SocietyRSS: News Maker

Young intellectuals and politics

Published on May 4, 2012 by: in: Society

It seems that nobody cares about young people, especially those who take an interest in politics. But the young are aware that Polish educational system is not perfect. They know that the level of unemployment among university graduates is high. Young people notice the weak points of Polish politicians and often claim that constant disputes are pointless. They believe that politicians should engage in serious public discourse. Young intellectuals are critical. They enter politics without relying on others. How is it possible?

Before answering the question, it must be emphasized that the older generation has not handed down the experience of NSZZ Solidarność[1]. 1970s and 1980s no longer serve as a great reservoir of values because the members of the abovementioned trade union argue permanently. The majority of Poles do not care about those times.

The young enter politics without relying on others because it is hard to derive any experience from the past. It may be advantageous that few young people establish political movements. They, however, have little in common with adult politicians. Young intellectuals believe in second-hand values (the All-Polish Youth[2] and antifascists serve as the examples) or criticize others.

The elections in 2011 proved that the most influential political parties do not concentrate on the needs of the young. That is the reason why the Palikot’s Movement[3] achieved such a great success. The majority of its voters were young people who do not belong to any political factions. The campaign on Facebook played an important part here. It is spectacular.

There are numerous small youth groups which do not cooperate with political movements. In spite of provoking debates with the followers of various values, adults support polarization. It is becoming more and more dangerous. The confrontation between Marsz Niepodległości[4] and Kolorowa Niepodległa[5] proves that.

Moreover, more research on the engagement of young people in politics should be conducted. It must be noted that the report of professor Szafrańska entitled Młodzi 2011 disregarded this issue. The author, however, may claim that it falls beyond her competence. I am aware that it would be hard to analyze the subject. Nevertheless, my article may be understood as a request to conduct further research. It would be great if youth groups described themselves and took part in debates.

One has to be careful when trying to find information about youth groups which are involved in politics. Information available on the Internet may not be reliable. It is likely that some youth groups exist only in the virtual world. The lack of organizational structure, however, often suggests that particular values have a great number of followers, who may hold a demonstration. The Internet and social networking services facilitate such processes.


There are not many right-wing and left-wing youth groups in Poland. Nevertheless, it would take too much time to describe all of them. Having taken this into consideration, I decided to mention the most influential political movements.

The All-Polish Youth seems to be the most important right-wing youth group. The name has been derived from a pre-war political faction which was related to the National Democracy[6]. Robert Winnicki is the current headperson of the All-Polish Youth. The youth group cooperated with the League of Polish Families[7]. When the abovementioned political party was dissolved, the members of the All-Polish Youth made an attempt to find their political identity. Although it has not brought any results yet, the movement seems to have much in common with the Law and Justice[8]. The fact that the All-Polish Youth becomes less and less radical proves the hypothesis. It is often claimed that Jarosław Kaczyński (who is not a nationalist but rather the follower of Józef Piłsudski[9]) takes an interest in the All-Polish Youth. I guess that the movement constantly evolves. The members are attached to historical symbols, but they try to interpret own traditions at the same time. It may be understood as a critical reflection.

The reflection would be much deeper if the movement was not criticized by left-wingers. The members of the All-Polish Youth are sometimes called anti-Semites or nationalists. They defend themselves. But instead of trying to improve, the movement conceals weak points. This is not convincing.

Frequent references to Roman Dmowski[10] attract attention. But Józef Piłsudski receives little attention among the members of the movement. The fact that the communist government did not allow to study the lives of Polish nationalists may be one of the reasons. It seems obvious that protests against building the monument of Roman Dmowski in Warsaw and attempts not to name the main roundabout after the politician mobilize young right-wingers. It also makes Roman Dmowski more popular. I wonder whether Józef Piłsudski lost popularity due to the decreasing demand for military values or not. Roman Dmowski formulated a number of maxims. A political scholar – Roman Dmowski – wins over a serviceman – Józef Piłsudski.

The websites that cooperate with the All-Polish Youth, for example or, present the movement’s struggle for improvement as well as failures.

The Republicans are another influential youth group. The name is derived from the Republican Party in the USA. The movement is related to the Republican Foundation nowadays. Marcin Chludziński is the current headperson of the Republicans. He replaced Przemysław Wipler, who became the member of the Polish Parliament. The Republican Foundation publishes the magazine entitled Rzeczy Wspólne. The latest issue centers around the demographic situation in Poland. Concision and patience are observable here. The Civic Responsibility Foundation is also related to the Republicans. Its outlook, however, is more centrist. The members of the Foundation take an active part in public discourse. Tomasz Żukowski[11], Tomasz Terlikowski[12] and Maciej Zięba[13] reported the debates proved by them.

The National Radical Camp is comprised of extreme right-wingers. The members of the National Rebirth of Poland may be defined as chauvinists and revolutionists. It seems that young people who are not well-educated belong to these movements. We cannot call them young intellectuals. I mentioned the National Radical Camp and the National Rebirth of Poland because the opponents of right-wingers do not make any variation between such youth groups. This is the reason why the National Rebirth of Poland often serves as an example of all right-wingers.

The magazine Fronda also plays an important part. It has been published for several years. Fronda includes a number of serious articles, but some of them are rather naive. Nevertheless, this assumption is characteristic of many magazines. It would be challenging to interpret the articles published in Fronda because its journalists focus on various issues, such a integral Catholicism and counter-culture (I am aware that the concept may be imprecise).

It seems that the lack of public debates on the history of Poland between 1918 and 1939 has an influence on young right-wingers. They often refer to historical figures and symbols without any deep reflection. These references contrast with the outlook of adult politicians, who tend to criticize right-wingers that lived in the Second Republic of Poland. The fact that some publicists depreciate the National Democracy or accuse its members of fascism is one of the examples. The Polish Independence Day[14] or some other public holiday would be a perfect occasion to consider the history of Poland between 1918 and 1939.


Preliminary research on young left-wingers reveals that they are less numerous and less influential that the right-wingers.

Young intellectuals gathered around Krytyka Polityczna seem to be the most important here. The café Nowy Wspaniały Świat was founded by them. The magazine achieved success due to Sławomir Sierakowski – a powerful and intelligent headperson – as well as the support of Gazeta Wyborcza[15]. Sławomir Sierakowski no longer cooperates with the Democratic Left Alliance[16], but it is claimed that he has much in common with the Palikot’s Movement. Krytyka Polityczna follows every value of left-wingers. It is believed that the magazine, which is quite snobbish (this is not their weak point), belongs to the adult’s world. The journalists take part in intellectual establishment thanks to Gazeta Wyborcza. They care about own values and refer to people such as Jacek Kuroń[17]. They also make attempts to re-interpret the activity of NSZZ Solidarność. It would take a long time to analyze thoroughly Krytyka Polityczna. Nobody has done it so far.

It is alarming that young left-wingers do not discuss the history of totalitarianism in Poland. Moreover, their self-confidence resembles the ignorance of democracy. The aggression towards right-wingers serves as one of the examples. The fact that Krytyka Polityczna helped the German to organize the demonstration on November 11, 2011 proves that.

The Antifa is widely popular due to the name as well as numerous protests. The movement is likely to use violence. What is the main goal of this youth group? “Fighting fascism under any disguise and in every part of life”[1]. This is anarchistic movement with no precise political outlook. It resembles other youth groups in Western Europe. Similarly to the National Radical Camp, the members of the Antifa are not intellectuals. Nevertheless, it seems essential to mention the movement.

One can also visit the websites of such youth groups as Wolność-Równość-Solidarność[18], the Young Socialists, the Workers’ Democracy and the Union of Polish Syndicalists.

Wolność-Równość-Solidarność refers to NSZZ Solidarność. The members accuse Wojciech Jaruzelski[19] of shooting at workers. They compare him to Augusto Pinochet. Having taken this into consideration, the movement has little in common with the Democratic Left Alliance. The Young Socialists criticize capitalism and Polish political system by referring to the decreasing voting attendance.

photo: DrabikPany

It is hard to describe other movements because the quality of their websites is poor. This may result from the lack of organizational structure and inactivity.

Ruch Oburzonych[20], which organized the demonstration nearby the University of Warsaw, has become popular. The members admitted that “Ruch Oburzonych was founded by several young people, many of whom attend the Multinational Secondary School of the Arts”[2]. They made an attempt to copy the demonstrations that took place in Western Europe. The young claimed that they do not cooperate with any political party. Their demands, however, are characteristic of left-wingers. Having taken into account that the demonstration organized by Ruch Oburzonych was dominated by those who are nostalgic about the Communism, it is hard to estimate whether the movement will play an important role or not.

The movements which have little in common with traditional left-wingers, such as Solidarni headed by Robert Biedroń[21] or the magazine Furia, are quite different. In the last issue of Furia it was stated that “the magazine is royal, divine and imperial. We focus on POWER. We deal with the fact that Poland is governed by the deceased. We write about communes and the ethics of care. We wonder why everyone would like to make love with a sailor. We center around the homeland of Bożena Keff[22] and the offences committed by Judith Butler. We wonder why everyone should desire Michelle Tea. We claim that women love power rather than men. We write about the delusion that the Internet makes us free. We consider violence in Sweden”[3]. I believe that the abovementioned statement is typical of Furia.

The magazine Nigdy Więcej also plays an important role. The journalists deal with intolerance and racism. Regardless of the fact that such articles should be appreciated, the focus is on the weak points of right-wingers. Nobody mentions the violent actions of the Antifa. Moreover, Nigdy Więcej often makes use of the language of hate.

Young left-wingers seem not to refer to the past. They rather concentrate on current affairs. This is, however, just a misconception. The protests against fascism were common previously. Right-wingers strive to prohibit abortion (they even make attempts to prohibit the use of contraceptives), while left-wingers focus on emancipation (gay movements and feminists serve as the examples). They rarely take social problems into consideration. Young left-wingers dislike police officers. This is observable on the Internet.

A couple of centrists

The website of Stowarzyszenie Młodzi Demokraci[23] is boring. Having taken this into account, it may be safely concluded that the members want to become the assistants of older politicians.

Young followers of the Law and Justice are gathered around the Internet Forum for the Young Members of the Law and Justice. They are controlled by adult politicians because even the forum is a part of the party’s website. Marcin Mastalerek is the headperson. According to the press, the Political Committee of the Party decides who will become a headperson [4].

There is a tendency that major political parties cannot attract the attention of young people. The foundations that cooperate with political factions, such as the Sobieski Institute[24] or the Civic Institute[25], also do not care about the young. Moreover, it is amazing that the Civic Institute has more in common with the Palikot’s Movement than with the Civic Platform.

It may be assumed that major political parties experience difficulties in cooperating with young people. Radicalism and expressiveness are characteristic of the young. Having taken this into consideration, it seems inevitable that they prefer to become either right-wingers or left-wingers.

Nevertheless, the abovementioned explanation is not convincing. Moreover, it simplifies the problem. The characteristics of young people are not responsible for such situation. It may be safely concluded that adult politicians, who are incompetent and unwilling to encourage the young, should take responsibility. The majority of young people is indifferent to politics. The minority, who does not cooperate with adults, becomes radical.

Disturbance and demonstrations

Having taken into account that youth groups do not generate intense media interest, the movements try to gain publicity owing to demonstrations. They concentrate on criticizing the opposition. Young people are aware that websites, disturbance and demonstrations may increase their popularity.

Right-wingers disturbed Parada Równości[26], while left-wingers held protests during Marsz Niepodległości. It is essential to emphasize, however, that the demonstrations would not have wide repercussions without the abovementioned disturbance. Such situations mobilize police officers (who must care about safety) and the media, which strive to present violence. Nevertheless, one must admit that the young behaved well.

It should be remembered that many members of youth groups, especially left-wingers, are not serious about their activities, which often resemble strange happenings or jokes (it does not relieve them of responsibility).

The support of adults

Regardless of the fact that adults take little interest in youth groups, the movements are supported by large organizations. It seems that adults, who cannot gain the recognition of the young, support such radicalism.

Gazeta Wyborcza supports left-wingers. The newspaper defended those who protested during Marsz Niepodległości. The journalists promote the concept of antifascism. Nobody remembers that the communist government used this term with reference to everyone who disliked fascism, especially democrats and social democrats.

Right-wingers cooperate with the Institute of National Remembrance. It happens because the young struggle to reveal the truth about historical right-wing political parties, which were discriminated by the communist government. One may assume, however, that the Institute of National Remembrance is too involved in this crucial issue. The activity of Jan Żaryn[27] proves that.

Historical politics makes young people refer to historical figures. This is the reason why they cannot agree with each other. The movements do not cooperate. There is no discourse.

Let me mention once again that adults, who cannot win the recognition of the young, make attempts to exploit them. Politicians strive to infect young people with obsession and inability to provoke debates.

Preliminary conclusions and further questions

Young politicians have something in common with adults. A number of young people achieved success in politics thanks to various movements (e.g. they became the members of the Polish Parliament). They have problems similar to adult politicians, i.e. inability to provoke debates and poor language.

Preliminary research leads to pessimistic conclusions and proves the assumptions which were made after the election. Adult politicians do not help the young who often follow their example. It must be emphasized, however, that young people usually adopt negative values.

It is difficult to achieve success in politics. One may assume, therefore, that people who aim to be successful are promoted. Nobody takes an interest in those who follow particular values. Adult politicians cooperate with the young that belong to their circle of friends. Conformists are also needed. Nobody cares about the independent leaders of various movements.

It is hard to estimate how influential and dynamic young politicians are. One may safely conclude, however, that youth groups consist of active members. The majority of young people do not take part in political life. They claim that we should take care of own matters rather than concentrate on society (professor Szafrańska assumed this is in her report entitled Młodzi 2011). It must be remembered that there are various ways of participating in public life. Volunteering and artistic activity are also significant. Nevertheless, it seems that politics is crucial because young politicians may become the ruling elite one day.

The fact that adult politicians do not care about young people or make attempts to manipulate them may influence Polish political culture, which will depend on the political maturity of young intellectuals.

Regardless of the fact that many assumptions are only hypothesis, the situation of young intellectuals is uncomfortable. It is not conducive to both political activity and political culture which should promote democracy and tolerant society. We may just hope that young people are more reasonable than adults. One should believe that they will not be influenced by demagogues, who struggle to make use of naive youngsters.



[2] (02.11.2011).

[3] (17.11.2011 r.)

[4],ziobrysci-starli-sie-z-zakonem-pc-o-partyjna-mlodziezowke,id,t.html (27.10.2011)

Translation: Aleksandra Kozłowska

[1] Independent Self-governing Trade Union Solidarity

[2] A Polish nationalist youth group

[3] A Polish political party headed by Janusz Palikot

[4] A demonstration which takes place during the Polish Independence Day

[5] A demonstration which took place during the celebration of the Polish Independence Day in 2011

[6] A Polish right-wing political movement which was active until 1939

[7] A Polish right-wing political party

[8] A Polish right-wing and conservative party headed by Jarosław Kaczyński

[9] The Polish Chief of State who died in 1935

[10] A Polish politician who died in 1939

[11] A Polish sociologist

[12] A Polish journalist

[13] A Polish Dominican and philosopher

[14] Polish public holiday celebrated on 11th November

[15] A leading Polish newspaper

[16] A social-democratic political party in Poland

[17] One of the democratic leaders of opposition in the People’s Republic of Poland

[18] The Freedom-Equality-Solidarity Movement

[19] A retired Polish serviceman and Communist politician

[20] The Indignant Youths’ Movement, previously known as Porozumienie 15 października

[21] A Polish LGBT activist and politician

[22] A Polish publicist and social activist

[23] The Association of Young Democrats

[24] A think tank institute founded in Poland in 2004

[25] A think tank institute founded in Poland in 2010

[26] A demonstration organized by LGBT activists

[27] A Polish historian

Share Article

  • RSSRSS Feed


About Kazimierz Woycicki

Graduate of Philosophy faculty at the University of Lublin and of Political Science and History faculty in Germany as the Adenauer Foundation's scholar, PhD at the University of Wrocław. Between 1986 and 1987 journalist of BBC, between 1990 and 1993 editor-in-chief of Życie Warszawy, between 1996 and 1999 president of the Polish Institute in Dusseldorf and between 2000 and 2004 in Leipzig. Currently sernior fellow in the International Relations Centre in Warsaw and academic at the University of Warsaw.

Fredrich Naumann Foundation For The Freedom
Copyright © 2020 Liberte!, Fundacja Industrial