The youth culture that is Poland

The young are more hostile to refugees than their parents: over 80% of Poles aged 18-34 oppose taking them in, compared with 52% of those over 65. They are also more in favour of border controls within the EU. Many of the teenage pilgrims in Krakow say they fear a wave of “Islamisation” or “secularisation” from western Europe. (Oddly, they sometimes conflate the two.) The Pope is “great on faith but not on politics”, says a young street sweeper from Nowa Huta, an industrial area of Krakow.

That is from The Economist, the article is interesting more generally.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the important European thinkers of the next generation will be religious, not left-wing and secular.


the above is not as stupid as the title sounds….

If the alt-right is anything to go by, then yes they will be religious.

I especially liked Ted's Northeast Jew tour in April, wearing a cute yarmulke and cowboy boots. Secularists usually pander to the religionists to get those votes, but Cruz has gone above and beyond in pretending to love God.

Is there any specific alt-right important thinker(s) that comes to mind?

Specifically to the Alt-Right, you have your few flamboyant speakers such as Milo, but it's more important what speakers they associate with and conflate with the movement.

Sommers, Shapiro (Even with the Trump Schism), it's a pretty solid group of individuals.

The alt-right is not (by and large) religious. Many of them have instrumental uses for Christianity along with some nostalgic cultural affinity, but most of them are no more sincerely devout than my cats.

"Poland had always wanted to be free of Russian rule." Some Poles may have wanted this, which is their problem, not mine. I deal on realities, not whishes and whims. Poland is not a real country, there is no "Polish" people. It is a Western invention to weaken Russia.

Poland is 1000 years old. It dates back to before the Norman conquest of England.

Texas was part of Russia?

Texas was not always a part of the USA. So what?
Alaska was part of Russia, though.

Poland has a longer history than Russia. It occupied significant territory in the east BEFORE the Russians had any real leadership. If not of the partitions of Poland, Russia would probably be a shell of what it is. Learn some history before you spout Putin-sponsored nonsense.

"If not of the partitions of Poland, Russia would probably be a shell of what it is."

If not for Columbus, the USA would be a shell of what it is, with all those tribes. Again, Wilson's Poland had to make a Russian-born guy (a classmate of the KGB's founder) its dictator because there was no real Poles. They were Wilson's invention to weaken the newly-sovietized Russia.

Only no Poles to lead because their neighbors had spent the previous two centuries purging their leaders.

Really? And the Russians failed in purhing this Russian who studied in Russian scools with the future Russian founder of Russia's secret police? OK, then.

Pilsudski was Russian?

Were Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia arbitrary Western inventions to dismember the Habsburgs? Or were they the product of existing political movements that simply had that happy effect?

The collection of Southern Slavs who had been debating the some sort of unified state in order to balance the desire for independence with the need to be large enough to survive in Europe since the 18th century (at least)?

Yes, I'm certain they would say the whole enterprise was foisted upon them and they would much prefer to have remainedunder the thumb of the Habsburgs.

Yeah, now there is no Czechoslovakia and no Yugoslavia, who will stop the Habsburgs?

And it is quite amusing to see a conversation about invented peoples anachronistically list Kosovars as a constituency of Yugoslavia.

As opposed to the treatment of the Poles under Russian domination, which was nothing more than the story of brotherly love.

Worse than Serbian-promoted mass rapings and ethnic cleaning, you mean? Truth is, lots of Russian/Soviet heroes, from Tsiolkovsky to Dzerjinsky, were from Polish stock. Being a Pole in Russia was no difference from being Minnesotan in the USA.

@ Thiago. The people in the territory of what is now Minnesota petitioned to be part of the USA about 170 years ago.

I don't claim to know a lot about Poland, but I have never heard of Poles ever petitioning to be part of Russia. I think that areas that are "naturally" part of a particular country should be that way because the population of that area wants it that way. I certainly haven't heard of Polish people having the desire to be part of Russia: please correct me if I am wrong.

Lots of Americans did a little more than just petioning to NOT be part of the USA. Is your point that Georgia is not part of the USA?

Then who did my Romanian ancestors fight with and pay tribute to? Or are Romanians invented too? It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I don't have the time to track every lityle country, but I guess Romania is just a bigger Transnistria, so it must be a legitimate part of Russia.

Brazil is part of Portugal. Which is part of the Roman Empire. Which is Rome.

This is ridiculous. Brazil is a real country, with a wildly different cultural and ethnic makeup. Brazil is inhabited and ruled by Brazilians, our presidents were not Salazar's school pals. You can not compare Brazil with Poland and other Transnistrias.

Your first head of state was one of the kings of Portugal - seems even worse than Pilsudsky studying in Russia

Pilsudsky was born in the Russian Empire, even today he would not be a "Pole". He was as Russian as Russian heroes of "Polish" stock like Tsiolkovsky and Rokossovsky.

Brazil was no mere colony, it was a kingdom united to Portugal and Algarves and had been seat of the Empire for years already. It was only fit and proper that the heir of the Empire would be Brazil's first Emperor (even then, the treaty between the two nations allowed his father, Portugal's king, to call himself Emperor of Brazil). We did all we could to assure a peaceful transition and prevent a bloodbath. You can compare a country bigger than the Lower 48 with some Ruritania.

The vast majority of historical Poland, and of the ethnic Polish population, lived in the Russian Empire because they had been annexed to it. Saying that Poles did not exist because of their absorption in a larger empire is like saying Brazilians did not exist as a group under the Portuguese empire--more off, even, because Poles are more religiously and linguistically distinctive from Russians than Brazilians ever were from Portuguese.

"Always" means basically "since the 1790s". Before that Poland was an independent nation (albeit not nation-state in the modern sense). In the 16th and 17th century it was rather many Russians who found themselves under the rule of the Polish kings, as the borders of the Polish monarchy reached well east of Kiev and as close to Moscow as Smolensk.

Yes the left pretty much supports the Islamists. They see them as an oppressed culture. From the point of view of the Islamists , the left are the useful idiots.

“Poland had always wanted to be free of Russian rule.” Some Poles may have wanted this, which is their problem, not mine. I deal on realities, not whishes and whims. Poland is not a real country, there is no “Polish” people. It is a Western invention to weaken Russia.

@TR - stick to something you know, like.... (at a loss for words)

You've gone full retard lately Thiago. I think the impending Games are stressing you out.

I repeat what I said. Poland is, historically as well as culturally, part of Russia. Many Russian heroes were from Polish stock. The West invented a supposedly independent "Poland" in 1922 to weaken Soviet Russia, the successor state of the Russian Empire. Suffices to say Polish leader Marshal Pilsudski was born in Lithuania, was a schoolmate of Dzerzhinsky, the founder of what would become the KGB, and studied in Kharkov. There was nothing "Polish" about him.

"The West invented a supposedly independent “Poland” in 1922* to weaken Soviet Russia, the successor state of the Russian Empire. "

In 1918, I mean.

Soviet Russia (the USSR only was created in 1922) was the successor state of tbe Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union was ruled by Russians. Some Poles may have harbored anti-Russian feelings, but it is as relevant as Alabamians pining for the Confederacy. The so-called Poles are Russians led by Russians.

Poland has massive youth emigration: the cosmopolitans have pretty much all left, leaving the place to those scared of the foreign.

"Those scared of the foreign" = "those pleased to live in Poland" to those who are capable of thinking and uttering non-tendentious thoughts.

Scared of the foreign like Father Jacques Hamel, or those who were at Bataclan? Those silly bigots...

I doubt the good Father was scared, since it was his particular Church that donated the land for the building of a local mosque a few years ago. Father Hamiel was not scared enough, it seems.

It's simply not true - Poles who left the country are even more likely to vote for far right parties than the ones who stayed in the country.

It would be good to check facts before speaking. Independent country of Poland was created 'a few' years before 1918. Like... before AD 1000. (Yes, in the 10th century)

Don't bother Piotr, when it comes to Thiago, you can't expect to use evidence or reason to persuade.

Tell it to Wilson, he was so dedicated to carving Poland out Russia. Again, suffices to say that Poland's dictator was born in Russia, studied in Russia snd was a classmate of the KGB's founder-- he was a Russian.

Since he also seems to think Texas and Hawaii are part of Russia I'm not worried about it.

Texas wasn't always a part of the USA, stupid. Neither was Hawaii. So what? Are you saying they are not part of the USA now? The previous independent existence of so-called Poland is as rekevemt as Texas' previous independent ecistence: not at all!

Even under the rule of the tsars Poland remained a separate legal entity, a grand duchy of which the tsar was the ruler, but with its own laws. Finland was in the same legal state. The situation is analogous to that of Scotland after 1603 (when King James VI became also James I of England) but before the Act of Union in 1707: Two legal states under one ruler.

@Piotr. Just look at the parallels. The US is not a real country, there is no "American" people. It is a Western invention to steal Alaska from Russia. Palin is obviously a Russian name! So, if they could pull it off with the US, why not also with Poland?

The USA could find a non-Russian (and not born in England, by the way) guy to lead the country. Poland's dictator was born in Lithuania and a classmate of the KGB founder.

So is this Western or Russian invention in the end?

@Thiago: It makes me cringe how you let your beautiful argument go to waste. There is so much more you can prove. E.g. the chief Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg got his education in the Russian Empire which proves that the so-called "Nazis" (or even "Germans"?) were actually Russians and a Western invention at the same time.

So what? "Nazi" is an ideological label, not a geographic one. There were Nazis in Brazil and Argentina. However the Germans didn't have to ask a Brazilian to rule their country.

I think where you get confused is that so-called "Russian" is actually am Eastern Polish dialect. It is only written with Ukrainian letters, so it might look like a different language to Americans.

At the time of its founding, the United States had to rely on a bunch of British subjects to supply it's political leadership. Sad!

Well, they found a guy who was born in the land they claimed to lead their army and be the first president. It is more than can be said for Poland.

Zułowo (now Zalavas) was Polish territory at the founding of the Second Republic. Would the American identity somehow be more "invented" if the Confederacy had succeeded and Washington's birthplace were no longer American territory?

And then the USA drafted someone born there to replace Lincoln? It would be weird, I guess.

"I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the important European thinkers of the next generation will be religious, not left-wing and secular."

Houellebecq's near-future sci-fi novel "Submission" is on just that subject, although he puts a new spin on the idea:

I read that as the unstated subtext of Cowen's remark. (Of course, does that say more about me, or Cowen? It's Strauss all the way down here at

Effect of the so-called "alt-right"? Which seems to attract youngsters who love nothing better than to break the taboos their elders live by.

Like all other such youth movements, it will fragment into the people who have families and lose interest in abstract ideas, and the people who keep yammering on about it in their 40s and look naff.

Yes. Your reign shall last a thousand more years. Idiot.

Whereas for all too many of those on the alt rights, the clock already started its 1000 year countdown back in 1933.

So 180 degrees to leftist?

Nah, you will be either apathetic or the sexist equivalent of an aging hippie.

Yea. Unfortunately if they'd just go the libertarian route, they'd be free to have families and continue to spout their weird ideas - like floating free cities, legalized heroin and stateless banking - because they'd be employed somewhere, say at a think tank or in a university econ department.

Ha, it's tough to be into unpopular political philosophies AND aging. How many broke forty-something American communists who rambled on about Marxism to the point of embarrassment in the 80s would have been seen as less "naff" (thanks for the new-to-me word) if they'd grown up in the GDR. There, they might have been some kind of authority figure.

The alt-right who have babies and families tend to be towards the religious end. Hard to say what will happen to 16-19 yo trolls who live in their mom's basement, but another Great Awakening would be in keeping with American history.

I get the impression that the alt-right with babies and families are mostly... "right", simply, because once you raise a kid it seems you lose interest in being profane to strangers and making them feel bad.

Really? Stands to reason that once you've formed a family you're even more ingratiated into the status quo. This because you're less risky with the possibility of losing your job and other, more informal support networks.

The loss of interest in being profane to strangers is related, but a different. People with families are more mature, and so less interested in shock value.

If you've observed the attitude of Polish NFL players, its not surprising that they have right wing relatives.

Religion can only retreat to fundamentalism, religious minded debaters get slaughtered every time they debate on any substantial matter with the secular, whether in physics, biology, archeology, ethics or philosophy. All that the religious have is emotional arguments hence fundamentalism.

The Jesuits just might disagree. But then, they would, wouldn't they?

The secularists win the arguments while the religious have children. Who are the fittest?

Historically, the answer has been secularism is fittest. Believers have loads of kids who often just stop believing. Evidence being the world hasn't retreated from a secular freedom-loving age 100 years ago, unless your name is Peter Thiel.

Actually, the Jesuits would likely disagree with you too, based on their centuries long failure to match the following quote, somewhat murkily attributed quote to either St. Ignatius of Loyola, the found of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) or St. Francis Xavier, along the lines of '"Give me the child until he is seven and I care not who has him thereafter."

Though it is true that the Jesuits cannot be blamed for this American bit of data - 'Is the American public becoming less religious? Yes, at least by some key measures of what it means to be a religious person. An extensive new survey of more than 35,000 U.S. adults finds that the percentages who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services all have declined modestly in recent years.

But the Pew Research Center study also finds a great deal of stability in the U.S. religious landscape. The recent decrease in religious beliefs and behaviors is largely attributable to the “nones” – the growing minority of Americans, particularly in the Millennial generation, who say they do not belong to any organized faith. Among the roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults who do claim a religion, there has been no discernible drop in most measures of religious commitment. Indeed, by some conventional measures, religiously affiliated Americans are, on average, even more devout than they were a few years ago.'

In other words, if the data is reliable, the largest growing group of non-believers is the young, raised apparently by adults who have remained fairly stable in their religious framework. Which means that the religious having more children, based on current information, means a growing group of non-believers.

Admittedly, a faith based perspective likely has little concern for things like polling data, confident in its righteousness.

Interesting points. I wonder if the time horizon needs to be bigger for this discussion. The Amish used to lose enough of their children to the secular world that their population was dropping or barely stable even though they have around seven children per family. Then something happened and now most children stay in the faith. Their numbers are increasing rapidly. Would this same scenario play out among the other religious populations? I don't know.

I blame the stagnant median income.

At current growth rates, the Amish will be about 8 percent of the population in 2100. Religious people are more prone to homeschool and the fracturing of the media means they are less likely to be exposed to secular media, and when they are exposed, will find it far more hostile because in a fractured world there's a smaller mass market.

I'm a Christian, and I'm up for a debate on any substantial matter. Physics, biology, archeology I will defer to physicists, biologists, and archeologists, but ethics and philosophy have fallen by the wayside in a secular age. Such that, ironically, with the rise of moral relativism, religious fundamentalism threatens to destroy secularism. I do not welcome this.

I will say that the greatest failings of the secularists and atheists is tearing down the established Church (it did need its power trimmed) but not replacing its function. The Church is a place of community and study of morality, not just a place where you hear about sky wizard fairy tales. The lack of community, and the failure to take morality seriously, is going to have an enormous cost on our society.

I am also a Christian (Orthodox) but I don't look to the Bible for the age of the Earth, how life came to be or how the heavens go. Neither do I look to science on spiritual or theological matters. The dichotomy between science and religion is a false one.

I guess you could play word games and com eup with some argument which appears internally consistent to say so. But religion need not descend into fundamentalism, no matter that there is some contradiction between the notion of "being religious about something", say, and not being fundamentalist about it.

E.g., is there any room for shades of grey on any issue which arises specifically in some text? While many will have their firm opinions, basically no religions have perfect doctrinal consistency, while the general picture at higher lveels is active debate on many theological and spiritual matters.

What is to be made of this versus the way young and old voted in Brexit? Scroll down to 'How different age groups voted'

Well, I think young Poles would also most likely vote in for the EU.

Generally, bear in mind these young folk are talking about "secularisation" with its echoes of a scary atheist centralized EU superstate (that they have a vague historical memory of in the form of Polish and Soviet communism), and about Islamisation. They're not actually voicing opposition to more liberal-hedonistic lifestyles as such.

I think opinion polls would find that these tendencies to fear refugees more and to fear Islamisation and "secularisation" are not incompatible with young Poles actually going to church less than the older, and being more enthusiastic for the EU and for more liberal-hedonistic lifestyles. It's not a general and real resurgence in practiced religiosity and for a religious puritan lifestyle among the young.

As the article itself states "Over two-thirds of young Poles describe themselves as believers, though they go to church less than their parents do. True, the number of young atheists has doubled in a decade, and most young people think premarital sex is fine".

Though I question how much attitudes to refugees correlate to attitudes to EU, some differences in the UK youth are that there are large numbers of migrants, and therefore the average middling socially conservative nonviolent Muslim youth is a lot more salient to young people relative to the increased numbers of crazies at the far tail (whether the latter or the former has more impact on society, which is debatable). The UK also has a media that sees it as its responsibility to avoid the possibility of a divided and sectarian society posed by having those migrants. In Poland, neither of these things, so in the absence of media pressure, I expect more young people actually believe in the idea of protecting liberal, religious but moderate society from the twin demons of atheism and Islamisation, partly by keeping Muslim outsiders out. But they're not actually rejecting beliefs in a more liberal and consumerist lifestyle than their parents believe in.

I think you're right that most young Poles would vote to stay in the EU. Brexit was about a lot of things, one of them being immigration policy. I don't think the bulk of the middle and older leave voters are or were against immigration, maybe even a lot of it, but the rate of it and the ability to make ad hoc adjustments. Those older age brackets are, after all, the same people that voted for more integration with Europe back in the day.

The rest of you comments are interesting, especially "In Poland, neither of these things, so in the absence of media pressure, I expect more young people actually believe in the idea of protecting liberal, religious but moderate society from the twin demons of atheism and Islamisation, partly by keeping Muslim outsiders out".


I'm not sure the left has had an important thinker since that ill-behaved Kraut in the 19th century.

Oh, come on now. You could scour the web right now and find thousands of leftists who are very thoughtfully calling all of their opponents racists.

That's some cutting-edge intellectualism, right there.

" Poland is not a real country, there is no “Polish” people. It is a Western invention to weaken Russia."

There are so many outrageously false claims in so few words of yours...

How come...
- That Poland exists longer than the country of Russia?
- That the first Russian Territory (Kiev Rus) was basically an invention of the West (Wikings)?
- Or that Poland, as the Rest of Europe didn't have to wait until the 1800s to leave it's Middle Ages (as most scholars of russian/east-european history will tell you)?

Poland is famous for stopping Islam at the Battle of Vienna:

The internet is radicalising people like those discussed in the article.

With all due respect to Poland, its street-sweepers are unlikely to be among Europe's most important thinkers. Anyway, importance is in the eye of the beholder, so if there is a new Habermas, Cowen can always say "not really important".

"People who disagree with me are uneducated and poor."

Cowen: "I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the important European thinkers of the next generation will be religious, not left-wing and secular." What's with the soothsayer routine among economists? Given their track record in predicting future economic conditions, maybe they shouldn't be trusted in predicting future religious and other social conditions. It's ironic that historians, who at least know something about matters of the past that might give them insight into the future, aren't given to predictions of the future, while economists, who don't even agree on matters of the present, are given to predictions of the future. Of course, humans are obsessed with the future, mostly out of fear of it; fear works - it works for economists as well as politicians.

When did Tyler make this argument? I am interested in reading how he made the case for his conclusion that he repeats here.

Comment of the day.

Relevant link:

I agree with Mr. Cowen here. But with a twist: in the sense that the fiercest european defenders of liberalism (the classical sense, not the american one) and enlightenment in general are often from an extremist-leaning background, often having been radical islamists themselves before.

religious, huh? No, because the big churches are all pro-immigration, anti-nationalist....the church leaders are of the elite, and the elite want more human livestock crammed into the western world...
so, no, the western world is NOT going to be run the religious elite, because the religious elite are of the elite...the future of the West is nationalist and populist...but cowen cannot say that or else the media will drop him like a hot potato.

Thankfully, a reliable guy bearing a stupid pseudonymous is here to tell us it like it is.

"[T]hey fear a wave of “Islamisation” or “secularisation” from western Europe. (Oddly, they sometimes conflate the two.)"

Regardless of whether you agree with the median young Pole, this type of backhanded condescension is disingenuous. The Economist fails the ideological Turing test. Is this type of belief really so odd? Hasn't most of Western Europe become most secularized and Islamized in the past 25 years? I'd even wager that within European countries secularization and Islamization are positively correlated. I.e. the most Islamized EU countries are also the most secular.

It really isn't difficult to imagine a political path in which over-secularization destabilizes the social cohesion of the atheists to a degree that they are easily displaced by Islamists.

Islamization is feared for obvious reasons.

Also, think politically. Muslims vote for leftists in exchange for welfare, even though they share none of the left's cultural or political values. It's pure patron/client. If your locked in a political struggle with the domestic left they are in affect bringing in lots of scab voters...scab voters that you end up paying to sustain. A simple look at voting patterns should show that the "secular left" and the "Islamists" are part of the same political coalition, and that both are trying to undermine the native middle class (mostly on the right).

Sounds like National Socialist German Workers' Party logic to me. A coalition of the Godless left and cringing Semites that is draining the blood of the race.

We always fight the last war, don't we. In trying to created a philosophy and society that is a total inverse of the Nazis one succeeds only in created a funhouse mirror version of them. No surprise then that Germany today represses free speech and is trying to bully Poland. Some things never change.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: the important European thinkers of the next generation will be religious, not left-wing and secular.

Given that 'left wing and secular' in our time would be newspaper columnists with academic sinecures like Corey Robin and arrested development cases like PZ Myers (both of them with a history of failed research programmes), that's not a high bar. However, it's a prediction not informed by the internal condition of religious congregations or the academic institutions affiliated with them. Catholic publishers in the English-speaking world have to recycle engaging material written 60 years ago because almost nothing worthwhile is being produced today, the Catholic colleges are (with about 10 exceptions) crooked scam-the-alumni operations with no institutional interest in promoting the Catholic faith, and evangelical institutions are shot through with Vichy faculty gamesman who talk down to their clientele while slowly ruining the institutions at which they work. The advent of Francis will exacerbate matters further, due to both his intellectual deficiencies and his interest in replacing the Catholic faith with a jumble of therapy culture and thrift-shop mark down peronism. It will be a very long time before the churches have much intellectual force, and you an I will be dead.

'The advent of Francis will exacerbate matters further'

Clearly, there was a reason that a Jesuit swore in particular to obey the pope, and not become one, right?

I predict a Zizekian, Hegelian and Lacanian re-orientation through christianity and the christian structure so painstakingly depicted in the liturgy. A new protestant interpretation and appreciation that modernity, science and atheism have been simple manifestations of christianity all along.

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