Who are we? Where are we heading as a nation? What is our civilizational purpose?
These questions are as relevant as ever, not only for the British, who decisively chose to take their destiny into their own hands in 2016, but also (or perhaps even more) for people like the Poles, who are positioned at the crossroads of the East and the West.
The rise of China has accelerated the process of reshaping the global order and created
an unprecedented opportunity to ask questions about our future in an ever more polarized world.
Inconvenient, at times even hard, questions have to be asked, and the current status
quo should be challenged if we are to find the right path for ourselves in the new global reality.
One of these questions (and probably the most important one) relates to the functioning
of modern Poland within the bloc of American hegemony, and it should be solely considered through the prism of the Polish (not foreign) raison d’état.
Not to use the vulgar assessment employed by former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski (husband of well-known American neoconservative activist and writer Anne Applebaum), but instead the one used by the foremost political journalist of the interbellum Second Polish Republic, Stanisław “Cat” Mackiewicz, I would call Poland’s current geopolitical position as grossly incompatible with the country’s national interest and the one that resembles an “exotic alliance.”
My conclusion is related to the geographic fact that the idea of “Atlantic Poland” is burdened with a fundamental and internal contradiction, as positioning Poland (the land power) in the geopolitical reasoning of the US (the sea power) is not compatible with the realistic understanding of our domestic raison d’état – where even the first democratically elected president of Poland, Lech Wałęsa, argues that “Moscow is closer to Poland than New York.”
From this perspective, one should look not only at the present, but also at the history of Poland, since we should not forget, as Winston Churchill rightly noted, that “a nation that forgets its past has no future.”
In this regard, Poland is a Eurasian country, which has implications that go far beyond geography alone. This assumption allows us to characterize the people living here, explains and describes many of its features, forms of organization and development directions in the last millennium – including a natural tendency toward community prioritizing the socio-political element over the economic one, as well as low expansion beyond its natural borders.
By following the logic of Polish history, we can easily argue that the country’s involvement in projects oriented on strengthening the Eurasia region are the natural cause of its origins – with particular emphasis on Sarmatism (or Sarmatianism), which was an ethno-cultural concept with a shade of politics designating the formation of an idea of Poland’s origin from Sarmatians, an Iranic people, within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Eurasian integration that seems to be a geopolitical necessity of the 21st century, marked by the ongoing diversification of global power centers, is hindered here by the distorted “politics of memory” preventing Poles from accurately understanding the past and making extremely difficult to understanding the present – the ability so much needed to seizing the opportunities lying ahead of us in the future.
The mentioned cognitive dissonance lies in the fact that Poland’s current geopolitical imagination is hostage to the unreflective recognition that Polish national interest during Soviet occupation required an unconditional transition to the Western bloc, which translates into unreflective support for any reckless and unethical American policy at present.
The only sane antidote to this ideological fallacy is to recognize that post-1944 Poland
was geopolitically oriented in accordance with its raison d’état, and admitting the unquestionable fact that only the core philosophy of the Soviet bloc required change.
It is equally important to remove an emotional reasoning, as well as equating perfectly justified anti-communism of the Soviet era with anti-Russian (or even anti-Chinese) sentiment, from the present global political thinking, which in effect is preventing us from finding a common ground with increasingly stronger others.
Therefore, elementary common sense and the self-preservation instinct of the nation should keep Poland as close as possible to the rapidly evolving Eastern Bloc, until it reaches full emancipation and sovereignty in favorable geopolitical realities, since it should go without saying that we didn’t free ourselves from Soviet Russia only to bow before the US.
To achieve this goal, however, we must understand where Poland is located on the world map and in the historical process, which then could translate into sovereign geopolitical
self-awareness: the very self-awareness that neither dictates subservience towards Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia nor Xi Jinping’s China, but subservience to our very own (healthy) national interest.
Honoré de Balzac, who is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, wrote in his famous novel La Cousine Bette that “the Slav nations are a connecting link between Europe and Asia.” What he added was that “the Poles are the wealthiest members of the Slav family.”
On that note, I do believe that this fact deserves more awareness when this year Poles head to the polls to select the next president of our country.