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What does the far right have to offer for young Poles? Confession of a former idealist

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
11.12.2023 16:45

An article by a former extreme right-winger, Krzysztof Łuksza, provides an insight into the mindset of those who adhere to this ideology. What fosters the far-right views?

Two significant dates are approaching. One of them is 9 November, the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the pogrom against Jewish people in Germany in 1938 which, since 1995, is also an International Day Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism in Europe. The other is 11 November, Polish Independence Day, when every year we see some people marching with beliefs and slogans based on thinking analogous to that which led to the tragedy of Nazism.

Explaining the appeal of right-wing ideology

Why is it that even knowing the history of Holocaust, many young people in Poland still find far-right ideology attractive? So attractive, that in the parliamentary elections on 15 October as many as 16.9% of 18-29 year-olds cast their vote for Konfederacja (English: The Confederation, a coalition of Polish extreme nationalist movements)?

On 7 November Krzysztof Łuksza presented his opinion on this subject on nigdywiecej.org website. The former wRealu24.pl journalist was himself part of the far-right ideological bubble until recently. His article gives surprisingly straightforward answers to questions that bother outsiders of this milieu. Łuksza himself did not grow up in an ultra-right-wing family, in contrast with some of the right-wing radicals.

Entering the far-right world, I was a lost person looking for meaning in life and I got the illusion of that meaning. Lost in a postmodern reality, I got simple answers from the far right - what is real, what is good.

- Krzysztof Łuksza

In his article Łuksza admits that describing the process of his adoption of far-right views proved to be a very difficult task. "One of the strangest sensations is the realisation that when I entered this world, soon fully affirming it, it seemed to me that here I was just waking up, that I was discovering what was purposefully covered, that I was ‘turning on my thinking’, becoming independent of external influence and seeing what is true and good, things contrary to my previous vague, 'postmodern' views," he writes.

According to the journalist, the basis for adopting far-right "values" is to accept a particular, grotesque image of the world. This image, according to Łuksza, is "based on 'inconvenient information', as right-wing authorities call their affirmation of past eras in which things were supposedly better, or conspiracy theories designed to justify their dislike of the modern world, of Western civilisation". "Strangely enough," he notes, "this dislike often omits Russia."

An extreme right-wing view of the world

Łuksza also describes that the far-right performs "an inversion of defining reality". It calls human rights "an ideology of right-wingism", the natural rights of an individual "a liberal corruption" and the secularisation of societies "a collapse of the modern world". This decline must be countered by "acting ideologically", i.e. bringing the world into harmony with right-wing ideology.

A large section of Łuksza's essay talks about the fact that many people hold extreme views out of sheer spite. This may be the reason why some people "grow out of them" eventually. The journalist mentions the "anti-system" statements of the philosopher Boguslaw Wolniewicz, like "people are not equal" and "there is no future for an open society", are often quoted by far-right activists with self-confidence, which, apart from their perverse subversiveness, contribute nothing to social discourse.

Today I know that trusting these words has led me to blind nationalism, anti-Semitism, racism and other toxic views that give a false sense of being better, also appealing to narcissistic tendencies that, instead of being curbed, are fuelled by extreme right-wingism. [...] In this world, the mere adherence to certain ideas supposedly makes one better than those who are not ‘idealistic’. This supposed 'idealism' becomes a substitute for morality, enabling a combination of contempt for those who are not 'ours' and a sense of being moral at the same time.

- Krzysztof Łuksza

The journalist points out that "extreme right-wingers launch ferocious attacks on so-called political correctness, while they themselves treat going beyond their distorted vision of the world as the worst betrayal and heresy, a downfall or 'selling out', and create their own version of political correctness." Łuksza admits that dissociating himself from his environment had many unpleasant consequences for him.

He also describes another paradox that far-right idealists have to accept. This is the simultaneous sense of possessing a knowledge of the world that is supposed to place one above others "unaware of the supposed true nature of reality", combined with a total intellectual stagnation resulting from adherence to rigid, irrefutable dogmas.

Is it possible to get out of the far-right bubble?

This contradiction proved to be what allowed Łuksza to move on from the far-right. He wrote: "At the beginning of my entry into this world, I felt a great hunger for knowledge and spent a lot of time absorbing information creating my new view of reality. After a while, however, I noticed that I wasn't learning anything new anymore, but just reaffirming my beliefs, which meant that the content I had previously assimilated simply started to bore me."

Łuksza started to doubt whether the world "looks the way everyone around him, including himself, says it does?". The journalist writes that he was not able to be satisfied with schemes and dogmas that "do not stand up to real, honest intellectual criticism." What he was able to achieve required a lot from him: to look coldly at his views and admitting, especially to himself: "Man, you have gone astray" was not easy. Łuksza admits, it also forced him to face the consequences.

In his "confession", Krzysztof Łuksza finally stresses that "the feeling that by voicing one's extreme views one does not go unpunished is invaluable - because impunity, the tolerance of what is simply wrong, allows extreme views to flourish, both in individual and social form". These are important words in the context of this week’s two anniversaries.

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