Identity Politics, Apartheid and the Great Polish Divide

Although the recent pandemic has caused the global culture wars1 to be put on hold they are still there, bubbling under the surface and waiting for an opportunity to resurrect. As soon as the 2020 presidential campaigns in Poland and the US began, this fact became evident. When I2 arrived in the country three years ago, previously born and raised in Johannesburg South Africa, the political landscape in Poland was very definite; left vs right. While over time this has become more nuanced (re: a division among conservatives) there was and still is a big discussion over what it means to be Polish and a division between liberals and conservatives. One could say that Poland has always had an identity struggle but it was usually to defend her right to exist against an outside enemy. These days the struggle seems to be internal, or the “enemy” has managed to infiltrate the culture to such a degree that it seems to be internal. 

Since returning to my fatherland three years ago there have been a few signs that the Poland my grandparents left during WW2, a Poland that fought to preserve her identity and largely remained united through persecution (further so in the fight against communism), seems to be greatly altered. Growing up in South Africa – a multi-cultural society recovering from the pains of Apartheid – I did not think I would experience a division as profound as that drawn amongst the lines of colour. Looking at the stats of the last general election where the conservative party PIS (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość i.e. Truth and Justice) won an outright majority and the crowning of Christ as King of Poland held in 2016 – most people would assume that Poland is predominantly Catholic and conservative. Yet in more left leaning institutions (specifically universities and the arena of the arts) and from articles by left wing publications (Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka etc ) we can see that this is not the case. PIS or any conservative party for that matter is seen by some Poles to be a militant dictatorship who threatens to remove the freedom Poland has achieved. 

The agenda of leftist media outlets in Poland to portray her as nationalist and racist is remarkably portrayed in an interview from 2017 with polish born black fighter Izu Ugonoh. Here the left-wing journalist from TVN’s Fakty po Faktach tries to pressurise Ugonoh to describe the Independence march that was held on the 11th of November as an act of fascism. Surprisingly Ugonoh disputes these claims saying that (although he didn’t attend) many of his friends and those whom he greatly respects did. Leftist news outlets outside of Poland followed the vein of the polish journalist however, which is evident from the following headlines, 

‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s Independence Day. Xenophobic phrases and far-right symbols mark event described by anti-fascists as a magnet for worldwide far-right groups (Matthew Taylor and agencies 2017, n.p), Nationalist March Dominates Poland’s Independence Day (Megan Specia 2017, n.p), Fascists march in Warsaw for Polish Independence Day in one of ‘world’s biggest’ far-right gatherings” (Rachel Roberts 2017, n.p)

This type of rhetoric continues up until this day. 

After visiting an exhibition entitled Pozna Polskosc in 2017 – depicting “Late Polishness” at the Centre of Modern Art at the Zamek U-Jazdowski3 where I observed the figure of Saint John Paul II covered in black paint, the polish national anthem turned into a mindless song about geometric shapes and swastika’s drawn on a number of polish flags I realised that the problem might be even deeper than I had initially thought. Poland is clearly undergoing an identity crisis and she is not alone in her struggle. For the past few years we have seen manifestations of left vs right especially in countries founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. There is undoubtedly a Global Culture War underway or perhaps as Carl R. Trueman posits we are witnessing the dying flames of Western tradition, “we no longer have a culture. What we really have is an anti-culture.” (Carl R. Trueman 2016, n.p)

In the following paper I will be paralleling the recent identity conflicts that have arisen in Poland with my home country of South Africa. Despite their obvious differences i.e. language, culture, geographic location etc, I would like to draw attention to the fact that both these countries overthrew oppressive totalitarian regimes i.e. Communism (1989) and Apartheid (1994) and adopted democracy at relatively the same time. Most significantly; both the parties that overthrew these regimes were supported by two prominent religious figures; St John Paul II (Former Roman Pontiff and now canonised Saint) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (a bishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner). They were both very involved in the struggle for the freedom of their people and served as spiritual and moral guides to the leaders of these parties – Lech Wałęsa (Polish leader of the Solidarity movement i.e. Solidarność) and Nelson Mandela (South African leader of the African National Congress i.e. The ANC). 

At the core of the freedom achieved for both countries, was the belief in the Judeo-Christian concept of the dignity of the human person. By returning to the teachings of these religious figures and by paralleling their thoughts I hope to pose a solution to the recent identity conflicts that have erupted in both these countries (and de facto the world). By going back to the roots of western democracy and human rights I believe we can solve the ever growing divide that is enforced daily by the manipulation of the media.

As my family were refugees I have never felt part of the Apartheid story – a story where “existing racial segregation” was “extended and institutionalised” from 1948-1991 by the former Afrikaner National Party. (Oxford dictionary 2017, n.p) During this time the National Party believed that it would be best for society if different races developed in different areas and through the institution of the Homeland Policy they created “Bantustans or homelands” where “the majority of the black population was moved to prevent them from living in the urban areas of South Africa”. (South African history online 2011, n.p) This ensured the creation of “white South Africa” where black people did not have any economic benefits despite being the majority of the labour force, “The Act did not give Blacks South African citizenship or civil and political rights. Blacks had rights in their “Homelands,” but they were not completely independent.” (South African history online 2011, n.p) In a nutshell black people (and other races) were seen by the Afrikaners as less than human and inferior to white men in general. As Nicky Falkof states in her book The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa the Apartheid regime had little regard for the “primitive” Bantu, “Black people were superfluous to the white nation, existing only as labour potential, dismissed as dirty and diseased and therefore excluded from the citizenry to protect the health and purity of the state’s primary subjects.” The purity of the white race was upheld as an ultimate model thereby prohibiting mixed marriages as they would, as Falkof cites, “in the words of Afrikaans intellectual NJ van der Merwe… lead to “mixing of the blood and the ruin of the white race.” (Nicky Falkof 2016, n.p)

While I vehemently denounce the system of Apartheid my further disconnection to the feeling of responsibility for this oppressive system arose from the fact that I was a “born-free” and started school when Mandela came into power. This meant that I grew up and went to school with all races. I have never considered myself discriminatory but a few years ago the tide in my country seemed to change, the world in fact and just like I am doing now – I realised that I had to explain that just because I’m white did not mean I was racist. This came as quite a shock as the years from mid-1990’s – early 2000’s was a period of attempting to establish unity and reconciliation between all races. Although certainly not a period without its conflicts an ideal was still upheld and fought for. With slogans like “Rainbow Nation”, “Ubuntu”, “Proudly South African” – Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki (his successor – albeit to a lesser degree) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu tried to undo the injustices of the past whilst creating a new country that celebrated unity in diversity. This was not an easy task and certainly not without its faults hence prompting the dismissal of Thabo Mbeki for not being a “man of the people”. Still the 180 degree turn that former president Jacob Zuma made when he came to power as leader of the ANC was unexpected. Even though he has since been recalled by the ANC on the 14 February 2018 after, “eight failed motions of no confidence in Parliament” (Suntosh R Pillay 2018, n.p) it is important to look at his impact on prompting an even greater division between blacks and whites in South Africa.

As soon as Zuma stepped into power it seems Nelson Mandela’s dream of a free and equal society had been thrown out the window. In fact one could say that he went against the very constitution that the democratic Republic of South Africa was forged on i.e. a constitution (drawn up in 1996) that includes a bill of rights that, “forbids discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.” (South African History online 2014, n.p) This, what has been called the most “admirable and progressive constitution in the history of the world” (Christopher Oechsli & Darren Walker 2015, n.p) was deeply inspired by Nelson Mandela’s humanist belief in the worth of every individual and the power of forgiveness. In a momentous speech given at the infamous 1964 Rivonia Trial Nelson Mandela proclaimed, 

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (Nelson Mandela 1964, n.p)

In these words we hear Madiba not passing blame solely on the white race, although no one would have blamed him if he did. He decided not to be dictated to by the sins of the National Party but held onto a deeper belief, an ideal where all races could exist in harmony. After being unjustly imprisoned by the white Afrikaner National Party for 27 years he remarkably chose the path of reconciliation as a means of achieving true freedom. Thomas Ashes quotes Nelson Mandela’s words in a speech he gave in 1995 to signify the end of Apartheid. On the aptly named “Reconciliation Day” Mandela stressed the fact that whilst acknowledging the errors of the past, forgiveness was necessary if the country was to move forward, “Reconciliation does not mean forgetting or trying to bury the pain of conflict, but that reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.” Madiba4 saw peace as the only way to achieve the democratic ideal and proclaimed (as further cited by Thomas Ashes), “Today we no longer vow mutual destruction, but solemnly acknowledge our interdependence as free and equal citizens of our common motherland. Today we reaffirm our solemn constitutional contract to live together on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”(Thomas Ashes 2013, n.p) Jacob Zuma unfortunately turned his back on these principles and chose the weapon of Identity Politics as a means to maintain power. 

While identity has always been a part of politics, it has now become the sole foundation upon which a political group is formed. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, it has recently come to signify:

“A wide range of political activity founded on the shared experiences of injustice of members of certain social groups. Therefore, rather than organizing solely around belief systems, programmatic manifestos, or party affiliation, identity political formations typically aim to secure the political freedom of a specific constituency marginalized within its larger context.” (Cressida Heyes 2016, n.p)

The unfortunate thing about identity politics is that no one can define when someone has stepped over the line, as the “victim” is always viewed as infallible. This is no more apparent in the #metoo campaign which highlighted the sexual mistreatment of women in Hollywood’s underbelly. Whilst the banding together of women has proved beneficial in uncovering crimes that went on in the dark, even self-proclaimed feminists realise that a justice system based on what “victims” confess on social media, without a hearing, can lead to many lives being destroyed. 

Zuma has played the victim card in his politics many times. In the act of corruption that cemented his exit from the ANC, he upgraded his family homestead “Nkandla” with a whopping R267 millions of taxpayers money. (Fose Segodi 2016, n.p) A subsequent protest erupted for Zuma to step down. He didn’t apologise but transferred the blame onto white people calling the protests a “product of racism” even though thousands of black people protested as well. The Democratic Alliance’s (the opposition party) spokesman, Mabine Seabe said of Zuma’s comments: “He cannot argue based on policy and is trying to distract from the issues by using race as a scapegoat.” (Tanisha Heiberg & James Macharia 2017, n.p) Although one cannot deny the presence of racists among the protesters, by Zuma demonizing “white privilege” he was able to justify his position as “victim” rather than “villain” for almost two presidential terms and was therefore able to distract the public temporarily from the money he was taking. These identity politics have ironically landed up oppressing the truly marginalised – the poor – and prompted Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2016 to speak out against the party that he had supported in their rise to power. Saying that they are actually worse than the Apartheid government, 

“I am warning you. I am warning you that we will pray as we prayed for the downfall of the Apartheid Government. We will pray for the downfall of a Government that misrepresents us. You have got a huge majority. That’s nothing. The Nationalists had a huge majority that was increasing. They bit the dust. Watch out, ANC Government. Watch out. Watch out. Watch out.” (Stuart Lowman 2016, n.p)

White privilege is a complicated issue and hangs on the premise that if you are born white that means you are at an automatic economic and social advantage. In Overcoming Our Racism: The Journey to Liberation Derald Wing Sue says that, 

White privilege is the unearned advantages and benefits that accrue to White folks by virtue of a system normed on the experiences, values, and perceptions of their group. White privilege automatically confers dominance to one group, while subordinating groups of colour in descending relational hierarchy. (Derald Wing Sue 2003, pg.137)

Sue continues that this is an outcrop of “White supremacy” which he writes is a form of racial nepotism where white people have become dominant in the workplace through “the mistaken notion of individual meritocracy and deservedness (hard work, family values and the like) rather than favouritism.” (Derald Wing Sue 2003, pg.137)

While this thesis is not without credibility especially with the current discussion over “White monopoly Capital” where it is believed that white men still control a large portion of the South African economy due to (as Lucien van der Walt states) “The giant apartheid-and segregation-era private corporations that remain central.” (Lucien van der Walt 2015, pg. 39) I do question how effective ‘Identity Politics’ actually is in solving division? A period of transition has to occur after a group of people have been marginalised. It is vital that the formally oppressed group regain their dignity; economically, socially, culturally. That is why BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) was introduced in South Africa to reintroduce black people into the workplace and the economy5. Going to the extreme however and blaming “white man” as a whole for everything (regardless of their actions, moral character or personally held beliefs) in my opinion is a very risky game. If you are automatically racist due to your skin colour that means that there is in fact no means of creating change. This belief reduces man and isolates him and could in fact be one of the reasons behind the outbursts of nationalistic psychosis like the few radicals who displayed their desire for a “White Europe” during the Independence march in Warsaw mentioned before. Lynsey Chutel (although she is quite critical) writes that recently white farmers in South Africa who felt like they are vulnerable targets because 72 farmers had been murdered in 2017 alone are rumoured to have resurrected the old apartheid flag. It seems that the farmers felt justified in this act, because of their plight being ignored by the local government. (Lynsey Chutel 2017, n.p) Again as much as I denounce this behaviour completely, I do question why these farmers felt the need to demonstrate in such a way? 

Mainstream media the world over depicts the white male as irrelevant to the conversation as by the mere result of gender and race he is filled with bias and prejudice. The extreme left has taken the role of moral authority: it seems to be spearheading the cleansing or renewal of society by undoing the injustices of the past and petitioning for the rights of the so called marginalised. Interestingly they do it in such a way that looks suspiciously like the system that they are trying to oppose – they label you by your race and gender. Is this not racism – in reverse?This disingenuous tactic has caused the alt right to emerge i.e. people who are tired of being blamed by their genetics and not by their actions. As Dave Marcus writes in an article How Anti-white Rhetoric is fuelling White Nationalism in America specifically he states that,

 “White people are being asked—or pushed—to take stock of their whiteness and identify with it more. This is a remarkably bad idea. The last thing our society needs is for white people to feel more tribal. The result of this tribalism will not be a catharsis of white identity, improving equality for non-whites. It will be resentment towards being the only tribe not given the special treatment bestowed by victimhood.” (David Marcus 2016, n.p)

If the conflict cannot be resolved by “the blame game” then what are we to do to achieve real tolerance and inclusivity? The question is, where do the concepts of tolerance and inclusivity come from and do they automatically mean (as the left has tried to implement in Poland) the dissolution of a national identity? 

The answer, I believe, is not submitting to the volatile mechanism of Identity Politics but by going back to what gave South Africa and Poland their freedom in the first place – what their democratic constitutions are based on. We need to go back to what enabled society to use words such as “tolerance” “inclusivity” and “openness”. Instead of these words being swung around by the media as though they have sole ownership to them we, as a society, need to recognise that the concepts find their roots firmly embedded in the Judeo-Christian concept of “the dignity of the human person”. Only by virtue of the fact that it was revealed to humanity that every person was made in God’s Image and likeness did equality become an achievable goal. These are not separate human values and morals but are part of an ideal vision, God’s vision of the human person. Only through this ideal was all humanity given the worth that raised them to full human status. As Mark Penninga states,

“The Judeo-Christian faith grounds human dignity in a transcendent source; the Biblical doctrines of the Imago Dei and the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. These doctrines give meaning to the term ―person as a ―someone — rather than an individual defined by their capacities. This results in an account of human dignity that is physical and rational, relational, inviolable, and teleological – indeed an account that is truly human.” (Mark Penninga 2004, pg. 8)

I would just like to add that I feel that it is relevant to bring the Christian element into the picture when trying to resolve the culture wars in South Africa and Poland because of a number of reasons. Firstly you cannot deny that Nelson Mandela’s ideas were influenced by Christian thought about “freedom, unity and tolerance” as he was raised in the Methodist church. Even though he did not implicitly state that he was Christian he does talk about the influence the church had on his life,

“The values I was taught at these institutions have served me well throughout my life.  These values were strengthened during our years of incarceration when this church cared for us. Not only did you send chaplains to encourage us, but you also assisted us materially within your means. You helped our families at a time when we could not help them ourselves…  I cannot over-emphasise the role that the Methodist Church has played in my own life.” (Deon A. Forster 2014, n.p)

The main reason however that I introduce Christianity into the argument is something I alluded to in the introduction; that Christianity brought into the conversation of liberation in South Africa a concept that had just as much power as the tool St JP II wielded in bringing Communism to an end i.e. The Imago Dei. 

While the history books largely attribute the fall of communism in Poland to the trade union Solidarność whose motto “Ojczyzna, Prawda i Godność” (Fatherland, Truth and Dignity) led by the intrepid Lech Wałęsa, one cannot ignore the profound impact the Slavic Pope had on overturning this oppressive system. It is common knowledge that St JP II focused much of his writings on developing an adequate anthropology of man and this certainly paralleled his desire for his country to be released from repeated occupation. George Weigel reminds the reader in A Witness to Hope that St JP II saw modernity as a destructive force “a crisis” that involved “degradation, indeed a pulverisation of the fundamental uniqueness of each human person”. Wojtyla (Weigel continues) saw Communism and Nazism as “powerful expressions of this crisis”. (George Weigel 2009, pg. 334) 

After WW2, the Soviet Union forced Poland to implement a communistic and populist government. This system ensured that the state dictated the lives of the people and that the communist party i.e. the “Partia” was the only means for the masses to achieve happiness. Unfortunately the happiness of the masses included censorship, repression and widespread fear. Contained in the declaration of “Ruch” (an anti-communist organization founded in 1965) lies the essential aspects and dangers the founders observed regarding the communist party in Poland i.e. that they “fulfilled the role of the guardian of Moscow’s interests against the Polish people”, that their use of “terror and deceitful ideology served totalitarian power” and that “communist totalitarianism tended to eradicate the concept of freedom, truth and God from man.” (E. Ostrolecka (S. Niesiolowski) 1989, np) 

The Communist system also had the unfortunate effect of stamping out individual motivation, ambition and creativity. Poles were literally boxed into a reality (reflected in the limited apartments that they were assigned) and could not get out. Through the collectivisation or levelling forced on people not only were they easier to manipulate but their subjectivity was greatly reduced, if not eliminated. As Weigel writes, communism was “a process Stalin once described as akin to “fitting a cow with a saddle”. (Weigel 2009, pg. 77) Under communism man became stripped of his identity and become a mere animal/object, a cog in the wheel rather than a subject with intrinsic dignity and worth. As Weigel continues, “Communism was not only an unsatisfactory, reductionistic account of things-as-they-are and a crude caricature of humanism; communism’s totalitarian politics stripped men and women of their power of choice, of responsibility, and thus of their humanity.” (Weigel 2009, pg.132) This is where Pope John Paul II had a major impact. 

In 1979 in his first visit to Poland since becoming Pope, where he addressed over a million Poles at the Marian Shrine in Czestochowa at Jasna Gora, he re-awoke the desire of the Poles to have a national identity. Telling them to “Nie Lekajcie Sie” (Be not afraid) the Pope sparked a flame that would lead the Poles to demand their freedom. Filip Mazurczak, assistant editor of the European conservative, emphasises the Pope’s role in giving the Polish people the power to rise up when he states that “St. John Paul II didn’t conquer communism with guns, tanks, or economic sanctions. He had the courage to speak out about the basic anthropological truths that make us human; such a weapon was much deadlier to the materialistic Marxist-Leninist hegemon than any human weapon”. (Filip Mazurczak 2016, n.p)  

Interestingly Mandela’s right hand man, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, attributed this very same tactic as the true force behind the end of Apartheid. In an article entitled The first word: To be human is to be free Tutu points to Christianity and its concept of the Imago dei to being the main motive in fighting for the end of a system that obstructed this transcendent vision, “That is why we have been so passionate in our opposition to the evil of Apartheid in South Africa. We have not, as some might mischievously supposed, been driven by political or ideological considerations. No, we have (rather) been constrained by the imperatives of our biblical faith”. The astute spiritual leader also writes in this article that the white man may have taken their land but gave the black people a much more powerful weapon in exchange – the Bible. The Living word made the people of Southern Africa realise their profound dignity and worth, “Those who may have wanted to exploit us and to subject us to injustice and oppression should really not have given us the Bible, because that placed dynamite under their nefarious schemes.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu 2010, pg. 1-3) One could therefore conclude that Christianity was just as instrumental in bringing Apartheid to an end in South Africa as it was in helping overthrow Communism in Poland. I would therefore suggest a return to the true basis of tolerance and equality for both countries if these culture wars are to end; but not by politicians or the media, but by the people. 

As I have said before we cannot separate the concept of the dignity of the human person from its roots. As much as secularists and materialists would like to convince us that morals have evolved over time, the truth is Christ’s incarnation was a momentous historical event. It turned everything on its head. As Douglas S. Winnail quotes in his article How Christianity changed the world, former professor of sociology Dr Alvin Schmidt wrote that Christ’s words i.e. his “biblical teachings” confronted “almost everything for which the Roman world had stood”. Winnail further cites Dr James Kennedy who wrote in his book “What if Jesus had never been born?” that prior to Christianity not all lives were considered equal and life was not held as an ultimate value or good, 

“Life was expendable prior to Christianity’s influence… In those days abortion was rampant. Abandonment was commonplace: It was common for infirm babies or unwanted little ones to be taken out into the forest or the mountainside, to be consumed by wild animals or to starve… They often abandoned female babies because women were considered inferior.”(Douglas S Winnail 2016, n.p)

In an article entitled The Judeo-Christian Foundation of Human Dignity, Personal Liberty, and the Concept of the Person Michael Novak also cites Christianity as the main game changer in the concept of human rights. He states that even the brightest minds like Aristotle and Plato held to the belief that, “most humans are by nature slavish and suitable only to be slaves. Most do not have natures worthy of freedom and proper to free men.” Novak further elaborates that, “The Greeks did not use the term dignity for all human beings, only the few.” This was in stark contrast to the Christian message which (as I alluded to earlier) “insisted that every single human is loved by the Creator, made in His image, and destined for eternal friendship and communion. Following Judaism, Christianity made human dignity a concept of universal application.” For Novak Christianity gave all men an inherent subjectivity and, “made it a matter of self-condemnation to use another human as a means to an end.” (Michael Novak 1998, n.p) 

The “tolerance, freedom, inclusivity, diversity and unity” we so desperately look for in today’s society will become an ideology wielded by the political left if we take for granted the Christian legacy. You cannot rip a concept from its roots otherwise it will soon disintegrate. On the other hand extreme conservatives might start perpetuating their own ideologies if they forget that a relationship with Christ is as important as His teachings. Pope Francis said in a homily on 17 October 2013 that “When Christianity becomes an ideology rather than a faith based on a relationship with God, its followers become proud and rigid.” (Cindy wooden 2013, n.p)

It is my belief that to improve the conditions in both countries we need to move away from the political games of the media and start asking ourselves as individuals: 1.What is the true origin of the concepts of tolerance and equality? 2. Do I need to get rid of who I am (my nationality, my race, and my gender) in order to promote love and inclusivity? 3. If every human has value and dignity then even if he/she disagrees with me do I treat them in a way preserving that dignity? And perhaps we need to question if denouncing the source from which these concepts came (as in the case of the Polish left) is the most effective strategy of achieving “complete equality” or perhaps could it be the path through which we achieve equality in its truest sense,

“The dignity of the human person is a transcendent value, always recognized as such by those who sincerely search for the truth. Indeed, the whole of human history should be interpreted in the light of this certainty. Every person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:26 28), is therefore radically oriented towards the Creator, and is constantly in relationship with those possessed of the same dignity. To promote the good of the individual is thus to serve the common good, which is that point where rights and duties converge and reinforce one another.” (Pope John Paul II 1999, n.p)

The infamous editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza (a left leaning polish newspaper) Adam Michnik presented in 1990 what he believed were the main obstacles to a truly democratic society i.e. “nationalism and the Catholic state of the Polish nation”. These words are echoed today in the cries of Polish leftists. Michnik further posited that “In Europe there is a lasting fight between humanism and nationalism, Europeanism and particularism.”(A.Michnik 1990, pg. 7) Is it any wonder that we observe a collectivism threatening to resurrect once again supported by leftists, but this time under the guise of Europeanisation or globalisation? If this is still the underlying belief of leftist ideology then it would seem valid to posit that the game of Identity Politics is just a smoke screen, to distract from a new attempt to stamp out the individual under a new form of oppression; one that does not allow you to have a voice if you have not been historically marginalised and to give up your national identity as it is built on the oppression of minority groups (whether true or not). It would seem that communism has returned to Poland but under a different name. What the left has failed to realise is the absurdity of attacking Christianity as the obstacle for freedom and tolerance when it is precisely Christianity which formed the foundation for these values in the first place. As I wrote before, the game of identity politics is risky. While the right are certainly not to blame and while injustice has to be rectified the solution will not arise from unleashing an untethered army of social justice warriors (whose doctrine does not include any mercy or redemption) to conduct trials by social media. The only answer, as I said before, is a return to an adequate anthropology and proper understanding of the human person.


1. James Davinson Hunter defines this phenomenon in his book Culture Wars: The Struggle to define America. He observes a conflict that is not from “differing theological or ecclesiastical allegiances” or between believers and non-believers but is the outcome of “political and social hostility rooted in different systems of moral understanding”. The divide is between conservatives who hold to tradition and “an external, definable, and transcendent authority” and liberals or progressives who have an infallible belief in individual truth and or scientific empiricism and who posit a doctrine “defined by the spirit of the modern age, a spirit of rationalism and subjectivism.” This phenomenon is not restricted to the US but seems to be affecting any country based on Western thought. (Paul A. Djupe & Laura R. Olson 2014, pg.130)
2. A note on method: This paper arose from observations made from my own ancestral history, personal experience living in South Africa and subsequent immigration to my fatherland – Poland, so naturally I include this so as to be transparent about the origin of this concept. I also include my personal experience at times in this work as I believe that with the game of identity politics there is a heavy reliance on subjectivity therefore it should be equally justified to bring my own personal encounter to the table. Saying this, as with all academic work, I obviously rely on other data to back up my claims.
4. Mandela’s nickname
5.  Although this system has not been without its problems for various reasons that are too complex to address in this article:


  1. Paul A. Djupe, Laura R. Olson, Encyclopaedia of American Religion and Politics, Infobase Publishing, 2014. Date accessed 2020-06-20. 
  2. Chapman, Michael W. 2016. Polish Bishops and President Duda Declare Christ King of Poland. CNSNews. 21November. Date accessed 2018/06/23. 
  3. Firecracker. 20 April 2018.Black Polish boxer Izu Ugonoh obliterates left-wing journalist multiple times.
  4. Matthew Taylor and agencies. 2017. ‘White Europe’: 60,000 nationalists march on Poland’s Independence Day. The Guardian. 12 November. Date accessed 2017/12/03
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Ludmila Zofia Szczecina
Licentiate (Performing Arts) Trinity Guildhall International, Masters (Dzielo Sztuki w Kulturze: speciality Christianity in Culture) University of Warsaw, Currently second year PhD student (Philosophy) at the Catholic University of Lublin (KUL).