The Concilium Civitas Almanac is a collection of articles submitted by Concilium Civitas members. It offers an overview of global phenomena and trends that in the authors’ view are of special significance for and in Poland.
All the articles are available here in Polish and English.
 Contemporary global labour statistics refer, at least implicitly, to a conceptual apparatus that was derived from the realities of the labour market in industrialized countries during the ‘golden age of capitalism’. At that time, the formal employment contract was both the statistical norm and the global normative standard. Over the last decades the normative standard has continued, but the labour market’s realities have changed, also in developed countries.
The world has changed. By this I mean a systemic transformation, not some cosmetic adjustments to the industrial capitalism we thought of as the definitive way of life. The main production factor is not machinery but knowledge, and it is disseminated at no cost.
The idea of civil society was reintroduced into both political and academic discourse in the late 1970s to describe two parallel political developments. First, there was the emergence of new opposition movements that challenged communist rule in East–Central Europe. Their leaders rejected Marxist revisionism and advocated reviving a pluralist associational sphere and building autonomous social networks (a parallel polis) as a strategy by which to defy the totalitarian state. Organizations such as the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR) in Poland and the Czechoslovak Charter 77 demanded respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In the chilly morning of 3 March 1913, just one day before the inauguration of a newly elected president, Woodrow Wilson, close to 8,000 women ascended on Washington, DC. The women marched from the Capitol to the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue in a quiet, orderly and dignified manner. They staged the march – or, as they called it, the Woman Suffrage Procession – to demand a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. Half a million spectators gathered on the streets, mostly men. Some applauded the march, others ridiculed, harassed or physically attacked the marchers.
What could the internet have been? We have grown so used to our digital networks that they can seem like a force of nature, with laws as immutable as the laws of physics. This is all the truer in Poland, since we came to digital networks quite belatedly.
In October 1936 a court in Warsaw heard the case of a student, Cywia Asterblum, who had been accused of slandering the good name of the Polish nation. Ms Asterblum’s offence was that she had hurled abuse at some militants during anti-Semitic incidents at the University of Warsaw. Warszawski Dziennik Narodowy (Warsaw National Daily) reported, ‘while academic youths were demonstrating against the Jews and expelling them from the university, Asterblum had shouted ‘Polish brutes! Boors!’ The Jewish woman was beaten, and a policeman was then called who wrote a report. The Warsaw court punished her with two months’ imprisonment for slandering the Polish nation (represented, in this case, by Endecja militants).
What I would actually like to discuss here is what many people have already said but has not been heard, and, at least in my intuition, has failed to become established as something that the Polish intelligentsia finds obvious – even the open-minded who have nothing in common with Endecja [pre-World War II National Democracy Party] thinking.
The Roman Catholic Church in Poland continues to be the most politically influential church in the Christian world. It has achieved most of its policy goals, including the effective ban on abortion. The church is a major political figure. Priests have blessed soccer games – and they helped ensure Poland’s entry into the European Union in 2004. Thirty years after the collapse of communism, it continues to demand policies, and secular governments continue to accede to its demands.
Strong words: two nations. The question tag in the title seems, therefore, justifiable. Is the political division of Polish society so deep that we can actually talk about two hostile groups (communities, tribes) whose value systems and ensuing sense of identity have become mutually incompatible?
Criticizing European Union institutions, and demanding that they be reformed, is a popular pastime. But as the EU’s unified front in the never-ending Brexit negotiations has made clear, European institutions are remarkably effective in managing political diversity. Perverse as it may sound to some, nation states can learn from Europe in addressing their own democratic deficits.
The world is changing. In recent years, right-wing populist parties such as UKIP in the UK, Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Freedom Party of Austria, Golden Dawn in Greece and the Swedish Democrats have moved from the fringes to the centre of political life in Europe. It is hardly a European trend: today, several of the biggest economic and political powers in the world including the United States and Brazil are ruled by right-wing populists. There is no consensus as to the definition of populism, but anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism and the myth of direct communication between the leader and the masses have become intrinsic elements of modern politics (Mouffe 2018, Mudde 2015, Wysocka 2010).
My remarks concern the contemporary global epidemic of populist challenges to constitutional democracy. They will not seek to explain them, however, nor will they offer a cure. Their ambitions are smaller. The first section identifies several ill-conceived but very common ways in which we think and talk about post-dictatorial transitions, and in particular about engendering (often mistakenly called ‘building’) constitutional democracy where it was weak or absent. The second sketches some, also common, ways we mistake the nature of challenges (and challengers) that enterprise might face, in particular challenges from anti-constitutionalist saboteurs/subverters, often more clued up on these matters than their enemies. Drawing on these two parts, in the third I suggest that we might do better if we reflected on these mistakes and came to talk and think, and consequently act, differently.
 In The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Daniel Bell posed one of the most beguiling questions a social scientist can ask: do values or rules organizing the key domains of modern society – economy, politics and culture – need to be congruent with each other for the whole system to work properly?
In the last few decades a resurgence of political confrontation has been observed in Europe around the interpretation of past conﬂicts. A ‘memory adjustment’ between ‘new’ and ‘old’ Europe appeared necessary after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union (EU) to include Central and Eastern European countries. Numerous mechanisms have been set up to encourage a reconciliation process within the context of post-armed conﬂict situations (former Yugoslavia), post-authoritarian regimes (Central and Eastern Europe) or even bilateral conﬂictual heritages (Germany/Czech Republic, Poland/Russia, etc.). The means by which to address these ‘wounds of the past’ are many and varied: bilateral commissions of historians and speciﬁc museum programmes are just two of the methods that aim for paciﬁcation of conﬂictual heritages and thereby of political and social relations in Europe.
The current populist upsurges have seldom been analysed from an elite-centred perspective. Yet, as argued below, such a perspective – developed by the early 20th-century classical elite theorists (principally Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Max Weber and Joseph Schumpeter) and revamped by their contemporary followers – proves analytically useful and theoretically fertile.
Everything and more has been said about democracy. Yet it is a subject we have to return to, again and again. We have to keep trying to rethink what is democracy, as well as which institutions, behaviours and beliefs are friendly towards it, and which are hostile.
[Abstract]  The dream of all politicians is to remain forever in office and to use it to do whatever they want. Most governments attempt to advance these goals by building popular support within the established institutional framework. Some, however, seek to protect their tenure in office and to remove obstacles to their discretion in choosing policies, by undermining institutions and disabling all opposition. The striking lesson from successful cases of backsliding is that governments need not take unconstitutional or undemocratic steps to secure complete domination. The effect of what we call ‘stealth’ is that if the opposition fails to stop the government from taking a particular series of legal steps, it will eventually be unable to prevent it from taking illegal ones. We investigate whether a government will take anti-democratic steps, whether it can be stopped short of realizing its complete domination and whether it is likely to be removed at any stage of the process.
 As two veteran political scientists put it, for a political order to be democratic, it is not sufficient for the government to be chosen in free and fair elections, that is, to have a democratic pedigree.
In the late autumn of 1988, Ryszard Kapuściński, the leading Polish war correspondent, poet and author of acclaimed anatomies of power such as The Emperor (1978) and The Shah of Shahs (1982), could be seen walking around Oxford in a state of angst and agitation. He had been invited to England by the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who wanted to know if her country was threatened by a potentially revolutionary situation. The United Kingdom was bubbling with dissatisfaction after she had privatized state-owned companies, slashed the power of trade unions and unveiled the controversial poll tax – and Kapuściński was there to tell her if she should be worried. As a political journalist, he had a legendary reputation of being an oracle on revolutions. He had barely unpacked his suitcase on landing in Zanzibar when an insurrection broke out. He arrived in Honduras on the day when other foreign correspondents left and bombs started falling on Tegucigalpa. During the first day of his visit to Tanganyika, a coup broke out.
The socialist theorists only became capable of... analysing [capitalism] after they had overcome the one-sided pamphleteering and accusation that was typical of the early critical as well as socialist literature. (Tadeusz Kowalik) 
The modern financial sector now plays a huge role in all our lives. A hundred years ago, few would have had a bank account for saving, and practically nothing but cash to facilitate daily payments for a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread. Yet, even when individuals seemed to be loosely connected or unconnected with financial institutions, the financial sector was critical in supporting and stimulating economic development and growth.
The battle between liberal and illiberal forces has dominated the political scene in Poland, Europe and beyond for the past few years. It will remain so for at least a decade, I sense. This is because the real stake in this battle is not elections, but ideology. While much of public attention is devoted to winning and losing elections in individual countries, the real battle is not about parliamentary seats and ministerial posts, but about the hearts and minds of citizens. Will they endorse liberal or illiberal values?
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