The role of pre-1945 national and catholic myths in transforming an illiberal Polish political culture into a liberal political culture of opposition under communism
The thesis, in exploring how and why illiberal pre-1945 Polish nationalism and political Catholicism were synthesised into a post-1945 liberal political culture of opposition under communism, argues that this process was much aided by universal myths. The thesis shows how these myths enable political culture to be transmitted over time and to be adapted to take on different values and yet retain legitimacy. In so doing, the research may contribute insights into how the political cultures of other Central East European countries were similarly transformed. Chapter 1 argues that the social anthropological literature on myths provides a theoretical framework to better understand the nature of political culture, its dynamics and its relationship with the process of democratisation. Chapter 2 maps the pre-1945 territory of nationalist and political Catholic illiberal and liberal discourse as reflected in the genesis and meanings of key myths. Chapter 3, in exploring how pre-1945 myths were deployed in 1945-1989 Poland, illuminates the relationship of myths with the dynamics of political culture and democratisation. Chapter 4 explores the 1970-1976 process of dialogue between liberal-leaning dissident Catholic and secular left Polish intelligentsia. The chapter sheds light upon the emergence of a liberal political culture of opposition and argues that the dialogue went beyond expediency. Chapter 5, in demonstrating how and why John Paul II deployed pre-1945 myths, argues that the Pope's preachings found practical expression in the formation of Solidarity. Chapter 6 in exploring the role of pre-1945 myths in influencing Solidarity, argues that these myths acted as vehicles for the union's liberal political culture. Finally Chapter 7 draws together the conclusions of the thesis.