Republicanism After Communism – Utopia or Alternative?
Added: 2017-10-30
Added: 2017-10-30


Text from the collective work: Władza w polskiej tradycji politycznej. Idee i praktyka, OMP, Kraków 2010.



Republican ideas

A republic is a community of sovereign and free citizens who are equal before the law and governed by laws that they themselves have passed. As opposed to liberalism, republicanism assumes that in order to be free, it is not sufficient to be free from actual interference from others, but it is also necessary to be independent and not subject to any domination. It also emphasises the importance of collective liberty in the nation’s politics and sovereignty.

In accordance with the well-known distinction and recommendation made by Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay Two Concepts of Liberty, liberalism cares primarily for negative liberty understood as freedom from interference by others. In this understanding of liberty, the less someone else meddles in our affairs and interferes in them, the freer we are. Berlin followed in the footsteps of Thomas Hobbes who defined liberty as the lack of external obstacles to movement and applied this definition to human activities as well. To the question whether there was more liberty in Istanbul, which was ruled by a sultan who was an absolute and despotic ruler, but left his subjects much freedom, or in a small urban republic of Lucca whose citizens were able to choose their authorities, but those controlled many aspects of their individual lives, Hobbes responded that the people of Istanbul enjoyed greater liberty. In his view, what matters is not so much participation in the decisions made by the majority as the scope of individual freedom. In this sense, one could be freer under a dictatorship than under a democracy, and in a state that has been conquered than in an independent one, e.g. people could be freer under the Prussian rule in partitioned Polish lands than in the First or Second Polish Republic. From the point of view of liberalism that is guided solely by the concept of liberty, there is no point in fighting for national independence when you are already a citizen of a state that guarantees civil and economic freedoms.

In the republican understanding, liberty necessarily means not just the lack of interference, but also the lack of domination, i.e. independence. As some modern interpreters of republicanism, e.g. the Australian political philosopher Philip Pettit point out, dependence on anyone, even if that someone does not directly interfere in our affairs, is already a state that violates our liberty. This is why the inhabitants of Lucca were freer than the sultan’s subjects. And this is why – even if the tsar, emperor or Kaiser were benevolent and liberal – the Poles were not free until Poland regained its independence.

The distinction between positive and negative liberty adopted in contemporary political philosophy, which has been dominated by liberalism, is not entirely clear and has been challenged from many sides. It was demonstrated, e.g. by Gerald MacCallum, Jr. in his classic article Negative and Positive Freedom, that the concept of freedom always has the same tripartite structure – someone is free of something, free to do or not to do something and free to become or not become someone. So, in fact, there is no purely negative freedom, “freedom from something”, that would not also be a “freedom to something” at the same time. MacCallum claims that, in essence, people only differ in their understanding of actors, goals and means, and not in their the concept of freedom.[1] The Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who is well known in Poland, also pointed to the ambiguity of the apparently obvious concept of negative freedom. If freedom is only measured by the number of prohibitions, it is easy to conclude that in London, where street traffic is regulated by numerous lights, there is less freedom than there was in communist Tirana where traffic was not regulated at all. Thus it is not only the number of prohibitions that counts. We must introduce certain qualitative distinctions in order to distinguish between more or less important prohibitions and more or less important actions. Taylor believes that this blurs the difference between the concepts of negative and positive freedom.[2]

However, the republican understanding of freedom cannot be accommodated in the liberal discourse, which distinguishes between negative and positive freedom and assumes that the latter means the freedom to live in the right way and to realise our higher selves. This is because the republican concept of freedom is not negative freedom, but at the same time it should not be identified with the positive concept of freedom. Republicanism does not exclude the individual’s freedom from interference by others, i.e. negative freedom. In a republic, individuals could enjoy this type of freedom as well. However, it was thought that this freedom was only possible in a free state, and a truly free state is a republic. Therefore I can only enjoy full individual freedom if I live in a free republic. Thus individual freedom is not possible without solidarity between the republic’s citizens, without looking after its sovereignty and without being ready to subordinate one’s personal interest to the general one in certain situations. Thus, certain forms of interference, if undertaken in accordance with the law, do not restrict freedom.

The republican concept of freedom is richer and fuller than the liberal one. According to the Italian researcher of republican traditions Maurizio Viroli the liberal concept of freedom is merely a remnant of republicanism, its component or residue:

Republicanism has developed a… complex concept of political freedom, which contains both liberal and democratic demands, so that it can be claimed, on the other hand, that liberalism and democracy are just impoverished versions of republicanism.[3]

Republican thinkers also pointed out that the fate of the republic depended on the virtues of its citizens – virtus civili, on their sense of common good and on their patriotism. Republicanism is not only a theory of freedom, but also a theory of passion, since it draws attention to the importance of oratory and rhetoric whose purpose it is to mobilise citizens and to move them. It allows us to reject the rationalist superstition of deliberative democracy and similar theories, such as Jürgen Habermas’s theory, which tend to reduce politics to entirely rational debates as if it were a huge university seminar.


Utopia or maybe even a harmful pose?

However, do attempts to restore republicanism in Poland have any chance of success? Is it a viable alternative to liberalism or rather a chimera, a delusion, an artificial idea?

The answer appears obvious: republicanism is a utopia rather than an alternative. Since where can the republican spirit be seen in today’s Poland? In the Poland of political apathy, in the Poland of Palikot [anti-clerical politician known for his unorthodox behaviour and showmanship, active mainly from 2011 to 2015 – trans.] and corruption, in the Poland of politics in which staged performances have replaced reality, in which image and “political marketing” matter? All this is reflected by the contemporary political language, which has been enriched to include such new words as “swag”, “lame”, “fake”, “cock-up”, “PR”, “sex up", etc.

Of course, we can always hark back to the past and to the traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but is not Poland a country where continuity has been broken as Ryszard Legutko demonstrated in his book Esej o duszy polskiej [“Essay on the Polish Soul”], a country where simpletons rule and ugliness prevails? Traumatic events have taken place since the First Polish Republic ended – partitions, uprisings, World War II, the almost complete destruction of elites and a shift in borders. We lost the remains of our Eastern borderlands, Lviv and Vilnius. Subsequently, communism remodelled both Polish reality and consciousness. Thus it appears that we have little more in common with ancient Poles than they had with the Romans whom they were so willing to invoke. Moreover, it can reasonably be argued that modern Poles are overwhelmingly descendants of peasants, and thus heirs to the peasant and serf mentality, one of mundane existence rather than a noble republican one.

In addition, in present times and in a pluralistic society, political liberalism appears to be the only realistic public philosophy, and under conditions of European integration, thinking of Poland as an independent republic seems to be a dangerous delusion that condemns us to conflicts with our neighbours, ineffectual foreign policy and disregard for the spirit of transnational cooperation.

Speaking of Polish republicanism appears to be just another intellectual game in which Poles don historical costumes. And this is not an innocent game, since it deprives Poles of the realism they need so badly and prevents modernisation, which once again has become the favourite keyword, a mysterious code which is the hallmark of the ruling camp.

A well-known journalist warned:

It will be enough that a few pathetic cheats from the domain of Polish politics or intellectual life who make a living out of confusing defeats with victories raise a generation of young successors. These successors, instead of looking for the real boundaries to which the current potential of Poland and its citizens condemns our politics, will begin to delight in aesthetic fantasies about “strong ideas”, Sarmatian republicanism, the imperial spirit of the original “Solidarity” movement or the inexhaustible potential of the John Paul II generation. There was nothing like that in the 1980s. There was political defeat and a huge price to pay for it.[4]

Another, more serious author wrote in his critical review of my Demokracja peryferii [“Peripheral Democracy”]:

The republican rhetoric of the First Republic hid a rule of oligarchy and widespread corruption, which was practically embedded in the state system. With journalistic exaggeration, one could say that the last great old-style republicans were the Executionist movement generation from the late 16th century. Anyway, the situation was not much better in other nominally republican European countries that were ruled by powerful families using their clientele… Whether republican ideals exerted any influence on political actions is of no interest to Skinner or Pocock – they leave this question to historians. However, such things must necessarily be of interest to those who would like to resurrect these ideas, assuming that the point is not just to replace some lofty slogans with other ones. So when critics of liberalism talk about the renaissance of the republican tradition, they should think about this tradition along the lines of Oakeshott who, like Burke, perceives it as a cumulative experience of political activities. However, tradition understood in this manner was definitely broken in Poland as a result of the partitions; after the November Uprising, it became a political programme of mainstream pro-independence emigrés, but at the turn of the 20th century it could only be found in retrospective passages in literary works.[5]

How can these arguments be opposed? Should republicanism be considered just one more hollow ideology? Was it an invention inspired by reading fashionable authors such as Arendt, Pocock, Skinner, Sandel or Pettit?

And even these works, or at least a majority of them, suggest that republicanism is an anachronistic tradition, one that is not particularly useful in modern times. After all, if we believe thinkers like Arendt, the politics that was practiced in ancient republics had purposes other than its main task today – to efficiently achieve economic goals, modernisation and social development. Whether we like it or not, we must accept that modernity involves the domination of the social, the invasion of life and its necessities into the sphere of actions, while man, as Arendt wrote, understands himself primarily as homo laborens – a worker, and homo faber – a creator of technology.

One can, of course, regret, like Arendt does, that it means losing the essence of the political, but this follows, after all, from the historical development of our civilisation and from the core of our culture. It was Arendt herself who stated:

The substitution of making for acting and the concomitant degradation of politics into a means to obtain an allegedly “higher” end – in antiquity the protection of the good men from the rule of the bad in general, and the safety of the philosopher in particular, in the Middle Ages the salvation of souls, in the modern age the productivity and progress of society – is as old as the tradition of political philosophy.[6]

Therefore it seems obvious that politics as joint action must give way to efficient administration and management or, on the other hand, to rule, i.e. imposing one’s individual will on others and military strength. It would be naïve to think that one could return to the Greek polis or to the idealised Polish Republic.


Road to the Republic

The fact that the old republics were not perfect and that they were often de facto oligarchies is not a decisive factor – after all, liberal democracies are far from liberal ideals as well and we do not think that we should reject liberalism for this reason alone.

The argument of interrupted tradition is unconvincing as well, because it is easier to return to something that was interrupted than to import ideas which originated in completely different cultural and institutional contexts. This is because one thing is certain – we, Poles, do not have any political or state traditions that were stronger and nobler than republicanism (only the post-colonial or communist mentalities could be regarded as equally strong). We cannot change our past and we cannot invent another, better one for ourselves. Such attempts would be unrealistic, naïve and voluntarist. It is a fact that the Polish state developed differently than the countries situated in the western part of the European continent. The Piasts’ patrimonial state evolved into an estate-based monarchy and later into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. From the beginning of the 16th century, it became the nobles’ republic and was regarded as such by the Poles of that time despite the fact that it still had a king: however, this was a king by the will of the nation, and not just of God – he was anointed by God only to the extent to which the Divine Will manifested itself in the will of the nation. Strictly speaking, it was already since the death of Casimir the Great in 1370 that the king of Poland was elected, and until the death of Władysław Jagiełło in 1434, the king was elected during an interregnum.[7]

The notion of freedom that dominated in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was similar to that identified by historians of ideas in the Italian municipal republics. The most important factor was political freedom as the ability to co-decide on the laws being adopted. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest free republic in ancient Europe. The state was not a “Leviathan”, something that functioned completely outside the context of the political society and outside the body politic; it was understood as the nation’s common good that was sustained by common action.

In accordance with the principles accepted in classical republicanism, the Commonwealth had a mixed system in which the parliament played an immense role. Its citizens compared it to ancient Rome, to Venice and to the Netherlands. From their point of view, monarchies were not free countries, but rather abhorrent examples of slavery where there was no freedom of speech, a nobleman could be thrown into prison without a court sentence and the government interfered in the economy.[8] The Polish king ruled over free people and was the dominus dominantium, and the principle of full civil rights for all nobles was, alongside principles such as avoiding extreme decisions by seeking compromise and tolerance for people of other faiths, the foundation of politics in ancient Poland.[9]

When the absolute monarchy became the model of modernity from the 17th century onwards, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth began to appear anachronistic. However, this assessment of its political system only appeared after its position had been weakened: “as late as in the first half of the 17th century, many political writers and thinkers not only approved of, but were even enthusiastic about [the system of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth]”.[10] In Poland, despite the admiration for mighty monarchies, people always sympathised with those who opposed their might – with the British in their struggle against the Stuarts, with the French who started the revolution and finally with the Americans.[11]

Nevertheless, the Poles later remembered primarily those attempts at reforms that were aimed at strengthening the king’s power rather then at reinforcing the democratic element, which was probably the result of their experience related to the loss of independence. However, a state can be strengthened in various ways. As an expert on the subject notes:

From the 16th century, attempts were made in Poland to introduce a well-organised government. In the mixed form of government that existed at the time, the democratic factor played an enormous role, but still proved unable to develop its own effective central institution through reforming the parliament… Interestingly, while bottom-up reforms that were proposed by the general nobility are typically referred to as anarchy or harmful troublemaking, reforms that moved in the absolutist direction are still seen as positive despite the negative examples from France or Russia (Muscovy). I find this strange, but this trend does in fact exist, although it is somehow detached from this basic assumption that underlies the Polish traditional system of values – ultimately, which is considered the most important: freedom or submission?[12]

This stems, inter alia, from the impact of the dominant interpretation of European history, in which absolutism is recognised as an indispensable stage of development. In the historiography of the partitioning powers, which contributed to the dominance of this interpretation, liberties of citizens of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were presented as aberrant and backward-looking from the outset. From the point of view of modern absolutism, the Commonwealth was an inconceivable anomaly that had to be eradicated so that the disease did not spread to other countries. In his Deutsche Geschichte im neuzehnten Jahrhundert published in 1879, Heinrich von Treitschke wrote of the “rotting state of the Sarmatian gentry”[13]. Incorporation into Prussia was supposed to bring liberation and guarantee well-being:

For the first time in centuries, the wretched people of Greater Poland and Mazovia could now enjoy the blessing of a just and thoughtful administration. Noblemen finally became subjects of a state and had to submit to the law, and peasants and Jews were able to forge their future by engaging in peaceful work without trembling before the nobleman’s whip.[14]

Many political catastrophes, cuts and interruptions in Polish history (primarily the history of Polish statehood) stand between us and the First Polish Republic, but the peculiarity of Polish political culture and political institutions is undeniable, and analogies to the past – striking. Certainly, the Poles’ attachment to their republican tradition, which has survived in both higher and popular cultures, is greater than that to liberalism, which was imported from abroad, or to intellectual novelties of some other kind. This is not surprising. For example, there is no reason why I should not feel a bond with Jan Stanisław Krasnodębski, a zealot from the Grodno Sejm who protested against the recognition of the second partition of Poland – after all, the circumstances in which he acted were not far removed from those which my generation has encountered.

It is difficult to disagree with the participants of the liberal Congress of Freedom (May 2010) who, frightened by the spirit of the republican community whose emergence they claimed to have witnessed during the mourning after the Smolensk catastrophe, lamented that there was little space in Poland for their liberalism.


Survival of tradition

Historians and sociologists of culture claim that the cultural code does not change as rapidly as we think. In countries such as France and Germany, which have also undergone huge changes, some permanent characteristics of this code are still visible.

Why should Poland be different? It is true that historical memory is also a habitual one, that it is not only discursive, but also recorded in our behaviours, but these behaviours do not have to be related to formal institutions; they can also involve people’s habits and typical responses. It is also obvious that in no country is political culture homogeneous. It always combines different threads, which sometimes clash and compete with one another. The republican tradition can be just one of these threads and it is also replete with internal tensions and conflicts.

The fact that we do not appreciate the strength of this tradition in Poland stems from the difficulties we encounter in describing our own culture. From a greater distance, its peculiar features, both good and bad, can be discerned more clearly.

A few years ago, two Australian political scientists John Dryzek and Leslie Holmes studied political discourse in thirteen post-communist countries, using the fairly sophisticated Q-methodology. In Poland, they identified three types of political discourse. These are:

a) civic republicanism;

b) guided democracy, which can be considered to be radicalised republicanism;

c) disaffected majoritarianism.

The field of Polish discourse is determined by these three types of thinking, with the first one being dominant. Only in the Czech Republic was republican thinking detected as well, though to a lesser degree. Some elements thereof were also observed in Georgia and in Slovakia.

According to Dryzek and Holmes, Polish republicanism brings to mind the flavour promoted by Hannah Arendt. As the authors stated:

The Polish factor of Civic Republicanism represents the most direct successor to the “politics of truth” pursued by Solidarity when it constituted the civil society in opposition to the communist regime. This discourse clearly rejects the communist past, and is highly moralistic in its expectations of political figures. It defines citizenship in terms of commitment to the principles of the democratic state, not on a nationalistic or religious basis.[15]

Other elements that these scholars have discovered are: the preference for mixed government and the rule of law; an ideal of active citizenship that is animated by the spirit of what is common; understanding politics not just as a clash of vested interests, especially material ones; focus on the public good, but with pro-market leanings. They also criticised some other scholars, stating:

Observers of Poland… who see the possibility of democratic politics only in terms of parties that promote the material interests of sectors of the population are heirs to a foreign liberalism, not an indigenous Polish republicanism.[16]


Polish republican mentality

A prominent feature of Polish history is the neo-republican understanding of freedom as the absence of dominance and the freedom to participate in politics (but also as self-seeking actions that are against general rules), and not just freedom from interference. Thus in the Polish tradition there is no tension between the Athenian flavour of republicanism, which emphasises participation, and the neo-Roman one, which stresses the importance of the law.[17] The peculiarity of the Polish political tradition can be clearly seen when it is compared to those of the other countries. In France, the Enlightenment’s fight against the Church and the revolution against the ancien régime influenced the understanding of freedom. In the French understanding of freedom, freedom in the cultural sphere prevails, which is understood as the ability to use reason that is freed from all traditional constraints, and political freedom understood as participation in the adoption of laws that express the general will. Economic freedom and the freedom to associate were of lesser importance. On the other hand, the German understanding of freedom implies freedom in the internal domain, one of individual improvement (Bildung), and also freedom construed as being subject to general state laws. In the German tradition, the guarantor of freedom is the state. Similarly as in the case of France, economic freedom never played a significant role for the Germans. Things are different in the American tradition where economic freedom is of central importance and political freedom is understood as, on the one hand, independence from the state, and on the other hand as participating in the exercise of authority.[18] Leonard Krieger, the author of a well-known book on the “German idea of freedom”, claimed that Americans attributed great importance to both “civil” and political freedom. They are concerned both with ensuring their rights vis-à-vis the state and participation in state decisions, and in Krieger’s opinion this concern was never present to a similar extent in Western Europe where civil liberties were gained before political ones.

The notion of freedom that dominated in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was similar to that identified by historians of ideas in the Italian municipal republics. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest free republic in ancient Europe. In the Polish understanding, the most important elements have always been political freedom as the ability to co-decide on the laws being adopted and freedom as the ability to oppose the state, and even the will of the majority – if this will appeared to amount to usurpation or assault on the individual’s freedom. The Polish understanding of freedom in the cultural sphere did not mean, as in the French tradition, liberation from the authority of the Church or intellectual radicalism. In the economic domain, it means the ability to engage in independent activity without state interference. Polish freedom means the ability to act on one’s whims, too; this was the essence of self-seeking behaviours in ancient Poland, which assumed a deeply ingrained sense of equal rights – each nobleman was entitled to equal dignity regardless of his economic status.

In the period of decline of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and after the partitions, a contradiction between individual freedom and collective freedom emerged, which was very characteristic of Polish culture; the situation required that individual freedom be subordinated to the overarching goal, which was first to preserve and then to regain collective freedom and the independence of the state. It was the striving for independence rather than the wish to extend the sphere of individual freedom that motivated Polish uprisings. However, the Polish struggle for independence was not an expression of collectivism, e.g. ethnic nationalism: after all, the goal was to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and, therefore, freedom understood as individual liberty within a political community. Only later was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth imbued with the idea of a nation state in the sense of an ethnic state, a pre-political nation.

The republican understanding of freedom could be discerned in the era of the first “Solidarity” movement when much was said about empowering the society again. This is in fact why this movement was accused of collectivism and of not being a movement aimed at liberating individuals. As Andrzej Walicki wrote:

The nationwide character of the “Solidarity” movement demands… that we ask whether there was some unconscious acceptance of the traditionally Polish and archaic concept of the nation, i.e. perceiving the nation as a gigantic community, almost a family, united not only in political, but also in moral terms, and therefore basically capable of unanimously and directly deciding its own fate.[19]

However, this appears to be a misunderstanding resulting from misconstruing the relationship between collective freedom and individual freedom, and underestimating freedom as an opportunity to participate in political processes and in legislation. Today, we can see the influence of republicanism on some strands of Polish euroscepticism.

The Polish republicanism also involves aversion to the state, to strong authority and to bureaucratic interference in family, economic and even political life. This is not just the result of our experience of partitions or of imported liberalism. The fear of absolute power has been a permanent feature of Polish political culture. For similar reasons, there is a sense that a mixed political system is superior. In his work Polonia sive status Regni Poloniae descriptio, published in Cologne in 1632, Szymon Starowolski described this system as follows:

Thus the King of Poland and the highest master of all provinces subordinate to the Crown, however powerful, is obliged to keep within the laws and resolutions of the senate, and although a huge kingdom is subject to the monarchy’s authority, the vigilant noble liberty limits both the royal power and the senate’s authority to some extent, and in this way the laws of equality define the King as well as all estates within the kingdom. And although everyone constantly and adamantly protects public freedoms and the scope of the monarch’s power, the royal majesty is so revered, loved and respected by anyone that nothing can happen in the Commonwealth without the King’s command, and everyone is ready to shed their blood for his safety, glory, life and personal well-being.[20]

And although we know that the constitution of the Third Polish Republic was shaped by coincidences, it is also the case today that we have a mixed system – neither a presidential nor a cabinet one. The only problem is that there is not always sufficient respect for the President and the majesty of the Republic of Poland.

The Poles are interested in politics to an extent that is rarely seen in Europe, but this is a peculiar form of interest, which does not necessarily translate into being active in political organisations or even voting in elections. However, in crisis situations temporary bursts of activity occur, which are often fairly well organised. This is reminiscent of old confederations or rebellions, which resembled a levy en masse.

Poles are attached to political equality. As late as during the Sejm (parliamentary session) in 1699 when the ascendance of magnate oligarchy was already clearly in evidence, a resolution was passed stating that there was no smaller or greater nobility, and that no such division was possible in aequalite. This principle of equality – equal dignity for even the smallest nobleman regardless of his wealth and position – is still evident in the manner in which the Poles treat those who rule the country. Those who rule and those who are ruled feel equal. In many countries, citizens are still subjects who entrust their fate to institutions, and politicians are perceived as representatives of a supreme power. On the other hand, Poles have a special – and I would say disrespectful – attitude to authority and power. Each Polish citizen is a politician and every other taxi driver – a political thinker. And I do not know of any other country where TV journalists would talk to people in power the way they do in Poland.

There is also no clear separation between the state and society, and between politics and civic activity. While the state that was superior was at the same time a foreign one imposed by the partitioning powers, the Republic continued to exist as an “underground state” that was identified with civic values. At present, the Polish civil society is also not one that would be entirely “civil” and separate from the political sphere. Non-governmental organisations are political actors. Civic movements are seamlessly transformed into political parties, and sometimes attain more political significance than the latter.

The Polish politics still revolves around a dispute about values and about ethos. The Poles are prone to thinking about politics normatively, in terms of the common good, even if they are very critical of political realities, which is reflected, inter alia, in their condemnation of self-serving actions. They also maintain a clear distance towards political parties, which they perceive as representatives of vested interests.

The Polish culture is not a post-heroic one. The value of patriotism, although sometimes questioned, is still widely recognised. Admittedly, many Poles have renounced and are still renouncing their Polishness, but our collective memory has not been shaped by attitudes such as those expressed by Jan Potocki, who complained in his letter of 10 October 1809: “Patriotism in Poland is a disease which every generation must catch. I was born amidst this epidemic, which ruined my fathers, then it ruined me, and now I see the ruin of the next generation”.[21]

As we know, Hannah Arendt, who showed us the wealth of old republican thought and political practice even before the present renaissance or republicanism, almost completely neglected the external world in her description of the polis. According to her, foreign policy is not policy in fact, because it implies the use of coercion. After all, however, these great deeds that are remembered as immortal also include defending the homeland and fighting its enemies. Patriotism almost always involves struggle, and in this sense the culture of a republic cannot be post-heroic.

The almost absolute dominance of internal politics, self-centredness, limited desire for expansion or conquest and passivity in foreign policy are also permanent features of the Polish political tradition. Poland is Polish-centric and essentially uninterested in the outside world; it does not want to play an active role outside its borders. A significant exception today are the regions and states that were once included in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The Polish politics does not pursue universality either. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never wished to stretch to “the entire world”, and the Polish identity was formed in opposition to the expansive designs of the Holy Roman Empire. In this sense, it was not an empire which assumed a universal imperial mission that consists in conquering the world. The Commonwealth was neither an empire that would enslave and exploit its peripheries, nor a nation state. It was the commonwealth of many nations in the ethnic sense, but also – in the end – the republic of a single body politic, i.e. of free Poles.


Shared space, shared memory

Republicanism reminds us that politics as an activity undertaken by free people is only possible locally, within a limited community. As Arendt argued, the limitation of space was the condition of freedom and politics:

This public space does not become political until it is secured within a city, is bound, that is, to a concrete place that itself survives both those memorable deeds and the names of the memorable men who performed them and thus can pass them on to posterity over generations. This city, which offers a permanent abode for mortal men and their transient deeds, is the polis; it is political and therefore different from other settlements… because it is purposefully built around its public space, the agora, where free men could meet as peers on any occasion.[22]

As long as the community lasts and as long as Poland lasts, politics remains possible. Political activities shape history and create a narrative. Heroic deeds live on in this narrative, they are encoded in the political community: in the republic and in its history. As long as the republic exists, they remain immortal, and Żółkiewski and Sobieski, Kościuszko and Sowiński, the insurgents of Warsaw, Fieldorf and Popiełuszko remain immortal as well, although we, unlike Arendt, believe that their deeds are also part of a divine script. The fact that the heroes have died or that they have been defeated has nothing to do with the cult of death, because they are immortal – although they have died. Nobody described it better than Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz in his Kinderszenen.

In a polis, in a republic, words are deeds as well, and hence the importance of rhetoric, oratory and poetry: “the most important activity of a free life moves from action to speech, from free deeds to free words”.[23] However, this does not mean that deeds are replaced by talk, that words obscure reality or that talking is a sign of decadence. Words are not just powerless self-deception or substitutes for deeds: “speech… is a form of action, and our downfall can become a deed if we hurl words against it even as we perish”.[24] It is difficult to better express the events that took place so many times in Polish history, when defeats were transformed into great deeds and ultimately into victories thanks to words and memory.

Another characteristic point is that in a republic, politics itself is the purpose of politics. Where, however, do we find today this economic selflessness, which, as Arendt stressed, is the essence of political action? The polis assumed the existence of the oikos where citizens of the polis satisfied their needs related to livelihood. It is no accident that the Commonwealth had a similar structure. A nobleman’s estate was not subject to state regulation and interference, since state intervention in the economy would be considered despotism. It was increasingly becoming the nobleman’s private sphere, which was subject to his jurisdiction. Work was primarily the domain of peasants, production – of craftsmen, and trade – of foreigners: Jews, Armenians and Scots. However miserable was the life of a serf, the lot of a slave in ancient Greece or Rome, and also on plantations in the south of the United States was certainly no better.

If we find any traces of this selflessness today, it is in the domination of agon, i.e. the competition for power in Polish politics at the expense of solving social or economic problems.

In a republic, political action is primarily performing great deeds on the political scene.[25] Politics serves as a means of self-presentation and expressing one’s identity, it is an expression of the agonal spirit and consists in facing others, who are in principle equal, but whom we wish to outdo, striving to gain at least fleeting fame. The tendency to multiply words follows from the fact that power is something that is shaped between people – one has to attract them, mobilise them and persuade them to accept one’s authority. Therefore oratory and theatre are of great importance.

There is indeed a lot of both in Polish political life today. The theatricality of public life in contemporary Poland is becoming grotesque at the expense of the substantial dimension of politics. We evaluate politicians according to their presentation, appearance and the manner in which they speak rather than according to their ability to solve specific problems. Hence the great role of the media. The preponderance of Palikot-like figures in public life is a degenerate form of this expressive and performative dimension of politics.

Atrophy of political will

In inheriting the republican tradition, we inherit its weaknesses as well. Continuation is also evident in the persistent nature of the problems we face, such as inertia, disorder, inclination to anarchy and self-seeking behaviour and finally pursuing one’s freedom without heeding general rules and the common good. The greatest problem of post-1989 Poland is the one that has plagued us since the end of the 16th century, i.e. the weakness of the central government. Today, historians agree that Poland’s downfall was caused neither by the Counter-Reformation nor by economic backwardness but rather by the degeneration of state authority and of the state itself.[26]

This is because the republican system is extremely demanding of its citizens. If freedom is understood as freedom from domination, it requires much greater sensitivity and love of liberty than merely freedom from interference. The fate of the republic depends on the virtue of its citizens. The republic can only survive as long as its citizens recognise it as the overarching value. Therefore it can be said that it is a system that is particularly vulnerable to corruption. Polish historians who analysed the reasons for the spectacular downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth knew it well. Stanisław Kutrzeba correctly observed that such a system required “not only the individuals at the top but also the general nobility to be state-minded”.[27] Władysław Konopczyński, writing about the 16th century, stressed the following:

Despotism does not require any virtues except for obedience; the Polish freedom demanded state-mindedness, sacrifice and vigilance from hundreds of thousands of people. If there were enough of them in one generation, the next one brought a deficit. And whatever “spirit of Polish history” hovered over the nation, and whatever goal that “Poland pursued”, it was still unable, such as it was then, to complete the superhuman tasks that the Golden Age set for it. Only a miracle of authority imposed upon the free spirits, or an even greater miracle of civic education could have saved it from degradation.[28]

By rejecting the miracle of authority, Poland remained dependent on the quality of its citizens. The strength of the Commonwealth depended on the character of its citizens and on their virtues:

a homeland of small, ignorant and corrupt people like Matuszewicz [the nobleman presented as a negative example by the author – trans.] could be drunk away by a profligate magnate such as Prince “My Dear Sir” Radziwiłł or could be sold by traitors like Podoski or Poniński. A homeland of strong spirits and clear minds could not have been brought to its knees by a traitor or madman. The idea was to have as few citizens like Matuszewicz and as many people with Old Polish hearts and European minds as possible.[29]

Unfortunately, there were not enough strong spirits and clear minds, but one may also doubt whether European minds could have been combined with Old Polish hearts, since these European minds had a completely different understanding of the state, which was not unlike the one that prevails today. And even today, Old Polish hearts and European minds rarely meet in the same body.

Poland ceased to exist because the Poles failed as citizens. There was no political will to preserve the Commonwealth, and this was related to the atrophied sense of the common good, without which a republic ruled by citizens, and especially a republic surrounded by absolutist states which were guided only by their raisons d’état and did not have to take into account the opinion of their subjects, could not possibly survive.

The prominent Polish sociologist Franciszek Bujak, who strongly rejected the argument that the partitions were caused by economic weakness, also concluded that the political factor played a key role:

In my opinion, the decisive factor that led to Poland’s downfall was the lack of strong and rational will to maintain state independence in the conditions in which Poland found itself in the 18th century. Poland as a state succumbed to violence because it had ceased to perform its elementary duties; when finally, almost after the entire century had passed, it remembered those duties, it was too late; the predators quickly proceeded to tear their prey apart.[30]

This lack of political will was reflected in the submissiveness with which the loss of independence was accepted. After all, the partitions were accepted by the Poles – both the Polish parliament and the Polish king. The Sejm approved subsequent partitions and the king finally abdicated and moved to St. Petersburg; fittingly, he was not buried at the Wawel Castle. In this sense, the partitions were legal and to some extent voluntary. As a modern scholar who studied the literature of the era writes:

Each of the partitioning powers officially acted as the legal and legitimate ruler of its new subjects, assuming its rule not as a result of an armed aggression and the subjugation of a foreign state by force, but as a result of the formal abdication of the former King of Poland and the peaceful annexation of the lands that allegedly belonged to the partitioning power in the past; now it ruled those lands again by way of incorporating them peacefully.[31]

In Jędrzej Kitowicz’s memoirs, we find descriptions of many a homage paid by docile Poles to their new rulers. We also learn that the citizens of Warsaw definitely preferred the Russians to thrifty and provident Prussians, and thus Russian-Polish reconciliation was an easier task:

The Russians entered Warsaw with spoils, having committed an immense robbery of the entire Poland and Lithuania… they brought the fresh plunder of the wretched Praga with them; being a voracious and riotous people just like the Poles, they shared all this loot with merchants, with craftsmen, bakers, fishermen, butchers, musicians, comedians, harlots and other people whom they used in their excesses and debauchery. These benefits of hosting the Russians soon made everyone forget the atrocities committed all other the country and most recently in Praga; the hearts of those who looked after their own interests were filled with friendship and attachment to the Russians.[32]

This weak spot for Russians and the tendency to forgive their atrocities has also survived to our times.

The lack of resistance was one of the most characteristic features of the downfall of the Commonwealth, and this later made it easier for the partitioning powers to claim that Poland had ceased to exist by itself and had died a natural death. It should be recalled that the same argument that the Polish state had ceased to exist was advanced by the Soviet Union in 1939 when it justified its 17 September invasion of the Second Polish Republic. Unfortunately, as concerned the end of the 18th century, this claim was true to some extent. As the author of the classic study on the second partition of Poland writes: “The First Partition was novel in that this was the first occasion when foreign powers had dismembered a state without having first gone to war with it or without bloodshed among themselves”. Similarly as the second partition, it can be treated as an example of the “moral degeneracy and rottenness of the old monarchical Europe”.[33] However, it can also be regarded as a source of particular shame for the Poles and a sign of their moral degeneracy, because they gave their freedom and the Commonwealth away without bloodshed. In 1792, the Poles did not show much will to fight either:

That [Polish-Russian] campaign presents a painful spectacle. What is one to think of a nation which, after boasting of its regeneration, when called upon to fight for its liberty and very existence allows itself to be conquered by a hostile army of only 100,000 men, after a struggle lasting barely two months?[34]

Poland collapsed because the Poles lacked the will and determination to defend it:

The sum of the matter would seem to be that – in spite of warm and widespread patriotic zeal – the nation did not find in itself or in its leaders or, least of all, in its king that iron will; that indomitable resolution; that readiness to risk everything; to sacrifice everything; and to stop at nothing, which alone might still, perhaps, have saved it. The lack of a great man of action at the head was cruelly felt, but the morale of the nation was also at fault.[35]

The Grodno Sejm – the last parliamentary session in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – was a scene of shame and downfall. Only a few zealots tried to maintain their dignity. As an eyewitness reported:

The city is in a state of siege, its streets and suburbs clogged with Russian soldiers and Cossacks: camps, cavalry outposts and patrols are everywhere. Despite this fact, parties, dinners, balls, evening parties, etc., continue uninterrupted[36].

The sense of corruption and betrayal and the victory of post-politics aroused protests among just a few.

I can see – said one of the zealots in Grodno to the king – that you ascended to the throne owing to your betrayal and lust, you ruled by betrayal and now you end your reign in a vile and shameless manner. You have lived your life conquering women, but your conquests have prepared your homeland’s death, which is now before us. So let your mistresses bury you with the same sadness with which you have put your homeland in the grave.[37]

It was said at the time that there was also a fourth partitioning power, i.e. those Poles who wanted to enrich themselves with the spoils left after the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The German historian F. J. Holzwarth wrote:

Salaries, bonuses, leases on the property of the dissolved Jesuit order and on royal property rained upon the supporters of the new state of affairs; the historical truth is that entire armies of citizens of dubious morality constituted the fourth partitioning power which grabbed the spoils of the Commonwealth.[38]

After listing several Polish personalities who were traitors and drew their salaries from foreign courts, the contemporary scholar recalls:

The scale of betrayal was… terrifying. Patriots of the time considered it to be the Poles’ national affliction, their inherent spiritual defect and historical fate at the same time.[39]

This is why the Kościuszko Uprising was hugely important. The uprising was defeated, but still made it possible to regain national dignity and it allowed the Commonwealth and Poland to survive in the memory and ethos of its citizens, although those who remembered were just a handful.

Among the “new subjects” themselves, there were quite a few who were easily resigned to their fates. The destruction of the country in 1794 resulted in a desire for peace and security at any price; so people breathed easier under the new government, and especially in the lands annexed by Russia where schools and civil courts were not affected, and noblemen were even allowed to hold fictitious diets and elections. In the lands annexed by Prussia, the population was won over by easy credit and soon all the noblemen of Greater Poland were indebted. Only Austria, which was nearing financial and moral bankruptcy (due to the scum that was its bureaucracy) taxed both Galicias heavily, conscripted troops and Germanised forcibly (even in schools). Mean people in Poland soon forgot… about Poland.[40]

It should be remembered that in the 19th century, a sovereign Poland – an independent Commonwealth – was considered of value by some Poles only.

Jerzy Łojek claimed that there was in fact a “Polish anti-independence movement” in the 19th century. He believed that independence aspirations were only shared by some politically aware social classes. The rest believed that dependence on another state better protected their political and economic interests. Poles did not regain independence because they did not fight for it consistently:

a typical “model” of a Polish uprising in the 19th century was an insurgency triggered by a relatively small group of conspirators, followed by the inevitable capture of the leadership role in the struggle by circles that were interested solely in making the insurrection less radical politically and in fighting for the sake of political demonstration only in order to provoke an intervention by Western European powers. Programmes of independent struggle for full national liberation were, as a rule, just utopias formulated in circles that had no real influence on the course of the events. This is because regaining independence through a ‘total’ national war would necessarily entail a far-reaching social and political revolution in the new Polish state.[41]

However, it was the independence movement, and not the anti-independence one, which entered the canon of Polish culture and motivated ever new generations of conspirators. So perhaps Winston Churchill knew better than historical pessimists when, in his speech delivered in the House of Commons on 1 October 1939, he uttered these memorable words:

The soul of Poland is indestructible... she will rise again as a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock.


Republicanism as the cause of the downfall?

But was it not the republican system that condemned Poland to its fate? It appears that Władysław Konopczyński advocated this thesis – at a congress of historians in 1930, he stated that vested interests, which are nowadays promoted by some variants of liberalism, were the cause of Poland’s downfall:

Poland’s interest was identified with the sum of interests of individual citizens, and its freedom with the sum of their freedoms. Confirmed in this view, the nobility started to treat each king… as an opponent… Second, the deeper truth, which is unfathomable for many, was misunderstood: the truth that freedom, both individual and collective, means primarily dependence on one’s own will, and only then, as a consequence, independence from the will of others… Independence must be built from within and protected from the outside. One first has to love something to lay down one’s life for it. The nobility first impoverished and weakened its collective self by indulging individual egoisms, and subsequently unilaterally saw the danger in its own monarch rather than in its neighbours; finally, when self-defence became necessary, it failed to muster in its sterile self the strength needed to counter the attack.[42]

Konopczyński claims that it was only brutal pressure from Russians that pushed the Poles to distinguish national independence from personal freedom and that there used to be no word for independence in Polish – it was only introduced by Konarski in 1733 in the form of the Latin word independentia.[43]

Other defects of the national character are pointed out as well, e.g. the lack of individualism:

Polish individualism, which allegedly culminated in the liberum veto, has been commonly criticised. This is a terrible misunderstanding. Individualism, i.e. the nation disintegrating into individuals, did much harm: it destroyed legislation and the government, but it did not lead to any individualities emerging. Quite the opposite: during regional diets where unanimity ruled, all individualities had to stay silent, efface themselves, bend and break, since otherwise the diet would come to nothing and this would be detrimental to public matters.[44]

In the 1980s, Andrzej Walicki criticised Polish individualism. However, he did not mean strengthening the collective spirit and state authority by strengthening individuality, but, in line with liberal thinking, weakening them in order to liberate individuality. He claimed that the Poles in fact adhered to ancient principles of freedom – collective freedom rather than individual one. Although the ethos of noble democracy was an anti-authoritarian one, it was not individualistic, since a minority was expected to submit to the majority not only legally but morally as well.

Another negative characteristic of Poles was their focus on privacy and love of the peaceful life; as we would say today, they occupied themselves mainly with holding barbecue parties.

Amidst the landowners’ idyllic lives in the eastern spaces, in an extensive economy, among the vast expanse of fields, groves, meadows and waters, there developed a truly Polish carefreeness and indifference to everything that does not directly threaten our happiness at home. Without great passions or burnt offerings, without tragically struggling with fate, the old Polish life flew softly, free of any soul-gnawing doubts. A rarefied population breathed a rarefied culture, so to say.[45]

Under those conditions, negligence and laziness were common in the practical and intellectual spheres.

The laziness of thought and will accompanied the laziness of the workers’ hands. This is visible everywhere – through holes and patches in parliamentary legislation, through vague and timid expressions of political thought and through ill-conceived political plans.[46]

Little has changed since then, as evidenced by the legislation of the Third Polish Republic, the state of its universities and of its politics.

Thus the Polish tradition is not unambiguous. It has both strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, it may lead one to negate the importance of individual freedom, and on the other hand it may result in the negation or underestimation of the importance of central authority and joint political activities, and thus of national and state independence. However, the very fact that we discuss our national character and defects is a testimony to the influence of the republican tradition in which the fate of the state depends on the citizens’ attitudes.

Today, however, we can re-evaluate the Polish political system, which was once considered by historians, e.g. by Konopczyński, to have been the main cause of the state’s collapse, since political systems that guarantee the individual’s freedom and participation in ruling the state are seen as the model for, and end point of, political modernisation. No one considers them to be inherently ineffective and doomed to failure in their competition against authoritarian or totalitarian states. Just the opposite – the Solidarity movement in 1989 demonstrated that systems based on liberty are stronger than authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and that freedom prevails over despotism. It is only today that this optimistic conclusion is being challenged in connection with the global crisis, Islamism and the rise of China.


Still current

However, history goes on and republicanism takes on new forms. Modern democracies undoubtedly bear more similarities to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth than to the absolute monarchies which were once considered models of political modernity. Today, our criticism of authoritarian regimes is based on almost the same arguments that were advanced against absolutism by Polish political columnists several centuries ago. And it is hardly a coincidence that the renaissance of interest in republicanism came as totalitarianism ended.

The reason why the Poles’ republican traditions are often viewed in a negative light is quite clear: the loss of independence. As Konopczyński stated:

Poles faced the question of whether to have or not to have an independent state three times: first at the dawn of Poland’s history, when independence from the Holy Roman Empire was at stake; after the period of disintegration, when the country recombined by uniting its regions and returned under the Piast rule, escaping from Bohemian hegemony; and for the third time – incessantly in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, with a general attitude of resistance to the Russians.[47]

Neither the 19th nor the 20th century were easy for us. There were many opportunities for dramatic choices. We owe it not only to favourable circumstances, but also to strong political will that Poland regained independence in 1918; at the time, it was said that the Polish canary ate three cats, i.e. the three partitioning powers. Writing the above, Konopczyński may not have known that soon, in 1939, Poles would face the issue of their independence once again. During World War II, it turned out that the Second Polish Republic allowed them to find sufficient strength “in their selves” to fight for independence. Enriching and strengthening “our collective selves” was probably the greatest achievement of the Second Polish Republic, although it did not save us from defeat either.

Poles faced the issue of whether “to have or not to have an independent state” both after 1945 and after 1989. Also today, an empowered Poland and a strong state is by no means the goal of all Poles – also among those who belong to the small politically conscious class, not to mention all the politically unconscious masses.

Restoring republican virtues would strengthen the Polish state. Because what in fact is the current “post-politics”, the pursuit of decentralisation and the warnings against a strong state that multiply in the media – are they not a degeneration of statehood in a new guise? Recent attacks on President Kaczyński who represented the concept of a solidary and strong state resembled the struggle between “liberty”, or rather lawlessness, which hides under the “liberal” label, and “majesty”, which represents the entire Republic.

The second reason for the negative attitude towards republicanism is today’s aversion to the idea of the freedom of the nation and of patriotism, and the conviction that is common among the intelligentsia that in Poland a gloomy collective oppresses the individual and that constraints of nation and religion limit individual freedom. The 19th and 20th centuries taught us to think in terms of the freedom of the nation, not freedom of the individual, but today, in times, as it is claimed, of the decline of the nation state and the end of sovereignty, such thinking is seen as completely anachronistic. Anyone who wishes to defend collective freedom is considered a nationalist even if he rejects the ethnic definition of the nation, criticises the National Democratic tradition and supports the European Union as a union of states.

After 1989, it appeared that in order to “normalise” the Poles and to modernise Poland, they should be freed from their country, made more individual, released from the burden of collective obligations and excess patriotic feelings. However, contrary to the beliefs prevailing among the liberal-left and leftist circles, it is not individual freedoms that are at risk today; this of course does not mean that they should not be protected, since freedom is not given once and for all. Our collective freedom, the freedom of the Republic is under threat because many Poles consider it to be an unnecessary historic prop, and another large segment of the society still exists on a pre-political level just like serfs in the past: in this sense Poles are still an unfinished nation. Poland’s freedom as a condition for the Poles’ freedom is underestimated even more owing to the current processes of Europeanisation and globalisation. The idea of a sovereign Republic as a common good is negated by transnational ideologies. So it may appear, and it does appear to many Poles, that Poland is a fairly random framework in which individuals live their lives, that it is a dispensable and ultimately unnecessary intermediate structure between our home region (so-called “little homeland”) and broader European structures. In fact, however, it is not only a value in itself and a collective good despite European integration; it is a guarantee of our individual freedom as well. The Poles learned this many times after 1795 and nothing indicates that the world has changed so much after 1989 that our fundamental experience has lost all its importance.

Of course, it can be said that republicanism is a utopia. However, it appears that it is more of a “regulative idea” to which the Polish reality can be related, just as the Americans relate their reality to the ideal of “America”. In a sense, it is both a utopia, or rather an unattainable ideal, and an alternative to what currently exists. Republicanism makes us realise that liberalism does not have a monopoly on freedom, that it is just a peculiar, impoverished interpretation of human freedom. Republicanism makes it possible to combine collective freedom with the individual one and go beyond the disputes over the Piłsudski and National Democratic camps, beyond the oppositions between liberalism and authoritarianism and between socialism and the market economy. It enables us to permeate the public space with values, understand the overarching value of the Republic and mobilise its citizens to promote its freedom and strength.

[1]     G. C. MacCallum, Negative and Positive Freedom, D. Miller (ed.), Oxford 1993, pp. 100–122.

[2]     C. Taylor, Der Irrtum der negativen Freiheit, [in:] idem, Negative Freiheit, Frankfurt 1999, pp. 118–144.

[3]     See M. Viroli, Die Idee der republikanischen Freiheit, Zürich/München 1995, p. 56.

[4]     C. Michalski, “Długie pożegnanie z »Solidarnością«”, Dziennik, 18 October 2008.

[5]     A. Waśkiewicz, “Republika peryferii”, Przegląd Polityczny 2004, No. 67/68, pp. 97–102, quotation on pp. 99–100.

[6]     H. Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd edition, Chicago 1958, p. 229.

[7]     See J. Lukowski, The Szlachta and the Monarchy: Reflections on the Struggle inter maiestatem ac libertatem, [in:] The Polish–Lithuanian Monarchy in European Context c. 1500–1795, R. Butterwick (ed.), London 2001, pp. 132–149, here: p. 133.

[8]     A. Grześkowiak–Krwawicz, Polish View on European Monarchies, [in:] The Polish–Lithuanian Monarchy…, op. cit., pp. 116–131.

[9]     E. Opaliński, Kultura polityczna szlachty polskiej w latach 1587–1652. System parlamentarny a społeczeństwo obywatelskie, Warszawa 1995, quoted after: W. Kriegseisen, Zmierzch staropolskiej polityki, czyli o niektórych cechach szczególnych polskiej kultury politycznej przełomu XVII i XVIII wieku, [in:] Zmierzch kultury staropolskiej, U. Augustyniak, A. Karpiński (eds.), Warszawa 1997, pp. 14–39, here: p. 16.

[10]    Z. Wójcik, Jan Sobieski 1629–1696, Warszawa 1983, p. 519.

[11]    A. Grześkowiak–Krwawicz, Polish View on European Monarchies, op. cit., p. 128.

[12]    On civic traditions in the Commonwealth – interview with Andrzej Sulima-Kamiński, [in:] A. Nowak, Od imperium do imperium. Spojrzenia na historię Europy Wschodniej, Kraków 2004, p. 316–336, quotation on p. 326.

[13]    Quoted after: M. H. Serejski, Europa a rozbiory Polski, Warszawa 1970, p. 338.

[14]    Deutsche Geschichte im neuzehnten Jahrhundert, vol. 1, pp. 130–131, quoted after: M. H. Serejski, Europa…, op. cit., p. 339.

[15]    J. S. Dryzek, L. Holmes, Post–Communist Democratization. Political Discourses across Thirteen Countries, Cambridge 2002, p. 235.

[16]    Ibidem, pp. 235–236.

[17]    See J. W. Maynor, Republicanism in the Modern World, Cambridge 2003, pp. 10–32.

[18]    See R. Münch, Die Kultur der Moderne, Frankfurt a. Main 1986.

[19]    A. Walicki, Trzy patriotyzmy, Warszawa 1991, p. 35.

[20]   Quoted after: Z. Wójcik, Jan Sobieski…, op. cit., pp. 13–14.

[21]    Quoted after: A. Nowak, Pielgrzymi, [in:] Rodowód polityczny Polaków, Kraków 2003, pp. 83–95, quotation on p. 85.

[22]    H. Arendt, The Promise of Politics, New York 2005, p. 123.

[23]    Ibidem, p. 124.

[24]   Ibidem, p. 125.

[25]    D. Villa, Public Freedom, Princeton and Oxford 2008, p. 311.

[26]   Z. Wójcik, Jan Sobieski…, op. cit., p. 518.

[27]    S. Kutrzeba, Siły państwowe, [in:] Przyczyny upadku Polski, p. 131, quoted after: M. H. Serejski, Europa…, op. cit., p. 264.

[28]   W. Konopczyński, Dzieje Polski nowożytnej, Warszawa 1999, p. 375.

[29]   Ibidem, p. 599.

[30]   Quoted after: M. H. Serejski, Naród a państwo w polskiej myśli historycznej, Warszawa 1977, p. 264.

[31]    P. Żbikowski, W pierwszych latach narodowej niewoli, Wrocław 2007, p. 13.

[32]    J. Kitowicz, Pamiętniki czyli Historia polska, Warszawa 2009, pp. 653–654.

[33]    R. H. Lord, The Second Partition of Poland, Cambridge 1915, p. 504.

[34]   Ibidem, p. 489.

[35]    Ibidem, p. 490.

[36]   A. J. Rolle, “Stanisław August w Grodnie”, Przewodnik Naukowy i Literacki, Wilno 1875, quoted after: A. Zamoyski, Ostatni król Polski, Warszawa 1994, p. 412.

[37]    Quoted after: A. Zamoyski, Ostatni król Polski, op. cit., pp. 410–411.

[38]   Quoted after: P. Żbikowski, W pierwszych latach…, op. cit., p. 107.

[39]   Ibidem, pp. 125–126.

[40]   A. Brückner, Dzieje kultury polskiej, vol. III, Kraków 1931, pp. 423–424.

[41]    J. Łojek, Szanse powstania listopaodowego, Warszawa 1986, p. 136.

[42]   W. Konopczyński, O wartości naszej dziejowej spuścizny, Kraków 2009, p. 174.

[43]   Idem, Konfederacja barska, vol. 1, Warszawa 1991, p. 25.

[44]   W. Konopczyński, Dzieje Polski nowożytnej, op. cit., p. 599.

[45]   Ibidem, p. 598.

[46]   Ibidem.

[47]   W. Konopczyński, Konfederacja barska, op. cit., p. 23.

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