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New Projects Seminar Series: Different models of subjectivity rooted in tradition by the example of philosophical conservative journalism in contemporary Poland

Barbara Barysz, GSSR PhD candidate

November 2, 2021, 13:30, Staszic Palace, Nowy Świat 72, Warsaw, room 232


In my doctoral thesis, I aim to extract and analyze the vision of Polish identity that emerges from the philosophical and political academic journal “Kronos”. I want to answer the question: who, according to “Kronos”, the real Pole is and should be, and what structure of individual and collective Polish subjectivity is promoted there.

This issue is important because “Kronos” takes an active part in shaping the collective Polish identity – its apocalyptic vision of Polishness based on messianic and thanatic traces is more and more echoed in Polish public discourse. “Konos” is also one of the most important and influential Polish philosophical journals on the conservative side of the political spectrum. The editors of this journal had a huge share in the formation of the so-called “Smolensk religion” through the interpretation of the Smolensk catastrophe in mythical terms (see P. Nowak, W. Rymkiewicz “Wawelska skała”, kronos.org.pl, 2010). The journal undoubtedly influences the organization of collective political imageries and the way in which the broadly understood Polish symbolic field functions.

In my presentation, I will briefly discuss the methodology that I’m using to analyze the discourse of “Kronos”, which is Lacanian psychoanalysis and the study of myths. I will try to convince you, that the political myths formulated by “Kronos” (and there are many) can and should be understood as articulated fantasies (or phantasms) in the Lacanian sense. Both myth and phantasm are phenomena that serve the same purpose: the constitution and reinforcement of identity, or, in other words, they are constructs that are to tell us who we are and what we desire (and should desire). In other words:

the political myths formulated by “Kronos” are stories that can be analyzed in the same way people’s fantasies can be analyzed by a psychoanalyst to get to the core of what it is that the person really wants. After the methodological introduction, I will present a part of my dissertation titled Real fall and potential salvation. Political myths of “Kronos” which is devoted to the reconstruction of the basic political myths present in “Kronos”. It consists of two chapters. Chapter I focuses on the reconstruction of the “negative” historiosophy of Poland (and the world in general). This narrative describes historical events and spiritual processes which, according to “Kronos”, have led to the fall of Poland and the world (Myths of the Fall). Chapter II is an attempt to reconstruct the “positive” historiosophy, i.e. to extract events, figures, and elements of Polish and European tradition, thanks to which, according to “Kronos”, the fall of Poland and the world may be reversed and turned into victory (Myths of Salvation ). As you will see, all elements of the tradition that “Kronos” wants to use to save Poland (and the world) and create the new Pole have one thing in common: death. It is death that is the highest value. And an autonomous decision to die is what constitutes the true Pole.

And this translates to the specific model of Polish subjectivity that “Kronos” promotes. According to my hypothesis, the subjective structure of the Pole that emerges from this discourse is to be disintegrated. Death in “Kronos”’ discourse is what leads to the establishment of an “open” subjective model, or even the disappearance of classically understood subjectivity. This concerns both the individual subject who should get rid of individual subjectivity in favor of the collective one, and the collective subjectivity that should be constituted based on the idea of spiritually understood (and thus not limited to any borders) nation instead of the institution of the state.

Event supported by NAWA Welcome to Poland.