BUILDING THE PAST, FORGETTING THE FUTURE: IS POLAND A HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE BASED SOCIETY?
The article attempts to analyze the public debate in a present day Poland focused on the country's recent history and memory (or memories). The author believes that among other lines dividing Polish society, the cultural line separating opposing 'communities of memory' is of special importance. The political and public life of the country is facing a paradox: the media and several political leaders view the past as the last potential platform for a national unity and a source of commonly shared values and ideas. They treat the past as the support for gaining publicity and political capital. But this past orientation causes further division and conflict since, instead of a single past, participants in the public discourse view several competing pasts. The author proposes two ideal types of historical narratives in Poland: national and civic. Turning points, the pantheon of heroes, and modes of narration are sometimes mirror images of one another. Since recently the 'national' paradigm is prevalent the author believes that the new European identity (or plurality of collective identities) of Poland can be successfully built only on a civic, not a national, platform of historical narrative.
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