The Meaning of Honour and why Britain has lost its own.

Poland celebrated its 100th Anniversary of independence this Sunday. A frightening picture is depicted.  One of a divided Polish society in an unhappy country, with claims that many citizens have rejected liberalism and democracy in light of a growing nationalist sentiment. A conveniently worrying image for those discrediting a democratically elected government running their country. I should know, I was one of those so-called ‘fascists’, ‘neo-nazis’, ‘white supremacists’ marching through the streets of Warsaw.

Let me rephrase.  I was one of the 200,000 patriots celebrating my country. My Polish ancestors fought the Nazis for a free Poland, and now incredulously – I’m branded a Nazi for celebrating my country’s independence. I did not hold racist banners, nor I did I shout anything inappropriate. And being only partly Polish, I can assure you that my other British South African half did not feel discriminated against.

Nazi totalitarianism is loathed in Poland. The trauma left by the German Nazi occupation is still palpable; they killed almost 20% of the population, targeted our elites, flattened our capital city and destroyed our infrastructure. Those thousands of ‘fascists’ breaking international headlines are Polish citizens including families, children, and war veterans.  Those same war veterans that fought fascism first – hand.

Together we proudly walked through the streets of our capital brandishing Polish flags, signing patriotic songs. We celebrated home, a home that our nation has long fought for. One hundred years ago, Poland was reinstated on the world map after 123 years of geo-political oblivion. But our happiness was short-lived. Soon followed fascism and communism both under which celebrating our country’s independence was prohibited. To openly celebrate the 11th of November is thus a relatively new freedom.

It is said that we have traded liberalism and democracy for nationalism. Not so, for they perfectly coincide. The Law and Justice Party has a majority in parliament and after three years in office is still the most popular political party in the country. The government is carrying out reforms in line with its electoral platform. Those reforms, including the heavily criticised judicial reforms aimed at overhauling Poland’s deeply flawed judiciary were overwhelmingly supported at the ballot box. Such healthy criticism by the political opposition and some Polish media outlets, wouldn’t be possible were the country in the state which many Western commentators describe.

Our country stands accused of pushing the EU into a crisis. A crisis that ultimately begs the question: do democratically elected governments have the right to make decisions in their own countries? Poland’s defiance in the face of EU interference concerns domestic affairs of member state competence, including forced immigration quotas and pressure to change domestic law.

I find it outrageous that a government enjoying strong popular support, stronger than many other European countries can boast, with an undisputed majority in parliament and senate, is attacked by the EU on the grounds of alleged threats to the rule of law. Not only is the issue of member state competence, but all the reforms undertaken introduce mechanisms that have long been present in other European legal systems. Regardless of whether Brussels or anyone else for that matter approves of the current platform, it is a platform that was democratically elected, and that currently represents the interests of the Polish people.

Accusations abound that the democratic tradition was never very deeply embedded in Polish society. Actually, our democratic tradition stretches back to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was the first democracy in modern Europe. And Europe’s first Constitution was the Polish Constitution, adopted on the 3rd of May 1791. The second Constitution in the world, after the American Constitution of 1787.

Yes, we were stripped of our independence, and of our democracy until 1989. For centuries sovereignty was only a dream; squeezed between empires, occupied in turns by fascism and communism, our greatest goal was always freedom and cultural self-realisation. Our democratic spirit was always deeply entrenched in our society and tradition. Suffice to think of the London Polish government in Exile, formed in opposition to the Nazi regime in power in occupied Poland, the Home Army considered the largest underground resistance unit in wartime Europe, or Solidarnosc, an organisation that paved the way for the dismantling of the communist regime. 9 million Polish citizens declared membership to Solidarnosc.

Now that we have enjoyed independence for just under 30 years, we intend to remain sovereign. The Law and Justice party won the elections promising to ‘put Poland first’, isn’t that the role of any government to put its citizens first? A nation is strongest when its cultural values and sovereign decision making capacity are upheld. While in favour of EU membership, the Law and Justice has a vision of the EU as a union of member states trading freely with one another but not interfering in domestic politics or national culture. That doesn’t mean that we are busy throwing everything away after 30 years of achievements. Be they economic, social or other, our achievements are the result of our resilient nation that fought together through centuries of oppression and struggle.

It is only natural that Polish citizens have differences in opinion on how the country should be run today.  Is that not the privilege of a viable democracy?


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7 Comments on The Meaning of Honour and why Britain has lost its own.

  1. The EU will demonize and punish any country which thinks that a democratically elected government should obey its mandate – of course, this is happening to Hungary and other countries as well. It’s a form of corporate bullying from a deeply undemocratic organization, and for the EU to criticize democratically elected governments as populist is “normal”. The former Soviet-controlled Eastern European countries are just not diverse enough to accept the destruction of their societies and are obviously far too stupid to applaud their own dissolution (as we in Western Europe are obliged to do). All I can say is I wish Britain was more like Poland.

  2. Excellent counter, Ms Tomson (and TSR), to the alarmist propaganda being spread by The Economist’s and the FT’s useful idiots: repeating “nativists”, “far right” and “xenophobes” etc. daily leads people to think that it must be true. Goebbels himself would be proud of their relentless attempts to eliminate borders and encourage the folly of mass migration.

    The Economist recently sneered at Australia’s immigration system as “ruthless”. After last week’s daylight murder of a good Samaritan by a terrorist immigrant in Melbourne, we here might be forgiven for thinking that it is not “ruthless” enough!

  3. You did not present the case for “why Britain lost its own.” And there is an ample one, much of it going back to how it treated and betrayed Poland and its allied Polish army in 1939-1945. Just a summary of that ignominy took me 4000+ words, therefore no good enough platform on which to publish it. Britain of course is not alone; here’s a photo that’ll convey more about France’s honor in our times than 1,000 words:

  4. A perfect article; especially the point that national pride and democracy are absolutely aligned. Of course they are. Without a demos there is no democracy and a demos cannot be an aggregation of competing newly arrived sub-cultures – the natural result of “multiculturalism”. If only Britain might emulate the courage and confidence of Poland.

  5. If nationalism means regular people can go about their business without fear of “offending” someone (induced through some state-enforced ‘diversity’ code or even ‘purity’ code for that matter – why does civility need to be enforced?) or alternatively be the victim of a bomb of peace, then I am all for it.

    The Poles of all people should know the true face of Leftism, having lived through the wars as well as Communism. Why is it so hard for Europeans, of all people, to understand that national characteristics exist, that they are often incompatible, and national differences exist, and that people need to discriminate for a better outcome for themselves? Poles discriminate. Result? Wiki the number of terror attacks in Poland and you will find out.

    If the French have a problem with Poland’s celebration, I wonder what they will feel about Bastille Day and Christmas next.

    It is less understood, especially in the Third World, the extent to which Communism was anti-freedom. The period 1989-1992 really ought to be seen as the coming of the second freedom for most countries after the Second World War decolonisation. The story of Poland, especially under Communism, is a mandatory lesson for the whole world to listen to. And learn. Sadly, few seem bothered.

  6. A somewhat naive and uninformed article I feel. Did the author speak to anyone from the sizeable group of Poles who watch the antics of their democratically elected government with disgust bordering on fear? Polish politics are brutal and the notion that a politcal opposition is an essential part of the democratic system is not one which cuts too much ice with the main parties, PiS in particular. Rather, non-believers are treated as an enemy to be exposed and excluded wherever they appear. The manner in which all non-compliant journalists on the main TVP1 evening news programme – which was most of them – were replaced, without explanation of course, within days of the PiS victory in 2015 set the rather chilling tone for much of what would follow. The overhauling of the legal system mentioned in the article is not a process of fostering impartiality, but simply of switching the bias from Platforma to PiS. Has the chance of anyone winning a case against the government improved in the last three years? So please do not use the heroism and just pride of earlier generations of Poles to excuse what to many Poles, as well as outside obervers, remains a highly divisive and unsavoury government.

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