Bronisław Wildstein
On Culture and Revolution

To understand the turnabout that has taken place in Poland, you must read Wildstein

The fact that Europe is a civilizational concept and not a geographical one has always been known. What has changed is that which we consider to be the European foundation. The current European Union is to a large extent an ideological project whose aim was to fundamentally recon- struct the cultural order of Europe. This was quite apparent in the preamble to the European constitution that was rejected in French and Dutch referendums. Its authors referenced antiquity and then immediately moved to the Enlightenment. At least one and a half millennia of European, Christian history, from which the Enlightenment sprang, was not only left out, but the writers of the document strongly resisted any attempts to include this key tradition in European history, demonstrating that their intent was to change our civilization and remove the Christian underpinning.

A non-religious and anti-Christian Europe was to be the utopia of the “new man”, living according to the perfect laws designed by the enlightened, a community of self-forming beings emancipated from strong identities, starting with the religious and national, ending with gender.

Such fanciful views break with the usual and with the world of real people, who define themselves through national, social, family, and gender affiliation and who also need religion. Legal norms by themselves have ne- ver been enough and are not sufficient, and to be effec- tive, must grow out of a living culture that has always had religious roots. Confronted with the immigration crisis, the leaders of modern Europe began to perceive threats and to repeat the need to adapt newcomers to “European values.” But when it came to listing those values, there was a problem. We hear about tolerance, openness, and democracy. In fact, each of these principles is secondary and depends on the previously accepted order, which is embedded in a specific me- taphysical arrangement.

Tolerance in contemporary Europe has been brought to self-denial, that is, it has transitioned from reco- gnizing that certain views, considered to be negative, have the right to exist, to demanding their affirmation. In fact, tolerance can never be boundless. Defenders of the modern version of tolerance demonstrate it fully, demanding punishment for their opponents. Rather, it must grow out of a deeper axiological order. Even more problematic and indefinable is “openness,” and current debates on the need for legal restrictions on democracy reveal that the political system must have a deeper ideological foundation.

The dominant ideology of today, which tends to break down traditional cultural forms, is nihilistic. Its goals, as in the case of any utopia, are vague. Newcomers place where the old faith and order are dead. In this situation, they withdraw to the civilization that they know, that is their own.

Where is Poland situated in this division? Precisely right in the middle of it.

Excerpt translated by Peter Obst

Bronisław Wildstein
On Culture and Revolution

To understand the turnabout that has taken place in Poland, you must read Wildstein

Publisher: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 2018
Translation rights: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy,

If you want to understand what is happening in Poland, you must understand those who now govern Poland. And to this end, you need to read Bronisław Wildstein – an intellectual whose books and articles have fundamentally influenced the elite of the ruling party. Wildstein is a writer, journalist, and thinker. During his youth in the communist period, he was active in the democratic opposition. Then, during martial law, he became a political émigré in Paris. After the overthrow of communism, he was the president of public television. Most of his closest relatives died in the Holocaust, but he himself – unlike most Poles with a similar biography and background – associated himself unequivocally with the Catholic and rightist movements.

The experiences of the communist period had a major impact on his image of the world; proof of this can be found in the book, a collection of essays, On Culture and Revolution. Wildstein strongly disputes Marxism – an ideology that not only led to mass crimes against humanity, but also, in his opinion, equips its adherents with a fundamentally false image of the world. He also disagrees with current western leftist and liberal thought, which, according to him, leads societies to the loss of cultural identity and, as a consequence, to collapse. Wildstein clearly situates himself on the side of tradition, and against its destruction, on the side of the people and against the elites, for the existing identities of European national cultures, and against their dissolution through immigration.

Wildstein – once a friend of the leading Polish left-liberal democrats – is today decidedly against them. He accuses them – and he knows them well – of creating a pseudo-democratic system in the 1990s, in essence an oligarchy, to fulfill their selfish interests. To understand the turnabout that has taken place in Poland, you must read Wildstein.

Piotr Skwieciński, translated by Peter Obst

Selected samples

Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
To the top

© 2021 The Polish Book Institute