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photo: Sophia Lubieniecka, flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license

Unity; The People

BY Joanna Tokarska-Bakir

The commandment of unity: Poland’s secret taboo

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UnityFollowing the catastrophe, Poles split into crusaders and “normal people”, “pimps” and “rabble-rousers”.

Jarosław Maria Rymkiewicz called them the Poland that is “being towed to the cemetery gates” and the Poland that “wants to be admired by the world”.

Both sides find the division horrifying.

The crusaders protest: “I can’t stop crying. I can’t take this division any longer. We must become one again.” (a woman in Artur Żmijewski’s film, Katastrofa)

“It’s a continuation of the Bolshevik revolution. They’ve set us Poles against each other! They want us to pelt each other with stones.” (Fr. Tadeusz Rydzyk)

The “normal people” protest: “The defenders of the cross are breaking down our national unity!” (Archbishop Józek Kowalczyk)

“Enough of these arguments! It’s time our politicians — from the right to the left, Catholics and atheists — finally came to an agreement.” (post by an internet user)

“A terrible catastrophe that could have united the nation left it completely divided.” (Tomasz Lis)

The commandment of unity: Poland’s secret taboo.

The People

There are three definitions of “the people”.

Samuel Linde describes “the people” as the commoners, the third estate, those who belong neither to the clergy nor to the nobility. The urban estate: bourgeoisie. The rural estate: peasants.

Linde distinguishes another meaning of the term: “the people” can also be a nation, many people of one type, as in Psalm 78: “My people, hear my teaching”, or “Jesus loves his people”.

This meaning, which combines the ideas of multitude and community, gave rise to a descriptive concept of “the people” as the totality of citizens. A people of this kind — a general assembly, états généraux — can overturn and instate governments.

The third concept of “the people” is stripped of its descriptive qualities and becomes a normative term. It states that only some members of the Gesellschaft (society) are part of the Gemeinschaft (community). It is a community of the select.

The Volkgemeinschaft usurps the right to define “the people” and, by definition, assumes that it constitutes a whole. When we become a people of this kind, we set aside our fundamental conflicts. Whoever thinks differently raises his hand against the people. And he who raises his hand against the people shall have his hand cut off.

translated by Arthur Barys

Tekst dostępny na licencji Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL.