Independence Day: The Emotional Tenor of Populism in Poland

  • Marysia H. GalbraithEmail author


Although the power of emotion has generally been undertheorized in the study of politics, recent populist movements gain their power from a diverse complex of emotions: hope, fear, disappointment, and anger. Independence Day events in Warsaw (November 11, 2014) reveal the stark contrast between the official ceremony, characterized by formality and pomp, and the opposition march, full of energy and anger. Both events employ national symbols and claim to be the legitimate heirs of past struggles for freedom, but the contrasting emotional tenor of each signal fundamentally opposed orientations toward open borders, global markets, and indeed the character of the Polish nation. I argue that the populist reassertion of nationalism in Poland can be viewed as the rejection of neoliberal hegemony and has parallels to nativist trends in the United States. Impassioned calls for “illiberal democracy” and “closed-border globalization” reveal a retreat from liberalism, including both liberal social values and free market values.


Closed-border globalization Emotion Independence Day rituals Liberalism Nationalism National symbols Poland 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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