Controversies among historians on the cultural legacy in post-communist Europe. Poland as a case study Cover Image
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Controversies among historians on the cultural legacy in post-communist Europe. Poland as a case study
Controversies among historians on the cultural legacy in post-communist Europe. Poland as a case study

Author(s): Piotr Mazurkiewicz
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences, Political Theory, Government/Political systems, History and theory of political science
Published by: Instytut Studiów Politycznych PAN
Keywords: cultural legacy; Poland; liberty; democratic transition; modernization

Summary/Abstract: This article refers to the cultural legacy in Poland “after communism”. It covers three questions: What is the nature of this Polish cultural legacy? Who has the moral right to represent it? What kind of transformation is this legacy exposed to under the current modernization process? The nature of the cultural legacy is described based on eight factors analysed by Pope John Paul II: a nation as a product of culture; anthropology as the criterion of the evaluation of culture; its relationship to Christianity; its relationship to cultural pluralism; the understanding of ideological neutrality; its relationship to democracy; the requirement for reconciliation in the truth; and the process of European integration. The answer to the second question is based on a revised “theory of four players”, developed originally by Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan. It assumes that a process of democratic transformation can start only if there are fractures in the communist and democratic opposition camps at the same time. As a result, the Communist bloc has to be dominated by “the reformers” and the opposition camp by “the moderates”. In this model of transition, the camp of “the reformers” has a significant impact on politics and the economy well after the formal collapse of the communist system. This article also presents “four steps” which can gradually lead to the total de-communization of the political scene. The third issue covered in this article is the process of modernization after the fall of communism. This process is taking place in a specific cultural context, as Western Europe – which to some extent represents a model of modern society and is the object of the aspirations of post-communist societies – is experiencing today a deep cultural crisis. Paradoxically, the opposition to the initial totalitarian and later authoritarian system in Central Europe has strengthened the conviction that traditional European values are necessary in public and political life. Therefore, the question is how to find a proper balance between these components of cultural legacy that should be changed under modernization and those that should be preserved in the name of continuity of cultural tradition. In other words: How to modernize a society without discontinuation?

  • Issue Year: 2016
  • Issue No: 43
  • Page Range: 11-29
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: English