9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Modes of Participation and Characteristics of Participants Building I, 2E9

Intelligentsia in Politics. A Case Study of a Polish Political Party the Freedom Union (panel 5: Governance Structures and political Institutions)

Intelligentsia as a social category, an elite, emerged in Eastern and Central Europe in the middle of the 19th century. It was the time when many nations did not have their own states (as Poland, Hungary, Czech), so intelligentsia conducted the roles, in other countries, preformed by the state institutions , i.e. development of national culture, modernization, education, etc. Under the communism a substantial number of its representatives engaged in building the "new society", but soon discovered the shortcomings of the new system and began to organize democratic opposition. For that whole period intelligentsia felt it has an obligation towards society and a mission to fulfill. And the society seemed to appreciate the mission and to recognize the members of intelligentsia as (missing) authorities.
The year 1989 was a turning point in the history of intelligentsia. The group got a chance to engage in legal politics and to shape the transformation from communism to democracy in Eastern and Central Europe. First ideas of how it should be done were not conventional. In Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel proposed "nonpolitical politics" and some of the "Solidarity" leaders in Poland, eg. Bronisaw Geremek, tried not to let the movement split into political parties. The ideas were not fulfilled - the politics became "political" and was made by emerging political parties. Among them there were also parties created by intelligentsia: such as the Freedom Union in Poland. Unfortunately for its creators, it was present on the Polish political scene for 15 years before its' support declined so dramatically that it did not get into the parliament. One of the main causes of the Freedom Union?s collapse was the change of intelligentsia's social role and status after 1989. To understand these phenomena we need to study (1) what are the internal changes in this social category, (2) how the social image of intelligentsia has changed after 1989. Finally we should tackle the problem of relations between intelligentsia and politics in Weberian categories of ethics of responsibility and ethics of conviction.