Independence is future
We are inclined to speak about independence in the retro style, like about an important historical issue. Poland regained independence after World War I. Referring to the independent country we are living now the communists (and their allies) managed to impose the term ‘system transformation.’ This term included a project: new Poland should be neither new nor Polish – it should be a transformed form of the Polish People’s Republic. Unfortunately, a considerable part of the public opinion unconsciously accepted this suggestion. But the fundamental task of our generation, the response to the freedom that the Divine Providence gave us, is to build a state – a new independent country that should not become an episode but a solid fact in the life of our nation and the nations of Europe. Every Independence Day is an occasion to reflect on our past but most of all on our future.
When Poland’s Primate Woronicz wrote the hymn ‘Boze, cos Polske’, he recognised independence as ‘most sacred’, being sure that God ‘touched by its fall/supported those who fought’ for regaining of independence. These words, written at the threshold of the 19th century, excellently reflect the common conviction of the Polish people about the sacred character of the issue of independence. It was sacred in this sense that Pope Pius XII speaking about the Hungarian uprising ’56 explained, ‘When religion was a vivid legacy for our ancestors, people treated every struggle, to which there were forced by their enemies’ injustice, as a crusade.’ Not only Poles understood the significance of the Polish matter for the whole Christianity. For both outstanding precursors of the European conservatism Joseph de Maistre and Edmund Burke it was obvious that the partitions of Poland were the same crime, the same attempt on the Christian social order as the French revolution. And our Julian Klaczko warned that Poland could not be firmly rebuilt in Europe that was hostile to our values. Today these two matters meet again. At the threshold of the 21st century one can see the significance of Poland for the Christian civilisation even more clearly than 100 or 200 years ago. Two years ago the Holy Father Benedict XVI said in his sermon delivered in Krakow that together with the election of John Paul II to papacy our ‘land became a place of special witness to faith in Jesus Christ’; that we ‘were called to give this witness before the whole world.’ But at the same time Benedict XVI assured us that ‘This vocation of yours is always needed, and it is perhaps even more urgent than ever, now that the Servant of God has passed from this life’. And he appealed, ‘Do not deprive the world of this witness!’ But dependence is constantly on both sides. Since Poland became a ferment of a new reflection on Christian vocation of our civilisation on the European forum but it also became the object of – formal and structural – pressure to renounce the Christian character of our statehood. Suffice to remind you of the recent resolution of the European Parliament concerning ‘reproductive rights’, directed straight against the Catholic Church and indirectly against Poland and Ireland, for keeping the elementary defence of the unborn in our law.
Safe world for independent Poland
Independence is not given once for ever. In the 18th century we lost freedom because of the geopolitical coup that was brought about through the growth of Russia’s importance (at the cost of Sweden) over the Baltic Sea and Prussia (at the cost of Austria) in Central Europe. But in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under the Saxon kings isolationism was the state doctrine: By unrule Poland stands, the conviction that the best politics is the lack of any politics. Until now historians argue which orientation during World War I contributed more to regaining independence: Russia collaborating with the West or Austria allied with Germany. One thing is certain: the progress of the Polish question during the war was caused by active politics, the conviction that if we want to regain our statehood Poland must participate in the politics of other countries. Both the Act of 5 November 1916, proclaiming the restoration of Poland and the recognition of the National Committee in Paris by the West as the political representative of our country, together with ‘the fourteen points’ of President Wilson, including Poland’s independence to the American war objectives – all these stages of rebuilding our country would have been impossible without the Polish politics. After World War I Poland’s existence was strictly connected with maintaining the peace order of Europe, defined by the Treaty of Versailles. Every attempt to destroy it would shake the basis of our independence. Its disturbance would destroy our independence. Today Poland’s independence also requires strengthening and consolidation. In the cold war the victory of the free world began from Poland and Poland – as the result of this victory – regained independence. But its stability is still connected with keeping the order created after the fall of the Soviet Union. Poland should be interested in keeping the advantage of those who want to stabilise this order over those who want to destabilise it. That’s why the important thing for us is to keep and strengthen the countries that were created after the fall of the USSR; their very existence constitutes a geopolitical cover protecting our independence and strengthening its significance.
Independence and solidarity
Is there a future for nation-states in the period of globalisation? One thing is certain, without nation-states nations have no future. There is no other support for moral order, family rights, freedom and security than a nation-state. People are left to themselves without it. ‘Nation’ does not mean ‘ethnic’ – a nation-state is based on the community of history and culture, on political and moral solidarity, aiming at consolidating and creating it. Furthermore, one can hardly imagine effective collaboration between nations without nation-states. The best evidence is given by the history of the 20th century, the resistance of the West against Nazism and communism. That’s why Margaret Thatcher, being one of the most eminent European politicians of the contemporary times, could write that ‘the victory of the allied countries proved that nations must collaborate to defend the generally accepted principles but weak nations wound never have successfully opposed Hitler; moreover, really weak nations did not even try to face him. Contrary to some post-war European statesmen the events of World War II made me convinced that one should not be afraid of a national state. Since I always thought that only strong nation-states were able to build effective internationalism. They can count on the loyalty of their citizens when the international order is threatened. If they aim at getting rid of this national element they will certainly fall because there will be nobody that would feel responsible to make even smallest offerings in the name of defending their country […] In the turn of the 1940s and 50s it turned out that such institutions like NATO, being symbols of collaboration between strong nation-states, were more effective to oppose the Soviet threat than for example the UN that represented allegedly more ambitious but in practice less effective internationalism.’ Today, without active politics of countries, without independent politics of Poland, there will be no reconstruction of the foundations of the Christian civilisation, no security of European nations in the East and in the South, no levelling out of economic differences and creation of economic basis of European solidarity, no energetic security of all European countries.
The basis for all things
However, the biggest challenge for the future of Poland is the demographic issue. Without generation replacement Poland will be smaller, weaker and will vanish as a political subject; it will also lose the possibility of spiritual influence on Europe. In the Republic of Poland, for the first time after the war in the year 1995 the number of babies born did not exceed 450,000 (although in earlier years there were almost 800,000 children a year). Since that time we have not reached this number even once. On the contrary, the prognoses warn us that in several years the number of babies born yearly (because of the increasingly smaller generations of future parents) may fall below 300,000 and then even below 200,000. The present-day decrease leads to a demographic disaster. At present, the absolute priority of the Polish politics must be to reverse this tendency through solidarity with families that receive children to the world and bring them up. The politics should be accompanied by activities aiming at stopping and reversing immigration. Therefore, it is so important to strengthen Polish companies, their competitive power and export abilities. The principle ‘export instead of immigration’ must be a guideline of Polish economic politics. Having this in mind we should preserve our national currency, which is always one of the attributes and instruments of sovereignty. Today choosing euro instead of zloty means a consent to stabilise the economic differences in Europe, gaining perhaps a good instrument of import, international travels or luxurious consumption but at the cost of dynamic growth, building a strong market that will support our national production and the competitive power of companies providing jobs to Polish people. The vocation of the Polish State is to create homes for our families, protecting their freedom and security; the vocation is the Christian order that grows out of our history, realising the principles of the civilisation of life; it is the strength that lets us carry out politics for the cause of a safe world for our independence; independence needed for us and for the whole Christianity – needed since all things are ahead of us.