Friday, March 23, 2007

The Rollback of Modernity

A light rain was falling as I took the train down to Malmö to meet my old friend. We sat down for a few hours, had a Staropramen at “Gökboet” and discussed his upcoming trip to Poland and Warsaw. About a year ago my friend worked there as a radio correspondent and I made a habit out of flying in for a weekend, discovering Canadian-Polish eateries and making excursions to places like Białowieża and the border to Belarus.




As it is well known, Polish politics has in recent years taken a very worrying turn, with the Kaczyński twins taking control over the government through their Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość). With their strong views on homosexuality, abortion and capital punishment they have once again made it evident that the Enlightenment is not a one-time fix but rather something that we have to fight for anew each day, even in the cultural heartland of Europe.

Thinking about the reasons behind the electoral success of the twins, it is clear that Poland is very different from Sweden and that part of the difference is spelled Catholicism. While those disadvantaged by “globalization” in Sweden lack a unifying moral outlook, Poles (who are still suffering from the years of “shock therapy” in the early 1990’s) can lump together market liberalism, homosexuality and everything else “indecent” into one mental category which they can then reject on the basis of their religion.

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