenge. I concentrate on the Law and Justice Party (PiS) because it was by far the most powerful partner in the coalition, and I examine its recent (2014) program. I have two aims in going through the program’s sections: I specify the PiS’s programmatic identity to support my claim that the cluster differs from others, albeit mildly. I also show the party’s unwavering preoccupation with the past and its unambiguous rejection of communism, both of which constitute the party’s mnemonic capital and are the source of its political identity. I begin with the party’s “Values” and then analyze how they are articulated in a subtle conversation with communism. I then move on to examine the “Diagnosis” section of the program, in which the party performs its powerful maneuver of claiming that communism still rules Poland. I then analyze what this injection of the past into the present does for the players and the field. In the latter part of the section, I supplement the analysis of the program with interviews with PiS politicians to show how pervasive the interpretative frames advanced in the program are. The PiS Program, titled “Health, Work, Family: PiS 2014 Program,”7 leads off with a statement of values (seven pages). It begins with the most important value of human dignity—indeed, the existence of a state is legitimated only by the need to have this dignity protected (2014: 7). The most important aspect of that value is the protection of human life, from inception to death. To that end, the PiS opposes abortion, euthanasia, and suicide.8 The only exception to this absolute value concerns soldiers—a national community may expect sacrifice of life in the protection of itself (2014: 7). Freedom is listed next, and it applies to both individuals and communities (2014: 7). The authors explicitly reject any opposition between individual freedom and communal rights. This important theme is signaled in the exploration of freedom, solidarity, democracy, and the state (2014: 7, 11, 12). It connects to personalism, mentioned explicitly in the section on democracy (2014: 11). (The program does not define the term, but personalism relates to Christian human rights: the concept that emerged in the 1930s out of Catholic opposition to liberal individualism and communist totalitarian statehood. Those

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rights undergirded a vision of a moral community whose members realized their dignity by living God’s will [Moyn 2015: 3]. This understanding of human rights pervaded the West until the 1960s, when it was replaced by the current secular liberal understanding [2015: 99]). The exploration of equality concerns the long shadow cast on the value by its communist provenance (PiS Program 2014: 8). It is complemented by justice, which refers to equality of opportunity in pursuit of material and other goods. This pursuit has to be tempered by respect for morality, the best arbiter of which is a “universal” (Catholic) Church. Relying on Pope John Paul II, the party rejects inequality and, relying on Pope Francis, argues against economic exclusion. The passage ends with the rejection of those economic inequalities that are “particularly bothersome to women” (2014: 8). Community is a value. Its foundational structure—the family—is understood as a stable union between a man and a woman, entered into for the purpose of raising children (PiS Program 2014: 8). Its collective structure— the nation—is understood as “a community of culture, language, historical experience, political tradition, civilizational values, and experienced fate” (2014: 9). It is the broadest category of belonging that might serve as an effective basis of political community. It is not understood in ethnic terms since the Polish nation was historically formed and developed by uniting people of many ethnic roots (2014: 9). Nonetheless, it is inseparable from Christianity (2014: 9). The Polish nation has two historical enemies—Nazis and communists. After the dual occupation of World War II, the communists are said to have violated all basic values, especially dignity, and repressed the nation, which continued to resist. The process began with the cursed soldiers and ended with Solidarity (2014: 9–10).9 Much of the nation’s resistance related to the defense of Catholic values. Indeed, the Catholic Church and its teachings—the readers are told—have a special connection to Polishness in that they were its only institutional embodiment during the partitions and the PRL (2014: 10). The framers then move on to discuss the state. They justify it as being a value by its nation-serving function (“defense of life, safety, freedom, solidarity based on justice, civic equality,” PiS Program 2014: 10); and they justify it being a supreme value by its 123-year loss to the Polish nation. Like other values, it has to be protected (2014: 11). This explicit defensive stance is mitigated by democracy and universal subjecthood (2014: 11).10 It is explained by a hopeful and challenging embeddedness in a global community. Thus, on the one hand, the Polish state has to ensure that Poles achieve an equal level of economic prosperity (2014: 12) and that they overcome the demographic crisis brought on by falling birth rates and high levels of out-migration (2014: 12). On the other hand, the Polish state has to ensure that Europe grows and develops as a community that is “strong in its diversity” of nations (2014: 12).

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The state, therefore, has to be highly effective but limited (2014: 12). It is not effective now, and it needs to be reformed. This is the party’s top priority. When reform is achieved, the state can move on to strengthening the family and overcoming economic semiperiphery status (2014: 13–14). The “Values” section establishes the PiS’s programmatic identity, but it also signals its preoccupation with the past. More specifically, the Patriots’ values become articulated in a subtle confrontation with communism. Thus, human dignity is listed as both a primary value and a value that was especially abused under “totalitarian” communism. Communists are listed next to Nazis as historical foes, but it is communists who are singled out as especially abusive of national values. Finally, the PRL period is placed in a list of foreign occupations and partitions. For the time being, this presentation signals a party that has a sense of programmatic difference but seeks to compete by relying on mnemonic capital. It is a party that, at the moment, suggests that it sees communism as hostile and external to Polishness. I will elaborate on this conviction more fully in the narration of the past. The program becomes more explicitly concerned with communism in its “Diagnosis” section. In twenty-nine pages of text (compared to seven pages of “Values”), the framers propose that the Polish state is weak—unable to reproduce the nation and ensure its economic prosperity—because it has not cleansed itself of communism. In a no longer subtle way, the program denies the purity of transition, and it names the culprits. This construction is often presented as a denigration of the 3rd Republic, and it is the key mnemonic maneuver in the Patriotic arsenal.11 The program explains that after the fall of communism in 1989 it was assumed that change had to concern two institutions: the market and democracy. The state as such was not renewed. The program asserts that the judiciary, bureaucracy, military, security forces and police, and bank managers remained unchanged from communist times. Together, they captured the material spoils of the transition, and these main actors, as well as their social and familial circles, continue to occupy key state positions (PiS Program 2014: 15). This was most visible in the process of privatizing industry and other properties, much of which was taken over by the old communist apparatchiks (the Liberals and their clients). Crucially, in Poland, this new elite co-opted former dissidents who are now the Patriots’ main adversaries, the Managers (2014: 16). Having secured political and economic power, these conjoined elites also monopolized the media. The theft of economic, political, and symbolic resources is constitutive of the postcommunist moment in Poland (2014: 16). The moment’s second characteristic—to which the authors refer as postcoloniality12—concerns identity. The new/old elites are loyal to “external forces,” which is evident in their denigration of Polish values and unquestioned adoption of European ones (2014: 17).

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After identifying the concrete priorities of ending the crises of family and economic inequality, and after tracing the causes of the crises in the weak state monopolized by externally oriented crypto-communists, the program moves on to discuss solutions. Unsurprisingly, the reform of the state is first and most prominent. The party proposes to restructure the cabinet and ministries (PiS Program 2014: 48–50), decentralize power (2014: 52–53), and modernize bureaucracy and all security services, including the fire department (2014: 54–63). Police and special forces are to start hiring and promoting according to merit and age (only those born after 1989 [2014: 57]). The judiciary is deemed to be in crisis. The framers want to respect the courts’ independence, but they also want to have them serve the people (how this is understood or implemented is unspecified [2014: 65]). Public accountability institutions are to be strengthened (auditor, ombudsman, statistics, anticorruption bureaus, etc.) and a Constitutional Tribunal is to be reformed. It is suggested that the top court is corrupt, in that judges are “selected especially for the case” (2014: 71). Legislation is to be simplified, and EU directives are to be customized rather than simply copied (2014: 72). This ends the discussion on state reform. Given the centrality of the state-capture argument in “Values” and “Diagnosis,” the solution is profoundly underwhelming. Law and order agencies are to be strengthened, and the courts are to be reformed, but no wholesale purges are proposed. The disjuncture between the problem and the solution suggests that Patriots use anti-communism as a strategic device. It is a means by which they constitute and deploy their mnemonic capital against others in the political field: put differently, it is a frame that allows them to create and decry a national crisis, and it is a language that assigns sticky and polarized identities to all players. Those identities include the guilty (Liberals and Managers) and the savior (the Patriots). Rather than being irrational for denying transition and naming national enemies, as Managers paint them, the Patriots are being politically strategic. The “Solutions” section goes on to describe the economic plan. Very briefly, it calls for the state to play a robust role in economic policy in order to strengthen the domestic economy and resist encroachments of the EU (the euro, climate package, unequal agricultural subsidies [PiS Program 2014: 23, 74, 90, 97]) or multinational corporations (2014: 84–85, 99). Markets are to be unimpeded—indeed, the section proposes much deregulation. They are, however, to become more Polish. One of the most concrete proposals concerns agriculture: family farms are to be protected against large agribusinesses, and the wholesale purchase of Polish land by foreigners is to be prohibited (2014: 98–100). As signaled in the opening chapters, the authors seek to eliminate inequality between Poland and other EU countries (2014: 73).

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Family, the second key problem, is covered extensively. It is affected by unemployment, growing poverty, and drastically declining fertility rates, compounded by out-migration (PiS Program 2014: 107). The PiS promises to appoint a responsible minister and implement dedicated family policy. It proposes incentives for families to have more children—for example, generous tax benefits for each additional child after the first (2014: 108); expanded, universal, and free daycare; lengthy unpaid parental leave up to six years for one parent (2014: 110); and health checkups and meals in schools (2014: 111). After discussing society (education and culture) and foreign policy, the program ends. The PiS’s program demonstrates two key points: first, programmatically, the Patriots are neither antimarket nor anti-EU, even if they are more skeptical of both than the Managers and the Liberals. Patriots want to strengthen domestic business. At the same time, they want to resist, and be seen as resisting, the encroachments of global business and the EU. (One has an impression that the EU and big business—as enemies—are useful in a similar way that anti-communism is, in buttressing “PiS-the-savior” credentials).13 Like the other clusters, the Patriots seek a limited state—they very explicitly reject a welfare-state model as too intrusive (PiS Program 2014: 12)—and, like others, they spill much ink on the plight of the underprivileged. Unlike the other clusters, the Patriots see the current state as weak, and they want to make it stronger. They are more socially conservative than the Liberals and slightly more so than the Managers, and they are paradigmatically church friendly, although there is very little about the church in the program. I deduce friendliness on the strength of the “Values” section, in which popes are quoted as inspirational and Catholicism made coincidental with Polishness.14 It is their social conservatism that dictates the Patriots’ social agenda. For example, the unemployed are to be protected because a lack of work affects family life, not because all partake in a universal right to work or assistance.15 As such, the Patriots are Christian (not liberal) Democratic in a political arena with no left or even center-left formations. Their programmatic distinctiveness from other clusters is one of style and degree rather than kind. And yet, as I claimed in the opening section, the mainstream parties are locked in an intense political conflict. This introduces the second insight emergent from the Patriots’ program—the framers solve the absence of sharp programmatic differentiation by fashioning an enduring political identity. They do this by deploying their mnemonic capital: turning to the past and vilifying communism. If one were to analytically imagine the beginning of this mutually constitutive process, it lies in the following assumptions: 1. Communism is evil and categorically hostile to Polishness (I will analyze and decode this assumption in the next section, but references to it were found in all sections of the program).

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2. A transition from communism has not happened, or it has been incomplete, because the communists—the Liberals—captured the economic, political, and cultural levers of power. 3. They have co-opted some of the former dissidents—the Managers— who protect the Liberals and perpetuate the weak state. 3. What unites the communists and their new allies, apart from the grasping monopoly over the state,16 is their vassalage to foreign, non-Polish powers. In this way of narrating the Polish political predicament, communism and foreign servility emerge as a self-reinforcing attitudinal package: a package that pairs, and through this pairing taints, both political adversaries of the Patriots. It matters little that the hostile elites are now liberal or neoliberal. The association with the communist past stains, while it is reconfirmed as anti-Polish (reconfirmed because it is servile to external powers). It is the assumed evil and foreignness of communism that does the majority of the discursive heavy lifting in this construction. The authors of the program do not spell out the similarity and affinity between Liberals and Managers: Liberals derive from former communists and are automatically evil, while Managers betray the opposition ethos and do not purge the communists. They therefore become indistinguishable allies of evil. Both are now servile to the EU, just as the Liberals’ predecessors were to the USSR. Linking them through imaginary communism suffices to create a single enemy—and a national enemy at that—against whom there is only one savior, the Patriots. In more general terms, these discursive maneuvers turn the political field to the past. In more specific terms, by denying transition, the Patriots pull the past into the present. By relying on the discursively established evil of communism, they personalize the guilty and make them into enemies of both the PiS and Poland. This is an effective strategy that creates a sense of existential crisis and puts adversaries in defensive positions, even though no substantive charges have been laid. This is precisely the move that locks the field of politics in the past. To be branded “not-truly-Polish” demands a defense of, or at least an engagement with, the charge. It forces and constrains others toward past-talk. This mode of presenting the problem (and solution) was confirmed in all my interviews with the PiS’s political elites and their allies.17 Wiesław Johann, former justice of the Constitutional Tribunal, claimed that “some people who presided over courts during Martial Law are still on the bench. The same is true for the prosecutorial staff.” He explained the danger in that the new cadres learn from the old and adopt the old ways of “keeping the government happy” (2014: n.p.).18 This made the current government like the communist one in two ways: it protects the old personnel, and it allows the new cadres to be shaped in the image of the old. They are to keep the government happy

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rather than maintain judicial independence. PiS Sejm deputy Krzysztof Szczer ski made a similar point more directly: “There was no rupture in the continuity . . . ; there was no definitive rejection of the moral foundation of the old [regime].”19. Rafał Ziemkiewicz, prolific author and contributor to many conservative publications, said that there was no repair of communist legacies. “[There was] a return to the wheel-ruts, or tracks of the PRL.” He waxed poetic and called it a “materiality of memory.”20 The best example he gave was of the then ruling “mono-party” (Ziemkiewicz 24 January 2013). He was referring to the Managers as he was simultaneously invoking the communists. Antoni Macierewicz was the defense minister in the government that took power in 2015 and was a senior marshal of the Sejm at the time of writing. He was the deputy chief of the PiS in 2013, when we talked (on 10 July 2013), and deputy minister of defense in the 2005–7 government, deputy of the Sejm on and off since 1989, longstanding dissident before that, and one of the founding members of the Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR).21 He relied on all discursive moves I identify above. Just as it was under the partitions and communism, Poland, he felt, was divided. It was inhabited by two communities. One was numerically small but powerful; the other was a “mentally occupied society.” He said: Groups that implemented this [division] got their claim to legitimacy in the nineties from belonging to the opposition. From the fact that during communism, for a period of time, they were in the opposition. Hence, they spoke of opposition in positive terms—then. Now, their base is no longer oppositional; on the contrary, they are rooted in the structure of power, including administrative power, and in [the] financial and economic situation. So now they have to legalize [protect] what they own, what they have. So if in the early nineties Jaruzelski was competition to Michnik,22 in the second half of the nineties he became a “man of honor”; and since the day before yesterday, he became “a model Polish patriot.”23

He continued: “The past changes in the direction of approval of communism.” He explained: “If somebody sees the top of the Palace of Culture and Science daily, then Stalin appears to be approved of.24 If not approved, then at least normal. Especially as it is allowed in free Poland: since free Poland does not remove it, it must be okay. The greatest criminal retains his monument, and the heroes of independence do not.” Minister Macierewicz moved unprompted to discuss the past in general and communist evil in particular. He considered the end of communism in Poland a fiction and called Stalin the greatest criminal in history. He charged that the fiction was perpetrated and allowed by former dissidents, now evil’s accomplices who have captured the state. He wove a powerful narrative in which again—just as under communism—the minority occupied the

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majority, and the majority entered the catacombs to survive. In his telling, there was no transition, only a change of occupier. His narration was made from the position of the only party that could deliver society from such dual evil. The examples above demonstrate how the Patriots used memory-talk to externalize, or cast as illegitimate, their political adversaries. The method, at its most basic, involved branding those now in power as communists, or their direct ideational descendants. This designation did not need explaining—it carried an automatic, transparent, and deadly moral load. In the next section I explain how communism became so productive for the Patriots, or, in other words, how it became so particularly evil.

Memory as Strategy: The Patriots’ Past Narrated In the last section I showed how the Patriots presented themselves to the electorate, how they turned the field of political competition to the past, and how they relied on anti-communism—or the assumptions that communism was evil, and that it still ruled Poland—to cast themselves as the only party worthy of rule. In this section, I explain the PiS’s assumption. I trace how the milieu of cultural entrepreneurs (Kubik 2003) surrounding the party narrates communism and how, through this narration, it makes communism essentially anti-Polish. This section explains why calling someone a communist has such offensive potency in Poland. It also explains how the Patriots’ reliance on memory-talk transforms the space of political conversation into the space of nonnegotiable identitarian warfare. I argue that Patriots ontologize communism. This discursive strategy is the Patriots’ most productive and promiscuous mnemonic procedure. It profoundly affects the field of political competition (described above). It also affects and circulates a particular imaginary of belonging that I examine in the following section. Here I will show how the Patriots make political and ideological difference a property, or essence, of a person. In their telling, one does not simply hold communist convictions, which may be debated; one is tainted by communism to one’s core. Communism, from this perspective, is a sign (a stigma) of a kind of person. This kind of person is further narrated as essentially other and hostile to Polishness. The constitutive discursive elements of this construction are: (a) communism is narrated as equal to or worse than Nazism; (b) it is presented as foreign and imposed; and (c) it is made to be coincidental with Jewishness.25 This three-step process ensures that communism is seen as inherently and existentially anti-Polish. It represents its most forceful externalization and repudiation. And it marks the holder of such a stigma as Poles’ irredeemable other.

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To spell out the Patriot’s narrative, I rely on a large and richly illustrated publication called It All Began in Poland (2009). The publication was funded by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the European Center of Solidarity, and the National Center of Culture. The chapters are written by historians (many of whom are employed by the IPN), and the book was distributed free of charge. It commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II and was released in both Polish and English. In the following, I rely on an English edition (translator unspecified), as well as on public statements and my interviews with historians and politicians connected with the Patriots. The IPN—the main institutional force behind the narrative—is not coterminous with the Patriots, and it is not their ideological outpost.26 For one, its director is selected through a parliamentary procedure involving all parties. But the organization has a broad past-oriented mandate, with scholarly, educational, prosecutorial, and political-vetting arms, all of which are judgment oriented. Thus, for the purpose of the classification advanced in this work, the IPN through its mandate fits the Patriotic ideational makeup. Furthermore, as demonstrated by Friszke (2011), the IPN (and the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising) attracted many historians who shared the PiS’s view of history and politics.27 I treat the IPN as one the most important members of a reflexive milieu in which the historical narrative undergirding the Patriots’ vision is articulated and revealed. The Patriots begin their narration in 1939. By their account, the Polish nation lost its independence through the German invasion on 1 September, followed by the “knife in the back” offensive by the Soviets on 17 September (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 22). The Patriots call these events the loss of national independence, the occupation, the “fourth partition” (2009: 31–32). They also refer to the events of 1944 as the beginning of a second occupation (2009: 59; Żaryn 2009: 67). These characterizations harken back to the period from 1772 to 1918 and the loss of statehood, and they place the two most recent moments—1939 and 1944—in a long chain of national victimization by foreign treachery and conquest.28 The placement of communists in the lineup of existential foes, a lineup that includes the Nazis, is a first step in making communists emerge as detrimental to Polish national existence. The placement of World War II in the chain of like events de-exceptionalizes it. Contrary to all evidence of its uniqueness in world and Polish history, this seminal event now blends into the other occupation, so much so that the periods from 1939 to 1945 and from 1944 to 1956 become as if one. Indeed, they are presented as such. Zbigniew Gluza, historian and chief of the memory NGO, Karta, claimed: “The end of the war altered nothing: one occupation changed into another” (quoted in Zawadzka 2009: 222).29 Jan Żaryn, a professor of history working in the IPN and one of the authors of It

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All Began in Poland, elaborated and specified: “The key period of the recent Polish history falls between 1939 and 1956. In that time two totalitarianisms destroyed our national elite. The collective murder, the genocide, created a space into which a new intellectually and morally homogenous generation entered. This generation was socialized to forget national history, to eschew its cultural and institutional continuity, and to reject God, Honor, and Fatherland. … Instead it was brought up godless and adoring communism, as it was its principal beneficiary” (Żaryn 7 February 2013; see also Żaryn 2009: 71, 75).30 The quotes combine the periods, but, as I will show next, the genocidal appetites are explicitly blamed on only one of the two foes—communism.31 The subsequent narration establishes the hierarchy of moral guilt, and it casts communism as worse than Nazism. Paweł Wieczorkiewicz, one of the authors of It All Began in Poland, a professor of history at Warsaw University and a frequent contributor to Rzeczpospolita,32 proposed on national television in 2005 that Poland should have allied itself with Hitler against Stalin (quoted in Zawadzka 2009: 221). He described the two occupations as follows: he blamed the Nazis for loss of territory, mass deportations, and expropriations, terror, and executions, especially of the intelligentsia (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 63), as well economic exploitation and concentration camps (2009: 32–33). He did not describe the camps, except to say that Auschwitz had originally been designed for Poles only (2009: 33). At the end of the war, the Germans became responsible for planning to exterminate Poles (2009: 43) and for actually destroying Polish cities (2009: 59). All in all, the Germans are presented as enemies, but also as a disciplined occupying army, even though they are reported as having killed more than five million Poles (this figure is said to include Jews [2009: 63]). Comparing the occupying armies, Wieczorkiewicz wrote: “The Red Army, in contrast to Wehrmacht, did not observe any rules and procedures” (2009: 24). The Soviet forces are also blamed for territorial losses (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 32, 49, 62), but these losses are considered worse because they were larger, enduring, and involved historic Polish lands (2009: 49; Żaryn 2009: 67). They also included terror, killings, and mass deportations to gulags (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 35). We are told that the aim of Soviet policy was to so alter the occupied lands that no return of Poles would be possible.33 Similarly to Żaryn, Wieczorkiewicz uses the terms “genocide” and “biological extermination” only when referring to the Soviets.34 Thus, the camps to which Poles were sent in Russia were characterized as genocidal (2009: 35); the Katyń massacre of the Polish officers was called a genocide (2009: 41), and Stalin was said to envision a biological solution for Poles when he refused to aid Polish forces in the Warsaw uprising (2009: 56). Wieczorkiewicz claimed: “In the final analysis, the result of the campaign [defense of independence in September 1939] was decided by the Soviet invasion” (2009: 25).

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German occupation emerges as worse than the Soviet one only in reference to Poles of Jewish descent. They are mentioned early in the narrative when they began to be forcibly moved to the ghettos in 1939. A fuller exploration of the Jewish plight begins with a reference to the General Eastern Plan, which, we are told, assumed an (unfulfilled) extermination of 80 percent of Poles (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 43). The narration then proceeds to the description of Jedwabne and the 1941 murder of Jewish neighbors by Poles.35 The murders are said to have been provoked by (a) the gruesome story of torture and murder of a pregnant woman and a priest perpetrated by the Soviets (the details are recounted), and (b) popular beliefs that Jews were communist sympathizers (2009: 44). Further, the narrative moves to the actual extermination of the Jews in the death camps (2009: 45), accompanied by a short reflection that Jews “accepted their fate with resignation” (2009: 45). The story then switches to Poles, whose already weak bonds with the Jews waned considerably by the draconian penalties meted for helping Jews, although help was offered regardless. But there were also opportunists who preyed on Jewish victims, and they were condemned by all Polish authority figures (except farright nationalists). Overall, in this account, Poland conducted itself better than most other occupied countries (2009: 46). The narration then moves on to describe the “weak and ineffectual” 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and tallies Jewish losses (2009: 46, 63). I recount this narrative, paying attention to its structure, for two reasons: the narration signals (and buries for now) the connection between communism and Jewishness in the Jedwabne reference; it is also representative of the ways in which Polish-Jewish issues are narrated by the Patriots. Jews are segregated from the general story, and the narration proceeds in an episodic and balancing fashion: if we are to imagine that every event is coded as if a one or a zero, the final tally has to balance.36 Thus, Poles were to be exterminated, and Jews were—balance. Poles murdered Jews, but Jews liked Soviets who killed Poles—balance. Poles betrayed and robbed Jews, but all authorities condemned it—balance. The discursively emerging equilibrium hides the inequality of positions and fates, as it assigns the Holocaust to an accident of timing, or Jewish guilt in allegedly sympathizing with Poland’s enemies, or exceptional and rare criminals. Once the war with the Nazis ends, communists are said to have consolidated power by skillful manipulation and ruthless pacification. They also fight, capture, and kill armed Polish units who continue to oppose them into the 1950s. These units, the unquestioned heroes of this story, are referred to as cursed soldiers—cursed because they were pursued, killed, and then vilified in Soviet propaganda (Żaryn 2009: 67–81). It is at this juncture where the term “totalitarian” appears and affixes to communism—the party is said to have monopolized all political, economic, and social institutions and subor-

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dinated them to Marxist atheist ideology (2009: 78). It is said to have done so by manipulation and force. Żaryn explains: the “Soviet people” occupied all upper positions of the security forces, while Poles were recruited as spies only (the quotation marks appear in original [2009: 79]). There were 85,000 of those agents and collaborators, and they kept files on close to 5 million Poles (2009: 79). By 1956, 300,000 political victims had passed through the prisons and dungeons of the security forces, and close to 20,500 of them died (2009: 81).37 I recreate these details to impart the sense of richness in the description of postwar terror, a richness that was not present in the chapters relating to World War II.38 I also want to draw attention to the Soviet people (a political category) contrasted with Poles (a national or ethnic category). This pairing of categories of different types is a second example foreshadowing the communist coincidence with Jewishness. The similarities between the foreign occupations—and the fact that they are occupations—are reinforced in the Polish nation’s response to them: on the one hand, a heroic, uninterrupted, widespread, organized, and armed struggle for independence lasting from 1939 to 1956 (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 19–67; Żaryn 2009: 71–75); on the other, an uninterrupted, widespread, organized, and peaceful (violent only at the behest of the state) struggle for independence, which erupted in 1956, 1968, 1970, 1976, and 1980 (Ł. Kamiński 2009: 97–129). The authors spend considerably more attention narrating the war and the first ten postwar years. This narration establishes communist rule as occupation—an occupation by a foe worse than the Nazis. Both characterizations point to the fact that the foe is foreign and the regime is imposed. Such casting removes the need for a detailed narration of the state of the economy, societal changes, responses, etc. In the Patriots’ telling, the nation was the hero. The nation was attacked, the nation resisted, and the nation maintained its innocence and purity from hostile foreignness. In this concluding section, I turn to how this hostile foreignness was established. Here is Jan Żaryn on the immediate postwar period: Meanwhile Polish-Jewish relations deteriorated after the war: “the NKVD with the assistance of remaining Jews, is preparing a bloody orgy”—read the AK reports, and later the reports of the national underground. Up to July 1946, about 250,000 Jews lived in Poland, either having previously concealed themselves in Polish families, or else having arrived from the USSR. All across Poland, banditry was spreading, and Jews were also among its victims. The tension was aggravated by the complex questions of ownership. At the same time, both the official Jewish organization (the Central Committee of Jews in Poland—“CKZP”) and a significant proportion of Jewish individuals either supported the communist authorities or else simply joined their ranks. Many worked in the UB (where about 40 percent of management posts were held by communists of Jewish descent) and also in censorship and propaganda, slan-

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dering the memory of the PPP, the AK, and deceitfully remaining silent about Soviet massacres (the Katyń massacre was officially ascribed to the Germans). This intensified antisemitic attitudes which, with clear support of the UB, could have led to the uncontrolled impulses toward the pogroms. Such was the case in Kielce. On 4 July 1946, after rumors had spread throughout the town that a Polish child had been kidnapped, riots occurred in which over 40 people died. (2009: 81–82)39

I cite this quote at length because it unwittingly recycles many antisemitic tropes and, in so doing, ties Jewishness to communism, making both foreign and odious.40 First, the report claims the authority to name a Jew. Until now, Jews were made into the collectivity by the Nazi Nuremberg laws, they were narrated as packed in ghettos, described as passive, and murdered. They now become named and counted by representatives of the Polish titular majority, regardless of their self-identification. Second, the report establishes the authority to pronounce the truth: AK, or present-day historians, are authorized to speak, and what they claim is presented as fact; Jews made into communists are not authorized, and what they claim is propaganda and slander. Thus, Jews are named, or unmasked, and then they are reported to have survived by passing for Poles, by supporting and/or becoming communists, or by arriving as occupiers. They lose their voice—which is to say, their personhood—as they become coincidental with the NKVD’s readying “bloody orgies.”41 Third, Katyń forest is mentioned and used in two ways: it invokes Polish suffering (see Janicka’s checking, or Zawadzka’s symmetry) and it reinforces the Jew-the-communist-enemy myth: if Jews were communists, and they (self-) evidently were, and if the communists killed the officers, then Jews killed the officers.42 Thus a description of the postwar pogrom in Kielce, perpetrated on Jews by Poles, becomes an opportunity to blame the Jews.43 And it becomes an opportunity to make them into carriers of the existential threat of communism. It bears repeating that the quote is taken from the Polish official publication, written for the benefit of Poles and foreigners. My point in reproducing and decoding it is not to impute antisemitic views to particular authors. Rather, it is to elucidate the process by which elites discursively establish moral guilt and value, and how those judgments become invisible as such but appear as truth. Methodologically speaking, this process is all the more significant because it was unintended.44 And it produced no reactions. As such, it suggests the narrative to be emblematic and doxic, rather than exceptional.45 The most salient mnemonic procedure of the Patriotic narration ontologizes communism—that is, it makes communism part of a person’s immutable essence—an essence that in this account becomes essentially anti-Polish. It is precisely the language of essential alterity and enmity that locks the contem-

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porary field of politics to memory. Established in the narration of the past, communism emerges not as an unwanted ideology; rather, it becomes a sign of a hostile person. If this evil and its carriers are still ruling Poland, then Poland is in crisis, and it needs defending. There is no room for negotiation of positions, there is only an existential fight. In more general terms, the mnemonic procedure that ontologizes political difference makes mnemonic capital the currency of the debate, so much so that if one does not turn to the past and to judgment, one has no legitimate voice in the conversation. After delimiting the field of politics, the Patriots’ discursive moves assign roles (identities) to the players and arrange them hierarchically: Patriots are the nation’s saviors, while others are its essential enemies.

Memory as Substance: Imagined Community Revealed So far, I have examined how the Patriot cluster presented itself to the electorate and how it narrated Poland’s recent past. In doing so, I traced how the cluster’s main party approached the field of political competition, how it tilted that field to memory, and how it achieved a clear political distinction. I found that Patriots defined the political problem of the country, and their own role in solving that problem, in terms of communism. They claimed that the system, which they considered (and narrated as) evil and inimical to Polishness, was not yet over in Poland. They then blamed their opponents for either being communists or shielding them. This way of conducting politics polarized the field and cast opponents as either enemies or saviors of the nation. The PiS, understandably, claimed the mantle of the savior for itself. Others responded—I will trace how they did so in the following chapters— and in the process deployed their own mnemonic capital and gained their own distinctive political identities. In tracing this dynamic I relied on the concept of mnemonic procedure, which, in the Patriots’ narrative, involved the ontologizing of communism, so much so that it became a race-like mark of existential hostility. In this section I engage with the second conceptual field connected with memory, namely, the field of common belonging. I juxtapose the “what” of the Patriots’ self-presentation narrative and the “how” of their historical narrative in an effort to tease out the vision of the Patriotic imagined community. I pay particular attention to the effect that the ontologizing of communism has on the boundary and shape of the nation. In what I consider a highly consistent manner, the Patriots’ values/diagnosis/program and narrative of the past assumed, and therefore established, primacy and exclusivity of national belonging.46 This belonging was a matter of a number of ascriptive qualities and, in Poland, was always coincidental with

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Catholicism. Thus, to the hypothetical question “Who are you?” there could only be one answer—“A Pole”—and it would also be understood to denote a Catholic. This unitary approach to group belonging was restrictive of insiders and closed to newcomers. The insiders were assumed to not have a choice of identity, and this absence of choice delegitimized other axes of identity. In other words, it made nationality saturating. In the self-presentation narrative (that is, the program), newcomers into the community were theoretically possible, but the long list of conditions of entry made their potential entry moot. Entry was closed definitively in the narration of the past, in which the nation attained a biological, race-like understanding. In this way, the narration of the past, narration undertaken for current political payoffs, affected and constrained the emergent vision of common belonging. Anti-communism, as narrated by the Patriots, was implicated in this restrictive and closed vision of belonging in a dual sense. The historical narrative established communism as the worst calamity to have befallen the Poles, and it presented Jews as the carriers of that worst calamity. It therefore automatically excluded Jews from the Polish nation and made the nation itself acquire race-like foundations. The present-day narrative, which manufactured an existential crisis out of the assumption that communism—the worst calamity—was not over, privileged national belonging to such a degree that other axes of identity receded from view. That narrative reconfirmed Poland’s “as if ” racial character. Patriotic anti-communism was complicit in the image of a community that privileged group belonging, denied individual choice, and looked to biology for reproduction. I will explain this vision by examining both programmatic materials and narratives of the past. The Patriots’ “Values,” “Diagnosis,” and “Solutions” were explicitly concerned with groupness and suspicious of individual choice. Even though human dignity was listed as the most important value, it was not quite clear if it attached to individuals. It was explicitly connected to human life, but this clarified little. Life was discussed only in terms of its beginning at inception and its end at natural death. Only these two points merited attention and were seen as needing protection from individual choice (as in abortion or suicide). Human life could be sacrificed, but only to ensure the survival of a group. Dignity did not suffer in such a sacrifice; indeed, it was cultivated. Thus, both dignity and life emerged as values attached to abstracted or grouped people. And both were either realized in, or legitimately trumped by, a group. This view was confirmed in the narration of the past. The story focused on and venerated soldiers (or dissidents) and paid scant attention to the travails of daily life of civilians under Nazi occupation or citizens under communist rule. The nation was said to have suffered and resisted; the dignity and the quality of life of situated individuals were not part of the story. Life, therefore,

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was to be protected, but it was a life of a group. More specifically, what mattered was the collective survival of the in-group. Veneration of group life and suspicion of the individual and her choices were bolstered in the presentation of human beings realized only as members: members of family, nation, and faith. These three membership categories were presented as exhaustive and self-reinforcing: family reproduced the nation both biologically and culturally; nation provided the family with a sense of belonging and protection; faith defined and guided them. This way of understanding humanity, as confined in a grid of interlocked exhaustive categories, established and policed the boundaries of a community while denying the possibility that other ways of belonging exist. This sorting worked both externally and internally. All humans were considered to be members of nations (in Poland this form of belonging coincided with the religious one, but it need not be the case elsewhere), and all normally belonged to only one. This is rather uncontroversial as a description of this particular historical moment. It need not establish national belonging as primary and exhaustive. But in Poland it did. The presentation of the troika of member categories as exhaustive denied both the choice of self-identification and other axes of identity. Such presentation established family-nation-faith as a universal and unitary way of conceiving belonging. Those who did not fit the universal were made and annihilated in the same move. They were cast outside the community and made into “others,” just as it was confirmed that no others could exist.47 A nation understood in such terms was internally restrictive. Nation as a primary, or even exclusive, category need not be narrow or externally restrictive, however. It may be understood in political or civic terms, and it may permit new entrants (Brubaker 1992, 1996). This is not how the Patriots saw and narrated it, however. Even though they ostensibly rejected an ethnic conception of belonging, their list of conditions that made one a Pole was long and difficult to the point of being impossible to meet. First, one needed to share a language, culture, civilization, and history—a long list of traits. Second, one needed to share a faith—a condition so steep as to be almost impossible to scale. Third, one needed to partake in national tradition, experience, history, and fate—most of which originated or occurred in the past. As such, both the length and the content of the entry conditions could only be seen as barriers. One may learn a language, but one was unlikely to change one’s religion, and one could not participate in something that was already over. Therefore, although the Patriots claimed that they did not see the nation in ethnic terms, their denial of individual choice, and the length and steepness of conditions of entry, made it so. The Patriots’ claimed that they did not espouse an ethnic view of the nation because of the Polish multinational past. As I showed above, this

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contention was contradicted by the tight and ascriptive way they understood belonging. It was also contradicted by the way they narrated the past, and minorities in that past. I turn to this now and pay particular attention to the way Patriots narrated communism and Polish-Jewish history. Polish citizens of Jewish descent were segregated out of the national story, especially in the recounting of World War II. They were mentioned, and their fate was described, but they experienced the war on their own. Polish citizens of Polish descent also experienced the war alone. The separateness of the stories was not the function of the Holocaust’s enormity and uniqueness. It was the function of the narration itself. Jews were said to have met their existential enemy in the Nazis, and Poles in communists. And Jews were described as meeting their fate with defeatism, while Poles chose active resistance. This mode of presenting the past confirmed communism as equal to Nazism, established a symmetry of suffering between their victims, and elevated one group’s response over the other (as it hid the racism of the account). As such, it established a grid of categories, and it signaled a hierarchy between them. The hierarchy was confirmed in the way Polish citizens of Jewish descent were narrated postwar. In that moment, they were made coincidental with communism, a force that was presented as existentially hostile to Polishness. The narration of World War II and the PRL—which ontologized and essentialized political difference—ended up placing people in exclusive (racelike) categories and established a hierarchy between them. Poles and Jews were made to be categorically different, and the site of their difference concerned communism. The Jews were named—that is, they were marked by the titular majority—and then they were made inferior and hostile. This rendition, foundational to the way Patriots claimed their mnemonic capital, signaled a distinctively racial way of conceiving a nation. The ontologizing explicated in the narration of the past created the sense of national crisis and helped organize the field of politics; it also reduced the field of belonging into a narrow and biological nation. The racial understanding of nation in the Patriots’ narrative is visible on empirical and conceptual grounds: Nazi Nuremberg criteria marked Jews as irredeemable racial others, slated for total annihilation. The Patriots’ narration relied on this racial categorization to relegate the people marked as such out of the national story. It then hid the racism of this construction in the invented equality of suffering, and it rendered the difference between the two groups saturating and hierarchical by making Jews coincidental with communism. This way of sorting humanity into stable, hierarchically organized categories is the way race structures relations, not the nation. The nation need not assume inferiority of others (Anderson 1991; Marx 1998), but modern race always does (Appiah 1994; Baldwin 1998; Gilroy 1993, 2008; S. Hall 1980; C. Hall 2007; Hirschman 2004; Mamdani 2002; McCarthy 2009).

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The precise contours of the Patriotic national community fused ethnoreligious ascription with ideological commitment, making both as if racially fixed. This was confirmed in contemporary Patriotic speech. On the one hand, the “sin” of communism was unforgivable, and it became akin to a bodily stigma (Gilman 1985; Goffman 1972, 1986). On the other hand, the stigma of communism was transmitted through generations. Jan Żaryn, in our conversation, claimed that the stigma of shameful involvement with the foreign occupier was affixed to the person forever. Using religious phraseology to describe a rather unchristian idea, he claimed that one may confess the sins of such treason and heal. But the sin, the stigma, and the disgrace remain.48 And they live on for generations. The supposed “heredity” of the communist tendency was visible in the theme of professional or familial socialization that was repeated by all Patriot respondents (Johann, Żaryn, Macierewicz). It was confirmed in the vigorous campaign of ontologizing pro-communist tendencies. Here, ontologizing is similar to the mid- to last-century efforts to use science to fix race and racial inferiority in biology. It describes a deeply ideological project operating as scientific.49 I do not claim the same scope for the Patriots. But their effort to make communist tendencies appear as transmittable through birth and familial socialization betrays a similar preoccupation with the stability and immutability not of inferiority but of evil. On 29 January 2013, the weekly newspaper Our Poland (NP) ran a spread called “Red Dynasties of Third RP: Commie Children,” part 1. In the interest of space, I reproduce one entry relating to one of my respondents. It is the clearest example of ontologizing (or biologizing) in memory talk.50 The entries in the paper appear without a comment—none is required: Jan Lityński (born in 1946), long-time UW and UD Sejm deputy, currently President Komorowski’s Adviser.51 His parents were communists prior to WWII. His father Ryszard Lityński (originally Perl), was a political instructor of PPR in Poznań, and later directed the educational wing in the Association of Youth Fight (ZWM); his mother, Regina Lityńska (née Lorenc), was an activist in the ZWM, and later a producer of children’s programming in the Polish Radio.52

This scanty note is understood by and transparent to the readers. It establishes a dynasty of traitors, even if the people it implicates were deeply involved in the anti-communist resistance. Active repentance does not matter—only the dual sin of communism and putative Jewishness. Communism, therefore, in the Patriots’ telling, operates as a code, marking and inventing the “them,” antonymous to “us.” Because of its discursively established essential connection to Jewishness—Jewishness understood as per Nuremberg criteria no less—it operates as if a racial category. Thus, all those

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refusing/not fitting the ethno-religious grid are placed in the excluded and capacious category “commie.” Once there, they cannot transcend it. On the one hand, communism is as porous as those with the power to unmask and name can make it. On the other hand, once marked, the categorized person cannot transcend the placement. There are no choices here, except for the majority. Racialized communism designates essential otherness, and it brings to life an innocent and heroic Pole.

Notes 1. Solidarna Polska (Polish Solidarity) and Polska Razem (Poland Together) not to be confused with Razem (Together) – a new party discussed in chapter 6. For more, see Kondzińska (2014). 2. The AWS came to power in 1997, and it included the predecessor of the PiS, the PC, and the predecessor of PO, the UW (for more see note 51 below). For the detailed story, see chapter 2. 3. For more see PiS History (n.d.). 4. See National Electoral Commission (2015a, 2015b) reports on presidential and parliamentary elections. For seat allocation, see Sejm Seat Distribution (2016). 5. A strong anti-EU stance may be unwise, in that Poles consistently and broadly favor EU membership: in May 2015 their support for continued membership stood at 80 percent (CBOS 2015/39), and in March 2020 their trust stood at 73 percent (CBOS 2020/11). 6. I characterize the PiS as Christian-Democratic, and in so doing I ostensibly disagree with Bale and Szczerbiak who claimed, in 2008, that Poland had no Christian Democratic party. As I show below, the PiS’s 2014 program meets four of the five criteria spelled out by Bale and Szczerbiak. It diverges from the model by being emphatically nationalist. 7. Zdrowie, Praca Rodzina: Program PiS 2014. 8. Tellingly, it does not mention in vitro fertilization, which it also opposes. This reticence must stem from the fact that 76 percent of Poles approve of the procedure (CBOS News 2015/23). 9. I explain cursed soldiers in the second section of the chapter. 10. This is the first- and only-time democracy as a value is discussed. It is seen as a check on the growth of the state. This perfunctory treatment may have been the source of fears of the cluster’s opponents (see chapter 4 on Managers). 11. Patriots refer to post-transition Poland as the 3rd Republic (3rd RP). They attack it for its imbrication with communism. The calls to end the 3rd RP and to begin a new area—the 4th RP—were the hallmarks of the PiS 2005 Program (Matyja 1997; PiS Program 2005; Szczerbiak 2008, 2013). The attacks were predated by the lustration and decommunization campaigns of the PiS’s predecessors and the PiS itself (Szczerbiak 2002). They represent an example of mnemonic capital deployment akin to the one described in this book. 12. The term is used with caution, suggesting awareness that scholarship on the matter is inconclusive (PiS Program 2014: 17). Such reticence does not always characterize the Patriots. Snochowska-Gonzalez (2012, 2013) analyzed speeches made by Jarosław Kaczyński (party leader) and the writings of Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz (noted author), who use the term to characterize the current appetites of the Russian and German

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17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

24. 25.



“empires.” Ziemkiewicz (noted journalist and author) used the term to discuss the rule of the Managers, whom he called, “the current creoles” (Rafał Ziemkiewicz, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 January 2013; Ziemkiewicz 2012). For confirmation, see the photograph of Angela Merkel and other EU officials dressed in Nazi uniforms, with captions stating, “Yet again, they want to control us,” on a recent cover of a pro-PiS periodical, as seen in Henley (2016). This conflation has a long history in Polish nation formation. For exploration of its historical development and constitution, see Porter-Szücs (2011, 2014) and Zubrzycki (2006a and 2006b). See Moyn, again, who claims that before personalists wrestled the concept of rights away from its French Revolutionary origin in the 1940s, and before they lost them to secular liberals in the 1960s, they conceived of rights as applying only to families and labor (2015: 74–75). One aspect of Managers (which in the interest of space I did not explore) is their alleged unmitigated desire for power for power’s sake (PiS Program 2014: 18). This makes them similar to communists’ hold on power in the past. It is also visible in the writing of conservative historians and essayists. For a sample, see Nowak (2005, 2012), as well as the volume edited by Sosnkowski (2015). He repeated these concerns in our interview on 9 July 2013. I rely on Justice Johann as he has a significant media presence. He self-identifies as closely connected to the Patriots. Krzysztof Szczerski, interview with the author, Warsaw, May 28, 2013. Rafał Ziemkiewicz, interview with the author, Warsaw, January 24, 2013. Komitet Obrony Robotników—an important pre-Solidarity dissident group, formed in 1976. In this narration, Adam Michnik and Wojciech Jaruzelski represent the post-Solidarity and postcommunist sides in the immediate post-transition. Antoni Macierewicz, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. In our interview, Macierewicz misquoted a 2001 conversation between Adam Michnik and Czesław Kiszczak (former high-ranking communist soldier and politician), in which Michnik calls Kiszczak “the man of honor.” This misquoting does not change the meaning of Macierewicz’s sentiment, in which Michnik, who belongs with the Managers, fraternizes with and absolves the Liberals (the so-called communists). See also Michnik’s (2013) article in which he calls General Jaruzelski a Polish patriot. The palace was Stalin’s gift to Warsaw. Others who study the productive force of anti-communism identify discursive techniques that involve creating a symmetry of suffering between Poles and Jews (Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013), and the balancing of one story with another, so that the latter relativizes and de-emphasizes the former (Janicka, using a sports analogy, called this process checking—[Elżbieta Janicka, interview with the author, 27 May 2013]). I point to these techniques in the narration that I analyze later. This situation changes based on who leads the institution. For more on the internal politics and loyalties in the IPN see Friszke (2011) and Szeligowska (2014). The IPN came to being in 2001 in the final days of the AWS’s rule (as mentioned, the AWS was the PiS’s predecessor), it expanded dramatically—its budget grew from 83 to 207 million PLN between 2005 and 2007 (Dudek 2011: 271)—under the PiS’s first term in office. It grew slowly under PO, and it is now set, again under the PiS, at 289 million PLN (Dziennik Ustaw. 2017: 37). As noted by Szeligowska (2014) the Museum People were banished from the cluster’s inner circle after the 2011 campaign. This need not imply that their ideas stopped informing the cluster’s outlook.

92 • Weaponizing the Past 28. See Porter-Szücs, on the “us-them” and “occupation-liberation” themes (2014: 187–88). 29. Zbigniew Gluza is not a Patriot. He would most likely self-identify as belonging to the Managers’ cluster. It is all the more important to have him in this lineup to direct the spotlight on discursive tropes and away from individual speakers. It demonstrates the contagion of categorically Patriotic speech into the general parlance. 30. Note the similarities between this account and Deputy Macierewicz’s above when he talked of two divided communities. Here the two communities get their biological depth in that the occupiers are hereditary, as are the victims—I will return to this ontological/ biological theme in the final section. 31. Żaryn is also drawing a present-day continuity between Liberals and Managers. 32. One of the major daily newspapers. 33. This was undoubtedly the goal of Germanization, which Wieczorkiewicz lists on the German side of the ledger. Here, on the communist side, he makes this goal explicit to drive home the point of the special nature of communism evil. 34. He talked of German plans of extermination and Soviet acts of extermination. This judgment was not altered by his own figures of over 5 million dead by German hands and over 1.2 million dead in Soviet hands (Wieczorkiewicz 2009: 63). 35. See Gross (2000a); Machcewicz and Persak (2002). Jedwabne is the small town in which the murder occurred. 36. Elżbieta Janicka, interview with the author, 27 May 2013; Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013. 37. For illuminating cross-time and space comparisons, see Porter-Szücs (2014: 209–10). 38. This imbalance may be owing to the fact that Nazi terror is assumed to be known. If this is correct, then these different ways of describing equalize the regimes. If the assumption is incorrect, then communism emerges as worse. 39. NKVD—People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (Soviet secret political police); AK— Home Army (Armia Krajowa); CKZP—Centralny Komitet Żydow w Polsce; PPP—Polish Underground State (Polskie Państwo Podziemne); UB—Polish Security police (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa). For more on the Kielce pogrom, see Gross (2007); Kersten (1992); Tokarska-Bakir (2018). The event was significant enough to merit a mention in Judt’s “The Postwar” (2005: 43). 40. I say “unwittingly” as Poles do not think of themselves as antisemitic and, more importantly, do not want to appear that way. My point is that antisemitic myths are foundational to this narration, and yet they are not seen as such. I do not analyze all of them, only the ones that relate to communism. 41. For more on this, see Gross (2007: 192–243); Kersten (1992: 83–84); Porter-Szücs (2014). Kersten’s account (in Polish) is explicitly attentive to the issue of self-identification. 42. When I speak of the “use of Katyń,” I do not mean to diminish or denigrate the suffering inherent in that murder. On the contrary, I mean to identify how those very deaths are being instrumentalized in the present. And they are instrumentalized ubiquitously, always accompanied by the unmasking of Jews and the justification of their deaths. In his commentary on the just published Sąsiedzi (Neighbors) by Jan Gross in 2001, primate of Poland Cardinal Glemp reassured the faithful that all that Gross wrote had been known before and that the publication was unnecessarily sensationalized. He then compared the situation that Gross described (the Jedwabne massacre) to that of Katyń: “Everybody knew, but officially they could not speak.” The placing of those two events next to each other—murder in Katyń (by Communists) and murder in Jedwabne (by Poles)—creates a symmetry of suffering, and ever so slightly suggests that Jews were themselves to blame for their deaths (Glemp 2001). 43. For more, see Zawadzka (2009: 212–23).

The Patriots—Using Memory Openly and Belligerently • 93 44. For more on why I see it as unintended and why it matters methodologically, see note 40. 45. Doxa, as I alluded to in the first chapter, refers to a Bourdeusian concept about premeditative ways of perceiving and understanding reality (1992). 46. To say that the Patriots establish primacy and exclusivity of national belonging is redundant in that if something is exclusive it cannot not be primary. I use both since the Polish political scene is dynamic. The Patriots’ narrative is saturating, but it is also challenged. The challenges do not affect primacy (see chapter 6 on Objectors) but undermine exclusivity (see chapter 4 on Managers). 47. This is best understood in terms of the putative universality of the norm, or its saturation. If humans are divided into two exclusive and universal genders, for instance, then all who do not fit this binary are made to be deviant and impossible, simultaneously. In other words, to be outside a norm that is created as universal is to not exist. Zawadzka provides a vivid example of how restrictive a straitjacket this is when she describes the path of Polish feminism (for more on this see chapter 6). She describes how in the space of the thirteen years that she was involved with it, feminism became acceptable by becoming folded into nationalist speech. In other words, women became important, not as women, but as Polish women. Zawadzka confessed that claiming the primacy of woman (or human) to national rights was simply unsayable. If she were to say it, she would lose public legitimacy (Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013). 48. Jan Żaryn, interview with the author, Warsaw, 7 February 2013. 49. For more on scientific racism, or the biological construction of race, see Biddiss (1996); Coleman (1977); Jackson and Weidman (2005/2006); and McCarthy (2009). 50. Nasza Polska, Dzieci Komunistów, Trzecia Rzeczpospolita. The title of the spread alludes to future installments, but I found none (Nasza Polska 29 January 2013). For a much more elaborate treatment, envisioned in four volumes, two of which have been published, the authors trace in lengthy detail the familial and social connection of the media and state elites: the volume devoted to media is 430 pages long (Kania, Targalski, and Marosz 2013), the one about state and security officials is 920 (Kania, Targalski, and Marosz 2015). More directly and spectacularly, the presence of treason in the “genes” of children of communists was confirmed on TV by the PiS’s leader, Jarosław Kaczyński (Kaczyński 2015); and the children of “traitors” were said to be still very powerful, announced the president of Poland, Andrzej Duda, also on TV (Duda 2017). 51. UW—Freedom Union (Unia Wolności); UD—Democratic Union (Unia Demokratyczna)—early post-Solidarity parties, opposed to Porozumienie Centrum (PC) which is the PiS’s antecedent. 52. PPR—Polska Partia Robotnicza—precursor to the PZPR. Note the allusion to the former, possibly Jewish, names of Lityński’s parents. The Association of Youth Fight (Związek Walki Młodych) was an important organ of the PZPR.

Chapter 4


8 The Civic Platform (PO) and their coalition partner the Polish Agrarian Party (PSL)1 held government from 2007 to 2015. Bronisław Komorowski, who was the president from 2010 to 2015, hailed from the PO as well.2 In the EU Parliament, the parties sit together in the Christian Democratic bloc (and not in the Liberal or Conservative blocs). In Poland, the PO could be called neoliberal in its friendly approach to the market, newly found lukewarm attitude toward the church, and warm embrace of the EU. The party’s intellectual milieu is best represented by the editorial leadership of the Electoral Gazette (GW). This is not a neat grouping—the GW criticizes the government and its parties, as befits an independent media outlet. Nevertheless, the party and the paper represent the same mnemonic position, as advanced in this work. In this chapter I show how the cluster reacted to the Patriots’ moves to redefine the political field. I argue that it was precisely the skillful accommodation to the rules of the game set by the Patriots that allowed the Managers to govern for eight years (from 2008 to 2015). As required by the rules of the political field organized by memory, the PO turned to the past and to moral opprobrium of communism. But the mnemonic capital the party deployed was its own. This deployment—the particulars of which I explore below— delegitimized critiques of the party’s policies and gave it access to a sticky political identity, as Managers. Parties that style themselves into Managers appear present-day oriented. They care for the economy and “warm water in the taps,”3 and they “forgive” former communists. (By forgiveness I mean that they accept the communist successor party as a disliked, but legitimate, political player. This is in stark

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contrast to the position of the Patriots, who see that party as embodied enemies.) But just as they address themselves to the present and let bygones be bygones, they continually invoke the transition, the newly found freedom, and the necessity of catching up. This indirect turn to the past relies on an implicit condemnation of communism. The moves to the past and moral judgment are doubly productive: the suggested lack of freedom, irrationality, and underdevelopment of the communist past frames and justifies present actions, and the continually invoked transition belies the Patriots’ moves to deny its thoroughness (the moves that I described in chapter 2). As per figure 4.1, the Managers condemn communism—not so much the communists— and are both past and present-day oriented. To show how the Managers wielded their own mnemonic capital, and to analyze its effects, I proceed as follows: In the first section I analyze how the parties in this cluster manage the political field. I examine their programs and identify how they approach temporality and communism. That is, I analyze how they constitute their mnemonic capital and achieve their political identity, as Managers. I introduce the cluster’s main mnemonic procedure, which I call creative inversion. This procedure allows the cluster ostensibly to orient itself to the present while discursively invoking and relying on the past. I show that by emphasizing the 1989 transition and the break from the past, Managers present and solve two electoral challenges. On the one hand, they divide the political field and assign roles to the main players; on the other, they justify their current policies. Thus, Patriots are made into irrational and authoritarian brawlers, as dangerous in the present as communists were in the past; Liberals are cast as legitimate, but their past serves as a useful reminder of backwardness. Guarding against the dual threats of authoritarian appetite and economic ineptitude, Managers emerge as pragmatic and rational experts on progress in the post-transition period. In the second section, I analyze how the Managers perform their second creative inversion. Here, I reach for their narrative of the past, and I trace how they retroactively reinterpret their own oppositionist history: they now make it a fight for market freedom as opposed to a fight for political freedom. This inversion allows them to identify a moral standard that communism offended—that standard concerns the lack of prudence and rationality in economic management (and belief in markets as freedom) and the rejection of a plurality of visions of the good life—and then project themselves and Judgment/Temporal Orientation Condemns communism Does not condemn communism

Past Patriots

Present Managers Objectors

Figure 4.1. Managers in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.


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their present adversaries against this backdrop. It is through this narration and this inversion that the roles assigned to all players in the present get their depth: Patriots’ authoritarianism, Liberals’ ineptitude, and Managers’ competence and pragmatic policy bent are magnified by being placed against this communist background. In the last section I turn to the field of common belonging. I analyze the effect of the inverted way of managing the past and the present on the emergent vision of the community. I identify and trace the final inversion, which allows the Managers to claim that they venerate choice, and open society, while they simultaneously limit options and narrow the vision of the “we.” I argue that neoliberalism, and its justificatory shadow of communism, lands the Managers in a similar position to that of the Patriots—ascriptive nation-centric belonging. The nation contoured by tight conditions on entry binds isolated and competing individuals. In the Managerial neoliberal world, solidarity of care is replaced by solidarity of ethno-nationalism.

The Managers’ Cluster— Political Program and the Main Challenge Programmatically, the PO was and is unambiguously friendly toward markets and the EU. Its socially conservative stance was softened in its 2015 program in that the party proposed to legalize civil unions (PO Program 2015: 84). It also proposed to have the faithful fund the church (as opposed to taxes [2015: 84]). This was a change, but it was unclear how deep: the party had claimed to support civil unions before but voted against them in 2013, and it did not do much to constrain the church while in office.4 Comparatively, the PO differs from Liberals and Patriots in being friendlier to the business sector. It appears slightly more conservative than the Liberals and slightly less so than the Patriots. It shares openness to the EU with the Liberals, but not with the Patriots. As such, the party’s programmatic identity may be termed neoliberal, but it is not sharply distinct from the others. The PO, like all major political players, solves the problem of low programmatic differentiation by claiming its share of mnemonic capital. It deploys it by claiming to be turned to the present while simultaneously invoking the past and subjecting that past to a particular form of condemnation. The overt presentism, undergirded by a past-derived justificatory frame, furnishes the PO with a particular way of rationalizing its policies and gives it a means with which to assign roles to others, and achieve political identity, as Managers. As I explained in chapter 1, the originary move toward memory, or the first invocation of mnemonic capital, may be traced to the politics of the “thick line” as proposed by Solidarity’s first post-transition premier, Tadeusz Mazo-

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wiecki (1989). In his now famous speech, Mazowiecki is believed to have forgiven the communists, turned his government toward the future, and created a rupture in time. Mazowiecki was indeed uninterested in punishing former communists, seeing them as coproducers of the transition. The supposed turn to the future and the rupture in time, however, are misinterpretations. Not unreasonably, Mazowiecki claimed that his government inherited problems and challenges that it did not create. He asked that his party’s performance be judged not on the challenges themselves but on what the party did with them (Mazowiecki 1989). This was and remains a definitional Managerial maneuver—it ostensibly puts the past out of sight and turns attention to the present while simultaneously transforming the past into a negative backdrop against which one projects one’s actions. In time, this backdrop emerged as a fully developed justificatory frame of the present. Mazowiecki’s move presaged and predetermined the split of the postSolidarity camp, or the transition winners. He, along with all those who espoused a past-in-the-present orientation, formed one faction—the Managers. Those who turned to the past fully and unambiguously formed the other—the Patriots. This two-way division between the transition winners was visible from the early 1990s, but it was at first constrained by the transition loser—the former Communist Party—which enjoyed unexpected electoral successes. Both Managers and Patriots, as different as they were in terms of their mnemonic capital, had a more powerful opponent to compete with. This changed in 2005, when the postcommunist Liberals were summarily thrown out of office.5 Since then, mnemonic capital—powerfully deployed by the Patriots and skillfully adapted by the Managers—organizes the predominant cleavage of the political field. (Mazowiecki’s deployment of mnemonic capital in 1989 is not identical with that of the PO’s in the period from 2007 to 2015. Given the results of the 2004 Rywin affair, which revealed high levels of corruption in the former Communist Party,6 the PO was by far less ready to “forgive” the communists. But the qualitative difference between the Managers and the Patriots lies in the fact that the PO condemns current corruption, while the PiS, on the other hand, condemns past evil. As for the rest, the PO is indeed a successor of Mazowiecki’s policy, as interpreted and theorized in this work.) The PSL—the PO’s partner in the now defunct governing coalition—is a party connected with one section of the electorate, the countryside. But since the party has no illusions or ambitions of becoming a majority governing party (PSL Program 2015: 5–7),7 it can adapt to the rules set by the PiS by largely overlooking them. Thus, the PSL is a party concerned with rural development; it is strongly committed to the EU (as the major funder of rural transformation in Poland) and strongly suspicious of markets (2015: 23). Its positions on the church and social mores are not elaborated.

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The party is firmly committed to the present—just as the PO structures the programmatic narrative around the theme of transition from incompetent evil, the PSL refers to recent economic crises and natural disasters (floods). I devote attention to the PSL for primarily instrumental reasons: I use its present-day-oriented way of framing problems and solutions to accentuate the mode of turning to the past deployed by the PO. The parties may argue for similar (or dissimilar) policies, but they justify them quite differently. It is in that justificatory narrative that major Polish political contenders constitute and deploy their mnemonic capital and establish their political identities.8 The PO issued its “Poland of the Future” program in 2015 and an account of its successes, called “8 Years in Government for the People,” in 2016. Both documents claimed that the PO existed in order to make “peoples’ lives better” (present-day orientation) and both used the accomplishments of the previous eight years to make wider claims about the PO being the best guardian of the hard-won post-transition gains (turn to the past). The eight years of the PO’s rule were always placed in the context of the twenty-six years of post-transition freedom. The program opened with a letter from the (former) premier Ewa Kopacz, which could be taken as the party’s statement of values. It foreshadowed major themes of both documents—themes that the party called “branding” of both the party and the country. The letter started with a commitment to a modern, proud, and safe Poland—a Poland that was open to the world. Kopacz claimed that modern Poland was best assured by her government, one that did not dictate how citizens were to think and live. She further claimed that modern Poland was best assured by a government that guarded against a slide into fiscal irresponsibility, which threatened to undo the gains of the last twenty-six years. Those gains were presented as steady and spectacular economic growth that secured EU funds for further development (PO Program 2015: 5). The next phase of that development—claimed the premier—was set to begin with the election and would ensure equitable distribution of transition gains (2015: 6). The three pillars of the PO’s vision were: (1) a civic Poland that ensured that all citizens were respected, that all citizens participated in decisions affecting them, and that all citizens found space to unleash their creativity; (2) a just Poland that ensured that all employees were respected, that young people imagined a future in the country, and that the state served and defended all citizens; (3) an industrious Poland that ensured that all employers and businesses were treated as partners (2015: 6). The party promised that Poland would not be flooded with migrants but would remain open to the world (2015: 6). The PO’s Poland did not ask what a person believed or who her ancestors were. And the PO’s Poland guarded against fiscal irresponsibility and political irrationality. These had already been proved by the PO’s record of economic achievements and social solidarity (2015: 5).9

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This ostensibly presentist text reveals two preoccupations: economy and politics. Economy is a source of pride, in that the necessary developmental jump to modernity occurred on the PO’s watch. Politics is a source of worry, in that irrational and irresponsible parties threaten modernity and developmental gains.10 These threatening parties are presented as authoritarian and dogmatic, or as spendthrifts. The designations mark the Patriots and the Liberals as unsuitable to rule without specifying who is guilty of what. Those designations gain meaning only with reference to past communism, invoked indirectly through references to twenty-six years of post-transition achievement and modernity, on the one hand, and authoritarianism, on the other. The opening reveals the clusters’ stance, a stance I call ostensibly presentist. What sounds present-day oriented becomes meaningful only when read against the historical framing. This ostensible stance is the first signal of the Managers’ main mnemonic procedure, which I call a creative inversion. Inversion refers to occluded or transposed meaning, and, as the remainder of this chapter will show, it is central to the way that the Managers handle the field of politics and how they conceive belonging. To make the point of Managerial preoccupation with transition clearer, I will draw out an issue that is noticeably absent from the letter. The letter is preoccupied with economic performance, and yet it does not mention the 2008 world financial crisis. Only communist underdevelopment is employed to frame the PO’s accomplishment, not current market failure. This is revelatory in two ways: the only frame of good performance is the need to catch up from the backward past; present market failure does not seem to undermine the belief in the market.11 Indeed, the past is indispensable to the PO’s self-presentation, but the past is seldom invoked directly. As I will show in the following section, the PO narrates communism as economically irresponsible and backward, and as authoritarian. These are exactly the qualities that the PO assigns to and repudiates in its adversaries. As such, all references to modernity, openness, or freedom reflect present commitments while they repudiate the past. This pastin-the-present (inverted) way of talking is the PO’s clearest means of adapting to the past-defined field and appearing as if rejecting it. More important, this mnemonic inversion is the clearest means of brandishing mnemonic capital and achieving political identity. It is accomplished as follows: 1. Invocations of modernity and openness—with their embedded generalized repudiation of communism—create distance between the PO and the Liberals (and they disarm the Patriots’ charge that the Managers and the Liberals are somehow the same). In this telling, people who renounce communism so frequently cannot be allied with its heirs,

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unless in some irrational imagination. (I will return to the theme of irrationality below.) 2. The specific repudiation of communism as backward and authoritarian magnifies the threat presented by the Patriots. In this telling, Patriotic dogmatism, prescriptiveness, and pandering to the short-term preferences of popular demand are all made to resemble what took place in Poland under communism. The Patriots—the staunchest anti-communists—emerge as communism’s methodological heirs. They become like communists in their putative disregard for democracy and the market. All references to openness and the imposition of values accomplish this simultaneous link to an authoritarian past and a possible, and fearsome, future. 3. The specific repudiation of communism—which conflates freedom with market—allows the PO to present itself as the only prudent Manager of the post-transition order. All references to transition and management of Poland’s hard-won freedom will carry that meaning. In a mutually constitutive move, the cluster’s modernity, rationality, and moderation are established in contrast to the suggested absence of such qualities in the past and in its present opponents. It is precisely the skillful management of the past-in-the-present discourse that makes the PO into Managers. These steps show how the PO slices the political field and how the party emerges in the role of competent Manager at the center. This division of roles and political identities is accomplished by discussing the past simultaneously with the present, or the past as the present. In their program, they emphasize their Managerial competence, which is also a way of condemning communism. I turn to this program below. Unsurprisingly, the economy was the subject of the first and lengthiest chapter of the program, and it emphasized three themes. The first concerned workers. It claimed that Managers created jobs, lowered high unemployment, and grew the economy by 24 percent while others grew by 0.7 percent on average (this presentation compares the composite growth of eight years of PO rule to a one-year average in some unspecified other place; [PO 8-Years 2016: n.p.]). In the future, the PO planned to protect workers’ dignity by increasing the minimum wage and reducing the prevalence of junk contracts when the relationship between worker and employer was permanent (PO Program 2015: 10–11).12 Tax reform came next. It meant to simplify the filing of taxes and make tax bureaucracy more friendly toward and trusting of taxpayers (2015: 11–14). Families’ tax burden was to be lowered according to the number of dependents (2015: 12). The final section dealt with business and the state. Accomplishments included reformed banking and infrastruc-

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ture investments. Promises included simplifying business succession within families, undermining the “low wage economy” brand, growing innovation, and increasing the security of pension funds by increasing the retirement age (this was a very unpopular measure [PO Program 2015: 14–5; Jasiewicz 2016]). Finally, the PO committed to the continued privatization of public resources, building roads and shipping infrastructure, and investing in the coal and nuclear energy sectors (PO Program 2015: 15–16). Family was addressed next. It was defined as a married heterosexual couple with children, and it was said to face two problems: housing and stability. The PO planned to address both and promised to (a) ease the conditions for those who choose to rent, (b) concentrate on the rental market, and (c) balance the rights of owners with those of renters (PO Program 2015: 19). It further promised to build three thousand new apartments per year (it did not specify how), and it committed to increasing daycare spaces and hours and to raising child benefits. The program claimed that those changes would not be repealed or changed (2015: 20). Seniors were discussed separately, after the family. The PO wanted to increase their “safe, active, independent and satisfying life” (PO Program 2015: 25). It wanted to build on its successes and increase access to preventive medicine and rehabilitation, provided mostly through telephone consultations (2015: 26). It wanted to increase seniors’ participation in the social and public life of their communities. The main mechanism to achieve these goals involved day-use senior community centers (2015: 25). The party also boasted a new law that made legal advice free to all citizens sixty-five years of age or older (2015: 25). After seniors, the program turned to youth. The problem, as stated in the first paragraph of the chapter, concerned out-migration of young people in search of jobs. The party wanted to ensure that they remained in Poland “open to the world” (PO Program 2015: 29). The best guarantee of youth’s success was pronounced to be employment (2015: 30). The PO would therefore work to increase the presence of employers at universities (2015: 29), to match local supply with demand, and to support the creation of job internships (2015: 30). Since “more cooperation and less competition [would] increase competitiveness,” it was therefore desirable to start teaching soft skills (2015: 31). Furthermore, the PO proposed wide-ranging improvements in education (including trade education and custom degrees requested by industries), tax breaks for start-ups, increases to bursaries and stipends, as well as increases to the ceiling of student debt. It also promised free legal assistance and increased access to state services via the internet (2015: 29–31). Finally, it committed to assistance with purchase of apartments (2015: 30). Chapters on education, culture and science, health, and cities followed. I do not discuss them in detail as they build on the themes addressed in the

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program’s chapters devoted to population segments. In short, education, culture, and science mattered as they built social capital and were good for innovation (PO Program 2015: 35–40). Health, or rather access to it, was a sign of modernity (2015: 43). Cities, after receiving vast material resources, were to become sites of citizen engagement, in the form of participatory budgeting (2015: 49). Chapter 8 dealt with the countryside. It came late in the program, but it was the second longest after the economy, and it seemed to have been written by authors other than those who wrote the rest of the document. It was imbued with the language of rights and equality. It was very concrete and, in contrast to the rest of the document, did not see (create) the citizens of the countryside as a market segment—it assumed different needs and aspirations, and it attempted to leave solutions open. It was also the only section of the program that referred to the need for development of the countryside, and it compared the countryside to present-day cities. It did not seek comparison with the past (the chapter was very similar in tone and discursive outlook to the PSL’s program). It began with a commitment: all citizens, regardless of whether they lived in the smallest hamlet or a large city, had a right to decent living conditions with access to needed services (PO Program 2015: 55). I omit the list of accomplishments and promises in the interest of space, but I attend to this chapter, to highlight the difference of framing. Foreign and defense policy followed in the next two chapters with the promotion of wide-ranging trade and military agreements (including transatlantic ones). The party advocated tougher resistance to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine (PO Program 2015: 65–79) but did not commit to enter the Euro zone at this time (2015: 67). Under the heading “European Solidarity,” the PO covered migration. It suggested that solving underlying causes of refugee flight was more effective than dealing with symptoms, and it argued for a voluntaristic approach to the ongoing crisis: it claimed that each state must assess migrants’ threat to its safety and assist according to its capacity (2015: 66). In a rather convoluted passage, the PO reminded readers that Poland defended Europe’s eastern border, that this direction of migration had yet to be considered, and that solidarity was based on indirect reciprocity. Poland therefore needed to be engaged, even if not affected directly, as a way of assuring future assistance (2015: 67).13 The final chapter—“Civic Poland”—repeated many themes articulated by the premier in her opening letter. Building modern Poland was seen as an unending process that required close attention to the wishes of its citizens (PO Program 2015: 83). Those wishes may change, but what would remain unchanged was the party’s commitment to a modern state built on the rule of law, social justice, human rights, and solidarity (2015: 83). The PO claimed that in order to live up to these commitments, the party pledged to continue

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to stand for rationality and moderation and to oppose madness and radicalism. To build stronger ties between politicians and constituents, the party had already begun and would continue to reform the electoral system (2015: 83–84);14 it had funded in vitro fertilization and ratified the convention on the violence against women; it had changed the law on charities and nongovernmental organizations that intended to devote resources to public causes (2015: 83). Finally, the party wanted to stop state financing of the church and to legalize civic unions (2015: 84). The framers repeated that the PO, or the state under its rule, did not want to impose its ideology or worldview on anybody (2015: 83). The program in its main chapters presents a party concerned with the economy and ideationally turned to market. It is a program infused with the language of brands, rankings, productivity, innovation, choice, and competitiveness. As such, it confirms the party’s neoliberal and presentist characterization. The state is to act as a watchman, and market solutions are best to accommodate human needs. This is not to say that the programmatic presentation is only technocratic. A quick numerical analysis of keywords used in the program confirms the party’s business-friendly orientation, as it confirms the political productivity of a simultaneous past-in-the-present temporal orientation. Thus, the nation (as in national pride, p. 37) is mentioned once. Budget is discussed once on its own, and twice more in the context of participatory budgeting at the city level (but spending is, of course, discussed throughout). Rights are listed three times (in one instance, the reference reads: “No child has a right to be hungry . . .”—the phrasing is as awkward in Polish as it is in English, p. 38), while law (the word in Polish is the same as “right”) appears four times. Citizens and civicness are also referred to four times. Market (and its derivatives) is a clear winner—it is invoked twenty times. Just as important, modernity (with its closet referent of “communism”) appears as a close second at nineteen. Openness makes an appearance thirteen times, and freedom six times. The program is as clear in its programmatic direction as it is in staking its political identity. It is also clear in how it marks and views its adversaries. They are not so much named but created discursively. The PO’s good offices ensured gains from freedom. Those gains are now threatened—not by climate, migration, or economic crises but by forces rendered backward, authoritarian, and radical. All three characterizations are not substantiated—they are established by covert references to communism. To conclude the self-presentation section, I give voice to the Manager’s politicians. They demonstrate that relying on mnemonic capital and constructing political identities of self and others is not simply a matter of programs. In the case of Managers, it rests on the inverted past-in-the-present talk. This talk emphasizes transition, repudiates communism indirectly, and

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draws links between currently critiqued traits and those posited as evil under communism.15 The Republic’s adviser to the president, Sejm deputy on and off since 1989, and dissident since 1977 Jan Lityński pointed to deficits of the justice system as the most important problem in Poland. He saw the courts as too punitive, too slow, and unpredictable. He went on to talk about low societal trust and the fact that “we have a family and a nation, but we have no society.” He claimed that each was partially a legacy of communist times.16 Longstanding PO Sejm deputy and one of the most radical oppositionists before 1989 Stefan Niesiołowski talked of unemployment as the greatest present-day malady; he disliked any past-related questions and waved them off as a waste of his time. He saw the past as a time of dictatorship that finished in 1989. He did, however, believe that the Patriots operated “like a sect who used the language of the past to mobilize their believers.”17 PO Sejm deputy and former mayor of Warsaw Marcin Święcicki agreed that unemployment was the greatest malady. He also agreed that the past was used all the time. If the Patriots wanted to vilify the Liberals, they had ready-made formulas involving the past; if they wanted to disrupt a debate or ingratiate themselves with their authoritarian boss, they invariably wove conspiratorial theories. He saw the most important event of the recent past as the moment of transition.18 PO Sejm deputy Ligia Krajewska thought that belligerence and lack of substantive debate were the most pressing issues in the public sphere. She regretted that the opposition was using the past as a screen to avoid rational debates about important issues, like the economy. She also claimed credit for her own party in managing the Polish developmental jump.19 In contrast to the Patriots, the Managers emphasize the rupture of the transition: that is, in a creative inversion, they turn to the past as they speak against doing it. They accentuate the radical difference in the political and economic regimes, as well as improvements in the standards of living, and in so doing use the putative “badness” of communism to frame the “goodness” of their stewardship. They assume communism to have been inept and authoritarian, with long legacies still needing attention, and they claim to be the best guardians of the post-transition gains. These moves create a distance between the Managers and the Liberals, who represent the reformed but needing to be continually repudiated ancien régime, and the Patriots, who are irrational and radical, and therefore dangerous. Furthermore, the moves justify the post-transition order and establish Managers as the (only) capable administrators of the modern state. They also neutralize critiques of their policies. Contrary to the Managerial self-image, which allows for reasoned debate as is befitting democracy, Managers delegitimize dissent. As such, even though they claim they debate adversaries, they, like the Patriots, have mainly enemies.

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Memory as Strategy: The Managers’ Past Narrated As I showed in the previous section, the Managers constructed themselves as Managers, and others as threatening and inept, by being ostensibly present-day oriented. But as I also showed, their discursive moves to stratify the political field become meaningful only in relation to the past. I now turn to the way the Managers narrate that past, and how they make communism evil. This narration undergirds and gives depth to the way the Managers organize the political field, how they achieve their own political identity, and how they justify their policies. If Patriots wove sustained narratives of externalized (communist) enemies, Managers conjure individual (anti-communist) heroes who oppose the economically unnatural and politically repressive regime. They see communism not as the time outside of history but rather a time in which people lived, compromised, made careers; they made hard, complicated choices in hard, inhuman conditions. Some, very few, actively opposed it.20 In the words of Robert Krzysztoń, the communist state, with “fire, iron and rubber demanded and got obedience,” and “with the small nod to consumerism, it got approbation and passive acceptance. . . . This was so true, that we [the oppositionists] were seen as irrational, dangerous, mad. We were lepers.” Krzysztoń believed that this state-manufactured world of fear made it a space of totalitarianism.21 The most important themes of the Managers’ narrative of the past involve the economy and the repressive nature of the state. The themes are presented as interrelated but are also pursued separately. The first is narrated directly and is meant to establish communism as unnatural and communists as inept. The second is narrated indirectly through the lives of the oppositionists. It establishes communism as organized for power and a single vision of the common good, and as intolerant of critique. As I will show, the Managers’ narration of communism changed at the moment of transition. Both themes signal a repudiation of communism based on moral grounds, posited as significant by the Managers. As will become clear, theirs is a profound condemnation, but one that does not presuppose an essential and irredeemable alterity. In my analysis, I rely on the 1995 popular history volume penned by Jacek Kuroń and Jacek Żakowski. In the next section, I will also rely on essays by Adam Michnik. When I identify the change in the way the past is narrated, I rely mostly on Jacek Kuroń’s earlier memoirs (1990, 1991). Kuroń and Michnik were important and prolific oppositionists who articulated the dissident movement’s ideological tenets and strategies. Their writing continues to shape the ethos and self-understanding of the cluster, even if the authors may have, by now, outgrown their earlier positions.22 Their writing is also very different: Kuroń, a storyteller, published his most popular books in the form of a mem-

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oir, including the PRL for the Novices (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995). Although it looks like an illustrated guide to the past, it is very much an autobiographical narrative. Michnik is a master of the historical essay. The Managers’ story of the PRL—in brief—begins with the Soviet crossing of Polish borders in 1944, followed by a three-year-long violent effort by the Communist Party to consolidate power, followed again by about seven years of “Sovietization” (or Stalinism). Managers saw this time in complex ways. They highlighted the benefits of rebuilding efforts as well as of some reforms, which they balanced with accounts of decreasing democratization and increasing terror (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 1–99). They identified a multiplicity of postures and responses to postwar reality. Although it was a tragic time, many were tempted by promises of progress and social reform, and many wanted to participate in rebuilding and fashioning an egalitarian society (1995: 42). Others practiced internal exile—withdrawal into the private sphere of work for cultural revival (1995: 39-40). Others continued the armed struggle, while others still opportunistically and passively complied (1995: 42, 47, 65, 116, 137). Thus the PRL was not a foreign import—as the Patriots would have it—even if its birth was midwifed by a foreign power and the postwar period was a time of flux, movement, and uncertainty (1995: 11). A new era dawned in 1956. It was a time of societal awakening and mobilization, not against the state and its regime but toward reform, toward the “Polish Path to Socialism.”23 Societal energy (engagement with authorities and approval) was slowly curbed, and subsequently crushed, by a state captured by opportunistic apparatchiks, thus establishing a pattern for the next thirty years. The period between 1956 and 1980 was described as a time of pervasive economic shortages and inefficiency, state attempts at reform, societal opposition, and invariable state retrenchment. Workers organized periodic eruptions (1956, 1970, 1976, 1980), which were always economically motivated and always brutally repressed. Dissidents, mostly intellectuals, appeared on the scene as early as 1964 and remained active, but they were always a minority. Their efforts became more effective when the intellectuals of the secular left bridged the divide with workers, Catholic intellectuals, and the church. According to Kuroń’s writing before the transition, the object of the opposition’s effort was always to enlarge the space of autonomous social action and to increase broad engagement. Indeed, the first task of the KSS-KOR, established in October 1977, was to fight against political and racial oppression and to help all those persecuted by the state (Kuroń 1991: 37).24 This early formulation makes clear that it was less of a fight for independence, which was the hallmark of the Patriots’ account. It was also not a fight for

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markets, which, as I show below, became a hallmark of Managers’ narration post-transition. Communist Economic Ineptness Managers devote considerable attention to economic life in the PRL. This is new. Their writing before the transition concerned mobilizing society and slowly transforming the system toward greater political freedom (Friszke 1994; Gawin 2013; Jastrzębski 1994; Kuroń 1990, 1991; Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 151, 155–207, 281; Lipski 1983; Michnik 1987, 1993, 2009). The narrations emphasized communist political oppression: the absence of free media, the arbitrariness of the state’s power, coercion, and violence against the opposition, and social atomization. Post-transition, the Managers began to narrate the PRL teleologically, from the point of view of its (as if inevitable)— ending. This involved three major and interrelated inversions of focus. First, the Managers actually devoted attention to economics in order to demonstrate communist unnaturalness (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 99–154). Second, they tied systemic shortages to the authoritarian nature of communism. Third, they told the story as if their diagnosis and prognosis of communism from 1995 were the same as those from 1965 and after . . . as if their struggle for political freedom had all long been a struggle for markets. To illustrate all three moves, here is Jacek Kuroń concluding his chapter on the PRL’s economy: “In the last years [before transition] they [the Communist Party] were going in the same direction as us. But they did not know how. It became obvious that the system was not reformable. Military dictatorship—even the most enlightened one, and Jaruzelski was an enlightened man—was not suited for the market (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 153).” As such, even though the Communist Party tried to implement market reforms (Judt 2005: 605) while the opposition was pushing for political opening, both are presented as “going in the same direction.” Even though the party initiated the Round Table talks in order to make economic reforms possible25 while the opposition paid no attention to the economic file (Porter-Szücs 2014: 315), it is the communists who “did not know how” to reform. Furthermore, even though the opposition stopped paying attention to economics in the late 1960s, they are presented as if they knew that military dictatorship was “not good for markets” (this is conceptually and empirically invalid). As such, if the pre-transition opposition mobilized political engagement, the post-transition narration of the opposition inverted their engagement into the fight for free market. Kuroń and Żakowski identified the basic problem of the communist economy as that of growth. In their telling, the party needed to ensure sufficient

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GDP increases to be able to invest (and generate further growth) and to satisfy growing consumer demand (1995: 99–154). It was never able to do this properly,26 although it attempted many stopgap measures (1995: 108, 122), the most spectacular of which was the 1970s unrestrained borrowing from the West (1995: 143). The fixes worked in the short term, but they exacerbated the problem in the long term. The source of the problem, according to Kuroń and Żakowski, had to do with the squandering of the postwar reformist spirit (1995: 111). The party ossified and bureaucratized in the name of maintaining its monopoly of power (1995: 104, 114, 116, 136): it first renounced its commitment to social mobility and the welfare of workers by not adopting Workers’ Councils (1995: 120). Since it did not want to share power with plant directors, it adopted the often-modified version of central planning (1995: 122–23). Kuroń claimed: “When the ideology collapsed, the centrally planned and directed economy, which naturally cannot normally work, became even more inefficient” (1995: 107; emphasis added). Furthermore, “[the] state can never invest sensibly, and the state ruled by socialist corporations [did] not make rational decisions” (1995: 143; emphasis added). Referring to his 1956 and 1964 open critique of the party, Kuroń wrote in 1995: “We saw Stalinism as a tendency of the top revolutionary elite which meant to take away from the masses its right to rule and its right to property. . . . We needed three years to extend the charge, aimed originally at the small elite, toward the whole apparatus of power” (1995: 116).27 The communist economy is presented as unnatural and ineffective, and its unnaturalness and ineffectiveness are a result of the authoritarian and corrupt nature of its political masters. In other words, the economy did not work because it was simultaneously not market based and not democratic. The conflation of commitment to political freedom and market freedom simplifies the Managers’ account. In this telling, dissidents who fought for political freedom also fought for the market, and the Communist Party that opposed democracy was also antimarket. This narration naturalizes market as it casts the PRL arrangements as anomalous and dangerous. The market becomes self-evidently good in contrast to the political and economic oppressiveness, inefficiency, and unnaturalness of communism. I emphasize this current pro-market presentation because the attention to it is decidedly new . . . and surprising. To illustrate, here is Kuroń (and Modzelewski) in his 1965 “Open Letter to the Party” (both Kuroń and Modzelewski were imprisoned for three years for its dissemination [Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 168]): If there is no worker democracy in the factory, in the long run there is none in the state. It is only in the factory that the worker is a worker, and it is where he fulfills his essential social function. If he remained a slave in his place of

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employment, then all freedom outside of the shop would be a holiday freedom, or a false freedom. The working class cannot rule over its work and its product without having control over the conditions and goals in the factory. For this reason, it has to be organized in Workers’ Councils in order to manage the business. The manager has to be made subordinate to the Council, controlled, hired and fired by the Council. (Kuroń and Modzelewski: 74)

And again, here is Kuroń’s 1995 characterization of his 1950s and 1960s thinking: “When in 1956 during ZMS training I was telling workers about revisionist (therefore market) economics, the market mechanisms were beyond their comprehension” (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 120, emphasis added). The difficulty of this later interpretation is that Workers’ Councils are decidedly not capitalist. They are a feature of a blended demand/supply economy, which does away with central planning but provides no private ownership of capital. It is driven by demand but checked by supply-side economics. Most important, the model does not allow market-imposed labor discipline. Indeed, it is the workers who run factories.28 To invent longevity of the pro-market stance retroactively and to slide conceptually between commitments to political and market freedoms extends the normative distance between the party and the opposition, or even society. The moves make communism more out of touch than it was, more inept, and more worthy of condemnation. When it comes to the Managers, the move hides the fact that markets were not seen as an unquestioned and natural good by the opposition, as it justifies Managers’ current pro-market position without having it defended. Communist Authoritarianism The second line of critique that emerges in the Managers’ narration about communism concerns its repressive and authoritarian nature. I alluded to this theme before, and I will now spell it out. To represent communism as anti-pluralistic, repressive, and immoral, the Managers invoke its opposite— values and ideas espoused by an intellectual, organized for plurality and freedom, resisting the power-hungry regime. This presentation of communism is sketched indirectly—it is a backdrop to the center-stage performance of the oppositionist. The Managers state that communism had some claim to legitimacy as long as it remained the ideology of social mobility and reform. Once the party ossified, bureaucratized, and became organized for monopoly power, it lost all of its redeeming qualities. Once it turned to interests and away from values, and once it became a power-maintenance system, it could not satisfy the material or ideational needs of society. Thus changed, the Party faced two

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social groups: “day-to-day people” and “ideas people.” The first were a majority who fulfilled their lives with mundane tasks. The second were a minority who subordinated their lives to ideas and values (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 110). The state provoked the day-to-day people with its inept handling of the economy. Their periodic and brutally suppressed outbursts—strikes and demonstrations—were interspersed with times of stability, acceptance, and even enthusiasm, predicated on the state’s supply of consumer goods. Writing about Gierek’s era, Kuroń admits: “Nearly the entire society accepted the authorities and the new order. It was the only time in my life when I was afraid of society. I felt like I was on the margins, and that Gierek bought the Poles” (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 147).29 At first, the state mobilized many of the ideas people with promises of equality and reform. When it turned away from these commitments and began to monopolize power, the ideas people turned into critics (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 116, 150, 179). It was their role to criticize the state—first to reform it, then to resist it. It was also their role to mobilize and give shape to the periodic outburst of day-to-day peoples’ frustration (1995: 155–207). Dissidents therefore occupied the liminal space of pluralism and values, placed between two self-interested and powerful groups. They now narrate the experience of this space from the point of view of the individual oppositionist—an intellectual— concentrating on the themes of work, personal growth and sacrifice, devotion to values, and societal mobilization. This intellectual, capable of hard, value-based choices, faced the hostile state and an often-apathetic society. The most sophisticated organized manifestation of the opposition was the Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR), formed in 1976 (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 187–97), later named the Committee of Social Self-Defense: KOR (KSS-KOR).30 The KOR provided legal defense for those charged in strikes and protests (1995: 179) and financial assistance to unemployed and harassed workers and their families (1995: 196). It ran an extensive number of publications, both periodicals and books (1995: 190), and it organized lectures and university seminars (1995: 196–97). It deliberately operated in the open (except in publishing—printing had to be clandestine). Openness was its ideational weapon—it was meant to create a parallel public space that was predicated on the state’s nominal commitment to human rights (1995: 189). The oppositionists treated those rights as if the state meant to respect them. When it invariably did not, by constant harassment and arrests, both oppositionists’ writing (signs) and their lives (bodies) stood as signs of critique. Thus, the KOR’s program, biographies of dissidents, as well as the retrospective presentation of both by the Managerial narrators perform a paradoxical feat: on one hand, they present the oppressed imprisoned intellectual hero as free. Indeed, in this presentation, the men with the most freedom in the

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PRL were Kuroń and Michnik, both of whom spent up to thirteen years in prison. On the other hand, this freedom in oppression confirmed, as it simultaneously denied, the totalitarian nature of the regime. Kuroń and Żakowski call communism totalitarian, even as they undermine its being so by the narration of the lives of the oppositionists (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 156). At the center of this construction is the judgment of the PRL as evil, not because it put them in jail but because it was not like them. It was organized for power and the single vision of a good society, which it was willing to forcibly impose, whereas they stood for pluralism and freedom. In such a narrative, communism emerges as organized for power, fearful of critique and plurality of visions of a good life, and repressive in the service of its power and its myopic vision. It also emerges as economically inept. Since these are exactly the qualities that Managers impute to the Patriots, the judgment of communism in the past seems to deepen the threat of the Patriots in the present. As far apart as communists and Patriots are, their visions of what constitutes a good society, the hunger for power, and the fear of pluralism make them dangerously similar.

Memory as Substance: Imagined Community Revealed In the preceding sections, I examined the PO’s programmatic identity and traced how the party’s intellectual ancestors deployed its mnemonic capital and achieved the cluster’s Managerial identity. First, I demonstrated that the Managers presented themselves as concerned with the present. They projected and articulated a conviction that they were the best guardians of posttransition gains and order. Relying on the mnemonic procedure of a creative inversion, however, their particular presentist vision became intelligible only in reference to communism. As such, the Managers became Managers by talking of “now,” and referring to “then,” or, more specifically, by discursively justifying their policies through the lens of transition. I then analyzed the Managers’ narration of the past. I demonstrated that the narration located communist evil in the way it offended certain moral principles. I then traced how those very same moral principles—now protected—were used in the present to justify policies and create present-day enemies. Thus, the current pro-market orientation becomes indispensable, because it means to overcome the lack of such policies during communism; and the present adversaries become threatening in exactly the same way as communists were in the past. In this section, I want to explore the implications of such inverted play on the past and present on the notions, or visions, of common belonging. To this end, I confront Managers’ self-presentation and their narration of history. I identify two elements of their vision: elitism and a narrowly understood

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national kinship. Both elements undermine the declarative commitment to openness and choice, and both are facilitated by the activation of mnemonic capital, a capital that is deployed for the sake of payoffs in the field of politics. In this section I show how the mnemonic procedure performed in the field of politics interacts with and affects the field of belonging. The Managers’ program revealed them as neoliberal. The document rested on a belief that market rationality was the best way to organize social belonging. The state needed to facilitate a smooth business operation, and it needed to operate (and “think”) like a firm. The examples of this rationality, or what Wendy Brown would call “neoliberal statism” (2015: 27) abound: teachers were to be paid and promoted based on the achievement of results (PO Program 2015: 35, 37);31 job counselors were said to lower unemployment when they were paid on commission (PO 8 Years 2016: n.p.); health professionals were to ensure equality of access by countrywide phone consultations (PO Program 2015: 43), and healthcare provision was important for global civilizational rankings (2015: 43); finally, the role of state officials was to brand Poland as a place of “interesting history and great culture” (2015: 67, 73). The language of economic calculus and belief in the primacy of markets pervaded every diagnosis and prescription of the program. But it was a belief rather than a defended position. The market’s rationality and desirability were established discursively, through the frame of modernity and its embedded condemnation of communism. According to this (here simplified) logic, communism was bad; the market, therefore, must be good. The program’s tagline read “For the People.” Who, therefore, are the people in the state conceived as a firm? Most explicitly, “the people” emerge as a collection of individuals freely choosing their life paths and competing in the marketplace of options. Individuals are not constrained by income, education, health, or life chances. They are constrained by place of residence and by availability of employment. The latter is seen as necessary to unleash innovative potential. (The lack of employment is not a sign of market failure but a legacy of the developmental backwardness of communism.) They are also unconnected to one another and to larger communities through obligations, dependencies, and solidarities. The only ones so tied are families. Families are imagined as nuclear, choosing to rent or own their homes, and seeking stable childcare arrangements when they, again, choose to return to work post-childbirth. It appears that, contrary to the declared openness to different life “choices,” Managers speak to (create/invoke) only one model of familial life. Single parents, nonparents, and multigenerational families are absent. What emerges is the family as a unit of biological reproduction. It is mitigated by a welcome nod to choices of returning-to-work parents. But the frame of choice in relation to children, home, and work—to the exclusion of

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need and/or necessity—elevates not only a nuclear family but a family of certain financial mobility. The point is that families, as invoked by the Managers, are not people in their variety of needs, wants, aspirations, constraints, and embedded connections. They are only certain people—young and successful. Moreover, they are facing only certain choices—ones that can be satisfied by markets.32 Seniors and youth are imagined outside of families. Seniors are projected as healthy and wealthy, and are therefore offered community centers, while youth are seen to be emigrating, and are offered better education. The disjuncture between the problem of emigration and the solution of better education is telling. On the one hand, it is unclear how Polish-trained plumbers and doctors are not going to continue benefiting in better-paying jurisdictions; on the other, and more important, this disjuncture suggests that the needs of the business community drive the state’s agenda.33 Indeed, the entire chapter labeled “Youth” seems to have been written for the benefit of the business community (as are large portions of the sections on Family, Economy, and Education et al.). This matters for the notions of belonging in two ways: on the one hand, it suggests that the needs of some groups—namely the business sector—matter more than the voices of others; on the other, it belies (inverts) the Managers’ claim that they do not impose their worldview on citizens. If the language and logic of one social force—the market—are presented as the only available solutions to life problems, and if that language and logic fetishize choice while limiting choice to that which they themselves offer, then this operation hides those who are harmed by the market (they are simply rendered as having made “bad choices”), and it delegitimizes those who aspire to life, or aspects of life, outside of it. It reveals a hierarchy in the concept of a people and a paternalistic state.34 The reduction of families to successful units of reproduction, seniors to wealthy activity seekers, and youth to utility maximizers, along with the concomitant limited market-inspired solutions, are accentuated by the contrasting countryside chapter. The chapter does not reduce rural areas to a market segment with a predefined problem and solution. It deals with life in multiple settings, it acknowledges constraints, and it respects citizens as agents. It therefore offers them choices, and assistance in their pursuits. To use an example of employment only, those who wish to remain on family farms, start direct commercial activity, or switch to eco-farming, farm-tourism, or jobs outside of agriculture will all be assisted. Communities are envisaged as spaces of mutual care that exist to prevent members’ exclusion (PO Program 2015: 63). This choice-filled and noncompetitive vision is as startling as it is unique in the program. The state—as seen in the rest of the Managerial model—operates as a night watchman.35 It is to build roads and provide safety, facilitate interactions with

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the world and the smooth operation of markets, and continue privatizing state assets. The facilitation of market operations means that the state is to educate workers and provide day cares. Citizens are not addressed/conceived of as rights-bearing subjects.36 They have extant constitutional rights, but new promises are not framed as enduring entitlements. Furthermore, constitutional rights—like social justice and solidarity—seem to be invoked in lieu of policies that would bring them about. The proposed policies to address poverty do not frame those policies in the language of mutual obligation and care. Thus, a statement about “no child having a right to being hungry” is revealing (PO Program 2015: 38). First, it frames hunger as if it were ever a choice. Second, it promises to devote state resources to fight child poverty, but it creates no positive entitlement to it. It reveals a state that is suspicious of rights and committed to flexible care. It reveals a state of limited solidarity. This is true even though the Managers claim to know that egalitarian policies and a caring state create solidarities. In a chapter of a program attributed to the premier, Ewa Kopacz, she says, “We know how to maintain social cohesion in Poland: we need to equalize incomes up and to remove city-country division, especially in terms of quality of life.” She immediately adds, “We need smart policy to guarantee that Poland is not swamped by an uncontrolled wave of migration” (2016: 6). Despite her avowed awareness of the benefits of solidarity, the program inverts (and subverts) the language of equality and communal obligation as it promotes hierarchies. And rather than rallying Poles toward mutual care, the program creates them as isolated, unconstrained, freely choosing individuals while bonding them against others (i.e., migrants). As explained earlier, Managerial proposals could not appear self-evidently good were it not for the turn to the past and against communism. If the Managers did not establish communism as unnatural and authoritarian, and if they did not conflate political freedom with market freedom, they would have to address their electorate with a more direct justification of their policies. More to the point, if they did not weave the past and present into a discursive double bind, they would not be able to hide the tensions of their market community. As it is, they are able to exalt openness and choices as they deny the diversity of ways in which political communities may be organized,37 and as they deny the diversity of life choices of embodied citizens. They are also able to invoke horizontal solidarities as they deny broad rights in favor of hierarchies. A community in which phantom choice is as pervasive as the real one is absent puts into question the agency of citizens. If they are given no choices, how can they be said to have consented? This disembodied and hierarchical vision is confirmed in the narration of the past, where it is again subject to an inversion of meaning. The narration venerates individuals making hard, even impossible, choices to oppose an

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authoritarian state and recover their freedom. And the narration exalts intersocial-class solidarities as necessary in ending that authoritarian regime. The very same narrations, however, buttress the vision of the paternalistic state and the predetermined reduced citizen in the way they create intellectual heroes and a passive society—in other words, in the way they apportion agency and choice. I address these two issues in turn. Kuroń views society as having generative power. It had a capacity for action and profound transformation, but in order for action and transformation to be realized, society needed to be awakened and mobilized. More specifically, Kuroń believed that society had a certain as if weight. It was slow to move, but once it moved, its weight generated a momentum, making it hard to stop. His vision, therefore, appears to endow the masses with agency, but it is an agency of inanimate objects. In order for mass action to not dissipate, as if an avalanche would, it requires a hero. The hero either awakens (politicizes and mobilizes) or gives shape to and controls the movement. This vision reserves agency for individual leaders and imbues society with passive power.38 Kuroń’s most explicit statement to that effect is found in his distinction between the “every-day people” and “ideas people” (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 110). It is not only that the former are imagined as preoccupied with daily, mundane activities but also that they are organized by interests. And interests are said to be frightening (1995: 147). This invented binary is as discursively productive as it is empirically unsound: it hides the base of stratification—which rests on varied access to material and cultural capitals (Bourdieu 1986b, 1998)— by creating a false demarcation line between ideas (posited as moral) and interests (posited as immoral). This moral coding not only hides the base of stratification and the interests of those who are culturally well endowed, it also constitutes a morally inferior outside made up of those with less cultural capital. This false division allows the intellectual hero to claim credit when the masses organize for the social good. It will allow the intellectual hero to feel shame, but not responsibility, when those masses are organized for violence. The most vivid example of this construct is offered by the Managers’ narration of society in relation to minorities, during and after the war (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 34–37). I examine it first for the way intellectuals conceive of “the people,” and then for the way they conceive of “choice.” The story—which is here relayed as a first-person account, given by Jacek Kuroń—began with Kuroń’s father who had managed a small factory in Lwów, during the war. He was also a member of Żegota (a clandestine unit helping Jews), so, as long as it was possible, he assisted and employed Jewish workers. When the systematic killing began, he was given fifty work permits for his one hundred employees. He had to select who would live. He chose intellectuals as they had the best chances of survival. Kuroń, who was a child at the time, recalled, “I feel great shame about this, to this day” (Kuroń and

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Żakowski 1995: 35). He further recalled how Jews were being hounded in the streets and how there was nothing one could do about it. He recalled sensing his teacher’s shame for teaching racist material in the occupied school (2015: 36). Finally, he acknowledged that perhaps 10 percent of Poles helped Jews, and those who did not had to explain away their inaction. He speculated that this was made easier by blaming the Jews for their own plight (2015: 36). After the war, Jews who had miraculously survived returned to their homes, by now inhabited by Poles. “What was one to do?” asked Kuroń, still writing in the first person, “Were they to move out?” (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 36). The atmosphere of pogroms, he added, hung in the air. The pogroms were provoked by the authorities—we were told—but they had a social base and resonance. After the war, there was a strong feeling that Jews were in the service of the Soviets. And in truth, there were many Jews in the secret police, in the PPR apparatus, and in the offices of the new administration, but Poles were by far more numerous. There are many reasons for this. First, before the war, assimilated Jews were often communists, as this was the only refuge against antisemitism. Second, the Soviets trusted those who survived the war in the USSR more, and more Jews survived there. They survived, returned to Poland and got jobs. . . . Certainly, among the Jews who survived, many felt the need for revenge for antisemitism. Not against Poles, but against antisemites. This is true, but it happened to a much smaller degree than the myth that grew around it. And the myth was huge. For a nation that was undergoing a Soviet invasion, it was useful to see that communism equaled Jews. Since the Polish nation refused to accept the Soviets, those who did accept it, could only be Soviet or Jewish. (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 37–38)

The images flanking the account show a copy of the (Soviet-installed) provisional government’s (PKWN) July Manifesto promising active support in the rebuilding of Jewish life, as well as legal and factual equality (Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 35). The next page pictures a prewar Jewish street, with a caption mourning its loss and that of the traditionally dressed Jews. It goes on to claim that the dual absence was accompanied by a revival of the “nonsensical” belief in the Jew as vampire (1995: 36). The facing page displays the Certificate of Honor, granted by Israel to those who risked their lives by helping Jews survive the Holocaust. The caption reads, “Despite inglorious postwar excesses, Poles constitute the most numerous group among the Righteous Among the Nations. Among 12,000 honored, there are 4,500 Poles” (1995: 37). The page is bordered by a reproduction of the Wachtel lithograph “Christ in a Pogrom Quarter” with a statistic of 230 Jewish deaths from January to August 1945. “And the wave of antisemitism was only increasing” (1995: 37).

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Last, we see a tablet commemorating the 4 July 1946 Kielce pogrom placed in Kielce by the Nissenbaum Foundation on the initiative of Lech Wałęsa, the leader of Solidarity (1995: 38). On its surface, the story is multilayered and complex, shot through with moral disquiet. It retrieves a variety of positions—heroic rare helpers, compassionate or indifferent numerous bystanders, rarer criminal collaborators and antisemites—and it confronts the difficult truths of Poles killing Jews. It discredits various myths about Jews. It signals that the post-transition order repudiates exclusion and violence induced or facilitated by communism. Readers are left with a vision of a difficult and tragic past, about which easy judgments are impossible, and which is now bracketed with hope for a better future. A deeper reading reveals more troubling meanings. The narrative venerates the personal courage of individuals who helped the Jews. In the two particular examples, they are at best educated—a factory owner and a teacher.39 The helpers are selfless and rare, but otherwise most numerous in the world. The narrative blames indifference and violence against Jews on societal antisemitism and Nazi propaganda.40 The indifference and antisemitism are pervasive, and hostility is said to have grown after the war. The reasons for hostility may concern stolen homes, babies kidnapped for matzo, or belief in Judeo-Communism. These are declared unsolvable (homes), rejected as nonsensical superstitions (matzo babies), and explained as false myths blown out of proportion (Jewish communism). But since no analysis of the myths and hostile attitudes is offered, these clear repudiations lose some of their force. On the one hand, they seem to reinforce the categorical binary of a thinking ethical hero and a mob at the mercy of superstitious notions; on the other hand, they seem to reinforce the superstitious notions. They act as a particular form of paralipsis, in which the subject is introduced by a denial that it should be discussed.41 This is especially true as one of the myths—Jewish involvement in communism—gets an elaborate treatment. The quoted paragraph begins with the assertion of a popular hostile feeling toward Jews. It moves to the high numbers of Jews in communist ranks, which it balances with an even higher number of Poles. It claims that there were many reasons for this, and then goes on to explain the high numbers of Jews in the ranks of the party. The paragraph does not directly explain anti-Jewish feeling (the subject of its topical sentence), but by positing reasons for exaggerated—but high—numbers, it insinuates itself as a cause of the feeling. Furthermore, the so-called explanation of the high numbers of Jews in the security apparatus reinforces the Judeo-Communist myth of the Patriots. It first equates prewar communists with Jews.42 It then places these Jews between the natural and pervasive antisemitism of the masses, and a promise

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of a de facto equality (see the picture of the PKWN July Manifesto that I refer to above and which formed part of the narrative of Polish-Jewish relations as given in Kuroń and Żakowski 1995: 35–37), or better yet, jobs that offer opportunities for revenge. The Managers do not claim that Jews had no reasons for revenge (an important fact that Patriots forget), even as they do not demonstrate the wish or fact of revenge empirically. Indeed, by attending to that putative revenge, the Managers suggest that antisemitism is a reaction to what the (so-called) Jews had done. In yet another inversion, anti-Jewish feeling is substantively legitimized, as it is nominally rejected. Two insights about the Managerial community emerge from this narration. First, pitting the superstitious grasping masses against enlightened elites renders anti-Jewish sentiment normal, uncontrollable, and definitional of the society in which it occurs. Furthermore, it paints the elites as being in no way responsible for the putative essence of the hostility.43 Thus, the vision of “the people” in the past is as superimposed and reductive as the vision of “the people” in the present. The visions differ in content, but they resemble each other in structure. Both assume that the citizens are passive screens onto which one could project whatever image suits.44 Second, assuming the authority to name others according to ethnoreligious criteria, and assuming that authority from the vantage point of the dominant majority, eviscerates the key concept of Managerial self-presentation—that is, the concept of choice. Not unlike the Patriots, the Managers reduce the right to self-identity to an illusion, vis-à-vis essential, inalienable, and majority-determined ethnic identity. They recycle a hierarchical vision of society and, in so doing, they imagine/create nonelite Poles-as-essentialantisemites whom the elites have to court so as to not sink their political capital. Not unlike the Liberals, they repudiate exclusion only to authorize it.45 Condemnation of communism is central to the coming of the neoliberal community. As I showed earlier, the narration of the present and the past are intertwined. Narrating communism as evil, in the particular way the Managers do it, provides a substantive justification of the current saturating economized rationality. But the narratives of the past and the present supplement, or mirror, each other structurally as well. They venerate an individual (just as the Patriots exalted a group). They conceive of the individual in a particular way—as overcoming constraints and choosing freely (interest as motive for action is seen as pejorative, even if the present self-improvement is acceptable). They organize society hierarchically, just as they claim to do the opposite. They project needs and wants onto the citizens—whom they imagine as passive, yet powerful. They undermine the concept of choice by not conceiving of choices. All in all, in lieu of a solidarity of care—which they invoke—they imagine individuals organized into a nation. And contrary to

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explicit and frequent avowals to openness, Managers conceive membership in the nation not as a matter of choice (self-identification or participation). It is a matter of steep and elite-determined conditions. To demonstrate the last point and to conclude the chapter, I turn to the most eloquent writer of the cluster, Adam Michnik. I refer to his 1991 speech “Poland and the Jews,” delivered in the Central Synagogue in New York (Michnik 1998), and a programmatic article, first published in November 1992 in the Electoral Gazette, “Conversation with a Unitarian” (Michnik 2009).46 The constitutive elements of his narration include: (a) conceptual commitment to identity being a matter of choice—Michnik called himself a Pole to Jews, and a Jew to antisemites (1998: 169); (b) pride in Polish multicultural history and tradition of tolerance—Michnik referred to Poland as a country with no pyres (1998: 171); (c) veneration of heroic and tragic Polish conduct in World War II—a fight that Michnik claimed had been waged against two deadly enemies, Hitler and Stalin (1998: 173); (d) the presentation of the Polish-Jewish entanglement during the war as defined by helplessness (“nothing could be done”), heroism (“and yet so much was done”), marginal criminality (“what society does not have criminals, especially in war?”), and general indifference (see “helplessness”’);47 (e) repudiation of Polish antisemitism that produced the exceptional criminal of the war (“but all countries have antisemites” [1998: 171]), and (f ) simultaneous repudiation of “antiPolonism” practiced by Jews, against Poles-as-essential-antisemites, abroad (1998: 172).48 He maintained that the Poland of old faced two visions of belonging: one predicated on a fusion of a Pole and a Catholic, and another predicated on tolerance (1998: 174). He declared a clear commitment to the latter. He feared, however, that a thinly democratic and open polity would result in the degeneration of morals and the dissipation of the community (2009: 236). To prevent this, he urged a nation unified by acceptance of the central role of Catholicism and the spirit of resistance (2009: 237). He opposed the church’s move to capture the state, but he gifted it the rule of Polish community. This vision simultaneously exalts and hollows choice-based identity. It does so by placing two steep (impossible even) conditions on the choice to belong: the first demands an acceptance of the ethno-religious majority’s version of history, no matter how that history erases one’s own. The second requires a normative agreement with, or at least acceptance of, the special role of the religiously inflected identity of the majority—no matter one’s religion or normative convictions. The conditions appear in the form of myths that need to be accepted as foundational truths. The first concerns the Polish tradition of multicultur-

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alism—the tradition that describes sociological reality while it inverts that reality into a normative commitment. Its best example is the “no pyres” fiction, brazenly summoned in the face of the potential survivors of Polish pogroms and barn burnings (“no pyres” was invoked in the New York synagogue). The second concerns the putative equivalence between Hitler and Stalin—an equivalence that occludes the plight of Polish citizens of Jewish descent, whose community and members were annihilated by Hitler, and makes it somehow equal to the plight of Polish citizens of Polish descent, whose community and majority of members survived. These myths cleanse and elevate the memory of the majority and erase the story of the minority. They are inherently a discourse of domination, in that the majority decides the authoritative story of the “we” and the minority adapts to it. They reconstitute the groups in relations of power and subordination as they hide the power that makes it possible. Furthermore, to require acceptance of the Catholic religion as holding a special place in Polish identity—and to make it a matter of identity—relegates all those who do not share the faith, as well as those who disagree on its importance, outside of the community.49 In short, Michnik’s vision invokes choice-based belonging and multicultural tradition as it disowns the tale of those who chose and made the Polish polity diverse.

Notes 1. I place the parties together for now because they formed the governing coalition until the 2015 election. As will become clear, however, the PSL does not fit the cluster neatly. Indeed, it is the only party in Poland that can and has formed coalitions across the political spectrum. 2. As is customary, President Komorowski resigned his PO membership on gaining office in 2010. He ran for reelection in 2015 as an independent candidate. 3. This is how the PO’s opponents characterized its platform in 2007. 4. See the book’s introduction for more details. 5. This ostensibly binary division into transition winners and losers is called the postcommunist moment in Polish party politics by some. It is supposed to have ended in 2005 (Grabowska 2004). It is the point of my work to show that even though the main contemporary cleavage concerns two transition winners, there is little that is “post” communist about them since they continue to use it to compete. 6. For more on this, see chapter 5 and Zarycki (2009). 7. For an elaborated exploration of party structure, strategies, and electoral travails, see Szczerbiak (2001, 2002). The PSL held the premiership from 1993 to 1995 (and briefly in 1992) when it was part of a governing coalition with the larger SLD. 8. Szczerbiak claims that the PO-PSL coalition was successful because the two parties do not compete for votes: the PO’s base is in the cities, while the PSL’s base is in the countryside

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10. 11. 12. 13.

14. 15.

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.


23. 24. 25.

26. 27.

28. 29.

(2013: 483). I do not disagree with this view but draw attention to the mnemonic and ideational differences between the parties. My translation of the program condenses and paraphrases it, but I try to stay true to its phrasing and language. Hence the technocratic and “management-school” tone of the program is not accidental. I do not assess the validity of the characterizations. My aim is only to show the discursive maneuvers that make such characterizations into sticky positions. This is all the more significant as the PO was seen as having managed the crisis very well. For a full exploration of junk contracts, see note 5 in chapter 6. The passage is convoluted because even though the PO directly claims to oppose inmigration, its self-image prevents strong language on the matter. The talk of reciprocity in the context of doing little is at once a fig leaf for the EU and a nod to its supposedly rational identity. The transition from general commitments to specific reforms is just as abrupt as presented here. The interviews suffer from a time lag. They were conducted in 2013, while the program was published in 2015. In the intervening two years, the focus on the authoritarian nature of the Patriots was heightened. In 2013, it was their irrationality that predominated: it was mentioned in every interview. Jan Lityński, interview with the author, Warsaw, 12 July 2013. Stefan Niesiołowski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. Marcin Święcicki, interview with the author, Warsaw, 20 July 2013. Ligia Krajewska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 1 February 2013. Jan Lityński, interview with the author, 12 July 2013; Adam Michnik, interview with the author, Warsaw, 28 November 2013. Krzysztoń is a former oppositionist. When we talked, he worked for Stowarzyszenie Wolnego Słowa (SWS), an NGO organized for the protection of free speech and political refugees. His reference to rubber recalls truncheons used by police. (Robert Krzysztoń, interview with the author, Warsaw, 9 November 2012). For more, see: http://www.sws .org.pl/ Jacek Kuroń died in 2004. Shortly before his death, he expressed regret over the neoliberal bent of his camp (Kuroń and Modzelewski 2001). Jacek Żakowski, a writer with the left-leaning Polityka, is not a comfortable Manager, if a Manager at all. I use their 1995 account while acknowledging that both may have gone on to write a different story. The 1956 party slogan called for a Polska Droga do Socjalizmu—a Polish Path to Socialism. Komitet Obrony Robotników (KOR); Komitet Samoobrony Społecznej-KOR (KSS-KOR). For more on KSS-KOR see below. See chapter 5 where I show that the (Communist) Party was aware they could not implement pro-market reforms without Solidarity’s participation. The reforms were too deep and painful to be introduced by a government with no social legitimacy. See chapter 6 for data on growth rates (absent in the Managers’ account) and a critique of this line of reasoning. This presentation is misleading. In a 1965 “Open Letter” to the Party, Kuroń and Modzelewski talk of ownership of the means of production. They do not write about private property. Kuroń is, of course, allowed to change his mind; all I highlight is how he presents and disowns the change. For its most elaborate implementation, see Yugoslav economic arrangements (Marangos 2013: 144–92; Lindblom 1977: 330–43). Edward Gierek was first secretary of the party—its top post—from 1970 to 1980.

122 • Weaponizing the Past 30. The opposition involved many organizations outside of the KOR, all of which are part of the Managers’ narration. I omit them to avoid repetition. 31. The results are unspecified. 32. The program seeks to address poverty and improve life. It lists accomplishments in those regards and makes further promises. It does this without abandoning the framework of competition, choice, limited obligation, and a job—or better yet a start-up—as an aspirational horizon. 33. This is true, despite claiming that the PO is not serving any group interest (PO Program 2015: 5). 34. Neoliberalism has been critiqued for growth of inequality, commercialization of that which is inappropriate for marketization, and business state-capture. For a comprehensive review of those critiques see Brown (2015: 29–30, and notes). 35. I use classical liberal conceptualization of state and market, but the chapter shows that the Managerial state is subordinate to the market, or indeed subsumed by it. It exists and acts only to facilitate the market (Brown 2015: 62). 36. Rights-talk will be at the center of the Liberal vision, discussed in the next chapter. 37. One need not venerate communism to be able to discuss the limits of markets. But the anti-communism binary forecloses such a conversation by making the market not only the best, but the only way to organize life (Brown 2015; Fisher 2009). 38. It is not my intention to analyze the empirical accuracy of Kuroń’s thinking but to trace the implications and effects of his narrative and current notions of common belonging. For more on the collective action problem, see Putnam, Leonardi, and Nanetti (1993), and for more on social movements and their mobilization, see Snyder (2000). 39. Lipski also talks of “ordinary people” in the context of the war, and he is clear that nobody could expect heroism from them. Harboring Jews demanded heroism (Gross 2000b: 76). 40. Gross challenged the “bystander” category on two fronts: its translation to Polish as “witness” is inaccurate, and its applicability, in the context of the ultimate violence of the Holocaust, is oxymoronic (2014: 885–86). He proposed, following Fulbrook (2012), categories of “facilitators” and “beneficiaries” (2014: 888). He argued away the practice of contextualizing Polish actions against Jews, which he showed as serving to disguise Poles’ saturating and general hostility. Indeed, although he never said so, Gross eviscerated the “indifference” myth (2000b: 80–92). Janicka went further still and repudiated the category of indifference explicitly. She demonstrated that Poles were not indifferent to the Holocaust but, holding virulently stereotypical views, were its active supporters. Violence, and the desirability of violence, against Jews was not a matter of exception but of cultural norm (Janicka 2015a: 156; see also Janicka 2015b; Tokarska-Bakir 2012; and Żukowski 2011). I do not explore the deployment of these tropes beyond signaling that they have been challenged, as the critiques are more recent than the story I examine. Three points merit attention: (a) Kuroń signals awareness of the instability of the indifference trope— when he talks of Jews being hounded on the streets, he does not say by whom; (b) to explain hostility by hostility is to simply restate—this is a typical Managerial structure of the so-called explanation of antisemitism; (c) as my work demonstrates, the myth of exceptional criminality and heroism flanking the general indifference is circulated by political and cultural elites of all major clusters. For the exploration of this narrative as a means of maintaining the myth of indifference, see Korycki (2019). 41. It is like saying, “He drove the car into a tree, but no, he had not been seen drinking before.” In the absence of any hypothetical explanation, one is left either suspecting or concluding that drinking was the cause. 42. There were more than three million self-identified Jews in the 2nd RP (Porter-Szücs 2014); there were fewer than twenty thousand members in the Communist Party of

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43. 44.

45. 46.




Poland (KPP) prior to 1936 (Trembicka 2003). Even if all the Polish communists self-identified as Jews, which is unlikely, this would still result in fewer than 1 permille (one in one thousand) of the so-called Jews being communists. For accounts of prewar intelligentsia as the social site of Polish antisemitism, see chapter 5 and Chmielewska (2018). This is not to deny the presence of antisemitic frames in the Polish national imaginary but to dispute their putative essential character, which is being invoked as it is being manufactured, by elites of all stripes. I return to this theme in chapter 5. I translate integrysta as “unitarian”—a term specific to Polish contemporary discourse, which designates a person who holds a unitary and integrative conception of identity. On the unitarian understanding, to have an identity is to have a nationality (but no gender, etc.), and to have a Polish nationality is to be a Catholic. Managers use the term to describe the Patriots’ conception of belonging, and they claim to reject it. I use quotation marks, but I paraphrase the longer explanations provided by Michnik and other authors of the cluster. Those others are more explicit in describing the war in terms of a helplessness, or indifference, flanked by a marginal criminal on the one hand and exceptional heroic helper of Jews on the other: for more on this see Błoński (1990) and Lipski (1996). These elements, pairings, relativizations, and equivalences are definitional to the Managerial account (stereotype) of Polish-Jewish relations. With slight variations, they appear in all major accounts. Some may be challenged—like “happy” Polish multiculturalism (Lipski 1996)—only to return full force (Michnik, above). It bears noting that the voices of Błoński (1990), Kuroń, Lipski, and Michnik are considered the conscience of the nation. The empirically and conceptually unsound constructions, their exclusionary load, their erasure of the particularity of victimhood of the Holocaust are all invisible to the authors. In the quest to prove to the world that they are not antisemitic, they reveal the opposite. Due to space limitations and the relative paucity of data, I do not explore the implication of the Catholic Church in the propagation of antisemitic myths and anti-Jewish violence. For preliminary explorations, see Gross (2007: 134–53). Also note that Michnik (2009) describes the presence of as if two Catholic Churches in Poland—one open, one closed. This discursively split institution maps, in affinity, onto the Managers and Patriots, in that the closed church will be politically oriented and coincidental with nationality. How the open church is open is unclear, given only the apparent openness of Michnik’s own account.

Chapter 5


8 The cluster I identify as the Liberals comprised the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Your Movement (TR), and the Greens’ Party (PZ).1 I place these parties together because the Greens ran candidates on the SLD lists in 2011, and TR and the SLD discussed electoral coalitions, on and off, from 2013. The three parties succeeded in July 2015, and the United Left (ZL) fielded common candidates in the October 2015 Sejm elections.2 Despite the pooling of their resources, the parties have not been successful, and they sent no deputies to the Sejm.3 They still have members in the EU Parliament and are represented in regional governments.4 As I show in figure 5.1, the cluster achieved its political identity—that is, it became the “Liberals”—by being present-day oriented. However, in adapting to the powerful moves of the Patriots, moves that tilted the field of political competition to memory, the Liberals have recently begun to engage with history directly. In doing so, they began being turned to the present substantively and to the past instrumentally. Occupying the position of the transition loser—the SLD, which was the most powerful party in the cluster, was also a communist successor party—the Liberals had little access to mnemonic capital. They were on the wrong side of history, and they lost their monopoly on power in 1989. As I explained in chapter 1, immediately following transition, they engaged in political competition by relying on their cultural and material capitals (Bourdieu 1986, 1998; Grzymała-Busse 2002a, 2002b). Before the 2015 election, however, in response to the structuring effect of the Patriotic deployment of memory-talk, the Liberals adapted and engaged the past explicitly. Doing so allowed them to gain mnemonic legitimacy and a

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Judgment/Temporal Orientation Condemns communism Does not condemn communism

Past Patriots

Present Managers



Figure 5.1. Liberals in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.

new political identity. Thus, the cluster used the past to undermine the Patriots’ strategy to delegitimize them, and to neutralize the Managers’ attempts to paint them as inept. In their narration, the Liberals skillfully repudiated communism—thus paying the price of entry into the political field—but at the same time retrieved some of its positive aspects. This accomplished two seemingly contradictory things: the repudiation articulated the clusters’ commitment to patriotism and democracy (the posited opposites of communism); and the retrieved positives allowed them purchase on a political identity, of the so-called “left,” opposing the “right,” created discursively by lumping the Patriots and Managers together. As I will demonstrate, the “leftist” identity is the function of storytelling and not the parties’ platforms (the SLD was not the socialist it claimed as its ancestor, TR was positively business friendly, and the PZ, which was a market skeptic, was also the most junior). In their presentation of the past, the Liberals emerged as the cluster committed to Poland, democracy, and social progress. Their constitutive outside lay in the exclusionary post-Solidarity parties blended into the so-called right. The chapter unfolds as follows: in the first section I explore the parties that formed the cluster through their programs and electoral travails and I show how they presented themselves to the electorate and how they managed the political field. I identify the cluster’s main political challenge, which differed from that of transition winners: it concerned gaining access to mnemonic capital despite the “sin” of the communist past. As in the previous chapters, I give substance to the assertion I made in chapter 2, that the main parties in Poland, the parties that also condemn communism, differ programmatically to only a slight degree. In the second section I explore how the cluster’s dominant party narrated its communist past, and I show how it solved its electoral challenge. I argue that not only was the SLD’s electoral challenge different from those faced by other clusters but it was also different from that which the Liberals had faced in the immediate aftermath of 1989. In this section, I specify how the cluster turned to the past and to judgment and how it gained legitimacy and its Liberal political identity. I also identify the main mnemonic procedure of Liberal storytelling and call it instrumentalization, or objectification, of history. As the previous chapters show, I assume all narratives or memory-talk

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to be present-day oriented. The presentist orientation, however, is most often tacit. The Liberals supplemented this tacit instrumentalization by an explicit and deliberate deployment. In the final section I confront the projected self-image with the collective memory narrative to identify the emergent vision of a community. That is, I turn to the field of common belonging and trace how procedures performed for the sake of political competition interact and constrain the shape of the “we.” I find that the instrumental turn to history—a turn performed in the interest of present political payoffs—extends to presentation of heroes and stories. Both are made into props of the story, and they are narrated without regard for their identity choices or rights. As with all other clusters that condemned communism for the sake of political competition, Liberals’ collective memory narrative recycles the Jewish-communist conflation and constitutes an ascriptively ethnic nation.

The Liberal Cluster—Political Program and the Main Challenge Programmatically, the parties comprising the cluster I refer to as the Liberals agreed on wide-ranging civil rights and neutrality of the state. They shared similar visions of openness and belonging in the EU. They saw a role for the state in managing the economy and well-being of citizens, although they disagreed on the scope of the state’s responsibility. I look at each aspect in turn, after which I specify how the parties gain access to mnemonic capital—that is, how they turn to and judge the past.5 In the lead-up to the 2015 elections, the cluster’s parties were explicit in their commitment to diversity and protection of civil rights. More specifically, they advocated legal partnership for homosexual and heterosexual couples,6 they wanted to reinstate abortion and fund in vitro fertilizations,7 and they were vocal in the promotion of equality between people of different genders, sexual orientations, religions, races, and abilities. The SLD’s program promoted full equality and prevention of discrimination in state-society and employment relations. It paid extensive attention to gender discrimination and condemned religious bias in education, where it alleged that non-Catholic children had no meaningful alternative to Catholic religious instruction (SLD Program 2011: 120). TR sought to make gender equality a priority in all its social, economic, educational, and cultural policies (TR Program 2014: 70). In politics, it called for gender parity among party candidates (TR Program 2014: 69), and the PZ agreed (PZ Program 2011: 28, 39). Going further, TR proposed to change school curricula to bring a stop to reinforcing gender stereotypes (2014: 82). The PZ wanted to expand this to all equity groups (PZ Program 2011: 28). Finally, the SLD and the PZ wanted to

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implement parental leave for fathers (SLD Program 2011: 165; PZ Program 2011: 11), and the PZ wanted to teach feminism and queer theory in universities (PZ Program 2011: 29). The cluster argued strongly for the neutrality of the state, and it sought to diminish the allegedly privileged position of the Catholic Church. To that end the SLD proposed removing religious references from state symbols and practices; restraining “clericalization” of education; privatizing church finance; and decriminalizing the offense of religious feelings (SLD Program 2011: 22–24). The PZ and TR agreed (PZ Program 2011: 36–37; TR Program 2014: 26–29). The parties valued integration with the EU, both in the normative and institutional sense. The SLD’s foreign policy emphasized friendliness and openness to the world, especially to Poland’s immediate neighbors, and it pointed to its proud record: invitations to join NATO, the OECD, and the EU occurred when the SLD was in power (SLD Program 2011: 75–85). Both the SLD and TR advocated withdrawal from the British (and Polish) Protocol, which shields Poland from the requirement to harmonize its social policies with other EU members (SLD Program 2011: 108; TR Program 2014: 23). TR continued to promote Polish entry into the Euro Zone (2014: 97), and the PZ proposed the adoption of the EU climate change protocols (PZ Program 2011: 9). Economically, the cluster wanted to promote increases in growth, ensure equality both of opportunity (the SLD) and outcomes (the PZ), and improve quality of life. The SLD proposed to stimulate the existing business sector by creative use of tax breaks and public works expenditures; it also wanted to support its export industries through sound monetary policy (SLD Program 2011: 192–95). TR planned to transform the Polish economy from being attractive to foreign investment because of its cheap labor to being attractive because of its quality products; in other words, it wanted to strengthen, or help rebuild, Polish manufacturing (TR Program 2014: 48–50); the PZ sought growth through transition to the green economy (PZ Program 2011: 7–19). Each was in favor of using state instruments to intervene in the market and promote the well-being of citizens.8 The SLD, however, expressed a clear commitment to a sound fiscal policy. Indeed, it promised a balanced budget within one hundred days of election because it believed that doing so would promote growth (SLD Program 2011: 195). In a clear distinction from the other clusters, the Liberal parties were firmly turned to the present and the future. Indeed, the PZ’s program contained no references to the past; TR made them sarcastically in the preamble, when it referred to the policies of other parties (TR Program 2014: n.p.); and the SLD referred to the past in the introduction, when it drew on a long and venerable tradition of Polish and international left-leaning and socialist thought

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(SLD Program 2011: 8–11). They also did not justify their prescriptions by continual references to the past, transition, and/or communism. This present-day orientation was confirmed in my interviews: Joanna Senyszyn, EU deputy of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats at the time of our interview, saw poverty, unemployment, and exclusion as the most pressing maladies in Poland.9 Adam Zieliński, former chief justice of the Highest Administrative Court and former state’s ombudsman (nominated in 1996, when the SLD was in power), listed high levels of structural unemployment as the most pressing issue. He added that the problem was made more acute by the recent memory of a full employment economy.10 This indeed was a reference to the past, but it was a positive one. Adam Ostolski, by now the leader of the PZ, saw a lack of seriousness in public debate as Poland’s main malady. He observed “ritual chaos,” which created an appearance of strong entrenched divisions and precluded substantive debate and compromises on pressing issues of the day.11 Party programs and party elites agreed that the present brings enough challenges without having to engage the past. These programmatic and declarative commitments notwithstanding, the electoral travails of the parties and their recent strategies suggested awareness that a presentist approach in the field of political competition, structured by access to mnemonic capital, leads to electoral failure.12 This was compounded by the fact that the Liberals’ senior coalition partner—the SLD—was none other than a direct descendant of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR). I turn to explore their recent history now. The three parties in the cluster enjoyed uneven electoral success. TR started fielding candidates under the name Palikot’s Movement,13 and in the 2011 election it won an impressive forty seats in the Sejm. Due to internal splits however, in July 2015, the party had only eleven sitting deputies.14 The PZ registered as a party in 2004, and in the 2011 elections it fielded candidates on the SLD lists (PZ Website, n.d.). Only the SLD held the government and the presidency. Its post-transition beginning dates to the first PZPR successor party, the Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP), formed in January of 1990.15 Fielding candidates under the banner of a Democratic Left Alliance—then a coalition—it enjoyed a surprising and early electoral success. In 1993, just four years after losing all seats in the semi-free elections of June 1989, it won 20 percent of the vote and formed a coalition government. It solidified and increased its support in 1997 and became the official opposition. Transformed into a party called the SLD, it regained office in 2001 with an astonishing 41 percent of the popular vote (Grzymała-Busse 2002a: 160; 2002b: 23; Szczerbiak 2001: 93). The leader of the SLD at the time, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, won the Polish presidency in a runoff election in 1995 and again, in the first round, in 2000.16 His term ended in 2005.17 The SLD’s electoral fortunes plummeted and, after the party’s involvement in a corruption scandal called

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the Rywin Affair, or Rywingate, did not recover.18 The affair is seen as a key moment in recent Polish history, one that shifted, so far successfully, the balance of power toward the Managers and the Patriots (Zarycki 2009: 626). The affair concerns Lew Rywin’s attempt to extort a $17.5 million bribe from Adam Michnik in July 2002. In return for the money, Rywin, allegedly representing the prime minister’s office (held by the SLD), promised to secure the passage of legislation favoring the expansion of Agora SA, the parent company of the Electoral Gazette. Unbeknownst to Rywin, Michnik recorded the conversation and eventually made it public. A Parliamentary Committee was set up and attracted unprecedented media attention. Its hearings were public and broadcasted live. It produced two conflicting reports, and the more scathing one was adopted by Parliament. The adopted report maintained beyond a doubt that the prime minister’s office was involved in the scandal. Only Lew Rywin, however, was charged and convicted criminally (Zarycki 2009: 626–30). The affair made the SLD lose its coalition partners, become a minority government in 2003, and lose office in 2005. In the 2011 election, the SLD received 8 percent in the popular vote and won twenty-seven seats. After a reshuffling among parties in the Sejm, in July 2015, the party had thirty-three deputies.19 Given the SLD’s resources and experience, and its continued existence at the EU Parliament and the subnational level, it may be too early to predict its final demise.20 This electoral trajectory—and the skillful efforts of the Managers and the Patriots—has made the Liberal position in the political field precarious. The PZ and TR were inexperienced newcomers, and the SLD was a party both blessed and tainted by history.21 Its past gave it advantages, but it was also a liability. On one hand, the SLD had access to experiences and resources unavailable to other parties in the cluster—I call these resources cultural and material capital, referring to experience, networks, and finances (Bourdieu 1986, 1998). On the other hand, more powerful players controlled the political field, and they had access to the mnemonic capital of being “on the right side of history.” In their battles, the Patriots, who derived their identity from the total condemnation of communism and communists, relegated the SLD out of the field.22 The Managers, who distinguished themselves from the Patriots by “forgiving” the postcommunists, but also condemning communism to justify their policies, relegated the SLD to the role of ineffective and self-interested apparatchiks. This undesirable casting was only reinforced by the Rywin Affair. Furthermore, the challenges faced by the SLD in 2015 were new. Ten years of rule by the Patriots’ and the Managers’ changed the field. The price of admission and of political distinction had gone up. First, the field was by then firmly predicated on a turn to the past and condemnation of communism. In 1993, 1997, and 2001, the SLD managed to enter and dominate the field

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with a symbolic turn away from the pre-transition past and reliance on its reputation as reformers and participants of the transition (Grzymała-Busse 2002a: 105–7).23 But given the political capital expended by the Patriots since 2005, more was required: in the 2015 election, the SLD had to turn backward, and it had to convincingly renounce its past. The party leaders seemed aware of this new requirement, for they supplemented their presentist program with documents and campaigns about their history. They turned to manage the past, and to renounce it, in order to be seen as having paid the price of participation. But their renunciation was not total. Having paid the price of admission, the SLD had to ensure electoral relevance and political identity. It did this—not unlike the Managers and Patriots—by shortening the distance between its adversaries, who became discursively lumped into a “right,” and extending the distance of such a constructed whole from itself. As I will show that distance was an invention—the SLD appropriated a socialist ancestor to make itself into a party of the left, or more importantly to make the Patriots and the Managers into a “right.”24 The reassignment of political positions was accomplished by telling stories. In the process, the party managed to retrieve positive aspects of the repudiated communism, which formed the basis of their identity and their critique of the status quo. The discursive tightrope that the SLD walked involved the following: 1. A simultaneous turn to the present (to gain coalition partners) and to the past (to battle the powerful adversaries, where the battle is fought). 2. A simultaneous condemnation of communism (which ensures its share of mnemonic capital and access to the field) and retrieval of its positive aspects (which provides it with political identity). In our conversation, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the president of Poland from 1995 to 2005 and Sejm deputy before and after 1989, exemplified all aspects of the clusters’ self-understanding. He listed low voter turnout/ democratic passivity, mistrust of the state, inequality, and low social capital (inability to cooperate) as the most pressing current public maladies. He located the reasons for the maladies in Polish mythology, its bellicose culture, geography, and history. He explained that the country suffered in many wars and had been destroyed many times. This history incurred high social costs and resulted in low trust and certain defeatism. When asked about the need and effectiveness of repair of communism, he said that the transformations of the economy and of the political system had been handled very efficiently and effectively. When I asked how he judged communist Poland, he said that this had to be a very subjective process. He said that he “remembers it with great sentiment, it was a good loving family, wonderful parents, good schools.” He

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“did not remember Stalinist times and its fear” but rather “the grayness of Gomułka’s time, and then the opening and hope of Gierek.”25 He “never had any doubt that the system had to change, but the change was subject to geopolitical limitations.” In a less personal sense, the president saw communist Poland as a “unique laboratory of social realism. Always fortunately different than the USSR.” “The system of limited sovereignty, and an ailing economy, but one in which private property was preserved in the countryside. The only communist country with an autonomous church. With borders open enough so that thousands traveled. A country with access to information as all listened to Radio Free Europe.”26 The president’s narrative confirmed the presentist approach to problems, a reluctant turn to the past, repudiation of communism, and retrieval of some of its positives. His skill in weaving this difficult narrative showed how the party adapted to (a) its weakened post-Rywingate position and (b) a newly constituted field. The turn to the past ensured that the party was still a legitimate player and one with a distinct political identity. In the next section I turn my attention to deliberate procedures deployed by the party in narrating the past. Since the junior members of the cluster, who are not tainted by the original sin of communism, do not engage with the past, my attention is focused on the SLD only.

Memory as Strategy: The Liberals’ Past Narrated The Liberals faced a different electoral problem in 2015 than in 1989 and immediately thereafter. After 1989, the de facto losers of the transition—the former communist party and its partners—entered the political field and established their political identity by symbolically turning away from the past (Grzymała-Busse 2002a, 2002b). In 2015, after ten years of transitionwinners’ rule, the Liberals found themselves required to turn to the past, and they chose to reject that past. If they did not, they risked being seen as not having paid the required price of entry into the political field. If, however, they repudiated communism too forcefully—or if they did not manage to retrieve some positives in their own repudiated past—they risked not achieving their claimed political identity as the cluster of the “left.” In other words, to become the Liberals—and emerge as legitimate and distinct—the communist successor party had to gain access to and deploy some share of mnemonic capital. It did so by turning to the past, and by both rejecting and redeeming communism. In this section I show that the Liberals adapted to the new political reality and demonstrate how the SLD managed to simultaneously repudiate communism and recover some of its positives. I call the main mnemonic

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procedure used by the Liberals instrumentalization of the past. It refers to an explicitly deliberate strategy to engage with history and to use the narration for political gains. It also involves three distinct narrative techniques: (a) creative selection of historical events, which allows the creation of discursive wholes, wholes that can be judged as such; (b) appropriating and disowning ancestors, which involves drawing and rupturing linkages with former parties or iconic figures, to emphasize current political commitments; and (c) “sandwiching”—the most pervasive and innovative of the three—which involves establishing a three-part structure of every story. In this way of narrating, the middle is flanked by two contrasting extremes and thus becomes most normatively desirable. The approach was pervasive because it permeated all aspects of the Liberals’ storytelling, and it was innovative because it eschewed the binary structure of narratives used by the Patriots and the Managers. The employment of a double contrast emphasized the rationality, inevitability, and goodness of the middle ground position.27 As a result, the SLD emerged as the party of balance, social conscience, and progress, always devoted to Polish independence. Its constitutive outside lay in the party’s own (made to be very distant) past, as well as in exclusionary post-Solidarity parties, who manipulated the past for their own strategic purposes. These manipulations were meant to hide the substantive similarity of Liberals’ adversaries. In tracing the Liberals’ narrative I rely on two popular sources. My primary document is the SLD’s Historical Kit, which supplements the party’s program.28 It is organized chronologically but eschews linear storytelling in favor of encyclopedic exploration of themes. Thus the first chapter, which relates to the 2nd RP,29 opens with a theme of the Workers’ Movement, continues to the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), then Józef Piłsudski, etc.30 I use this document as it is the most explicit historical statement of the cluster, and it fulfills the condition of being a popular history narrative. I also rely on a memoir of Jerzy Urban, who was a popular PRL journalist and later a spokesman of the PZPR during the Martial Law. My choice is controversial because Urban is shunned by SLD circles. He spoke of it openly, but explained it as a necessary and strategic distance. He understood that by being the public face of the PZPR during its most contentious maneuver he embodied communist evil and could no longer be embraced (Urban 2013: 21–22).31 I chose Urban’s account because of his notoriety, his status as a party insider during post-Stalinist Poland, and because of his distance from the Managers and Patriots. Since he was born shortly before the war, his narrative becomes important in the story of the PRL proper. A striking feature of the SLD narrative—indeed, its defining procedure— is that it is a very deliberate affair. Leszek Miller, the SLD Sejm deputy and then party leader, had this to say in the introduction of the Kit:

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The politics of history is one of the tools of power. Creating a dark legend out of the old system serves to legitimize the current system. We face a paradox in recent years, in that the longer the 3rd RP lasts,32 the more resources it spends on vilifying the PRL. De-legitimating the PRL seems to be the most effective way of legitimating the 3rd RP. We reject this logic. I think that the 3rd RP has good and real accomplishments. I also think that the PRL had accomplishments. The Historical Kit of the Left brings back some balance to the debate on recent Polish history, and that is why I strongly recommend this publication. (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 2)

Bartosz Machalica—historian and consultant responsible for the SLD’s party platform—added: For over 20 years the “right” has moved methodically to appropriate the historical memory of Poles. It is, therefore, a matter of fundamental importance that the left remembers its roots and its predecessors. This publication was conceived by people who think that the left need not only apologize for its past. We have expressed enough remorse for the dark moments of our history. We have many more bright moments to be proud of, which we need to celebrate. (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 8)

The passages bespeak an explicit attention to the issue of roots and historical assessment. And they talk of remorse, but also of pride. On the one hand, they pay the toll at the gate of legitimate speech, with their repudiation of the “dark moments”; on the other hand, they challenge the imposed wholesale condemnation to carve a space for leftist “pride.” The Liberals reached even further back in time than the Patriots to begin weaving the tale of the Polish “left.” In the longest chapter of their Historical Kit (eighteen pages out of sixty-two), they claim a clear lineage with workers’ movements of the partitions era, the PPS created in 1892, and even Józef Piłsudski—a socialist (for some time), then 1918 liberator and the country’s first leader (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 13).33 Since the movement, the party, and the man symbolized the nation’s independence and progressive reform— placed in stark contrast to the “right,” who were said to have promoted collaboration with the partitioning powers (2013: 11)34—this reaching back in time allowed the cluster to signal their commitment to freedom, democracy, and socialism. The Liberal story proper began in 1918 when Poland regained its statehood. Piłsudski was the country’s liberator, but what he liberated did not remain democratic or socialist for long. On the (far) left, the Polish Communist Party (KPP) wanted to import the Soviet model of rule,35 and it supported Soviet forces in the Polish-Russian War of 1920 (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 14, 16). On the right, the 1926 Piłsudski-led coup moved to severely limit the fledgling Polish democracy. It succeeded in suspending the Parlia-

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ment in 1930 (2013: 22), arresting leftist opposition leaders and placing them in what the Kit calls concentration camps (2013: 21–23). It broke from the system of parliamentary democracy altogether in the 1935 Constitution (2013: 17). The PPS opposed the treason of communists and authoritarian appetites of the nationalists. It did so even as it was under constant attack in the increasingly undemocratic country. The differences in the three positions—far left, left, and right—were reinforced through spasmodic exploration of their policies. Communists were given the least space: they stood for the Soviet model of governance and for Soviet rule. They were said to be unpopular among workers (as opposed to the PPS), and the state made the party illegal (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 14–15). The right was given slightly more attention. At the time of the partitions, the right was said to stand for collaboration with the occupying powers. After 1918 independence, its main planks were antisemitism and the promotion of powerful interests of landowning industrialists and the church (2013: 19–21, 25). The extreme right was especially powerful and widely supported in universities and student bodies, where it promoted—and by the 1930s succeeded in implementing—quotas for minority students and segregated classrooms (2013: 20). In opposition to both, the PPS—the appropriated parent of today’s cluster—promoted a number of progressive reforms. It legalized trade unions and spearheaded workers’ education, publishing, and organizing (2013: 12, 15). It implemented the eight-hour workday (2013: 12). It granted women voting rights and promoted their reproductive rights (2013: 12, 15, 17–19). It supported peasants’ and workers’ strikes, always violently put down by the then-authoritarian state (2013: 23). The far left was presented as foreign oriented and authoritarian. The right was presented as exclusionary, elitist, racist, and uncaring. The left emerged as the only party committed to equality and democracy. The Liberals went on to describe how the country had been plagued by high poverty and illiteracy rates (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 26), poor housing stock, especially in the workers’ districts (2013: 24), and crippling unemployment—of up to 40 percent—during the Great Depression. They castigated the Polish state for being a European laggard when it came to implementing Keynesian solutions and relief for workers (2013: 25). This prehistory demonstrates all three deliberately deployed narrative procedures: the Liberals reached far back in time to claim ancestry and affinity with the socialists who stood for independence, democracy, and an interventionist state.36 They also introduced their first sandwich. The authors drew attention to a tiny KPP to demarcate an essential difference between the communists and the socialists,37 a difference that located in nothing less than a commitment to Polish independence. Such repudiation through externalization was not unlike that of the Patriots. But the Liberals also drew attention

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to the nonpatriotic, and therefore authoritarian, “right.” In doing so, they placed themselves between the “treacherous” communists and the authoritarian nationalists, and they upset the present-day veneration of the 2nd RP practiced by the Patriots and the Managers. They emerged as a party that is, and has been, for Polish freedom, democracy, and equality. The narration of this period introduces a first part of another Liberal sandwich, which they draw out later in the story. It concerns the economic and social underdevelopment of the 2nd RP. The Liberals will need this backdrop of poverty, backwardness, and repressiveness to highlight the necessary reforms of the PRL, and later the 3rd RP. I will return to it in due time. World War II, in the next chapter of the Kit, is an important, although very short, moment in the narrative. In only six pages, the SLD attempted to build a bridge between the hitherto-appropriated socialists and disowned communists. This was done by minimizing the impact of the 1939 Soviet attack and emphasizing the contribution of socialist, communist, and even Soviet forces in Polish liberation. The section began with September 1939, identifying it as a military defeat, in line with the critique of the 2nd RP, shown as insufficiently prepared for the German attack. This was an unusual way to frame the start of the war. The Patriots and Managers did not deny the 1939 campaign had been lost, but they did not emphasize it as such either. Instead, they paid attention to the attempted defense. The Liberals did not engage in such niceties. This leads me to conclude that they used this part of the story to drive home the weakness of authoritarian prewar Poland, now also appearing weak in military matters. The authors mentioned the 17 September 1939 aggression by the USSR, but they added that Polish forces were not ordered to fight the Soviets and that the Polish state was not in a state of war with the USSR (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 30). This pedantic legalism appears to minimize, or even excuse, the attack, and signals a shift of attitude toward the communists. The rest of the chapter described different underground units, and it selectively listed their numerical strengths. Thus, the uncounted Home Army (AK) and smaller leftist formations contained socialists (among others). The uncounted People’s Army (AL) and the 160,000-strong Peasants’ Battalions (BCh) included communists (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 29–31).38 No left-leaning soldiers joined the uncounted “antisemitic” National Armed Forces (NSZ), who were reported as having fought with the Nazis against the communists in one instance (2013: 29–30).39 Finally, Poland was liberated by the Red Army and Polish Forces (Berling Army), which—at 450,000 strong—was said to have been the largest Polish formation after 1939 (2013: 32). The presentation of World War II as a descriptive bridge introduces a second, slightly skewed, discursive sandwich. In this part of the story Poland is

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placed in the middle, attacked by two foes. It is later liberated by one of the foes, by then turned ally. Those within Poland who supported the winning side were still for and of Poland, and they displayed a realistic assessment of the situation. Those who remained on the margins and those who continued to fight the Soviets engaged in futile gestures like the Warsaw Uprising, which brought death to 200,000 civilians and not much else (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 31). The 1944 Uprising, like the unpreparedness of the country for the 1939 invasion, painted the anti-Soviet forces as callous and all too quick to sacrifice civilian lives. Those lives, it was suggested, would be from then on protected by the new rulers of Poland.40 The Katyń massacre was mentioned in one short and accusatory entry. It signaled the opening of a new distinct period, one in which the entirety of communist evil became concentrated in the figure of Stalin (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 32–33). As such, the entry devoted more attention to assigning blame than to reporting the murder. The narration then jumped to 2009, when the Sejm declared the killing a “war crime bearing the signs of genocide.” This item suggests that, for the SLD, Stalinism (in Poland) begins with Katyń and not with the September 1939 Soviet attack. It also suggests that Stalinism’s first “sin” lay in being anti-Polish. The authors developed the theme in the next chapter of the narrative. The story of the PRL was relatively short. It used sixteen pages out of sixty-two to cover the forty years of rule by the SLD’s predecessor party. The chapter had a seemingly chaotic structure.41 It began with a positive assessment of the period in its entirety, calling it a grand attempt to lift Poland out if its periphery status, unresolved in the 2nd RP and worsened by war. The feat was said to have been accomplished by the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), which emerged out of a merger of the PPS and the PPR—the party of the old communists reborn in the USSR. The Kit called PZPR a mass party, reporting that it had three million members in 1989 (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 36). The narrative then moved on to describe, and harshly critique, Stalinism, characterized by the cult of a despotic leader, the elimination of opposition, and total political dependence on the USSR. All three tenets were enforced and carried out by pervasive and powerful secret police. The PZPR itself condemned Stalinism in 1956 (2013: 36),42 and in doing so it ended its totalitarian reign in Poland. The year 1956 marked the beginning of authoritarian rule, characterized as a nondemocracy, but with significant and increasing openings in culture, science, and the private sphere (2013: 36–37). The Kit reinforced the point that neither the PZPR nor Poland was communist after 1956; both were socialist and the most liberal in the entire Soviet bloc (2013: 37). Jerzy Urban was very evocative in describing the opening—the thaw—of 1956. He called it a time of “feverish” activity, a virtual explosion of creativity,

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debate, and hope. He saw it as a dramatic break from the Stalinist past but not a return to the old 2nd RP model. To him, 1956 was simultaneously a break and a reform, a rupture and a continuity. The people writing for the weekly Po Prostu, a flagship of the thaw movement, sought deep democratization, both in politics and industry.43 They wanted multiparty democracy, and they wanted workers’ councils running factories. What they sought was socialist democracy. This moment of “thaw” placed Stalinism in sharp relief, making it appear as a time of freezing of social activity and closure of possibilities (Urban 2013: 86–90).44 Even though he deeply critiqued the next Polish leader, Władysław Gomułka, Urban claimed that his attempt to wrestle autonomy away from the Soviet center was a great, and now totally underappreciated, accomplishment (2013: 102, 124). After dispensing with Stalinism, the SLD’s narrative returned to the grand positives of the entire period. It listed the party’s chief preoccupation—and success—in securing Poland’s western borders (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 38). It went on to describe the PZPR’s winning campaigns against Ukrainian nationalist forces and Polish nationalist or ultranationalist cursed soldiers. The Kit called the later conflict a brutal civil war and blamed the cursed soldiers for attacking the civilian population (2013: 39–40). The story veered again, this time to agrarian reform, which collectivized large estates and parceled the land to peasants. Stalin wanted the land nationalized, but the unpopular move was abandoned after his death (2013: 40). The Kit then described the massive rebuilding efforts, industrialization, eradication of illiteracy through vast investments in education and culture, and entrenching of the rights of women (abortion, contraceptives, as well as fully paid day cares [2013: 40–45]). The relationship with the church—explored next—was said to be varied: Stalinism was the time of repression, post-1956 was marked by symbolic hostility, and the 1970s were a time of friendship and openness (2013: 46). The Kit went on to describe housing and reported that twice as many apartments were being built each year in the PRL, as there were in post-transition Poland (2013: 47). The population grew in record time, owing to the vast expenditure on healthcare (2013: 48). Rationing, used on occasion, was meant to ensure fair distribution of scarce resources. The Kit reminded readers that rationing chits for meat were demanded by Solidarity in 1980 (2013: 49). The story then moved back in time to describe the Gierek decade, so named after the first secretary of the PZPR, who came to power in 1970. Under his reign, Polish development—especially in terms of transport, health, and consumer goods production—accelerated dramatically, financed by prudent and inexpensive Western credit. The country also experienced a significant political opening. The Kit then claimed that the old debts had been paid, and that they were half the size of Polish post-1989 borrowing (2013: 49–50).

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I interrupt the flow of the Kit’s themes here to have Jerzy Urban paint his vision of the PRL’s public sphere. Contrary to the presentation of the Patriots and the Managers, he saw it as a space of freedom, contestation, and fun (Urban 2013: 111–17, 159, 162, 295). First, he dispensed with censorship—of course it existed, he conceded, but as long as one did not touch the taboo subject of the USSR, one could easily negotiate difficult topics. He claimed that an external censor and clear prohibitions were better than the present-day requirement of editorial self-censorship (2013: 118). Second, he described being often blacklisted for the ferocity of his critique. He admitted that the gag orders were a clear limit of expression and of a right to make a living, but he always worked, he claimed, as a writer, using pseudonyms. He deliberately wanted to explode the myth perpetuated by the Patriots and the Managers of the social space being sharply divided. He claimed that liberalizing reformers within the PZPR, critical journalists from the official press, and opposition leaders interacted socially and debated directions as well as means for change (2013: 166, 172). There were two paths to reform: one was to liberalize politics and the economy by working with the open reformers within the party; the other was to mobilize society through opposition. Both, he claimed, were necessary levers of history (2013: 182). The story of the PRL in the Kit finished rather quickly. It started with a paragraph on the August Agreement (the one that established Solidarity in 1980) and moved on to discuss the Martial Law, which was said to have been imposed to stop the radicalization of Solidarity and avert the threat of the USSR’s invasion. The Kit asserted that the popular assessment of the law remained ambiguous: a 2008 public opinion poll showed that 44 percent of Poles saw it as necessary, while 38 percent disagreed (SLD Historical Kit 2013, 50–1). Jerzy Urban concurred—even though he was made to be the face of evil in the present, precisely for having been the PZPR spokesman during the Martial Law, he did not feel the social opprobrium at the time. He referred to an opinion poll that showed 35 percent of the population supporting him, back then, and approving of the ruling party (Urban 2013: 16). The Kit’s narration concluded with the Round Table negotiations. The negotiations resulted from General Jaruzelski’s conciliatory policies, which sought to slowly democratize politics and reform the economy. Those policies became possible only with the change in the USSR. The story ended by blaming post-1989 neoliberal reforms for repudiating the spirit of the agreement (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 51). I replicate the Kit’s (and the SLD’s) themes and their presentation in such detail so as to illuminate the order that underlies the ostensible chaos. On the one hand, the narrative establishes three distinct periods: repudiated evil Stalinism, which is now equated with communism;45 the progressive and

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increasingly liberal rule of the party, now equated with socialism; and the prosperous and open Gierek decade. Stalin and Gierek have distinct timelines. PZPR rule is more temporally ambiguous—it begins after the war and ends in 1989. On the other hand, the pointillist presentation of themes allows for the drowning out of negative aspects with positive ones: as such, the narrative strongly repudiates communism, now coincidental with Stalinism, but manages to claim that the post-Stalinist period was a time of positive socialist reform. The PRL’s goodness resides in being a regime that worked to benefit Poland and its society: it secured its borders and protected them from violent incursions; it repudiated the ruthless leader from the USSR, who forcibly promoted a homogenized approach to economic and social progress; it devoted most of its rule to enlarging the space of autonomous Polish action; finally, it ensured a time of unprecedented growth of Polish well-being and culture. Stalinism’s, and therefore communism’s, badness lies in being foreign and hostile to Polishness: it followed the Soviet model with no regard for Polish particularity—for instance, it was openly antagonistic toward the church, and it was pushing for the collectivization of land, which was strongly opposed by Polish peasants and farmers. Furthermore, it was too reliant on violence and repression. The repudiation of Stalin’s repression is made more poignant when placed against the backdrop of the Party’s own bouts of violence—in 1956, 1968, and 1970—omitted in the Kit. Victims of the regime are listed only once, and they were the fifty-six killed during the Martial Law. The Kit lists the specific number of the dead to: (a) demonstrate government’s restraint—there were only fifty-six killed (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 51); and (b) to deflect the blame for their deaths and show the party’s prudence—after all, it is said, the Martial Law was (indirectly) caused by the radicals within Solidarity, who provoked the USSR to threaten invasion. In this skillful presentation, the dead become the sacrifice that the unwilling, but prudent, PZPR was forced to make to save Poland. The careful structuring of these periods allows the simultaneous repudiation of communism and retrieval of some of its goodness. That is to say, the story is woven in such a way as to allow the SLD to undermine the charges that its predecessor was undemocratic and economically inept. The first charge is explained away; the second is challenged. Both aims are achieved through the deployment of discursive sandwiches. The first sandwich, persisting through the PRL story, places the party between the expansionary USSR and irrational homegrown opposition. Such presentation emphasizes the real-politic savvy of the party in securing the only possible position from which to work for the benefit of Poles. Yes, the party did not seek a

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popular mandate, but such a gesture was simply not possible in the context of the anti-Russian rhetoric of the opposition and Cold War interests of the USSR. Second, the story of the PRL provides a second component of the longue durée sandwich, which began in the 2nd RP. The PRL is presented as the time in which the prewar society plagued by backwardness and poverty was lifted out its state of decline to new levels of health, education, industrialization, and consumption. The 2nd RP does even more—it provides a precedent of authoritarian rule. In this telling, the PRL is undemocratic, but so was the cherished 2nd RP, and the PRL ensured social and economic mobility of society, which the 2nd and 3rd RPs under the rule of the opposition did and do not. This final point is driven home with force in the final installment of the Kit—devoted to post-transition shock therapy—which constituted the last element of the second sandwich. The 3rd RP, before it was ruled by the SLD again, was reported as having brought 25 percent contraction of the economy, 36 percent real wages reduction, 15 percent unemployment, radical growth of inequality and poverty, and real regression on women’s rights (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 53–58). In this telling, the PRL was authoritarian out of necessity and more adept at economic management than their post-Solidarity successors. Jerzy Urban’s narration shifted some of the accents but stayed mainly within the frame. He confirmed the necessity to make communism evil by cheekily refusing to do it, in keeping with his public-contrarian profile. He explained his refusal by a lack of interest in entering the political arena. He was clear in noting that although he was often critical of the past regime, he saw it as the only possible one, and one with considerable accomplishments. Like the Kit, he was blind to some of the past regime’s nefarious moves. Unlike the Kit, he eschewed the patriotic, nationalistic even, bent of the Kit’s storytelling. I will return to the issue of omitted stories and nationalism in the final section of this chapter. To summarize, in this section I traced how the Liberal cluster constituted its mnemonic capital by turning to history and to judgment. I teased out how this mnemonic capital gave the cluster access to a particular political identity: it revealed its commitments (to present and past) and undermined the discursive moves of other clusters. I argued that the deployment of the past was instrumental—this instrumentality constitutes the cluster’s main mnemonic procedure—because it was deliberate and self-conscious. The cluster recognized the requirements of the political field and adapted. In the next section, I analyze the consequences of this move on the notions of the collective “we.” In other words, I examine how the field of politics interacts with the field of belonging and what effects it produces.

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Memory as Substance: Imagined Community Revealed In the concluding section of this chapter, I pit the Liberals’ programmatic self-presentation narrative against their instrumental collective memory narrative to identify the contours of their imagined community. That is, I engage the second conceptual field of this work and track how the narratives performed in the interests of the exigencies of political arena affect and constrain belonging. More specifically, I show that the instrumental approach to history—I called this a mnemonic procedure that animated Liberal engagement with the past—makes the Liberals objectify the heroes of their stories and, in the process, undermine their commitment to a choice-based belonging. In other words, I show that the politically motivated turn to the past constrained and narrowed, again, the imagined togetherness. All parties in the cluster made clear in their programs that they were concerned with individuals, their rights, and their well-being. As I demonstrated at the beginning of the chapter, the issue of civil rights and liberties was prominent, displaying depth of diagnosis and proposed solutions. The social and economic rights agenda was robust and comprehensive. The programs articulated policies that were friendly to small and medium-sized business, but they did not lose sight of the need for workers’ protection.46 The attention to individuals and their rights was supplemented by commitment to a protective, even if limited, state. The state was to safeguard families against poverty and protect communities from excessive disparities of wealth, but this protective stance was mitigated by the need to balance state budgets. As President Kwaśniewski explained in our interview, “It was the responsibility of the individual to grow and realize her aims. The state’s role was to prevent discrimination and to soften the most nefarious edges of market discipline.”47 All parties in the cluster were explicit in seeking to reassert the state’s neutrality and in curbing the influence of the Catholic Church on politics and policy. This reaffirmed their individualist orientation, but it also suggested a rejection of the nation understood only as a group category, or one predicated on a fused identity of a Catholic-Pole.48 The constitutive member of this community appeared to be an embedded individual, with needs, wants, and intersecting identities. He was not only a member of an abstracted category, or an identifiable group, but a human with multiple axes of identification enfolded in a cultural community. This individual was to be free from discrimination based on how he self-identified; he was to be supported in his need for employment, access to healthcare, and political participation; and he was to be part of a nation. Specifying the meaning of the term “nation,” President Kwaśniewski said that its under-

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standing was historical—it has evolved in time—but it referred to “a force that unified.” That force included “language, culture, traditions, dispositions and comprehension of the shared symbolic space. The most significant threat to this way of belonging is located in the new technologies, which made it possible for people to conduct their lives without references to nationality.”49 The principle that organized the field of belonging, as it emerged from the cluster’s programmatic statements, combined two visions: on the one hand, it invoked an open community of those who identified with it and who held this identity in addition to many others; on the other hand, it was a more narrowly understood community of ascribed characteristics. The first was based on individual choice, and it did not assume a primacy of one particular form of identification. The second eschewed choice—an outsider could learn the local language, but sharing local traditions and the intersubjective symbolic space could prove too difficult—and it seemed to invoke a vision of a group organized along one axis of identity. Indeed, the second conception of the community appeared to be threatened by the very possibility of a choice in matters of identity (I see this skepticism in President Kwaśniewski’s fear of life conducted with no reference to nationality). The Liberal belonging, it seems, could not simply be a matter of chosen identity. There was an ascriptive element in which people sharing language, culture, etc. were a community regardless of choice. The cluster expended a lot of energy in presenting itself as devoted to individual freedom. And yet the sneaked-in veneration of one axis of belonging and the skepticism about choice of identity raises doubts as to the openness of the imagined community that was being invoked. I look to the narratives of the past next to see which aspect predominated: choice or ascription. The SLD’s Historical Kit first confirmed the humanistic aspect and attention to individual well-being, and then it undermined them. For instance, the story of the 2nd RP included references to poverty and exclusion, and the narrative of World War II included a critique of the Warsaw Uprising, made from the point of view of the suffering inhabitants of Warsaw. This represented a significant difference from the Patriots’ narration. For the Patriots, the uprising was the heroic sacrifice of soldiers for the nation—a sacrifice in which both the soldier and the nation were abstracted and collective. The only suffering that entered the Patriots’ narrative was a categorical suffering of Poles as Poles. In contrast, the Liberals resurrected a concrete person, who had lost a family, a home, and the city. Furthermore, since the Liberals paid sustained attention to the rights of women and social mobility of the poor, they signaled awareness that concrete persons are variously situated, and that this affects the state’s obligation toward them.50 This vision, however, was again complicated by the most urgent preoccupation of the Historical Kit, which was to create communism as evil and to establish the SLD’s patriotic

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credentials.51 This two-pronged priority of the party’s narrative opened cracks in its humanist ideal. Or rather, it clarified that its humanism concerned one group only: the political union of situated individuals was here specified as an ethnically hierarchical one. The story of the past created a hierarchy of communal membership by weaving the narrative from the point of view of ethnic Poles. It confirmed this view by rendering the experiences (and suffering) of nonethnic Poles less important. This way of narrating the past tilted the balance toward the group-based and ascriptive aspects of belonging, over the individual and chosen ones. I say this because the people whose stories were presented as less important were Poles, but only by choice. I will demonstrate this further with two themes: the first looks at the specific presentation of minorities, the second looks at the general narration of communism as evil. Minorities, which comprised between 30 to 35 percent of Polish citizens, most of whom perished in the war as a result of killings, movement of borders, and ethnic cleansing campaigns, were mentioned all of four times.52 The first three times related to discriminatory practices and policies of the prewar “right”: The National Democracy and the National Armed Forces were said to have been antisemitic (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 19, 30), and the far-right was said to be successful in university circles where it established racial entry quotas and in-classroom segregation (2013: 20). The policies were listed in order to be condemned. However, notwithstanding the accuracy of the characterizations, one cannot escape the feeling that they were made instrumentally: the condemnation of the right’s exclusionary practice was important because it established the left’s inclusive credentials, not because it vivified the plight of the excluded. The brand, not the minority, was the point. The ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians—the fourth reference to minorities— was given in more detail. Here is the entire translated entry: The ending of World War II did not mean demobilization of Ukrainian nationalists from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The UPA was organizing attacks on the Polish civilian population west of the Bug River, and it burned cities and the countryside populated by Poles. The response—named Vistula Operation—led by the Polish People’s Army (LWP) liquidated the structures of the UPA.53 Part of the initiative involved the resettlement of the local Ukrainian population to the west and north of Poland. The fights between the UPA and the LWP were very brutal. But from the perspective of time, it is clear that liquidation of the UPA was in accordance with the Polish raison d’état. (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 39)

The entry shows how party storytellers claimed the patriotic mantle for the party’s predecessor, and how in the process they instrumentalized the people whose story they told. Here is how it was done: first, they acknowledged the

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brutality of the campaign; second, they justified it; third, they elided the issue of the suffering civilian population. The entry distinguished between armed units and local inhabitants. On the one side was the UPA, who allied with the Nazis and committed atrocities against Poles, and which was destroyed by Polish forces in a brutal fight. The brutality was regrettable—suggested the Kit—but justifiable as it saved Poland. On the other side was the civilian population, who was not said to have done anything. Its only claim to guilt was its ethnic association with the UPA. And its punishment was left rather unclear. As it happened, 480,000 Ukrainians were expelled and a further 140,000 were forcibly resettled to the newly acquired western territories in Poland. The Ukrainian families were dispersed among often-hostile Poles and prevented from consolidating into linguistic or religious communities (Porter-Szücs 2014: 198). Two harms befell the Ukrainian victims through this narrative: first, the described people were discursively isolated by the representatives of the titular majority into the status of minority-others, and they were declared not worthy of equal state protection (or rights) on the strength of the guilt by ethnic association. Second, the concrete harms against the individuals—the forcible movement, the hostility, the denial of rights to language and religion—were not explicitly condemned (as was antisemitism, however perfunctorily, above). Indeed, they were excused away by the brutality of the UPA against Poles. Indeed, the fate of Polish citizens made into inferior others appears to be the very tool with which the narrators displayed their patriotism. That this patriotism emerges as categorically hierarchical seem to matter less, as do the minorities. The premise of my work is that all narratives are at bottom instrumental, in that the past is invented for the benefit of the present. Having said this, the degree and mode of instrumentalization—or objectification—matter. Here the instrumentalization seems to go so far as to make minorities into nothing other than tokens and props of the storytelling. More specifically, the objectification made visible in the way the story is told belies the stated commitment to open and equal belonging. The self-conscious and instrumental deployment of history seems to spill over to the actual protagonists of the story, and in the process it reveals an attachment to ethnically ascriptive belonging, organized hierarchically. I impute this narrow and stratified vision to the SLD—or rather I privilege the vision of belonging as it emerges from the story of the past, rather than the present—because the party’s explicit awareness of the political nature of telling stories. The Kit’s authors knew that it involved selection and judgment and that the narratives of others had been deployed as weapons. Here again is Bartosz Machalica from the introduction to the Historical Kit: “If we assume that history is not black and white, then we wanted to add some whiteness

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to those times, which in the last 20 years were only painted in black. And to those times, which were mostly whitewashed, we wanted to add some grayness. If we felt that the grayness [of narratives] was appropriate, we refrained from making an entry” (SLD Historical Kit 2013: 9). Thus the Kit announced its counteroffensive. And because it was such a deliberate and selective tool of rebalancing, it was important to pay attention to what it said and how it said it. As shown above, I discovered that the way the party narrated the past privileged ethnic belonging and denied equal protections to those who chose to be Poles. The politically motivated and instrumental turn to memory-talk brought the Liberals close to the positions of other main parties. Having paid attention to what was said and how, I now turn to examine what the story left out. This is important, in this narrative especially, because of the stated goals of the framers. They claimed that topics that they addressed were clearly in need of correction, and topics that they omitted were clearly narrated sufficiently elsewhere. This matters in the way the SLD established the evil of communism, which was the most important aspect of the narrative. It, too, confirmed my assessment of the Kit as a tool of envisioning an ethnic and hierarchical belonging. The SLD rendered communism evil by making it inimical to Polishness— the Kit relegated the communists as pro-Soviet traitors out of the national story in the 2nd RP, and it brought them back as Stalinists in World War II. The communists-as-Stalinists helped liberate Poland, but then they imposed their own totalitarian reign of terror. The foreignness and violence were essential to the regime’s indifference and erasure of Polish particularity. This is an effective, if risky, strategy: effective, as the condemnation is forceful, and risky, as it appears quite similar to that of the Patriots.54 The Patriots also make communism anti-Polish, but they accomplish it by tying it to Jewishness. In the not-so-veiled version of the Jewish-communism myth, Stalinist terror, for the Patriots, coincided with “Jewish rule of Poland.”55 The Liberals’ Kit never makes the same claim. On the contrary, it repudiates antisemitism, as described above. But is such repudiation enough, in view of the instrumentally deliberate structure of the SLD’s narrative? Here is that structure: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Declare that they address only those issues that need correcting. Make three statements about antisemitism being reprehensible. Make communism foreign and coincidental with Stalinism. Omit the topic of Polish-Jewish relations when the other cluster’s way of relating Stalinism makes it a time of Jewish rule.

The ambiguity of this structure allows the SLD to neither confirm nor deny the racially underwritten myth and its inherent exclusion. The authors explic-

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itly decry antisemitism, but they do not correct the myth circulated by others. This would be acceptable in a narrative that did not deliberately set out to rebalance history. As it is, by not taking an explicit stance against it, the Kit’s authors imply that they agree with the veracity of the Patriots’ exclusionary fiction. Excoriation of communism as the price of political legitimacy, and deliberate deployment of memory as an instrument of political identification, lands the SLD in the narrowly defined and hierarchical understanding of belonging shared by the other clusters. The expressed ideal of inclusivity is undermined by the mode of storytelling that does little to abolish—it even resurrects— exclusions and hierarchies of other stories.56 It appears that contrary to all explicit avowals about the importance of individual personhood and the importance of choice and multiplicity of identifications, the Liberals, or more specifically the SLD, favor ascriptive, non-choice-based belonging. That is how they narrate the past. The constitutive “we” is imagined as ethnic and based on a set of ascriptive traits. Those who do not share the traits, as well as those who reject the model, are made into mere props of the storytelling and rendered less worthy of belonging than the dominant majority. One may ask if it matters in a country that has no minorities, but this question elides the problem. Poland never had minorities that it did not create as such. A Pole could have been a person residing in a certain geography, participating in its affairs, and/or self-identifying as such. The elite decision to have the “we” drawn according to ascriptive rather than political lines was simply that—a decision. It seems that the same decision is being made by the SLD (and Patriots and Managers). Put differently, by requiring access to ascriptive traits rather than common action and/or identification, Polish elites create minorities—among those who do not have access to the ascriptive criteria, or those who deny the validity of the ascriptive principle. I turn to their story in the next chapter.

Notes 1. 2. 3. 4.

Twój Ruch, Partia Zieloni. Zjednoczona Lewica; DEON.PL 2015. See National Electoral Commission (2015b). See National Electoral Commission (2014): the party has five EUMPs; and according to Election Report (2014) it got 8.7 percent of the vote in the regional parliaments. 5. The 228-page SLD program, called “Tomorrow without Worry,” is undated. It invites voters to the polling stations on 9 October 2011 (2011: 228). The 2011 election took place on that day—whereas the 2015 election happened on 25 October—I will therefore

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6. 7.


9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.



assume and reference the program as published in 2011. The 67-page TR program, called “Plan for Changes 2014–2019,” is undated and unpaginated. It is organized around 100 proposals. I will reference the program as published in 2014, and in lieu of page numbers, I will point to specifically numbered proposals. The 56-page PZ program, called “Green Tomorrow without Worry,” was published in 2011. All parties agree on this (SLD Program 2011: 24, 122; PZ Program 2011: 37; TR Program 2014: 71). The SLD refers only to its past efforts to legalize abortion (SLD Program 2011: 118); the PZ approves it up to the third month of pregnancy (PZ Program 2011: 25); and TR advocates it unequivocally (TR Program 2014: 88). Not surprisingly, all three programs were chock full of promises of increased spending on health, education, public transport, sports, culture, and public works. I list just a few examples: universal free day cares, warm meals in school for all children (PZ Program 2011: 28; TR Program 2014: 56, 81), and funded yearly preventative health checkups (PZ Program 2011: 24). All parties were concerned with the poorest and the excluded (SLD Program 2011: 101–2; PZ Program 2011: 8; TR Program 2014: 73–87), and all sought policies to reduce the Polish Gini coefficient from 0.32 to 0.30 (SLD Program 2011: 201). They were less clear about the funding of these initiatives: the SLD believed that growth would increase revenue, and all three parties wanted to reform taxation. It was to become much more progressive (according to the PZ, maximum taxation level was to be set at 40 percent—2011: 14), targeted, but also broad and effective (SLD Program 2011: 190–97; PZ Program 2011: 13–14; TR Program 2014: 58, 74, 79). Joanna Senyszyn, interview with the author, Kraków, 6 July 2013. SLD candidates to the EU Parliament sit in the Progressive Alliance. Adam Zieliński, interview with the author, Warsaw, 28 May 2013. Adam Ostolski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 January 2013. It is unclear to what degree the parties knew that, in the context of post-transition Poland, turning to the past undermines progressivism. What is clear is that they had little choice. Ruch Palikota (RP). See National Elections Commission (2011); and current Sejm Seat Distribution (2016). Socjaldemokracja Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej. As is customary, President Kwaśniewski resigned his party membership on gaining office. He ran for his successful reelection in 2000 as an independent candidate. For more, see the SdRP’s Archives (undated). Afera Rywina. National Electoral Commission report (2015a); Sejm Seat Distribution (2016). See National Electoral Commission report (2015b). For more on the SLD’s resources, see Grzymała-Busse (2002a and 2002b). The SLD faced exclusion in the Sejm even when in power. In 1993 it was able to attract one partner to its government, the Polish Agrarian Party (PSL), a pre-1989 satellite party. In 2001 it formed the government with the PSL and a small Labor Union (UP—Unia Pracy) (Grzymała-Busse 2002a). Joanna Senyszyn confirmed the SLD perception in our interview. She said that “if the right could, they would make the left illegal” (Joanna Senyszyn, interview with the author, Kraków, 6 July ). Grzymała-Busse (2002a, 2002b) explains that the regeneration of the communist successor parties after the transition depends on the party’s elite resources (portable skills and usable pasts), shaped by past party practices. She credits the SdRP (and then the SLD) with possessing highly portable skills and ability to claim a usable past as a reformer and communist-coauthor of the transition. She maintains that the SdRP could not and did

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28. 29. 30. 31.



not repudiate its past, as it was by far too soon to do this credibly. At the time, barely nine years had passed since Martial Law was imposed and Solidarity quashed (2002a: 50, 105–7). Please note that Grzymała-Busse uses the “usable past” as an existing resource. My analysis illuminates how that usable past is discursively invented, especially now when the field has changed. It bears noting that the SLD’s and the PZ’s programs were written in 2011. No new versions were available in July of 2015—the election year. I suggest that the battle for votes occurs in a historical debate, not in programmatic commitments. Władysław Gomułka and Edward Gierek were the first secretaries of the party and the Communist leaders of Poland from 1956 to 1970 and 1970 to 1980 respectively. Gierek introduced a Polish version of consumerist society through heavy Western borrowing (Mazower 1998: 367). Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. The president referred to Radio Free Europe, whose signal was routinely jammed by the authorities, without any apparent sense of irony. Either he is not remembering the jamming, or he sees it as an example of freedom because the jamming was not efficient. In this telling, the very inefficiency may now become a sign of state’s benevolence. Note that the Managers use this technique in the way they narrate the Holocaust: there, the infrequent and extraordinary helpers of Jewish victims and infrequent and also extraordinary helpers of Nazis flank the vast and indifferent—and guilty only of indifference—majority. The indifferent majority is in no way demonstrated empirically—it cannot be—but it emerges nonetheless, discursively (Korycki 2019). The document has no identified author. I will refer to it as the “Kit.” It was published in 2013. As before, 2nd RP refers to the Second Polish Republic, or prewar Poland (1918–1939). See note 32 for an explanation of the 3rd RP. Polska Partia Socjalistyczna. He also admits that he is a contrarian with a very large media presence. And he claims that he does not “perfume [him]self with Michnik,” by which he means that he does not accept the “forgiveness” bestowed by the Managers on the Liberals (Urban 2013: 22, 320). He does not apologize, and calls the imposition of the Martial Law one of General Jaruzelski’s two greatest achievements. The other was the Round Table talks (2013: 214–15). The Managers’ role in appearing to make the Liberals into legitimate political players is analyzed and alleged by the Patriots and scholarly confirmed by Zarycki (2009). The 3rd RP has two meanings: on one hand, it refers to the period after 1989; on the other, it designates a post–Round Table order as a circumscribed continuation of the PRL. Indeed, the latter understanding was imposed by the Patriots, when they denied the thoroughness of transition, which I described in chapter 3. It is also a productive invention: first, the Patriots coined the 3rd RP to deny the PRL being Polish. Now they coin the 4th RP to paint the 3rd RP as PRL-like. For more on this see Walicki (2009). All this to say that Miller’s use of the term is surprising, or even paradoxical. He writes in support of the publication, which aims to redraw the normative balance in favor of the former regime, but while doing so he employs a term that externalizes that regime. This suggests that the term has now acquired a new meaning, at once stable and polysemic. An anonymous interlocutor observed that Piłsudski—a polysemic personne de memoire— is claimed by virtually everybody. The left remembers his socialism, radicalism, and liberation; but it “amputates his authoritarianism.” The right remembers his distrust of the Russians (and communists), his militarism, and his commitment to a strong state; but it forgets his early progressive and democratic credentials (Anonymous, interview with the

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34. 35. 36.


38. 39. 40. 41. 42.

43. 44.

45. 46.

47. 48. 49. 50.

author, Warsaw, 21 May 2013). The authors of the Kit are clear in drawing a connection to the early, socialist and democratic, Piłsudski. The “right” is not specified in this part of the story, nor are readers offered examples or references. Komunistyczna Partia Polski (KPP). This is a daring move: nobody questions the PPS’s commitment to Polish democracy and independence, but the PZPR swallowed the PPS into its ranks after the war, and nobody would call this process consensual (Porter-Szücs 2014: 205–6). This appropriation of the PPS’s legacy by the party now branded as “post-communists” offended critics of the Kit the most (the second was its silence on the violence against the workers perpetrated in 1970 and 1980—I will return to this later in this chapter). All clusters critiqued the Kit: for the Patriots’ critiques, see Żaryn (2013) and Bodakowski (2013); for the Managers’ see Olczyk (2013) and Gazeta.pl (2013); for Objectors’ see Gdula (2013). The KPP had between two and seven deputies in the Sejm. They run under the banner of the Union of Proletariat of Towns and Villages, because the KPP was illegal (Trembicka 2003: 300). Armia Ludowa (AL), Bataliony Chłopskie (BCh). Narodowe Siły Zbrojne (NSZ)—they are referenced in the introduction. This too is a daring move—the uprising is the sine qua non representation of Polish heroism and a quintessential trope of the Patriots. The entries are not organized alphabetically and only very loosely chronologically. Stalinism ended in 1956, even though Stalin died in 1953. The end of the eponymous era coincides with the 1956 20th Party Congress in the USSR, where Khrushchev delivered his “secret speech” on the cult of the personality, which dethroned Stalinism (Judt 2005: 309–10). This presentation agrees with Jacek Kuroń’s recollections described in chapter 4, although Urban does not call the economic proposals market oriented. Urban sees the demonization of Stalinism as an example of present-day retroactive framing. “Stalinist repressions,” he writes, “were not a general social problem. They affected the Home Army milieu, or the armed oppositionists. They were painful for peasants who were imprisoned for weeks on charges of withholding grain. But the scale was not comparable to the purges of the USSR. There, the terror was universal, as was the fear” (Urban 2013: 83–84). He sees this time as one of segregated imagination—not unlike the war in which Jewish suffering was externalized—in which what was happening to them did not affect the mainstream us (2013: 48, 84). It is important to emphasize that according to the Kit, the PZPR had been the first to condemn Stalinism. This need not be exaggerated: all parties in the cluster argued against the so-called “junk contracts” (umowy śmieciowe), the short-term employment arrangements that have no built-in workers’ protections (SLD Program 2011: 164, 168–69; PZ Program 2011: 10–11; TR Program 2014: 65). But so did all the other clusters. And junk contracts are exceptionally brutal—to oppose them does not make one into a socialist. For more on the contracts, see note 5 in the next chapter. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. As I explained in chapters 3 and 4, both of these elements are definitional to the Patriots’ vision and are imported into the Managers’ through their conditions. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. It bears emphasizing that this is how the SLD wished to present its past. Mazurek (2010: 97–128) undermined the vision of the PZPR as the protector of the rights of women—

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53. 54.

55. 56.

she described the political economy of consumption predicated on a gendered division of labor. Women were to provide for households in the context of shortages, and they were to provide cheap labor, often in the retail sector. The relegating of provision to wifely duties trivialized them, and the actual shortages. The gendered meat seller was discursively blamed for uneven access to meat, thereby shifting attention from the structured nature of the shortages. For more on the PRL vis-à-vis progressivism and women’s rights, see the next chapter. It was also important to establish that the SLD was always for democracy, but this was not a primary aim: on the one hand, the SLD proved its democratic credentials by its demonstrable commitment to parliamentary democracy after the transition. On the other hand, the appropriation of PPS as an ancestor, without acknowledging that had PPS continued to exist it would most likely not consent to such a move, would not convince many. Porter-Szücs (2014) recreates detailed census data of the 2nd RP. Here is a snapshot: in 1921, there were 69.2 percent of self-declared Polish nationals and 63.8 percent Latin Rite Catholics in Poland. In 1931, the questions were changed, and there were 68.9 percent native Polish speakers and 64.8 percent Latin Rite Catholics; 7.8 percent of Polish citizens declared Jewish nationality in 1921, and 10.5 percent of them declared Jewish religion. The biggest group declared Ukrainian or Ruthenian nationality and Eastern Rite Catholicism: 14.3 percent and 11.2 percent respectively in 1921 (2014: 127). The languages spoken in the 2nd RP included: Polish, Ukrainian or Ruthenian, Belarusian, Yiddish, German, and Other (2014: 128). I mention this linguistic diversity in relation to President’s Kwaśniewski’s contention that a nation needs a linguistic unity. His view was shared by National Democracy, the Zionists, and the Ukrainian Nationalists in the 2nd RP. It was not shared by the Socialists (Porter-Szücs 2014: 127–28). Ludowe Wojsko Polskie. I do not want to overreach in this argument. The SLD’s leaders expend so much energy in making the PRL positive—they creatively select, they sandwich, they renounce their ancestors and claim different ones—that it seems improbable that anybody would see similarity between their narrative and that of the Patriots. And even if they did, the similarity ends in 1956. Here the Liberals introduce a temporal rupture that the Patriots do not recognize. After Stalin dies, the Liberals claim, communism and its totalitarian scourge are rejected by the PZPR, and Poland is ruled by socialists who ensure its progress and expand its autonomy. However, when one peels back the layers—as I do above—to look at how the SLD makes communism evil, the similarity to the Patriots’ externalization is striking. Chapter 3 made clear that Patriots implant the myth, and chapter 4 showed how Managers reinterpret and recycle it with the story of putative Jewish revenge. My claim is buttressed by the long list of omissions of the party’s own history with antisemitic practice: The PZPR’s deliberate use of antisemitism, its involvement in the creation of the Jewish-communist myth, its harboring of whole fractions of virulent antisemites within its flanks and giving them powerful platforms from which to launch successful racially motivated witch-hunts in 1956 and 1968 are just the most glaring examples. For more, see Gross (2007) and Porter-Szücs (2014). For a magisterial review of the party’s involvement with the Polish-Jewish issues, see Kersten (1991: 218–22 and 1992). For more on 1968, see Stola (2000).

Chapter 6


8 The Objectors’ cluster presents a distinct political option, but it has no political representation in the Sejm.1 Political parties that belong in the cluster are of newer vintage—the Together Party (R) formed in March 2015 and the Social Justice Movement (RSS) in May 2014.2 The Greens (PZ) are close in outlook to the Objectors, but since they formed an electoral coalition with the SLD and TR in 2015 they partake in the Liberal cluster’s identity and strategy. The Objectors also include loosely knit but vigorous initiatives, publishing houses, and academic departments. Examples of these include urban housing movements; Political Critique (KP), which is a publishing house and a cultural and academic institute; Le Monde Diplomatique, Lewica. pl, and No Dogma (BD), which are publications; as well as representatives of departments of the Polish Academy of Sciences—Literature and Gender Studies (IBL), Slavic Studies (IS), and Holocaust Studies (CBZŻ).3 The cluster’s parties and movements are primarily concerned with workers, tenants, and social and civil rights of the excluded. The cluster’s intellectuals offer analysis and critique of capitalism writ large, critique of the church’s penetration into the political, and critique as well as hope regarding the EU. They strongly challenge the conceptions of national-religious identity and gender roles advanced by mainstream players. The Objectors’ cluster does not condemn communism—and in this, it creates a categorical distinction between itself and all other clusters. More broadly, the cluster is unconcerned with the deployment of mnemonic capital—it is programmatically turned to the present, and when it turns to the

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Judgment/Temporal Orientation Condemn communism Does not condemn communism

Past Patriots

Present Managers



Figure 6.1. Objectors in the Political Field Divided by Mnemonic Capital.

past it does so for strategic reasons. Those reasons do not resemble the Liberals’ instrumentalism, however, as they are not used in manufacturing a political identity; rather, they have to do with an understanding that one cannot create an inclusive society if one hides skeletons of exclusion in the closets of one’s history. The Objectors’ stance differs from the Managers’ in that it does not see the past as a necessary evil to which one has to appeal in order to gain legitimacy. Rather, it sees the past as informing and illuminating the present. It differs from the Patriots in that it is explicitly concerned with the now. In the typology of positions explored in this work, the Objectors represent the final quadrant (see figure 6.1). In this chapter I proceed as I did in other chapters: I first describe the stated political commitment of the parties and social movements and show how they enter the political field. I demonstrate their attempts to carve their political identity without engaging memory-talk or deploying mnemonic capital. In the second section I trace how the cluster’s intellectuals turn to history and narrate the past. I show that they do so not to gain political identity but to analyze the productivity of the narratives woven by others. Finally, I confront the two narrations—of the present and of the past—to tease out the vision of common belonging. In doing so I show how the cluster is effectively shut out of the political conversation and how it nonetheless articulates a distinct political vision. The main goal of the political elites here is to mobilize the present-day concerns of the victims of transition and other excluded groups. The main mnemonic procedure of the intellectual elites is to puncture the narratives of other clusters and expose the exclusionary force of their discursive maneuvers. These strategic concerns interpolate a different subject—who for the Objectors is not necessarily or always a Pole—it may be an evicted tenant, one who is permanently unemployed, a woman, a sexual minority, a refugee, a member of the Left, a Varsovian. All three milieus of the cluster seek a legitimate space in the conversation of the nature of common belonging as all three embody the limit of what is legitimate. As such they organize in the name of the new undesired other. They advocate a participatory—rather than identity- or ascription-based—model of belonging.

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The Objectors’ Cluster— Political Program and the Main Challenge In this section I introduce the positions of the parties, movements, and intellectuals that formed the cluster. I devote less attention to the political parties than I did in other chapters, because the Objectors’ parties are new, their propaganda machines are not well developed, and their programs are less important for the substance of my argument. Exploring the programs of parties in other clusters served to show that even though programmatic differences across clusters were slim at best, they did manage to establish the boundary of the legitimate political field, and they did manage to create enduring and sharp political identities. In other words, they established a sticky condition of political competition by requiring ritualistic condemnation of communism; they also divided the field among themselves by weaving different narratives of communist “evil.” In doing so, they managed to delegitimize parties/movements like the Objectors without having to engage with their substantive critiques. This structural rather than substantive exclusion is indeed this cluster’s main challenge. I call the exclusion structural because the other clusters need not do anything to exclude them other than rely on memory, and yet the Objectors appear illegitimate and radical. To avoid recreating the silencing move of other clusters, I will briefly describe the parties’ platforms, if only to show that they indeed differ from other clusters in their skepticism of the market. In the words of the slogans—“Capitalism, that’s Curable,” and “Social Capital Says ‘Enough!’”— they reject a foundational belief of post-transition Poland, which makes the free market coincidental with democracy and automatically and uniformly good (Wyborcza.pl 2014). Far from venerating it, the Objectors see it as a source of inequality and eroded social solidarity. Judging from the programs produced for the 2015 election, the parties representing the cluster believe in a highly activist state responsible for equality of outcomes for all citizens. They promote social solidarity and wide-ranging redistribution of wealth. They are especially concerned with the poor and the excluded. As opposed to the Liberal parties (and even more, the Patriots and Managers), the Objectors are not friendly toward the business sector—it is to be tolerated and regulated,4 but it enjoys no privileged position. The Together Party (R) called itself social-democratic, the Social Justice Movement (RSS) called itself socialist. The Together Party divided its very short program into nine sections (R Program 2015). In “The State on the Side of Workers,” the authors promoted universal minimum wage, a thirty-five-hour workweek, and an increase of employee participation in management. They argued strongly against short-

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term flexible contracts (2015: 1).5 In “Just Taxation for All,” they promised to increase the tax-exempted amount to twelve [sic] times the social minimum, and to increase taxes progressively and steeply (2015: 2). Marcelina Zawisza, the party’s spokesperson, added during the campaign that this made them the real “left,” unlike the Liberals, whose TR party promoted a flat-line tax (Kluziński 2015).6 The third section dealt with public housing, which was to become the state’s priority. It called for investment in inexpensive rental units and cooperative living. Evictions without alternative lodgings were to be prohibited (R Program 2015: 2–3). Zawisza again added that it was the SLD who made expulsions from homes legal (Kluziński 2015). Section four related to healthcare. It promised nursing, dental, and vaccination services in schools as well as general access to contraception and decriminalization of abortion (R Program 2015: 3). Education (primary and secondary) was to be financed equally from the state’s budget, but funding for private schools and religious instruction was to be de-subsidized (2015: 4). “The End of Poland A and B” described regional and urban-rural differences in access to state resources and economic opportunities. It proposed to minimize them by decentralization of state bureaucracies and investment in rapid and comprehensive public transit (2015: 4). “Different Politics is Possible” dealt with political renewal and party financing (2015: 5).7 “A Truly Caring State” would increase access to welfare, unemployment insurance, and state pensions; it would invest in seniors’ homes; and it would provide free universal access to crèches and day cares, as well as a 480-day paternity leave divided equally between two parents. It would reduce barriers for people with disabilities (2015: 6). The final section was called “Active State, New Industry.” It called for state investment in new cooperative ventures. It made subsidies for private business conditional on decent wages and good employee treatment. It opposed trade deals between the EU and US and promised a longterm plan to move energy production away from coal (2015: 6). In a brief nod toward a foreign policy—or differentiation from the Liberals—Zawisza declared that no party of the left would allow the CIA to run its prisons on Polish territory—a policy that was implemented under the SLD’s rule (Kluziński 2015).8 It is unclear how the Social Justice Movement (RSS) differed from the Together Party (Portalsamorzadowy.pl 2014).9 The RSS was mostly concerned with growing income inequality. Despite constitutional guarantees of access to food, clothing, shelter, health, and education, Piotr Ikonowicz, the party leader, claimed they were unattainable for a shamefully large and growing number of people. Even those who had work were losing their rights, he said, for instance the right to a forty-hour workweek. He understood socialism to be the rule of the people, who decide their priorities, as opposed to capitalism in which only capital has a voice. The RSS concentrated its activities on the

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economic and social rights of citizens to ensure real equality and social solidarity (RSS n.d.). The Objectors’ parties were not nostalgic. They claimed a leftist pedigree but were otherwise unconcerned with communism. As I showed earlier, it is a particular achievement of the other clusters that a renunciation of communism is necessary and usually occurs automatically. The Objectors refuse this arbitrary requirement, not as a sign of their affinity with communism but as a sign of their presentist bent: they are concerned with the here and now, and they are interested in an egalitarian society, a society that, they believe, has been substantially eroded. The social movements of this cluster organized to promote or challenge particular (usually local) policies. Some were explicitly skeptical of party politics and state action, even though equality and the well-being of citizens were their primary concern. Below I offer an example of one such movement. It was organized to fight for communal housing and restituted properties in Warsaw—an issue that has come to symbolize the “wild privatization” and “violent capitalism” of the post-transition.10 Antoni and Marta11 lived in a squat called Syrena Wilcza Skłot, one of the first and best-known squats in Warsaw. Syrena occupied a four-story historical tenement building, which was returned to the owner and sold to a developer. Marta and Antoni told me that the new owner first evicted all the tenants, then had the building declared unfit. When he learned that it was designated “heritage,” which prevented him from demolishing it, he left the building exposed to the elements to speed up its ruin. Then Syrena took over. It ran farmers markets, bike repair and sewing classes, and a legal clinic. It housed between twenty-five and thirty people at any given time.12 During two of my visits, the poached electricity worked; during another, it did not. There was never heat. The Syrena was a serious interlocutor in municipal debates on housing (Agora.pl 2012; Pacewicz 2012) and a victim of attacks from nationalist groups.13 It was by no means a youth-only movement. Many tenants came to the legal clinic, and some elderly lived in the squat. Marta and Antoni, in our interview, spoke of violent capitalism in Warsaw’s real estate market; they also spoke of the city’s stifled democracy. “After the murder of Jola Brzeska, a founder of one of the first tenant associations in Warsaw, we realized that we couldn’t prevent this worst type of attack. We demonstrated before Praga’s city hall, and the old people—the most radical of all—cried, ‘Let’s exchange the canes for crowbars.’14 Direct action, rather than symbolic demonstrations, was needed. So we did it. We exchanged canes for crowbars, and we entered [as in, took over] apartments and buildings.” Antoni went on to talk about larger issues of democracy. He referred to an anti–Iraq War demonstration in London, which boasted a million participants. After the demonstration, “[George] Bush said that it was

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precisely why he was waging the war—so that people in Iraq could demonstrate.”15 For Antoni this reflected the essence of current democracy—let people demonstrate in order to ignore what they demonstrate about. Antoni and Marta recalled that their first conversation with the City followed a major eviction, which Syrena had blocked. The City decided that the publicized protest marred its image—it was the “photogenic” youth who demonstrated—so it invited the protesters to discuss the particular building. The City offered to give the protesters a different one, for cultural activities. Syrena activists wanted to talk about a systemic solution to the housing problem and found that they were being made into “cool kids playing hippies” (this, right after they had been beaten by the police). “Isolate, force into a niche, contain—this was the City’s strategy,” says Marta. But the strategy backfired: the groups united and pushed for a serious conversation with the deputy mayor. “The only result is that we get real data from the City. But no good will. It’s a pantomime. . . . We are not equal partners. The City has the information, the time, the resources; and we live with no heat, organize selfhelp for helpless people, and are beaten by the police on a regular basis. And we are labeled radical, demanding, capricious, and ungrateful for rejecting ‘fair’ offers. We use ‘violence’ because we enter and occupy apartments—but if this is violence, then we have been brought up in the structural violence of capitalism. . . . What’s important is that we do not come to the table empty-handed. We have solutions, examples, data . . . tenants and old heirs have similar issues and interests. Instead of a strategy, however, we get national fetes: three and a half million PLN for a New Year’s bash, eleven million PLN for the multimedia park of fountains. . . .We have three stadiums but not enough living spaces. It’s social Darwinism. The ones who do not quite make it are to disappear from view; but they have to exist for capitalism to work. They are indeed created. Created as necessary, unsuitable, and degraded. If they were not degraded, they could not be bought for almost nothing. The only way to not give in is to refuse totally. If one person enters a flat, it’s a crime; if one hundred do, it’s a political act; if a thousand . . . maybe a revolution?”16 Piotr Ciszewski from the Leftist Alternative and the Warsaw Tenants’ Association17 confirmed much of what Marta and Antoni had sad. Prodded by me, he explicitly refused any engagement with the past. He claimed that “we are not zombies,” and that the association with the old is of no interest to him. “People now, their problems now—that’s what matters.”18 Much like the political parties, the city movements do not engage the past or condemn communism, but they try to articulate and organize the frustrations of the newly made poor and excluded. They seem aware, more so than the political parties of the cluster, of the active moves to have them appear illegitimate: their concerns are made to be either trivial or radical, either not

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serious or dangerous.19 Both moves bar effective participation in the communal conversation, even as they preserve an appearance that such a conversation is taking place. The last group of this cluster compromises academics, scholars, and public intellectuals. When asked about the pressing issues of political life, Katarzyna Chmielewska, a literary scholar from IBL, listed “hidden and pervasive classism: hidden and totally transparent.”20 She referred to “the totally unquestioned acceptance of stratification, perceived as natural; and its concomitant contempt for those who are poor, who did not make it, who are of lower class.” “All conversations about public space,” she claimed, “are conducted through the metaphor of a budget (and its automatic rejoinder, ‘We cannot afford this’).”21 Tomasz Żukowski, also a literary scholar from IBL, echoed these sentiments and said that the egalitarian politics of the PRL were long forgotten. He said, “Those who made it renounced solidarity with those who did not.” He gave an example of abortion, which is now available only to those who can afford private or foreign solutions.22 Others listed concerns over stratification, as well as silencing of minority cultures (cultural, sexual, but also ethnic and regional);23 others still talked of narrowing of options: one had to own, rent was unfashionable, and a living space was no longer a right;24 one was also discouraged from thinking communally.25 Still others talked of living in fear of the arbitrariness of the market with no effective recourse in law.26 As the sentiments paraphrased above demonstrate, the intellectuals are concerned with the present. They engage the past, however, both strategically and substantively. First, they expose, analyze, and critique its deployment and use by the other clusters. Second, they expose its exclusionary symbolic potential. I will explore both moves in the sections to come—here I briefly explain how academics diagnosed the situation. Anna Zawadzka, a sociologist from IS, studied the deployment of anti-communism (2009, 2013). In our conversation she explained its effects: “Anything new is translated into the language of the old battles, which disarm and annihilate its transformative potential.”27 She went on to say that public conversation was guarded by anti-communism: all had to invoke it, and if anyone strayed outside of the prescribed script, one was automatically branded a communist, and therefore undesirable or irrational.28 This had existential as well as political effects. “You can make claims as a victim of communism, but you cannot make claims as the victim of the transformation.” In other words, if one had no historically (therefore morally) inflected narrative, one had no voice and no legitimate claims. This worked because anticommunism justified the present and hid the costs of transition. What was more, those who rejected the silencing were branded radical. She described the process by which the critic of the post-transition order was made to be

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feared and rejected: “A rabid nationalist is invited to speak on a television program, and he is paired with the person from the so-called left. Often center-left [i.e., the Objector]. The setting creates an illusion of a balance of dangers between two equal and opposing sides.” Zawadzka said that she stopped giving interviews, as she did not wish to legitimate this charade of a public debate.29 Elżbieta Janicka, a literary scholar from IS, confirmed the power of the anti-communist paradigm and the radicalizing moves deployed in public debates. She talked of their justificatory and silencing potential. She also agreed that the imagined ‘left’ was invoked as a boogeyman. She added, “The most real, measurable, legitimate, and important threat to democracy and emancipation is precisely the silencing center, which tries to keep itself equidistant from the imagined extreme of the left and the real threat of the growing right.”30 The activists and intellectuals claimed that the operation of anti-communism—a process that I call the deployment of mnemonic capital—marked a field of symbolic violence rather than conflict (they used the Bourdieusian term for internalized structure of domination [Bourdieu 2001, 2011]). They denied substantive differences between the mainstream clusters, as each— by being unreflexively anti-communist—was complicit in the foreclosure of progressive politics.31 Their metaphors for the use of the past by others included: “past is a strategy to make enemies—there is no real distinction in visions”;32 “legitimation of transition; creation of ‘backward’ people; a catholic-national prosthesis for the absence of social solidarity”;33 “canonical, apologetic grounding of identity devoid of any critical potential”; and later, “a gag.”34 “It is a decalogue,” said Zawadzka. “Either you speak according to its rules and confirm its meanings, or you are silent and invisible.”35 In the Objectors’ telling, the Patriots, the Managers, and the Liberals narrate communism as evil, and in doing so they justify the transition and hide its costs. The taken-for-granted quality of communist condemnation creates a discursive binary: all those against communism are for transition (and for democracy/market); and all those who critique transition are for communism (and against democracy/market). This binary is spacious enough to admit the far-right detractors of the transition, as their critique is made in the name of further de-communization, but it has no room for those who reject anti-communism as justificatory of a post-transition state. Anti-communism, therefore, delegitimates the critics—the Objectors—by making them into the constitutive others of the post-transition order. The Objectors respond to the silencing power of mnemonic capital by engaging it, not for the purpose of creating their political identity but in order to puncture the existing heroic and national-only narratives. Here is Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, an anthropologist from IS, opening her latest edited volume:

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I imagined this project as a way of getting closer to Polish identity through essays about dreams, hopes and losses, of Poland unknown, unreal, ideal, lost, impossible, or simply undiscovered and looking for expression. I got 15 unsentimental texts. I think they are important. They trace an emergent identity, emergent in the country without Jews, without colonizers,36 but in touch with reality. The authors tackle Polish problems . . . Concretely. Quantitatively. Without qualifications. Their knowledge is not different from that of their predecessors. . . . But the stuff of identity is not knowledge. Agreement is. If I were to bind these texts with one word, I would call it refusal. (2013: 8)

Memory as Strategy: Objectors’ Past Retrieved In the last section, I showed how the Objectors were oriented to the present and how they were not automatically anti-communist. I also showed how they were shut out from the political field, precisely by not paying the price of entry, which requires a deployment of mnemonic capital. In this section, I explore how the Objectors nonetheless engage and narrate the past. This ostensible paradox concerns their recognition of the symbolic currency of Polish political conversation, which locates in memory. In the words of Michał Kozłowski, “There is really nothing wrong with forgetting. . . . There is nothing wrong with living for the future. But Polish national identity . . . does not quite forget. It fights with memory, as it manipulates it” (Datner et al. 2012: n.p., emphasis added).37 In order to engage this political debate, or more specifically in order to expose how it is structured and constrained by its mnemonic bent, they use the past strategically and enter the fray. They enter the fray in a very conscious and limited way. They make a concession by turning to the past, but they do not go further. Unlike the Patriots, they do not do this as a sign of political identity. Unlike the Managers, they do not do this in order to justify their political programs. And unlike the Liberals, they do not see the past as an instrument. Unlike all other clusters, they do not deploy mnemonic capital as means of gaining identity. Like the Liberals, the Objectors see memory as political, and they expose its use to enlarge the scope of the political conversation. When they analyze the field of politics, they refer to it as exposure of anti-communist paradigm. The Objectors claimed that anti-communism was a broad European (if not capitalist) project (Charkiewicz 2007: Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010: 15). They understood it as a discursive process, which created equivalence between communism and Nazism (Janicka 2011; Rév 2005; Zawadzka 2009, 2013).38 The equalizing was done by rendering both systems totalitarian and murderous and allowing only one moral response: an unambiguous, and automatic, opprobrium. Objectors saw this project as dangerous and exclusionary in

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two ways. First, making communism appear as bad as Nazism undermined democracy by foreclosing left-sided critiques of the market. Egalitarian alternatives acquired totalitarian airs by symbolic association with a murderous totalitarian regime and were rendered illegitimate. Exclusions here concerned democracy and the availability of non-market-centric solutions to market problems. Second, the process of making communism equal to Nazism revealed an exclusionary communitarian stake of memory-talk. Weaving stories about communist badness meant rendering the suffering of the victims of communism equal to Jewish suffering at the hands of Nazism (the degree to which this was deliberate varied, but all instances had this effect). This served to excuse local violence perpetrated against the Jews—as I have shown in previous chapters—and it elevated a national story, now understood in ascriptive, if not racist, terms. More generally, the maneuver undermined the Holocaust, and it occluded its categorical and racial aspect. In so doing it made the categorical and racial imaginaries possible and legitimate. The main mnemonic procedure that the Objectors employed against anti-communism is what I call a puncture. Punctures presuppose analysis of the narratives of other parties, and exposure of their mythical—and discursively productive—qualities. I will examine how this is done below. Punctures also involve retrievals of the hidden, or erased, stories and analysis of the productivity of those erasures. I will turn to this aspect, in the next section. In both cases, the punctures transform the invisible into the visible. In my presentation of how the Objectors narrate communist Poland, I use two brief examples—the economy and women’s rights—which I take from an edited volume called PRL bez uprzedzeń (PRL with no Biases; Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010). The volume is not quite a popular history narrative, but it best exemplifies the Objectors’ strategic turn to history. The topics are presented in a way that (a) retrieves positive aspects of the communist handling of the economy and gender issues—this exposes important holes in the narration of the Managers—and (b) places it in comparative European context, which shows that communism was often conservative in scope—this exposes the Liberals’ tale, which looks to the past for some model of social inclusion. The editors—Majmurek and Szumlewicz—introduced the volume by claiming that the PRL existed in post-transition Poland as a potent symbolic trope. It worked as a useful object of demonization, which served to justify the present regime. The “right” managed the memory cleverly, they claimed, in that it defended radically neoliberal solutions by fostering fears of the “totalitarian” PRL. In doing so, the people who advocated division of church and state, and/or supported state interventions, became as if Stalinists. This closed debates before they even opened. And it explained why the two main political parties (the Patriots and the Managers) were very similar in their dislike of the PRL (Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010: 7).

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Majmurek and Szumlewicz wanted to resurrect left-leaning critique without venerating the PRL—to this end they aimed to expose the myths woven about it in the present, and they wanted to resist creating new ones. They said, “The PRL was far removed from our ideals of a left-leaning state. Political repressions and the absence of democracy are the clearest examples here. What is more, the party elites did not espouse the civil and social attitudes that were the domain of the left since the 1960s: even if they seem progressive now, when compared with policies implemented after 1989, they were often less than progressive when compared with those realized in social-democratic Western Europe. One cannot use the PRL as inspiration or solution to current problems. But one needs to resist the creation of black holes, used only in the interests of current politics” (Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010: 14–15). Puncture, therefore, worked in two directions: one needed to show the PRL’s positives in order to make visible the regressive moves of post-transition parties, but one needed not overestimate those positives into normative ideals. The first aspect of the past addressed by the authors of the volume concerned what they called a myth of communist economic irrationality. Majmurek used Wallerstein’s World System theory to puncture the notion that had Poland not been placed in the Soviet bloc at Yalta it would have eventually—with the aid of the Marshall Plan—enjoyed the same economic position as other Western nations. In this telling—here challenged—capitalism had always been an ideational norm in Poland; a norm to which Poland returned in 1989 after a period of harmful deviation. To set the context, Majmurek claimed that Poland occupied a peripheral status in the world economy from the sixteenth century to well past 1945. The indicators of that status included deep inequality, cheap labor economy, monocropping, and dependency on foreign capital. Those indicators were unchanged before and during the partitions, and they remained unaltered during the 2nd RP. The prewar economy of Poland was mainly agrarian, with entrenched feudal legacies, heavily dependent on foreign capital, and backward (Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010: 72). In 1945, destruction brought by war, but also a lengthy previous periphery status, separated Poland from the rest of Europe. There was little to suggest, Majmurek claimed, that the periphery status would have been overcome had Poland remained in the capitalist world post-1945 (Majmurek and Szumlewicz 2010: 73). Ciborowski and Konat filled in the details about the Polish economy before and after World War II. They claimed that in the 2nd RP, 70 percent of the population lived and worked in the countryside, and agrarian production represented 68 percent of Polish GNP. This was complicated by a severe overpopulation of the rural areas, where 4.5 million people were deemed “unnecessary” (there were no employment opportunities for them, and yet

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they remained), and by an inefficient structure of land ownership: 0.5 percent of farms were larger than 50 hectares (123 acres) and 4.5 percent were larger than 15 hectares (37 acres). The vast majority were small family holdings (Ciborowski and Konat 2010: 19) where electricity was unheard of (2010: 20) and extreme poverty and hunger were normal. Food was rationed from 1917, and the daily personal portion stipulated 120 grams of flour and 200 grams of potatoes. Meat was allocated at 50–70 grams per week. The portions improved during the 2nd RP but remained low. In the 1930s the daily caloric intake in the countryside was 1,660 kilocalories (a healthy level is reported as 2,300 for a sedentary worker and 4,000 for a physical laborer; 2010: 21). Average per capita income was $95 (it was $857 in the United States at the time), and inequality was high: the average landowner spent 10,204 PLN on consumption yearly, while the average peasant spent 158 PLN (2010: 22). Unemployment was also high—a recorded half a million people had no jobs in the 1930s, though this number is unreliable, as it does not include the rural poor. Illiteracy was well above levels in protestant Europe, which instituted mandatory primary education at the end of the nineteenth century. In Poland in 1931, 23 percent of people older than ten could not read. In some areas of the countryside this rate was up to 48 percent of men and 70 percent of women (2010: 24). This dire image was made worse by the scale of wartime destruction: total losses represented 38 percent of material stock (in heavily damaged Germany, it was only a few percent), and the total number of dead stood at 6 million (2010: 25–26).39 Majmurek’s longue durée analysis and Ciborowski and Konat’s incessant piling of details were clear attempts to make visible and to dislodge (puncture) the idealized vision of the capitalism of the 2nd RP, which the PRL supposedly disrupted and/or destroyed, to the detriment of its population. Having set the stage, they then moved on to describe the PRL itself. Their narration upset the prevailing notions of irrationality and ineffectiveness. When the PZPR (the Polish United Workers’ Party solidified its rule, it moved aggressively on two fronts: agriculture and industry. The first privileged individual farmers who received the lands seized from landowners’ holdings (this trend was interrupted between 1948 and 1956, when the state tried to collectivize agricultural production, but the attempts failed and were abandoned). As a result, in 1950, 81.3 percent of arable land was in peasants’ hands, with most farms having grown to 5–50 hectares (Ciborowski and Konat 2010: 27–28). Their productive capacity grew by 4.4 times (2010: 30). This mattered to the authors, as it indicated a vast improvement in the quality of life in the countryside and beyond. Second, the state moved to rebuild the country, urbanize, and industrialize. The party nationalized the industrial holdings. (This was less painful than is now suggested—much of prewar industry was state owned, and much had

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no owners, as they were either killed in the war—Jews—or were expelled postwar—Germans. Many of the remaining owners were not keen to reclaim their property, fearing communist reprisals; Ciborowski and Konat 2010: 31–32.) It then followed with massive investments in home industries. The policy had an explicit goal of reducing the distance between Poland and the West. Here are some indicators: the average yearly rates of growth were 23 percent between 1947 and 1949; 6.8 percent between 1950 and 1970; and 9.7 percent between 1970 and 1975 (all of which, the authors claim, were higher than post-1989 rates; 2010: 45);40 put in different terms, the productive capacity of the economy grew thirty-eight times during the PRL’s forty years (2010: 32). More important, from the point of view of human life, the PRL eradicated hunger and poverty. It produced stable employment, and since it suffered from endemic labor shortages, it enjoyed limited competition for workers, which gave the said workers fledgling bargaining power. Further, it introduced free (including postsecondary) education, eradicated illiteracy, and provided access to healthcare and state-funded leisure. And it accomplished all these things in the context of the never-mentioned demographic explosion—Poland’s yearly rates of population increase equaled 1 percent (2010: 33) and were much higher than average growth rates in the West. This increased pressures on education, healthcare, and employment. Critics charge that growth in the West was accomplished through productivity gains, while in Poland it was managed by growth of (ineffective) employment. Ciborowski and Konat countered that Poland faced and managed a different problem: Western Europe had few workers to accommodate, it therefore had to grow its productivity; the PRL had many workers to accommodate, it therefore increased its employment rates (2010: 34). This was not irrational. What Ciborowski and Konat described in detail Majmurek called an unprecedented, in Polish history, state-led attempt to overcome Poland’s peripheral status. All such attempts shared similar features, regardless of the regime that spearheaded them. They involved rapid state building, prioritization of state-led industrialization, orientation of economic production toward internal consumption, protectionism of domestic markets, and urbanization (Majmurek 2010: 75). All three authors agreed that the PRL attempted all these, with one exception—its economy was tied to the USSR’s, which meant it was less responsive to local needs. Ciborowski and Konat blamed this dependence for the frequent (cyclical) shortages of consumer goods (Ciborowski and Konat 2010: 42–43). Majmurek was more ambivalent: on the one hand, he claimed that the world hegemon—the United States—had granted the Soviet bloc a reprieve in Yalta, a reprieve in which to shield its markets from the global system and modernize its economies. On the other hand, the reprieve ended with the 1970 world economic crisis. The crisis resulted in the retrenchment and eventual death of the welfare state, first in

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the West and then in the East (Majmurek 2010: 80–83 on the double-sided retrenchment; see also Judt 2005). Majmurek went on to claim that the PRL’s economic polices were (a) not irrational and (b) not communist.41 The modernization moves made by the PRL were positive from a conservative point of view, but not a progressive one. They modernized the economy but did not do so under the banner of democracy or worker councils. Party bureaucracy was the subject of modernization, and society was its object. This, to him, was not socialist (Majmurek 2010: 87). He concluded, “All those who praise the economic transformation after 1989 as a ‘return to normalcy’ need to formulate their judgments carefully, because the norm for Poland up to 1945 was the status of the periphery in the world system. Capitalism recreated in Poland [after 1989] has all the hallmarks of dependent capital: inequality of social and economic status, oligarchy, domestic economy not primarily directed at satisfaction of local needs, foreign capital penetration” (2010: 85). He showed how demonization of the PRL and veneration of prewar capitalism served to limit the conversation about the state’s current obligation to citizens. Szumlewicz picked up this thread as he examined the PRL’s regime of social rights. He, too, claimed that the PRL was not a socialist or a communist state. He saw it as Christian-democratic-socialist, and socialist only insofar as it called itself so. He confirmed that the PRL had real accomplishments but charged that it was a regime of limited rights. Political rights were nonexistent, and social rights were shallower and more insecure than in countries of Western Europe at the time, and in the present. His aim in making these claims was to attack (puncture) the current myths of the PRL’s irrationality and its profligate spending on frivolous rights—both moves justified neoliberal retrenchment in the present and had little to do with analytically sound assessment of the past. Szumlewicz demonstrated that the PRL spearheaded an extensive growth of the role of the state, and a state normatively oriented toward egalitarian outcomes (Szumlewicz 2010: 53; Judt 2005). The objects of the state’s intervention, however, were not individual subjects but collective “people,” or “society.” This meant that rights attached to those who participated in the community through employment. Work gave one access to housing, organized leisure, and even healthcare (each provided by industrial sectors or even plants). Childcare was often run as part of factories and offices as well. Thus, rights rested on the assumption of stable jobs, which most people had, and on the state’s responsibility for service provision. Szumlewicz claimed that the PZPR promised more than it could deliver, but rhetoric led practice (Szumlewicz 2010: 54). This provided a stark contrast to present regimes, where the state existed to smooth the operation of private business but did little for the poor or the unemployed. Szumlewicz claimed that both were

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political decisions, rather than natural facts, with implications for citizens’ lives. The PRL model of service provision, superior in many regards to the present one in the Objectors’ telling, had its problems. It looked extensive, but it was not. First, the services were of low standard (funded through lower rates of state expenditures than in Western Europe; Szumlewicz 2010: 57). Second, entitlements were mediated by employment. Universal social rights flowing from shared citizenship did not exist, except in education. And all those who did not work found their access to services severely limited, which of course disadvantaged women, whose employment rates were higher than posttransition but lower than men’s in the PRL’s time (Szumlewicz 2010: 55). Hence the “Christian-Democratic” model of the patriarchal family, headed by an employed father, who secured services by virtue of his employment, was actively supported by the putatively communist state. The example of women’s rights was illuminating, especially in view of the way it was being reported by present-day feminists. Trawińska reported that post-transition feminists saw the PRL as propagating emancipation but delivering double subjugation (Trawińska 2010: 192). They pointed out, she claimed, that not much of what was done for women aimed to make them into subjects. It was a patriarchal and unequal system (2010: 189). While this was not incorrect, said Trawińska (and Szumlewicz 2010: 55), it was also not a full picture. Mainstream current feminists forget, she charged, the nascent feminist movements in the PRL (which fought hard for reproductive rights, for instance [Trawińska 2010: 188]); they forget about access to services, like abortion, day cares, and dinners available at schools and workplaces (which made women’s lives easier and which are not available now [2010: 189–91]); and they forget about the patriarchy of Solidarity and the opposition movements (2010: 192–95). In doing so, she claimed, they demobilized the critical potential of analysis of the PRL, in which one would have to acknowledge the faults—which were many—but also the benefits. This dual process would make visible what present-day feminists obscure, that women’s rights, as imperfect as they were, suffered a retrenchment after the transition (Szumlewicz 2010: 55; Trawińska 2010: 196).42 All authors quoted above narrated the past in a consciously strategic way by puncturing the existing narratives woven by other clusters. The structure of the Objectors’ narratives involved the identification of a particular myth propagated by the others: “The PRL was economically irrational”; “The PRL was a deviation in Poland’s road to modernity”; “The PRL was a patronizing spendthrift”; but also, paradoxically, “It provided unwanted and unnecessary services.” Each was then punctured by being placed in a spatial or temporal comparative perspective. The authors concluded by making visible how each myth produced justifying effects for the regime deploying the myth, which

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made the regime appear normal and automatically desirable without having its normative basis articulated and defended. Objectors did not venerate communism. Instead, they used the narration of its past to make visible the myths woven about it now, and to specify how these myths work to occlude present-day reversals in rights and services. More broadly, they showed how vilification of communism served to limit the current democratic debates about the extent of social rights and the state’s obligations toward citizens.

Memory as Substance: Open Belonging Having examined how the Objectors engage the field of politics, I now move to examine the field of belonging, or more specifically, the ideal community emergent from the Objectors’ programs and narratives. My task here is simpler than in preceding chapters because the Objectors understand that memory is a political project; they critique its use by others, and they engage it only in order to expose—and thus puncture—the exclusionary visions of belonging that they identify in the narratives of the other clusters. In other words, there is little to confront here, because the Objectors do memory as politics—if one can call it that—in order to challenge closed and exclusive visions of common belonging emergent in the public sphere. The point of their exercise is to open public space and critique its exclusions, be they economic or political. In the previous section, I alluded to the fact that for the Objectors, the deployment of mnemonic capital in general, and of anti-communism in particular, had two stakes: one disqualified egalitarian solutions to the market problem, the other snuck in essentialized, if not racial, notions of belonging. These notions ended up closing the nation into its ethnic (in Poland fused with religious) component. The nation stopped being political and became as if biological. In the previous chapters I demonstrated how the closing of the communal boundary worked in (and through) the narratives of the other clusters; here I give voice to the Objectors, who (a) eschew appeals to nationhood, (b) recover stories of those who are silenced and erased by others, and (c) analyze how the silencing and erasures are actually done. I now therefore identify the second aim of the historical punctures, which is to retrieve stories of the forgotten and to show that the forgetting is an active and political project. Just as the first puncture was meant to open the scope of political conversation, so this second, substantive puncture aims to open the concept of the nation. Before describing the puncture, I will devote some time to the Objectors’ stated vision of belonging. I will show that their self-presentation and their

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historical myth-busting narratives demonstrate a commitment to participatory belonging. I would go even further and claim that they are hesitant to talk of belonging, being fearful that the term is predicated on a notion of fixity, boundary, and therefore exclusion (Brubaker 2015; Eyoh 1998; Martin 1995; Nedelsky 2011). They see community as a fluid, contingent, postcategorical project in which solidarity is created by common effort. I will then show how they actively reject ascriptive and self-identificatory notions of the “we” in the way they puncture the ethnocentric narrations of the mainstream. The Objectors’ parties, activists, and intellectuals were concerned with poverty, inequality, and exclusion (both economic and political). This preoccupation emerged forcefully from party platforms, interviews, and texts. Furthermore, they spoke in the name of, and mobilized, the victims of the transition—people actively forgotten by market capitalism and the retrenching state, or, as I will show, people actively forgotten by elites weaving an ethnically inflected national story. They aimed to reclaim the space of social solidarity, which they saw as eroded by aggressive individualism and nationalism, of the mainstream parties. The social solidarity that they sought rested on a vision of the situated social being. The Objectors were attentive to individual needs and understood that they were socially produced and met. The constitutive unit of their imaginary, therefore, was not reduced to a family, or a nation, but consisted in an open community of persons, or subjects, realized by participation in common projects. The project was not primarily concerned with the perpetuation of the group but with the well-being of its members, or subjects. Groups were seen as important, but secondary, to people’s well-being; indeed, collective solutions were considered the best, precisely when they served the needs of individuals. Strategically, collective action created solidarities and provided the basis for exerting emancipatory pressure; substantively, collective solutions brought about a caring community where needs, rather than contributions, determined the level of collective obligation. Communities and persons were not abstracted or categorically derived. The Objectors envisioned (and ran) a space where a sexual minority youth, an impoverished senior, a refugee family, and a lawyer about to run a legal clinic shared a communally prepared meal, only to move to a meeting devoted to housing issues and ways of helping neighbors facing evictions. They assumed multiple and intersecting identities and rejected ascriptive notions of belonging. In fact, the most striking aspect of their self-presentation was the resounding absence of nation-talk. They spoke of tenants, the elderly, women, farmers, Varsovians, leftists. “Poles” as a category did not make an appearance. The absence of the categorical Pole was as freeing as his presence in the mainstream discourse was pervasive and stifling. Here is Zawadzka in a telling example. In our interview I pressed her to identify moments of

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significant post-transition change. She said that thirteen years ago, feminism was an aberration. She was “crazy,” “ugly,” “sexually unfulfilled,” “lesbo.” These names were uttered freely in public media, “but they are unsayable now. In the space of thirteen years, feminists became legitimate interlocutors in most mainstream media, and this space of hate speech has shrunk.” But, she cautioned, there was a price, and that price involved folding feminism into patriotic or nation-centric debate. She explained: “Fighting patriarchy became acceptable because it concerned a Polish common good. But, if I were to say that I considered gender to be primary to Polishness, I would lose all legitimacy as a public speaker. Primacy of gender over nationality is not only unsayable, it’s unthinkable.”43 The Objectors were critical of markets and saw them as creating alienated and disposable people. They deplored the poverty and exclusion, but they also deplored the destruction of social bonds. They felt stifled by the presence of new docile subjects, who accepted the economization of life and narrowing of options, hidden under the regime of supposedly “unlimited choice.”44 Their approach to the state was conflicted. Politicians understandably saw the state in the most hopeful light—they wanted to use it to regulate the market, guarantee access to services, and distribute communal wealth. Activists, again unsurprisingly, were the most critical—being the victims of state violence, or at best its indifference, they were resolutely committed to bottom-up organizing and local direct action. Intellectuals occupied a middle ground—they understood identity as constructed, and they understood the state’s implication in the process of that construction—they were therefore critical of the status quo, but they were also, at some level, hopeful that, if their punctures worked, the state could be made to inculcate more open imaginaries of belonging. The way that the Objectors narrated the past affirmed their vision of belonging. First, they critiqued the PRL for being politically repressive and undemocratic. They went further and claimed that it was a regime of party bureaucracy and not a progressive state of universal subjects. Second, they critiqued the contributory logic of the PRL’s service provision, where access was mediated through work. This reinforced conservative gender norms and the subjugation of women. The normative thrust of the narration was clear, based on a belief in desirability of universal and broad entitlements, democratic institutions, and centrality of human need. Both state and market were to serve that need rather than create and exploit it. After critiquing the PRL, the Objectors demonstrated that, despite its profound shortcomings, it produced good (if flawed) results for people living under it. It eradicated hunger, provided universal healthcare, and invested in housing. The Objectors cared about these measures more than about rates of economic growth. The point of their praise had little to do with the PRL

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itself. It concerned making visible what had been gained, and lost, in transition. The narrative of the past, written to broaden public debate and make it sensitive to human injury, confirmed the explicit vision of social solidarity. That vision was confirmed in the way the Objectors narrated the stories of those who were now evacuated, or segregated, from the national story in the narratives of others. In previous chapters I showed how the process of narrating communism as evil—that is, making it equal to, or worse than, Nazism—relegated Jews and their suffering to the role of perpetrators of harm (in the Patriots’ and even the Managers’ telling) or the role of props (in the Liberal telling) in the Polish ethno-religious drama. The Objectors exposed and punctured those narratives in the name of political and nonexclusionary belonging. Respondents in the Objectors’ cluster agreed that the most important post-transition event was the publication of Jan Tomasz Gross’s book Neighbors.45 Gdula, a sociologist and member of Krytyka Polityczna, called it “a major tilling of memory.”46 Tokarska-Bakir saw in it the onset “of an ongoing crisis of identity.”47 Irena Grudzińska-Gross saw the book as “revolutionary.” She said, “I tried to limit him. And then it hit me.”48 Jan Tomasz Gross could not say why the book broke (punctured) the paradigm but agreed that it had. But he understood why many reacted badly. When I asked him about a major Polish writer attacking the book, Gross said: “He was helpless, he could not cope. When I faced this story, I was totally lost.”49 Non-Objectors also reacted: The president at the time, hailing from the Liberals, apologized for the crime in the name of all who felt like him.50 The Patriots introduced a law in 2006—colloquially known as Lex Gross— meant to amend the Criminal Code with crimes of defamation of the Polish nation.51 Historians and journalists debated and challenged every aspect of Gross’s narrative. A comprehensive volume published two years later confirmed its main findings (Friszke 2011; Machcewicz and Persak 2002). The slight book was released in Poland in May of 2000. It tells the story of Jedwabne, a village in 1941 Poland, whose Polish inhabitants tortured and killed all their Jewish neighbors by burning them in the local barn. It happened in about one day. The massacre was committed by Poles, unaided by Germans. The book was written from the space of loss. Not of people, but of grounding provided by a shared understanding of the past. In the introduction, Gross wrote of his journey to seeing, or rather of the puncturing of his unseeing: Although it may be evident to anybody who reads Wasersztajn’s account that Jews in Jedwabne were tortured with particular cruelty, it is hard, in the first instance, to comprehend the whole meaning of his report. It took all this time, from when I first found his testimony in the archives of ŻIH, until I under-

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stood what he said. When in the fall of 1998 I was asked to contribute an essay to a commemorative volume for Professor Tomasz Strzembosz, I decided to write, using Jedwabne as an example, of how Polish neighbors tortured Jews. I did not realize yet that, at the conclusion of the series of murders and cruelties committed that day, all remaining Jews were burned. . . . It took me four years to understand what Wasersztajn had said (Gross 2000a: 14–15).52

At the end of the book, he issued a call: “The 10 July 1941’s crime against the Jews opens up the historiography of Polish war experience. The barbiturates issued for the last 50 years by historians, writers, and journalists—that Jews in Poland were murdered only by Germans . . .—need to be put to rest” (2000a: 100).53 Punctures involve retrievals of people and events forgotten or relegated to aberrations and exceptions (the stuff of the abovementioned “barbiturates”). Those people are most often Jews, before, during, and after the war. They need retrieving because, as Tokarska-Bakir said, “our memory is a place with no Jews” (2004: 16). Gross had begun this process. Others continued it, but also approached it differently. True to their presentist approach, they identified contemporary techniques of obfuscation and erasure. The best example of this work is found in a peculiar guide to Warsaw, by Elżbieta Janicka. She called it Festung Warschau—a German term meaning “Fortress Warsaw.”54 In her guide, Janicka traced, in excruciating detail, how Warsaw as a space of commemoration continued to fight for the primacy of one story over another, and how it circulated ethno-religious belonging using the evil of communism. In our interview, Janicka claimed that whenever new knowledge emerged— no matter how disruptive—or a new monument, festival, or celebration were established, the novelty was managed in such a way so that it did not disrupt the main narration.55 She called this process “checking” and “substituting”— meant to relativize and crowd out the new findings.56 The techniques were most visible in the discursive and productive “Muranów axis.”57 The axis was formed by two monuments placed at the northern edge of the former Warsaw Ghetto: one was a monument on the Umslagplatz, a white secular structure resembling a mitzvoth, listing names from Abel to Zygmunt, and explaining, in Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, and English: “Along this path of suffering and death over 300,000 Jews were driven in 1942 and 1943 from the Warsaw Ghetto to the gas chambers of the Nazi extermination camps.” The other monument stands some seven hundred meters away. It commemorates the Dead and Murdered in the East. Placed on the now-named Siberian Mother Square, the heart of the prewar Jewish district, the large monument consists of a railway sleepers with names of towns of Polish suffering (like Katyń) and a railway wagon with a forest of crosses (the forest contains one menorah, five orthodox crosses, and an Islamic symbol) commemorating the deportations of Poles to the Soviet Union. Janicka called

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the first monument “connected” with events that took place where the monument stands; she called the second “arbitrary” (Janicka 2010, 2011). She wrote: “The Muranów axis does not exist. But it works. It establishes symmetry. On Umslagplatz, deportations. On the Siberian Mother Square, deportations. An occupier here, an occupier there. Even the numbers of deportees roughly match. Everything’s so the same, that nothing is the same” (Janicka 2011: 81).58 The point of Janicka’s sarcasm is that (a) Poles deported to the East did not leave from the Siberian Mother Square, and (b) most survived. Both facts disappear in the presentation. The retrieval of Jewish suffering, as well as the unmasking of the moves that make this suffering equal to Polish suffering, are central to the strategy of puncture. Like the punctures of the narration of the PRL, this puncture is used to open and reject the restrictive corset imposed by memory-talk, or more specifically, anti-communism. Again, similarly to the narration of the PRL, it makes visible the current substantive stake of this operation—the circulation of a bounded, ethno-religious vision of belonging. Objectors reject that vision and its ascriptive character, just as they rejected an alienated individualistic market-created subject.

Conclusion The Objectors, as I showed in this chapter, do not turn to the past, except for strategic purposes, and they do not condemn communism. This makes them into marginal, if not outright illegitimate, players of the political field. This marginal position notwithstanding, they challenge the field that excludes them, and they condemn the ritualistic rejections of communism performed by other clusters. They go further and claim that those who take part in the anti-communist ritual are substantively similar: first, they hide and justify the cost of transition, they disqualify the equalitarian visions of social belonging, and they deny voice to the victims of the post-transition order. In doing so they narrow the democratic scope of the political field. Second, in the process of weaving anti-communist stories, other clusters decenter Jewish suffering and elevate narrow ethno-religious visions of belonging. These two seemingly unconnected moves are, in the Objectors’ telling, inherently linked. Both undermine democracy, egalitarian politics, and solidaristic imaginary. The claim that the mainstream clusters of the Polish political scene are substantively similar may come as a surprise: after all, a great deal of political energy in the form of mnemonic capital is expanded in creating and maintaining sharp political distinctions. Surely, one could claim, it ought to make a difference whether the Managers or the Patriots rule, and constitute collective imaginaries. If I may imagine the Objectors’ answer to this question,

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it might be: “It depends to whom it matters.” It matters to those who are invested in the present division of power and in the present-day shape of the “we.” It does not matter to those who are rendered invisible by the present division of power, and who are evacuated from the space of legitimate belonging. It is precisely the assumption of difference that makes the operating of that power invisible: it diverts attention from its wholesale exclusion toward a stylistic difference of implementing that exclusion.

Notes 1. The name of the cluster refers to the “refusal” invoked by Joanna Tokarska Bakir (2013) on page 159: it refers to the conscientious objection to state policy or actions. 2. Razem (R), Ruch Sprawiedliwości Społecznej (RSS). The RSS was reported in the press as having formed the party, but it had no active website. Its Facebook page had no information as to its statute. For more on the beginnings of both parties, see Wyborcza.pl (2015); Brzezińska-Waleszczyk (n.d.); Kluziński (2015). 3. The groups are: KP—Krytytka Polityczna, Lewica.pl [Left], BD—Bez Dogmatu, IBL— Instytut Badań nad Literaturą, IS—Instytut Sławistyki, CBZŻ—Centrum Badań nad Zagładą Żydowską. This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it represent internally coherent groups. For instance, my interviews with members of Krytyka Polityczna would locate some in the Managers’ camp, others in the Liberal one, while others still are Objectors. I place the institution in the Objectors’ cluster, as the condemnation of communism is not a strong feature of its public image. 4. In its precise meaning of that which designates the limit of the repulsive (Brown 2006). 5. As I mentioned, the so-called “junk contracts” were important to all clusters. Here they are especially emphasized. They designate employment contracts, which impose total employee uncertainty—employment may be terminated at will—and total employee tax burden—employee is responsible for tax remittance. Szumlewicz (2010: 54n4) provides data from Eurostat, which shows that 25 percent of Poles were employed under such contracts in 2009 and that Poland places last in the EU, whose average is 13.1 percent. 6. Please note that Zawisza’s assertion was not confirmed by TR’s 2014 program. 7. I omit it in the interest of space. 8. President Kwaśniewski admitted that he knew about the secret prisons but claimed he was not aware of harsh treatment of prisoners therein (BBC News 2014). 9. As I mentioned, as this book was going to print, the party’s official website was inactive. Its Facebook page shows a final post on June 19, 2022 (RSS n.d.). 10. Re-privatization, or restitution, of real estate proceeds via administrative and judicial routes in Poland. Municipalities are tasked with restitution claims, and their decisions can be, and are, contested in courts. Warsaw is unique in that in 1945 the Bierut Decree nationalized the land of the entire city (in its prewar boundaries). It is now estimated that it affected thirty-six thousand buildings (Pacewicz 2012). The decree mandated a possible return of nationalized property to the owner if the building in question did not change its social function. Seventeen thousand applications for the return of buildings were filed in the immediate postwar period. Most were refused. These refusals are now challenged, as they were often baseless (Owczarek 2005; Pacewicz 2012). The situation was compli-

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12. 13. 14.

15. 16. 17. 18. 19.


21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29.

cated by the fact that the decree mandated compensation, without specifying its parameters. In any event, it was never paid, and indeed, it was removed as an option in 1985 (Grzegorczyk and Rakowska 2012). In trying to deal with this past, Warsaw’s municipal government is hampered by the lack of funds to pay compensation. When challenged, it returns actual properties. The activists claim that there is no reason to return 100 percent of lost property, but that is, perforce, the City’s chosen option. The second issue concerns the market of claims—many development firms buy claims from former owners, present their case to the City, and, buttressed by large legal teams, are able to get buildings back. They often get them back with tenants—or as the activists call it, “meat-filled”—whom the developers want to evict. This is usually done by drastic increases in rent—often in the hundreds of percent—and eventual expulsions. The provisions for people thus expelled are thoroughly inadequate, as judged by the activists. As of 17 July 2013, 1,898 buildings in Warsaw had restitution claims against them, as reported by Syrena (Pl.squat.net. 2013). Data for 2011 available from the City of Warsaw puts that number at 1943 (author’s files). My interlocutors asked to be identified by their first names and organization. It bears pointing out that the movement is extensive: it includes a variety of squats, as well as “Justice for Jola Brzeska,” “Warsaw Tenant Association,” “Workers’ Initiative,” “Warsaw Food Cooperative.” Recently they have been joined by a movement called “The City Is Ours,” although the degree to which the groups cooperate is unclear. Twenty people lived there when I visited. Pacewicz listed thirty-five inhabitants (2012). The most spectacular one occurred in a neighboring squat called Przychodnia after 11 November 2013 demonstrations (Onet.pl 2013; Karpieszuk 2013). Praga is a district of Warsaw. Brzeska was burned to death by unidentified individuals on 1 March 2011. She became a symbol of the fight for communal housing. For more surrounding her death, see libcom.org (2011); Blikowska (2013); Machajski (2014). Reference to crowbars denotes a forcible entry into an empty space for the purpose of taking it over. Antoni and Marta, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 November 2012. Antoni and Marta, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 November 2012. Lewicowa Alternatywa, Warszawskie Stowarzyszenie Lokatorów. Piotr Ciszewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 7 November 2012. The squatters are also rendered dangerous because they “drink and smoke” in the dilapidated buildings, causing fires, charged the mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. This supposedly necessitates interventions from security forces (Naszemiasto.pl 2012). She means that sharp social stratification is so familiar and pervasive that it appears normal and unproblematic. Indeed, the only way that the poor enter the conversation is through the so-called explanation of “bad choices” and “legacies of helplessness.” Katarzyna Chmielewska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. Katarzyna Chmielewska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. Tomasz Żukowski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. See also Ost (2005). Anonymous, interview with the author, Warsaw, 21 May 2013. Piotr Ciszewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 7 November 2012. Karolina Dzięciołowska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 23 November 2012. Bożena Goszczyńska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 November 2012. The exact same point was made by Elżbieta Janicka (interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 May 2013), and by Joanna Tokarska-Bakir (interview with the author, Princeton, NJ, 20 October 2013). Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013. Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013.

174 • Weaponizing the Past 30. Elżbieta Janicka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 May 2013. Describing similar delegitimizing moves, observed in 2013 France, Didier Eribon said, “This is not to say that the extreme left and the extreme right should be placed on the same level—as is often done by those people who are trying to protect their own monopoly over what can be said to constitute legitimate politics. (They make this claim by systematically accusing any point of view, any act of self-affirmation that doesn’t correspond to their definition of politics of being ‘populist.’ Such accusations merely reveal their lack of understanding— which is class-based—of what they take to be ‘irrationality’ of the people, whenever they do not simply agree to submit to the ‘reason’ and ‘wisdom’ of those in power” (Eribon 2013: 139). 31. Katarzyna Chmielewska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013; Elżbieta Janicka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 May 2013; Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013; Tomasz Żukowski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. 32. Kamila Osica (a lawyer working with housing social movements and who ran free legal clinics in the Syrena Wilcza Skłot), interview with the author, Warsaw, 12 November 2012. 33. Tomasz Żukowski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. 34. Katarzyna Chmielewska, interview with the author, Warsaw, 24 May 2013. 35. Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013. 36. The volume includes an essay on the abuses of colonial discourse often employed by the Patriots (Snochowska-Gonzalez 2012, 2013). Further, Tokarska-Bakir in this rather unfortunate pairing does not mean to equalize Jews and colonizers—rather she refers to mythical figures of the Polish imaginary. 37. Kozłowski is one of the editors of No Dogma. 38. Majmurek and Szumlewicz refer to European Parliament’s initiatives, which aim to have communism be named the second (and equal) totalitarian plague suffered by Europe. For more on this, see Clarke (2014) and Neumayer and Mink (2013). For more on anticommunism in general, see Charkiewicz (2007) and Ghodsee (2013, 2017). Other examples of anti-communism abroad include a Canadian initiative to set up a large and prominent monument in the heart of Ottawa honoring the victims of communism (Kranjc 2015). István Rév (2005) explores similar and wide-ranging initiatives in Hungary. The “double-genocide” movements in the Baltic states point in the same direction. The comprehensive analysis of anti-communism globally, in both of its aspects, awaits its own study. 39. The figure is now disputed: at minimum it is reported as 4.5 million, at maximum 6 million (Judt 2005; Porter-Szücs 2014; Snyder 2010). It of course includes the vast majority of Polish Jewish citizens, who numbered 3 million before the war. In terms of percentage loss, this represented between 15 to 20 percent of the population. 40. Ciborowski and Konat listed the rates of growth in their tongue-in-cheek conclusion. They explained that they deliberately did not use growth rates in their analysis because they considered them meaningless to the lives of individuals. They listed them at the end to puncture the fetish of economic growth as somehow naturally good. They treated the talk of debt in the same way and showed that indebtedness in the PRL was lower than at present. They also calculated that post-transition privatization of industry generated more than enough income to cover the debts inherited from the PRL. The continual invocation of the PRL’s profligacy was significant precisely because it is meaningless (Ciborowski and Konat 2010: 44–46). 41. For more on this, see also Sowa (2015).

The Objectors—Refusing Memory as Political Weapon • 175 42. Perhaps most importantly, in claiming that double-burden of work inside and outside the home was invented in communism, they excuse patriarchy. Women in capitalism and communism suffer from the double-burden, to claim it only for communism is to deny empirical reality and disarm critique of the present. 43. Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013. 44. For a theoretical exploration of the neoliberal subject, see Brown (2015), and Douglas and Ney (1998). 45. I have reported the events that occurred in Jedwabne as they were narrated by the Patriots. For more on the ensuing debate and its importance, see Friszke (2011) and Forecki (2010). 46. Maciej Gdula, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 December 2012. 47. Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, interview with the author, Princeton, NJ, 20 October 2013. 48. Irena Grudzińska-Gross, interview with the author, New York, 19 October 2013. 49. Jan Gross, interview with the author, New York, 18 October 2013. 50. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, interview with the author, Warsaw, 10 July 2013. 51. Gross told me on 18 October 2013 that the prosecution had dropped the case against him for lack of evidence. The law itself was later judged unconstitutional. On Lex Gross, see Dziennik Ustaw 2006; see also Constitutional Tribunal K 5/07; Kamiński (2009). Despite this, since the PiS won power in 2015, Gross’s case appears to be open again (Czuchnowski 2016). The law of course came back in 2018, as did harassment of Gross (see introduction). 52. ŻIH—Jewish Historical Institute (Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) in Warsaw. Translation mine, based on the Polish edition (2000a: 14–15). 53. The reactions to the book and strategies of coping with its findings were the major theme of chapter 4. Gross continues to compound his punctures—in a recent article he charged that the Poles killed more Jews than Germans in World War II (Gross 2015). 54. Festung Warschau refers to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. 55. Tokarska-Bakir and Zawadzka say the same: Joanna Tokarska Bakir, interview with the author, Princeton, NJ, 20 October 2013; Anna Zawadzka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 31 May 2013. 56. Elżbieta Janicka, interview with the author, Warsaw, 27 May 2013. 57. Muranów is a district of Warsaw. 58. In another context Janicka calls this strategy a Holocaustization of the Polish narration (Janicka 2010). This short example does not do justice to Janicka’s descriptions, which examine every detail and every omission. For instance, a major 1943 Ghetto Uprising battle took place on the Siberian Mother Square. It is commemorated with a tablet on a building, partly obscured by a tree. I visited this place countless times, I lived in a hotel on that square—but I had never noticed the tablet until I read about it in Janicka’s book (2011: 79). The “arbitrary” monument to the Suffering and Murdered in the East dominates the space. Zubrzycki (2011, 2013a, 2013b) describes an identical maneuver in Jedwabne. The “counter-monument” there also refers to Poles shipped to Siberia. Zubrzycki claims that its offensive and justificatory (of murder) meaning is entirely transparent (2011: 42–43; 2013a: 100–102; 2013b: 99–102).

CONCLUSION Looking Beyond: Weaponizing the Past and a Populist Moment

8 This project emerged out of astonishment. When I began my field research over twenty years after the Polish transition from communism, I was struck by the pugnacious tone of political and public speech. The speech was more positional, bellicose, and confrontational than the language of anti-communist opposition I remembered from Poland before the transition. To be sure, my oppositionist family and the protesting or striking crowds had no love for the communist rulers, but the rulers themselves were abstracted, distant; yes mistrusted, yes derided, yes the enemies, but all that notwithstanding, they were not quite real to us. We “hated,” apparently, the riot police (the ZOMO), but we could not quite believe their badness: rumors had it that they were all drugged to do their jobs of beating and arresting protesters. Yet when I came to the new Poland, the political positions ran deeper than the disagreements on the mundane issues facing the polity—indeed, one would be hard-pressed to know what the differences between the parties on those mundane issues were—and deeper than the previous dislike of state agents. They now marked the encounters of people who simply could not communicate. Friendships ended, and family occasions became unbearable. More important, the positions of political parties were rendered in the language of dangerous irrationality and hostile alterity, to both the state and the nation. The positions thus staked out were concrete and proximate, and surprisingly, they were all inflected by references to none other than the past communism. In the allegedly free Poland, political actors conceived of each other as enemies, and they used communism—now a symbolic trope—to “prove” it.

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I tried to come to grips with my astonishment in this book. I began with the assumption that language matters—that is, the way political elites speak and frame problems structures how reality is apprehended and faced. In other, more radical terms, I assumed that language structures reality (Bourdieu 2011; Edelman 1988; Eribon 2013). I then applied this insight to the particular inflection of that language, which I saw as pervasive in Poland, where public conversation implicated the past. To understand this, I reached for and expanded the conceptual toolkit of collective memory literature. More specifically, I theorized and traced how Polish political elites used and weaponized the past—especially communism—for political ends and how that use resulted in the narrowing of democracy and community, and also how it relied on antisemitic tropes. In studying the productivity of the past, I concentrated on the major parties (and some of their acolytes), or all those who have held executive power since the transition up to and including the 2015 election. To explain their positions and their belligerence, I advanced the concept of mnemonic capital—a politically fruitful symbolic resource that accrued to the players based on their turn to and judgment of the past. The concept refers to a maneuver that politicizes the past—it makes it a subject of concern, narration, and manipulation—and, in the process, delimits the field of political competition, endows its participants with sticky political identities, and narrows the field of ideological options. In the empirical chapters, I analyzed in detail how differently major parties harnessed their mnemonic capital by narrating and judging the communist past. After analyzing the field of politics and theorizing the role of mnemonic capital, I turned attention to the substantive content of the stories of the past. In other words, after teasing out the immediate political uses of communism, I was interested in tracing and isolating the themes that were repeated and, through repetition, amplified. The repeated themes pointed to the visions or imaginaries of common belonging, articulated and circulated by the political elites. I discovered that in establishing particular evils of past communism—which the political elites did to gain political distinctiveness in the present—all major players conflated communism and Jewishness. In the process, they elevated national belonging and narrowed its meaning to ascriptive religion-inflected ethnicity. This was true of all major parties, even of those who ostensibly venerated open and choice-based community. In the way they narrated the past, they all ended up exulting the story of the titular majority and reinforced the antisemitic myth of communism-tainted essential other. In pursuing the effects of the politicization of the past, I argued that the field of politics and the field of national belonging interacted and affected each other. That is, the moves in one field constrained maneuverability in the

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other. Mnemonic capital explained the boundary and structure of political competition and, more important, the political identities of the players. The details of the narrations, or the “how” of the parties’ repudiation of communism, pointed to reasons why nationhood was effervescent in political discourse. In order to understand how the politicized past resulted in such belligerence of language, I looked to how the fields interacted and advanced the concept of mnemonic procedure. The procedures designated specific discursive strategies—or patterned ways of talking that establish relations between the elements of the narrative—used by the parties in both their platforms and their narrations of the past. As my project was germinating and coming to fruition, a specter of the violent European past was beginning to emerge from the shadows. It has now matured and appeared further afield, most notably in the United States of America, but also in India and Brazil. In Europe, few places appear immune: in Austria, the far-right Freedom Party formed a government as early as 1999. In the Netherlands, a consistent 15 to 20 percent of the population votes for a far-right Pim Fortuyn party, and has done so since 2002, so far without forming a government (Saunders 2017). Hungary was more successful in that regard, and in 2010 Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party won the legislative majority and the executive. He has now repeated and bested this feat in 2014, 2018, and again in 2022, all the while articulating a deliberate and comprehensive attack on liberal conception of democracy (Wittenberg 2018; Bayer 2022). Marine Le Pen of the French National Front party was next—even though it was so far only a teaser—when she moved to a solid third position in the 2012 presidential election and second place in 2017 (Waldie 2017); she also, most recently in 2022, secured elevenfold gains in the French Parliament (Henley 2022). Poland’s upset election of 2015 garnered the PiS the first majority win by any party since transition in 1989. They improved on their record of that “first” by winning a second term and again a majority in 2019. The 2016 Brexit vote in the UK, and the actual exit from the EU is yet another example. These events do not represent the totality of conservative victories, only those called protest votes, or right-wing populist wins. We know from Laclau (2005), Mudde (2007), Mouffe (2005, 2018), and Bonikowski (2017) that populism in general is a political strategy—not so much an identity—and, as such, it rests on the creation/invocation of a political boundary between “corrupt elites” and “moral people.” We also know that right-wing populism creates the people-elite boundary by reference to national or exclusivist rhetoric mobilizing and directing anger at imagined “foreign others,” whereas the left-wing populism concentrates on the economic or class issues, and does not rely on the closing of the communal boundary. As such, the left- and right-wing populist parties are similar in strategy but not in substance.

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In trying to illuminate the constitutive features of the right-wing populist moment, I am going to return to the discursive procedures I identified in Poland. In that setting, structured and organized as it was by memory, I called them mnemonic—their substantive content related to the past—but they need not be so filled in other places. Although nostalgic longing for bucolic greatness seems to be present in all right-wing populist narratives, the moves need not relate to the past as thoroughly as they do in Poland. As general categories of discursive moves, “ontologizing,” “inverting of meaning,” and “instrumentalizing” may offer a fruitful framework for future research into the populist moment writ large. Because the moment, in this iteration, presents unique features, my remarks will be necessarily tentative. I will briefly explain each procedure and how it worked in Poland, and I will then reflect on how it may be used to illuminate other settings. I propose that despite obvious differences, the deployment of discursive procedures suggests surprising affinities. The procedure of ontologizing—or essentializing of difference—turned democratic competition into the field of identitarian politics, as it narrowed the conception and the shape of the nation. In Poland, it was performed by making Jewishness racial (understood in the old scientific-racist ways, as if its essence were fixed in biology) and by narrating it as overlapping and coinciding with communism. This discursive conflation made both elements simultaneously foreign and anti-Polish (as it advanced a vision of ethno-religious national belonging for Poles). Tied together, the mythical communistJewish “perpetrator” externalized communism—all those who were communists were never of Poland—and fixed the site of the offending difference in the ontoi, or the very being, of the person—that is, it made holding of communist views into a sign of irredeemable otherness. On this logic, “Once a communist, always a communist, for seven generations to come.” Furthermore, since the party that deployed this procedure most directly, the Patriots, maintained that the Polish post-transition state was not cleansed of communism, this helped them manufacture a sense of existential crisis, and it identified those guilty of that crisis: the current carriers or communism and their allies, that is, the Liberals and the Managers. In more general terms, ontologizing in the post-communist setting worked by inventing enemies in the past, and by making them not simply different politically but different categorically (that is partitioned into discrete types of people). Those past-derived and essentially hostile enemies were then unleashed on the present, in that communism was declared not to be over. The enemies from the past were, in other words, given a new life, in the now. This resurrection was used to create a sense of crisis, and an existential crisis at that. The crisis mobilized supporters to the defense of a nation, as it rendered the opposition parties as morally repugnant enemy collaborators. It

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seems that the same ontologizing move is performed in other settings. There, too, it involves an invention of local threats, or enemies, who are rendered in the language of kinds of people. Minorities and immigrants are perhaps the oldest and most versatile tropes: they can be narrated as damaging to the livelihood of the so-called locals, or they can be said to dilute the wholesomeness of local cultures; always, they are rendered the ones who prevent the return of the lost folk nirvana, or greatness, or purity. In the context of the West, the discursive trope of the terrorist, especially when combined with the qualifier Islamic, or lately a “migrant,” seems to be as capacious and potent as the communist-Jew is in Poland. Both create and externalize a minority in one move, and both locate the source of evil in the essential alterity of a person. They too may be used to create a sense of crisis—both strategic and substantive. (On the face of it my attention to invented threats does not seem to say anything new from the existing accounts of Laclau [2005], Mudde [2007], and Bonikowski [2017]. The novelty of “ontologizing” lies in the fact that the invented “threats” are imagined as different kinds of people.) Strategically, ontologizing shifts the field of political competition into identitarian politics in which political opponents become existential enemies. This is done by presenting the allies and protectors of the threatening others as coincidental with those others. Standing in solidarity with a migrant, for instance, no matter how mildly, renders one irredeemably other as well. The paradoxical construction, which sees essential identity be invented, is key here. It reflects a notion that even though identities are always a matter of social and political labor (Bourdieu 2001, 2011; Jung 2000, 2009, 2014; Marx 1998), they only do the political work they do when they appear natural and fixed (Bhaba 1994; Bourdieu 2001, 2011). Ontologizing, in other words, ensures that to oppose anti-immigrant or antiminority measures makes one existentially inimical to the polity. It makes one into a political enemy as well. It is precisely this move that shifts political language to what Mouffe calls a “moral register.” In such a register, politics no longer consists in a debate over substantive issues but concerns a debate of moral worth between kinds of people (2005). Mouffe explains that in such a space politics “still consists in a we/they discrimination, but the we/ they . . . is now established in moral terms. In place of a struggle of ‘right and left’ we are faced with a struggle between ‘right and wrong’” (2005: 5). What matters here is that such assignment of roles, and such manufactured crisis, focus attention and mobilize the electoral base for a moral and existential encounter. Substantively, ontologizing elevates the nation—under threat of the newly invented and externalized enemies—into an ultimate, indeed the only relevant, category of groupness. But—and this is crucial—it also narrows its scope and organizes it in a hierarchical relationship to others. The invented

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threatening enemies—whether they are marked by birth in a wrong place, belief in a wrong religion, or the wrong skin color—are rendered external and/or not worthy of equal consideration and rights. The narrowing and vertical ordering moves seem to represent a departure from the existing practice that discriminates based on citizenship but does not elevate that discrimination into a normative ideal (Brubaker 2015). On the contrary, in the new model, it seems that “our” superiority increases in proportion to the hallowing out of our communal care. Thus, the moralized language of essential enemies changes our grouping mechanism toward stratified and narrow nations. A vivid example of this logic is Donald Trump’s insistence that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Most commentators use this insistence to show his irrationality. What they miss is its discursive productivity. As per Timothy Snyder (2021), the election could be understood as stolen if the wrong people—wrong according to Donald Trump—voted. The “wrong” people could be interpreted to be either Black or all those who did not vote for him. The first interpretation draws the national boundary along race lines and excludes nonwhite people; the second draws it around party lines and excludes the Democrats. They are all rendered not-American. Furthermore, ontologizing and the elevation of narrow nationhood have their own strategic effect. Ontologizing appropriates the languages of identity politics and grievance and harnesses that language to the protection of privilege. In so doing, it mobilizes (as it distracts) those who perceive and mourn a loss of real or imagined status (Hochschild 2016; Woodly 2016). To be sure, people who lose jobs and face environmental disasters due to the operation of global capitalism are victims . . . of global capitalism. Ontologizing allows for the shift of the blame away from the culprits and focuses it on those who were its victims all along. Thus, women and/or Black people advancing in the social, economic, and political spheres in America become guilty of displacing those who had open access to these spheres until now. Describing the process, Jelani Cobb says, “Few figures in American history have better weaponized the imaginary grievances of entitled people who consider themselves oppressed than Trump has” (2017). I consider the usurpation of the language of victimized identity to the camp of the privileged one of the defining features of the populist moment, and a direct result of ontologizing. Ontologizing affects democracy and narrows the vision of common belonging. The two effects are interconnected, mutually constitutive even, although they are also analytically distinct. The invention of enemies and locating the source of their offending difference in essence closes the conception of the nation. It creates a majority and grants it power over a thus named—and constructed—minority. This narrows the vision of belonging and shifts it toward horizontality. This process is of course not new. It harkens to the republic-old race rhetoric in the United States (Kendzior 2017; Long 2016), or to the

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race-inflected nationalism of mid-last-century Europe. What is perhaps new is the extension of the identitiarian language into politics proper, so much so that the contemporary protectors of the excluded and threatened become coterminous with the enemies themselves, and they become accomplices in placing the nation in danger. In my final remarks I would like to return to the Polish example to extrapolate, again tentatively, some additional features of the latest populist turn. Perhaps more ambitiously, I would like to propose its proximate or intervening cause. The degree to which what I describe is replicated, and the degree to which it determined events, may suggest avenues for future study. Relying on the Polish example, I propose that the recent right-wing populist turn is part of a two-step process. Yes, it has a history, but it also has more immediate reasons and grounds. I locate those grounds in the actions and discourses of the liberal political classes in the last quarter century. The intuition that the recent events are part of some chain is first observable in the populist governments’ electoral claims in which they aim to cleanse the system, and in which they render the system in some ways corrupt. Without giving credence to their particular claims—Washington is not a swamp, for instance, and communism is not ruling Poland—or without assuming that the slogans represent actual beliefs rather than useful frames to mobilize support, I wish to examine the political milieu against which the populists claimed to have revolted, and which they began actively reshaping to our collective detriment. In order to do this, I would like to examine, and chart some effects of, two more discursive procedures deployed in Poland. I called them creative inversion of meaning and instrumentalization. Empirically, they refer to the ways in which the opponents of the party that ontologizes political difference engage the political field (and each other). Conceptually, they represent discursive techniques—patterned ways of narrating the past, or the deployment of mnemonic capital—in which the parties establish their political identities. I will examine each as it operates in Poland, and then I will tease out what they may represent more broadly. The first procedure—the creative inversion of meaning—relies on a series of contradictory moves. First, the party that uses it explicitly rejects the turn to the past, and it establishes its identity by being organized for and by the present. In other words, it says that it is not interested in hunting communists but in growing the economy, for instance. In the second move, however, the party pivots to the past regardless of move one, and it makes communism into an interpretative backdrop of its current policies. The party turns to the past, and it picks from that past that which serves to justify what it does now. The current policies are not defended on merit, they are simply rendered good by not being communist. (Inversely, communism is rendered bad by not being like the party in question.) All in all, the party uses communism to justify its

Conclusion • 183

polices rather than communicating with its electorate about their present-day, and often acute, post-transition problems. Third, the turn to the past—made for current political payoff—constrains the emergent vision of belonging: the party that claims to be organized by choice of identity and openness narrates the past with no regard for the identity choices of its heroes (and antiheroes). On the contrary, the party framers grant the power of ascription to the titular majority, thus resurrecting a vertically organized ideal. The three moves create a party with a strong presentist identity that is nonetheless organized by the past, and a party with a strong commitment to choice that ends up circulating ascription. This contradictory vision is not a matter of mercenary calculation. Its inverted meanings are entirely invisible to party members. They are visible to those not organized by the same self-understanding (that is, the political opponents and the electorate writ large). Instrumentalization produces similar effects to those of inversion, but it does not rely on a gap between stated commitments and hidden principles. It refers to a very deliberate and self-conscious enterprise in which the transition-loser—the Communist successor party—who is substantively interested in turning its back on the past, uses the past to invent its ancestors, prove its patriotic credentials, and create a new image. The past is intentionally engaged as a tool with which the party articulates and circulates its brand. (I use the word “brand” deliberately to describe this conscious and instrumental process.) However, similarly to inversion, the instrumental turn to history limits the scope of the imaginary community. The utilitarian bent not only permeates the choice of engagement with the past but also invades the way the past is narrated. The past and its protagonists become props in the present-day branding exercise, an exercise in which minorities are made into enemies and accorded lesser rights. If I were to translate the work of the two procedures without relying on memory-talk, I would suggest a hollowing out of democratic language, or an imposition of a particular double-speak in which elites talk to each other, over the heads of their electorates. This elite-serving way of communicating, cleansed of meaning, or filled with contradictory meaning, a language of quick-fixes and yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems, ruled Poland’s political scene before the recent populist-nationalist turn. It was not the point of my work to chart this causal story, but one may legitimately ask the degree to which it was responsible for popular disengagement from politics on the one hand (the PiS was elected in votes whose turnout was close to 50 percent) and an angry mobilization of former fringes on the other. Trying to come to grips with the reality of present-day populist America, Adam Gopnik re-evaluated his previously underwhelmed reaction to Orwell’s classic 1984. He realized that “Orwell saw . . . that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of

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asserting power” (2017). In other words, Gopnik read it exactly wrong, or more specifically, he may have been correct vis-à-vis President Trump in that Trump’s way of construing reality is unique in the context of that office. But the exaggerated nature of Trump’s inventions should not blind us to the fact that double-speak has ruled politics for some time now. In Poland, it has been done with the help of anti-communism. The politically necessary repudiation of the past regime narrowed the fledgling democracy and narrowed its communal solidarity. In the end, it undermined the project heralded by the end of communism. And it seems to have been done with the help of its own political classes. In the larger setting, the next scholarly task, it seems, lies in charting the degree to which committed liberal (or more immediately neoliberal) classes fail their own democratic projects in the way they act and communicate with their electorates. Their complicity in the assault on the state and their abdication of solutions to the market is well documented (Brown 2015, 2019). What urgently needs exploring is the degree to which the inability to imagine and articulate solidaristic visions, and the inability of direct and open speech, contributes to the hollowing out of democratic projects and the coming of right-wing autocrats.

Notes 1. This is of course anecdotal and may be peculiar to my family: low-ranking oppositionists printing samizdat on antiquated offset printers, starting Solidarity locals, hiding Martial Law fugitives, talking politics incessantly, and complaining about their disorganized oppositional bosses. The relations between those bosses and their communist adversaries may have run on different registers indeed. 2. Zmotoryzowane Odwody Milicji Obywatelskiej (ZOMO). 3. For an exploration of how the process unfolds in present-day America, see Hochschild (2016). 4. The 2019 electoral win in Poland underscores the watershed character of 2015, but the two elections were different. In 2019, the PiS used the anti-communist themes but muted them. It concentrated its campaign on fighting a new and very present-day enemy, “gender ideology” for more on this see Korycki (2022). 5. For an overview of the antisystemic parties and movements and their at-times-overlapping postulates, if not the normative bases, see Anderson (2017). 6. For the reference to Jewish “perpetrators” made by the Polish premier, see the introduction to this book. For the explanation of generational portability of communist stigma, see chapter 3. 7. I call immigrants tropes because this is the invention I study. Not for a moment do I lose sight of the stakes of this game in which some lives are rendered less valid than others. 8. Muslims are, of course, not a threat. People who employ terrorist tactics are a threat wherever they come from and whatever god they follow. Some are of course Christian and homegrown. For an exploration of the conflation of terrorist and Muslim, in which violent attacker is assumed a terrorist when he is Muslim and not so when he is white, see

Conclusion • 185 Butler (2015), and Greenwald (2013). For an exploration of themes of “restoration” and “battle” and the use of religion in right-wing populist conceptualizations of belonging, see Marzouki and McDonnell (2016). 9. The issue of the disaffected requires further unpacking—in Poland it may have mobilized those who have not benefited from the transition and the subsequent retrenchment of the state (those derisively called the “frustrates” by the beneficiaries of the transition). It also mobilized those who were supposedly losing ground to “political correctness” or feminism or any other challenge to the superiority of religiously and ethnically inflected nationhood. In this setting, the first group represents real material disaffection (for more, see Eribon [2013]); the second represents privilege cloaking itself in victimhood (for more on how this works, see Ahmed [2015]). The two groups may coincide as was thoughtfully shown by Ariel Hochschild (2016). 10. National Electoral Commission Report (2015). 11. Here is Eribon again: “This shift of political discourse transformed the ways the social world could be perceived, and therefore, in a performative manner, it transformed the social world itself, given that that world is produced by the very categories of thought by means of which it is perceived. But making political discourse about ‘classes’ and class relations disappear . . . does nothing to prevent those people who live under the objective conditions that the word ‘class’ was used to designate from feeling abandoned by those people now preaching to the them about the wonders of the ‘social compact,’ and simultaneously about how urgent and ‘necessary’ it was to deregulate the economy and to disentangle the welfare state” (2013: 130–31).


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Note: For cross-references to “individual political actor identities,” see Liberals, Managers, Objectors, and Patriots. Page numbers with a “f ” (e.g., 46f ) indicate a figure. Page numbers with an “n” (e.g., 35n12) indicate an endnote. anti-communism. See also communism and communists; individual political actor identities: exclusionary rhetoric of, 157–8; excusing violence against Jews, 160; mnemonic capital and, 75, 158, 166; narratives of anti-communist heroes, 105, 110–1, 115; narrowing democracy, 4, 55–7, 177, 184; narrowing imaginary of belonging, 53, 55–6, 60, 61, 62; national belonging constrained by, 56, 62, 86; Objectors and, 157–8, 159–60, 166; political legitimacy and, 59–62, 79; rejection of, 49, 60, 151, 155, 171; as strategic device, 69, 75, 157–8 antisemitism. See also communism; Jews; Jews as communists; narratives; national belonging: condemned by Liberals, 53–4; continuity and universality of tropes, 3; escaping antisemitism, 116; Jewishness made foreign and odious, 53, 71, 79, 83–4; Liberal narratives and, 134, 150n56; Managerial narratives and, 117– 8, 119, 122n40; narratives reinforcing, 3, 5; repudiation of, 134, 145–6 Appadurai, Arjun, 35n12 Assmann, Aleida, 35n15 Assmann, Jan, 13, 18 AWS (Electoral Action Solidarity), 42, 43f, 71

Bale, Tim, 63n15, 90n6 Barthes, Rolland, 62n1 belonging. See community; imaginary of belonging; national belonging Bernhard, Michael, 4, 15, 34n8 Bonikowski, Bart, 178 Bourdieu, Pierre, 5, 13, 34n7, 40, 158 Brown, Wendy, 112 Brubaker, Rogers, 31 Bunce, Valerie, 37n35 Catholicism: coincidental with Polishness, 73, 76; in imaginary of national belonging, 51–2, 71, 85–6, 87, 119, 120; Liberals and, 127, 141; Managers and, 119, 120; Patriots and, 72–3, 85–6, 87; personalism and Christian human rights, 72–3 Center Agreement (PC), 42 Chmielewska, Katarzyna, 157 Christianity. See Catholicism Ciborowski, Tomasz, 161–2, 163 Ciszewski, Piotr, 156 citizens and citizenship. See also community; imaginary of belonging; national belonging: Antoni Macierewicz on, 52–3; discrimination based on, 181; imaginary of belonging and, 31–2, 33–4; ius sanguinis vs. soli, 65n35; of Jewish and Polish descent separated narratively, 88, 120; Liberals and, 126, 127, 143, 144; Managers and, 98, 101–3, 113–5, 118, 120; narrating the past and hierarchies of, 14; Objectors and, 153, 155, 164–5, 166; Patriots and, 86–7, 88 Citizens’ Committee (KO), 42, 43f

Index • 209 Civic Platform (PO). See also Managers (political actor identity): characterization of political opponents, 99–100; communism as justificatory frame, 47, 99–100, 103; communism repudiated, 99–100; competition with Law and Justice Party (PiS), 38; economic focus, 98–9, 100–1, 112–3; as Managers (political actor identity), 46f, 47, 48, 94; market friendly, 103; as moderate winner party, 42; narratives of communism as authoritarian, 99; narratives of communism’s ineptness, 48, 59, 95, 96, 104-5, 107-9; party values, 98; past-present orientation, 47, 48, 94–5, 98–100; past-talk relied on, 48; political identity, 47–8, 94, 96; political program, 98, 100–3, 112–3; programmatic identity, 44, 45, 96, 103, 112–3 Cobb, Jelani, 181 collective memory. See also memory; memory-talk; mnemonic capital; mnemonic procedures: about, 17–8; belonging and, 13, 14, 21–2, 49–55; as category of practice and analysis, 18–9; vs. history and historiography, 17–8, 23; memory-talk, 2; moral component to political victory, 13–4; moral judgment and, 24–5; myth vs., 36n29; narrativity and, 19–21; political competition and, 13–4, 27; presentist outlook, 18, 20, 23–4; usable pasts and, 21 commemoration, political, 15 Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR), 110 Committee of Social Self-Defense: KOR (KSS-KOR), 110 common belonging. See community; national belonging communism and communists. See also anti-communism; Jews as communists; narratives; national belonging; People’s Republic of Poland (PRL); transition and post-transition politics in Poland; individual political actor identities; individual political parties: as anti-Polish, 47, 70, 79–85; as authoritarian, 99, 105, 107, 108–11; communists as other, 70; as danger in present-day Poland,

12; as economically and morally inept, 48, 59, 99, 105, 107–9, 110, 111; equivalence with Nazism, 53, 79, 80, 81, 83, 88, 159–60, 170–1; as foreign and imposed, 70, 79; hostile to Polishness, 139, 145; and imaginary of belonging, 53; as immoral, 47, 48, 105; invocation of, 11–2, 26, 47; as irrational, 59; as justificatory frame, 47, 99–100, 103; Managers and Liberals tainted by, 74–5, 77, 78–9; narratives of communist occupation, 82–3, 160–1, 162–4; political identity formation and, 39–40, 41–2, 46, 77–9, 95–6, 111; racialized, 53, 58, 70, 84–5, 89–90, 179; repudiation of, 43f, 47, 48, 60, 95–6, 99–100, 103–4, 130–1, 139; as threat to Poles, 12, 47–8, 48t, 53, 58, 70, 73, 74–8, 80; transition costs hidden by, 157–8, 166 communist evil. See also anti-communism; Jews as communists; narratives; individual political actor identities: concentrated in Josef Stalin, 136, 138–9; different for each political actor identity, 26, 46t, 49, 153; discursive binary created, 158; Jerzy Urban and, 132, 138, 140; Jewishcommunist conflation and, 61, 169, 177; Liberals and, 136, 138–9, 140, 142–3, 145; located in circumstances, 28, 30, 46f, 48; located in essence of person, 28, 46f, 60, 70, 170, 180; Managers and, 98, 104, 105, 111, 118; moral principles invoked, 28, 46f, 111; Patriots and, 70, 76–7, 78–9, 85, 89 community. See also imaginary of belonging; national belonging; individual political actor identities: boundaries and, 14, 32; ethno-religious community, 61; family as foundational structure of, 73; inclusion/ exclusion, 22–3, 32, 51–2, 85–90; membership in, 14; narrative consonance and, 50; nation as collective structure of, 73 democracy. See also mnemonic capital; mnemonic procedures: legitimacy and, 26; Liberals’ commitment to, 30, 48, 125, 133–5, 137; Managers and, 108–9; market and, 108, 153;

210 • Index mnemonic procedures’ effect on, 57–9, 57f, 181–2; narrowing of, 4, 55–7, 177, 184; Objectors and, 155–6, 158, 160, 164, 171; Patriots and, 72, 73, 74, 100; personalism and, 72; Piłsudski-led coup and, 133–4; political science literature and, 15, 26–7; right-wing populism and, 178; thin vs. thick, 65n41 Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). See also Liberals (political actor identity); narratives: antisemitism repudiated, 145– 6; ascription over choice-based belonging, 146; communism hostile to Polishness, 139, 145; communism repudiated, 47, 48, 130–1, 139; communist evil, 136, 138–9, 142–3, 145; communist successor party, 124; cultural and material capital as resources of, 129; electoral record, 128– 30; ethnic hierarchy of belonging, 143, 144, 145, 146; hierarchy of communal membership, 143; Historical Kit, 132–4, 135, 136, 137, 138–40, 142–5; humanist ideal of, 142–3; as Liberals (political actor identity), 46f, 47, 48–9, 124; as middle ground party, 132; mnemonic capital vied for, 43; narratives of communism as evil, 145; narratives of cursed soldiers, 137; narratives of ethnic belonging, 143–5; narratives of history deliberately crafted, 48, 132–3, 143–4; narratives of Katyń forest, 136; narratives of Martial Law, 139; narratives of minorities, 143–4, 145–6; narratives of PRL, 136, 139–40; narratives of Stalinism, 136–7, 145; narratives of World War II, 142; no longer serious competitor, 42–3; political competition, 38; political identity, 47–8; political platform, 126–7, 130; present orientation, 127–8; presentpast orientation, 47, 48–9, 130–1, 133–4; programmatic identity, 44, 45; relationship with Managers and Patriots, 49f, 129; relationship with Polish Socialist Party, 134; Rywin Affair (Rywingate), 128–9; using past to compete, 43 economics, 63n20, 96, 103, 108–9, 153, 161–4, 168–9; and growth (rates), 140, 147n8, 163, 168, 174n40

Electoral Action Solidarity (AWS), 42, 43f, 71 Electoral Gazette (GW), 63n2, 94, 119, 129 Eribon, Didier, 174n30, 185n11 European migration crisis (2015–17), 16–7 feminism, 93n47, 127, 168, 185n9 feminists 165, 168 Foucault, Michel, 12, 58 Freedom Union (UW), 42, 43f Friszke, Andrzej, 80 Gdula, Maciej, 169 Gierek, Edward, 110, 137, 138–9 Glemp, Cardinal, 92n42 Gluza, Zbigniew, 80, 92n29 Gopnik, Adam, 183–4 Green Party (PZ), 126–7, 128. See also Liberals (political actor identity); as Liberals (political actor identity), 124, 151 Gross, Jan Tomasz, 92n42, 122n40, 169–70 Grudzińska-Gross, Irena, 169 Grzymała-Busse, Anna, 147–8n23 Halbwachs, Maurice, 20, 25, 35n13 Hanebrink, Paul, 8n4, 13 Holocaust, 53, 82, 148n27, 160. See also narratives Horowitz, Donald L., 36n25 Huntington, Samuel, 4 identity. See also community; imaginary of belonging; narratives; national belonging; political parties, generally; individual political actor identities; individual political parties: imaginary of present-day belonging, 21–2; inclusion/exclusion through narratives, 17, 22–3; memory constituting, 17; minorities, 33, 146, 179–82; mnemonic capital, 26, 44; the past and, 12, 21; political actor identities, 29, 30t, 46–7, 46t; political capital, form of, 26; political identity through mnemonic capital, 27, 30, 44, 46–7, 71–2, 98; political identity through moral judgment, 26; predatory identity, 35n12; programmatic vs. political identity, 44–9 Ikonowicz, Piotr, 154

Index • 211 imaginary of belonging. See also citizens and citizenship; community; narratives; national belonging; individual political actor identities: Aleksander Kwaśniewski on, 51; anti-communism narrowing of, 53, 55–6, 60, 61, 62; Catholicism and, 51–2, 71, 85–6, 87, 119, 120; collective memory and identity, 21–2; communism and, 53; defined, 31–3; emergent imaginary of belonging, 53–5; expressed imaginary of belonging, 51–3; LGBTQ+ community, 32, 33–4; mnemonic procedures and, 71, 183; narratives and, 4, 14, 21, 23–4, 25, 33–4; narrowed by anti-communism, 53, 61, 62; national belonging and, 31–3, 51–5; Objectors and, 167; Patriots and, 71, 88 Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), 50, 64n30, 80 It All Began in Poland, 80–1 Janicka, Elżbieta, 84, 91n25, 122n40, 158, 170–1 Jaruzelski, Wojciech, 78, 91n22, 91n23, 107, 138, 148n31 Jasiewicz, Krzysztof, 44, 64n23 Jews. See also antisemitism; narratives; national belonging; individual political actor identities: escaping antisemitism, 116; excluded from Polish nation, 83–4, 86; as existential enemies of Poles, 53; Jedwabne massacre, 82, 169–70; Jewish suffering decentered, 53, 169–71; marginal to Managers, 53; narratives of Poles helping Jews, 115–7; PolishJewish issues and narrative balance, 82, 83–4, 170–1; racialization of, 88, 179; segregated in narratives 54, 82, 88, 134, 169; violence against excused through anti-communism, 160 Jews as communists. See also anticommunism; antisemitism; communism and communists: communism carried like plague, 53, 86; conflation by all major parties, 3, 55–6, 177; ontologizing difference and, 60, 70, 71, 79, 83–4; open conflation (Patriots), 54, 58; racially coded communists myth, 53, 71, 86, 179; rejection of conflation (Objectors),

55, 61; silence condoning conflation (Liberals), 54; thus anti-Polishness of Jews, 70, 79, 88, 145, 179; vengeful Jewish torturer myth (Managers), 54, 116, 117–8, 179 Johann, Wiesław, 77, 89 Judt, Tony, 13, 35n17 Kaczyński, Jarosław, 37n41 Kane, John, 34n7 Kaplan, Robert, 65n41 Kiszczak, Czesław, 91n23 Kitschelt, Herbert, 34–5n9 KO (Citizens’ Committee), 42, 46f Komorowski, Bronisław, 94 Konat, Grzegorz, 161–2, 163 Kopacz, Ewa, 98, 114 Kozłowski, Michał, 159 Krajewska, Ligia, 104 Krzysztoń, Robert, 105 Kubik, Jan, 4, 15, 34n8 Kuroń, Jacek, 50, 105–6, 107–9, 110, 111, 115–6 Kwaśniewski, Aleksander, 128, 130–1, 141–2; imaginary of belonging, 51; role of state vs. individuals, 45 Laclau, Ernesto, 178 Law and Justice Party (PiS). See also narratives; Patriots (political actor identity): Catholicism and, 72–3, 85–6, 87; communism as anti-Polish, 47; communism as weakening the state, 74–5; competition with Civic Platform (PO), 38; electoral wins, 178; narratives of communist threat, 47–8, 48f; national belonging, exclusivity of, 85–7; party history, 71; past orientation, 47; past used to consolidate power, 39; as Patriots (political actor identity), 39, 46f, 47, 71; personalism, 72–3; political identity, 47; programmatic identity, 44–5; as radical winner party, 42; transition and, 74, 78–9 Law and Justice Program (2014): choice suspect in national belonging, 86–7; communists as historical enemies, 73, 74, 76–7; communists capture of power, 74-5, 77–8; diagnosis of contemporary

212 • Index problems and solutions, 74–6, 86; European Union and, 75, 76, 77; existential crisis created, 77–8; family and, 73, 74, 75–6; groupness over individuals, 86–7; Managers and Liberals tainted by communism, 74–5, 77, 78–9; Nazis as historical enemies, 73, 74; party values, 72–4, 86; past pulled into present, 77; People’s Republic of Poland and, 73, 74; political identity, assumptions underlying, 76–7; postcoloniality, 74 Le Pen, Marine, 178 LGBTQ+ community in Poland, 32, 33–4, 96, 103, 126 Liberals (political actor identity). See also antisemitism; Democratic Left Alliance (SLD); Green Party (PZ); narratives; national belonging; United Left (ZL); Your Movement (TR): allocation of roles, 49f; antisemitism condemned, 53–4; Catholicism and, 127, 141; choice suspect in national belonging, 52, 53, 142, 146; citizens and citizenship, 126, 127, 143, 144; communist-Jewish conflation, silence condoning, 54; critique of 2nd Republic of Poland, 135, 136, 140, 142; defined, 30, 30t; electoral record, 128–30; ethno-religious community and, 61; historical narrative production, 50; individualist orientation, 141–2; instrumentalization of history (mnemonic procedure), 57–8, 57f, 60–1, 125–6, 132–40, 143–4; LGBTQ+ community and, 126; memory-talk for political payoffs, 60; mnemonic capital and, 60, 124–5, 125f, 131, 135–40; narratives emphasizing middle ground, 132, 134–6; narratives of ethnic belonging, 54, 61, 143–5; narratives of Polish “left,” 125, 133–4; narratives of PRL, 136, 139–40; narratives repudiating communism, 61, 125; narratives of World War II, 135–6, 142; national belonging, 51–2, 60–1, 141–6; the past, uses of, 61, 124–5, 131, 135–40, 141; political legitimacy, need to prove, 61; present-day orientation, 127–8; present-past orientation, 124, 125f, 130, 131, 133–4; programmatic identity, 126–8; relationship with Managers and Patriots, 49f, 129; relationship with

Polish Socialist Party, 134; transition losers, 124 Lityński, Jan, 104 Machalica, Bartosz, 133, 144–5 Macierewicz, Antoni, 52, 62n2, 65n35, 78–9, 89 Majmurek, Jakub, 160–1, 162, 163–4 Managers (political actor identity). See also antisemitism; Civic Platform (PO); narratives; national belonging; Polish Agrarian Party (PSL): agency in narratives, 114–5; allocation of roles, 48f; Catholicism and, 119, 120; choice suspect in national belonging, 52, 53, 59–60, 96, 114, 118–9; citizens and citizenship, 98, 101–3, 113–5, 118, 120; communism as irrational, 59; communism conflated with Jewishness, 54, 60, 116, 117–8; communism defining opposition parties, 95–6, 111; communism repudiated, 95–6, 103–4; as co-opted by communists, 74–5, 77; creative inversion (mnemonic procedure), 57–8, 57f, 59–60, 95–6, 95f, 99, 103–4, 107, 118; defined, 29–30, 30f; democratic debate limited, 60; dissent delegitimized, 104; hierarchy over solidarity, 114, 118–9; historical narrative production, 50; ideas vs. interests, 115; imaginary of national belonging, 119, 120; majority vs. minority memory, 119–20; market friendly, 96, 99, 100, 103, 107–9, 111, 112–4; narratives of anti-communist heroes, 105, 110–1, 115; narratives of communism, 105, 107–11; narratives of ethnic belonging, 54, 96; narratives of Holocaust, 148n27; narratives of People’s Republic of Poland, 106, 107–11; narratives of Poles helping Jews, 115–7; narratives reinforcing superstition and antisemitism, 117–8; as neoliberals, 96, 112; the past, uses of, 60; past/present narratives mirroring each other, 118; past-present orientation, 94–5, 95f, 97; “the people,” conception of, 112–3, 115–6, 118; Polish–Jewish relations marginal, 53; political identity, 95, 96, 100, 103–4, 112; relationship with Liberals, 48f, 129; relationship with Patriots, 48f, 59, 111; self-identification

Index • 213 as national belonging, 51–2; solidarity and, 96; the state and, 114;; tolerance and multiculturalism in belonging, 119–20; transition emphasized, 95, 99, 104; veneration of 2nd Republic of Poland, 135 Mazowiecki, Tadeusz, and “thick line,” 41–2, 59, 96–7 McFaul, Michael, 37n35 memory. See also collective memory; mnemonic capital; mnemonic procedures; narratives; the past: constituting identities and collectivities, 17; constricting Polish democracy, 55; history and historiography vs., 17–8; memorializing as means of understanding, 12; as political strategy, 79–85; politicized memory framework, 4–5, 159, 166; as dialogic process, 17; right-wing populists and, 3; socially constructed, 17; terminology preferences, 18 memory-talk. See also narratives; pasttalk: collective memory and, 2; communism narrated as anti-Polish, 79–85; defined, 22; exclusionary stakes of, 160; ontologizing and racializing in, 89–90; political parties’ reliance on, 42–4, 60, 77–9; presentist insights from, 25; strategic identity creation and, 31; structuring power of, 61 Merkel, Angela, 91n13 Michnik, Adam, xin1, 50, 51, 91n22, 91n23, 105–6, 111, 119–20, 123n47, 123n48, 123n49, 129, 148n31 Miller, Leszek, 64n26, 132–3 Mink, Georges, 35–6n20, 62n6, 63–4n21, 66n45 minorities, 33, 146, 179–82. See also antisemitism; community; identity; Jews; national belonging mnemonic actors and regimes, 15 mnemonic capital: about, 4, 13, 28, 177; when absent, 43, 60, 124, 151–2; anticommunism and, 75, 158, 166; deployed through anti-communism, 158; form of political capital, 26; legitimacy and, 30, 124–5, 131; Liberals’ limited amount of, 60, 124; moral judgment and, 28; from narratives that judge the past, 26; Objectors unconcerned with, 54, 151–2;

political actor identities, 29, 30f, 46–7, 46f; political competition, field delimited, 49; political identity through, 27, 30, 44, 46–7, 70, 71–2, 98; political parties, generally, and, 13, 26–8, 39, 40–2, 44; political party positions in Poland and, 29–30, 30f; as political resource, 27–8, 158; post-transition use of, 27, 28–9; resources and, 27–8, 34n7, 40; sequence of deployment, 42–3 mnemonic procedures. See also Liberals (political actor identity); Managers (political actor identity); Objectors (political actor identity); Patriots (political actor identity): about, 6, 178, 182; effects on democracy, 57f; effects on imaginary of belonging 57f, 71; instrumentalization of history (Liberals), 57, 57f, 60–1125–6, 132–40, 143–4, 182, 183; inversion (and creative inversion) of meaning (Managers), 57, 57t, 59–60, 95–6, 99, 103–4, 107, 118, 182–3; narratives and, 57–61, 57f; ontologizing, 57–9, 57f; ontologizing difference (Patriots), 70, 79, 84–5, 88, 89–90, 179–82; populist movements and, 179–83; puncturing, 57, 57t, 61–2; puncturing narratives (Objectors), 57f, 152, 160–3, 164, 165–6, 168–71 Modzelewski, Karol, 108 moral judgment: communism as immoral, 47, 48, 105; defined, 28; ideas vs. interests, 115; mnemonic capital and, 28; moral victories in politics, 13–4; the past and, 24–5, 26, 30f; political identity through, 26, 30f; repudiation of communism on moral grounds, 47 Morawiecki, Mateusz, 1–2 Mouffe, Chantal, 178, 180 Moyn, Samuel, 91n15 Mudde, Cas, 178 Muranów axis, 170–1 narratives. See also identity; Jews as communists; memory; memory-talk; mnemonic capital; mnemonic procedures; national belonging; individual political actor identities: agency in, 114–5; antisemitism and superstition reinforced, 117–8; ascriptively stratified society,

214 • Index 55–6; belonging and categorization through, 22–3, 24, 50, 57; collective memory and narrativity, 19–21; of communism’s authoritarianism, 99, 105, 107, 108–11; of communism’s ineptness, 48, 59, 99, 105, 107–9, 110, 111; of communist Poland, 82–3, 88, 160–1, 162–4, 168–9; communist threat, 47–8, 48f; community through, 14, 22–3, 50, 85–90; competition of suffering, 53; consistency of discursive devices, 57–8; constraining common belonging, 86; of cursed soldiers, 82, 137; ethnic perspective of, 54, 55–6, 61, 143–5; of existential crisis, 70, 77, 84–5, 179–80; extraordinary Polish–Jewish relations (Managers), 53; of the forgotten retrieved (Objectors), 166, 167, 169–71; hierarchies of citizenship, 14; Holocaust, 82, 148n27; imaginary of presentday belonging, 4, 33–4; instrumental basis of, 144; Jedwabne massacre, 82, 169–70; Katyń massacre, 83–4, 136; Kielce pogrom, 84; legitimacy through historical narratives, 157–8; majority vs. minority memory, 119–20; of minorities, 143–4, 145–6; narrowing democracy, 55–7; past and present mirrored, 118; of People’s Republic of Poland, 106, 107–11, 136, 139–40; Poles helping Jews, 115–7; Polish-Jewish history, 88; Polish-Jewish issues and narrative balance, 82, 83–4, 170–1; right-wing populists and, 3; source of mnemonic capital, 26; of Stalinism, 136–7, 139, 145; temporal orientation and narrative inversion, 59–60; thoroughness of judgment, 56, 57; as tools of analysis, 20–1; transition denied, 78–9; of World War II, 80–2, 83, 88, 135–6, 142 national belonging. See also citizens and citizenship; community; identity; imaginary of belonging; narratives; individual political actor identities; individual political parties: about, 49–50; anti-communism constrains, 86; axis of identity, 71; belonging and collective memory, 13, 14, 21–2, 49–55; boundaries determining inclusion/ exclusion, 32; Catholicism and, 51–2,

71, 85–6, 87, 119, 120; choice-based belonging, 52–3, 60, 86, 114, 118–9, 141, 142, 183; choice-based belonging suspect (Liberals), 52, 53, 142, 146; choice-based belonging suspect (Managers), 52, 53, 59–60, 96, 114, 118–9; choice-based belonging suspect (Patriots), 86–7; choice vs. ascription, 50, 52, 54, 56–7, 59–61, 142–6, 177, 183; community of persons with common projects, 167; creative inversion and, 112, 113; democracy and, 55–9; elitism and, 111–2; ethnic perspective of narratives, 3, 52–3, 54, 61, 87–8, 143–5; ethno-nationalism, 53, 96, 143, 144, 145, 146; groups vs. individuals, 86–7, 112, 141–2; hierarchy of communal membership, 143, 144, 145, 146, 180–1; hierarchy over solidarity, 114, 118–9; historical narrative production, 50; imaginary of belonging, 31, 51–3; ius sanguinis vs. soli, 65n35; Jews excluded from Polish nation, 83–4, 86; Liberals’ vision of, 51–2, 60–1, 141–6; Managers’ vision of, 112–3, 115–6, 118; market rationality and, 112–3; national kinship and, 111–2; national-religious identity challenged, 151; nation and, 52–3, 141–2; ontologizing narrowing, 180–2; participatory model of, 51, 54–5, 61, 152, 166–7; past constraining imagined togetherness, 141; Patriots’ vision of, 85–90; political science literature of, 4, 17; politicized memory framework, 4–5; populism and, 178–83; racialization of, 71, 86–7, 88–9; self-identification, 51–2, 60–1, 118; solidarity, 96, 167; tolerance and multiculturalism, 119–20 national imaginary. See imaginary of belonging Nazism: communists equated with, 53, 79, 80, 81, 83, 88, 159–60, 170–1, 174n38; as historical enemies, 73, 74 Neighbors (Gross), 169 Neumayer, Laure, 62n6, 66n45 Niesiołowski, Stefan, 104 Objectors (political actor identity). See also Social Justice Movement (RSS); Together Party (R): absence of nation-talk, 167–8;

Index • 215 anti-communism rejected, 49, 151, 155, 171; citizens and citizenship, 153, 155, 164–5, 166; communist-Jewish conflation rejected, 55, 61; community of persons with common projects, 167; defined, 30, 30f; delegitimated through anti-communism of others, 158; distinct from other parties, 152, 153, 154, 158, 159; free market and, 153, 168; intellectuals within, 151, 157–9; memory as political, 159, 166; mnemonic capital, unconcerned with, 54, 151–2; narratives of communist Poland, 160–1, 162–4, 168–9; narratives of the forgotten retrieved, 166, 167, 169–71; national-religious identity challenged, 151; participatory model of belonging, 51, 54–5, 61, 152, 166–7; past as structuring the present, 61, 152; past used strategically, 159, 160–1, 165–6, 169, 171; political legitimacy of, 61; postcategorical solidarity project, 55; present orientation, 49, 151–2, 152t, 155, 156, 157, 158; programmatic identity, 153–7; puncturing (mnemonic procedure), 57–8, 57f, 61–2; puncturing narratives (mnemonic procedure), 152, 158–9, 160–3, 164, 165–6, 168–71; social movements within, 151–2, 155–7; social solidarity, 167; understanding of anti-communism, 159–60; women’s rights and feminism, 165, 168 Olick, Jeffrey, 8n4, 13, 19, 23, 24 Orbán, Viktor, 178 Ostolski, Adam, 128 Pakier, Małgorzata, 62n6 the past. See also collective memory; communism and communists; memory; national belonging; individual political actor identities: community boundaries through narration of, 14, 17; descriptions of, in Polish political debate, 39; discursive principle of public and political life, 12, 15–6; exclusionary visions of society, 16–7, 141, 171–2; invented for benefit of present, 24, 27, 60, 61, 144, 152; legitimacy gained through, 14, 26, 124–5, 131; moral judgment of, 24–5; narratives constraining common

belonging, 86; political actor identities and, 46f; political divisions delineated, 12, 16, 46–7, 46f; as political resource, 4, 13; as prop, 61, 183; repudiation of, 28–9; usable pasts, 21 past-talk, 13, 48, 49, 77. See also memorytalk; narratives Patriots (political actor identity). See also antisemitism; Jews as communists; Law and Justice Party (PiS); Law and Justice Program (2014): allocation of roles, 48f; anti-communism as strategic device, 69, 75; Catholicism and, 72–3, 85–6, 87; choice in national belonging, 52–3; as Christian Democratic, 71, 76; church friendly, 76; citizens and citizenship, 86–7, 88; communism as anti-Polish, 70, 79, 80, 83, 84–5; communism as threat, 70; communism in relation to Nazism, 88; communism racialized, 53, 84–5, 89–90; communists as other, 70; defined, 29, 30f; denigration of 3rd Republic, 74; denying transition, 77–9; ethnicity in national belonging, 52–3, 83, 87–8; ethnic perspective of narratives, 54; historical narrative production, 50; imagined community, vision of, 85–90; Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), 50; Jews as existential enemies of Poles, 53; Katyń narrative, 83–4; Kielce pogrom, 84; legitimated through communism’s evil, 77–9; Lex Gross and defamation of the nation, 169; memory as strategy, 79–85; memory talk controlling political debate, 69, 70; narrative of Polish-Jewish issues, 82, 83–4, 88; narratives of communist occupation, 82–3, 88; narratives of existential crisis, 70, 77, 84–5, 179–80; narratives of Jedwabne massacre, 82; narratives of World War II, 80–2, 83, 88; national imaginary of belonging, 71, 88; nation as axis of identity, 52–3; ontologizing (mnemonic procedure), 57–8, 57f, 69, 69f; ontologizing difference, 70, 79, 84–5, 88, 89–90, 179–82; past oriented, 69, 69f; Poles in competition of suffering with Jews, 53; political identity through mnemonic capital, 70, 71–2; political opponents, 70, 74–5, 77, 79;

216 • Index programmatic identity overview, 71, 74; racialization of political belonging, 70, 79, 83, 88–9; relationship with Liberals, 129; relationship with Managers, 48f, 59; saviors of the nation, 47, 48f, 70, 75, 76, 77, 85; strong, limited state, 76; veneration of 2nd Republic of Poland, 135 PC (Center Agreement), 42, 43f People’s Republic of Poland (PRL). See also communism and communists; narratives; national belonging; Poland; political parties, generally; transition and posttransition politics in Poland: economic policies, 162–4, 168–9; narratives, 106, 107–11, 136, 139–40; as not communist or socialist, 164; public sphere of, 138; rights under, 164–5; social policies, 164–5, 168–9; as symbolic trope, 160–1; women’s rights and feminism under, 165 Piłsudski, Józef, 132-3; 148n33 PiS (Law and Justice Party). See Law and Justice Party (PiS) PO (Civic Platform). See Civic Platform (PO) Poland. See also national belonging; People’s Republic of Poland; political parties, generally; individual political actor identities; individual political parties; individual politicians: 2nd Republic of Poland, 135, 136, 140, 142, 161–2; 3rd Republic of Poland, 74, 133, 140; antidefamation laws, 1–2, 169; Catholicism and, 51–2, 73, 76, 85–6, 87; economic indicators, 98, 161–4; peripheral status in world economy, 161–2, 163, 164; right-wing populist turn, 3, 178, 182; temporal orientation of political parties, 29; semiperiphery status, 74; unexplained by existing political science literature, 17 Poland Together (PR) Party, 71. See also Patriots (political actor identity) Polish Academy of Sciences academics, 151, 157–9. See also Objectors (political actor identity) Polish Agrarian Party (PSL), 43, 46f, 94, 97–8. See also Managers (political actor identity) Polish Communist Party (KPP), 133, 134 Polish Socialist Party (PPS), 134

Polish Solidarity (PS) Party, 71. See also Patriots (political actor identity) Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), 42, 43f, 128, 136, 139, 162, 164 political parties, generally. See also Liberals (political actor identity); Managers (political actor identity); Objectors (political actor identity); Patriots (political actor identity); individual political parties: difference through temporal orientation, 28–9, 43t; difference through judgment of the past, 12, 13–4; differentiation and competition between, 12, 14, 16, 44f, 46; identity creation, 30–1, 40; legitimacy of, 14, 26; material and cultural capital of, 13; mnemonic capital, 13, 26–8, 39, 40–2, 44; mnemonic capital and political identity, 27, 30, 44, 46–7, 71–2, 98; mnemonic capital and resources, 27–8, 34n7, 40; political identities, 29, 30–1, 30f, 39, 40–2, 46–9, 46f; political vs. programmatic identities, 39, 44–9; political science literature of 4, 16, 27; post-transition negotiations, 26–7; posttransition use of mnemonic capital, 28–9; relationality, 47–9 populism, 3, 178–82, 183 Porter-Szücs, Brian, 150n52 PPS (Polish Socialist Party), 134 PR (Poland Together Party), 71. See also Patriots (political actor identity) PRL (People’s Republic of Poland). See People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) PRL bez uprzedzeń (Majmurek and Szumlewicz), 160–1 PSL (Polish Agrarian Party), 43, 46f, 94, 97–8. See also Managers (political actor identity) PS (Polish Solidarity) Party, 71. See also Patriots (political actor identity) Putnam, Robert (with Robert Leonardi and Raffaella Nanetti), 34n7 PZ (Green Party), 124, 126–7, 128, 151. See also Liberals (political actor identity) PZPR (United Polish Workers’ Party), 42, 43f, 128, 136, 139, 162, 164 R (Together Party), 43, 46f, 151, 153–4. See also Objectors (political actor identity) Reed, Adolph L., Jr., 34n2

Index • 217 right-wing populism, 3, 178–82, 183 RSS (Social Justice Movement), 151, 153–5. See also Objectors (political actor identity) Rywin, Lew. See also Rywin Affair (Rywingate), 128–9 Schwartz, Barry, 23, 24, 35n13, 35n15, 50, 55 Scott, James C., 36n27 SdRP (Social Democracy of Poland), 42, 43f, 128. See also Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) Senyszyn, Joanna, 128 SLD (Democratic Left Alliance). See Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) Smith, Rogers, 3, 36n25 Snochowska-Gonzalez, Claudia, 90–1n12 Snyder, Timothy, 181 Social Democracy of Poland (SdRP), 42, 43f, 128. See also Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) Social Justice Movement (RSS), 151, 153, 154–5. See also Objectors (political actor identity) Somers, Margaret R., 20–1, 35n13, 36n23 Stalinism, 136–7, 139, 145 the state. See also community; national belonging; Poland: activist state, 153; as a firm, 112; of limited solidarity, 114; nation-serving function, 73; neutrality of, 127, 141; role of individuals vs., 45; as strong and limited, 76; as a value, 73; as watchman, 103, 113–4, 141; weakness due to communism, 74–5 Stråth, Bo, 62n6 Subotić, Jelena, 13, 66n47 Syrena Wilcza Skłot, 155–6 Szczerbiak, Aleks, 62n6, 63n15, 64n23, 90n6, 120–1n8 Szczerski, Krzysztof, 78 Szeligowska, Dorota, 91n27 Szumlewicz, Piotr, 160–1, 164–5 Święcicki, Marcin, 104 Together Party (R), 43, 46f, 151, 153–4. See also Objectors (political actor identity) Tokarska-Bakir, Joanna, 158–9, 169, 170 TR (Your Movement), 43, 46f, 124, 126–7, 128. See also Liberals (political actor identity)

transition and post-transition politics in Poland. See also anti-communism; communism and communists; mnemonic capital; narratives; People’s Republic of Poland (PRL); Poland; political parties, generally: 2015 Polish parliamentary elections, 6–7; anti-communism hiding costs of, 157–8, 166; binary of communist condemnation, 158; collective memory as political weapon, 27; development of party competition, 42–3; free market and, 153; identity of political parties, 40–2; managerial emphasis of, 95, 99, 104; People’s Republic of Poland as symbolic trope, 160–1; political actor identities and, 46–7, 46f; post-transition negotiations, 26–7; post-transition use of mnemonic capital, 28–9; present vs. past orientation of parties and, 41–2; purity of transition, 4, 42, 70, 74; sharing power, 40–1; “thick line” policy, 41–2, 96–7; transition denied, 77–9; victims of, 157, 167, 169, 171–2; winners and losers, 27, 41–2, 97, 124; women’s rights and feminism, 165 Trawińska, Marta, 165 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, 13, 17 Trump, Donald, 37n40, 181, 184 Ukrainians, 143–4 United Left (ZL), 124. See also Liberals (political actor identity) United Polish Workers’ Party (PZPR), 42, 128, 136, 162, 164 Urban, Jerzy, 132, 136–7, 138, 140 UW (Freedom Union), 42, 43f, 90n2, 93n51 Verdery, Katherine, 13 Wieczorkiewicz, Paweł, 81 World War II narratives, 80–2, 83, 88, 135–6, 142 Your Movement (TR), 43, 46f, 124, 126–7, 128. See also Liberals (political actor identity) Zawadzka, Anna, 33–4, 93n47, 157–8, 167–8

218 • Index Zawisza, Marcelina, 154 Zieliński, Adam, 128 Ziemkiewicz, Rafał, 78, 90–1n12 ZL (United Left), 124. See also Liberals (political actor identity) Zubrzycki, Geneviève, 35n17, 66n44, 66n49

Żakowski, Jacek, 62n6, 105, 107–8, 111 Żaryn, Jan, 80–1, 83–4, 89 Żukowski, Tomasz, 157

Index prepared by Jolanta N. Komornicka.