Is Poland in the grip of a Burkean battle?

The conservative Law and Justice party struggles against the scourge of EU utopianism.


In 1790 Edmund Burke published his classic polemic, Reflections on the Revolution in France. The work has served ever since as a benchmark, especially for conservatives, in judging new political phenomena. A natural question in such circumstances is: what would Burke say? It might not appear on a wristband, but it’s a worthy query nonetheless. And it’s a query that might properly be applied to recent events in Poland as that ancient and long-suffering country confronts the challenge of dealing with the European Union—even as other challenges also loom large. These include the ever-present muscular neighbor, Russia, and the threat of mass immigration from Muslim lands, fostered and encouraged by other European nations, notably Germany.

Since joining the EU in 2004, Poland has had peaceful relations with Brussels, the citadel of the EU and of its post-nationalist ideology. At the same time relations are also tense. (See my piece from November 30 on the TAC website noting the stream of “Polaphobia” emerging from the Brussels-minded Western media.) Looking at Poland through the Burkean prism, it’s fair to say that the Poles have always been conservative. And yet the Law and Justice Party, elected to power in 2015, has ramped up that conservatism even further. Poland’s brand of conservatism might confound many Americans, though, especially those who make an automatic conflation between conservatism and deregulated markets. For their part, the Poles are conservative insofar as they wish to conserve. They don’t go for the endless gale of “creative destruction” heralded by Joseph Schumpeter, which he described as “incessantly revolutioniz[ing] the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.”

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