November 28, 2011

Law, Politics, Poland, and "High Noon"

Michal Kuz, Louisiana State University Department of Political Science, has published 'High Noon' and Polish Republican Symbolism in Relation to American Political Culture. Here is the abstract.

This paper examines the fate of certain Polish republican symbols and notions with reference to the American political culture. It focuses especially on the image of Gary Cooper from High Noon that became a widely recognized symbol of the first Polish free elections after World War II. The histories of modern Polish and American republicanisms are, however, intertwined since the very beginning of both traditions of political thought. Unfortunately, because of unfavorable geopolitical circumstances and internal turmoil Poles lost their first state. Hamilton wrote that due to its 'anarchy and weakness' Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was: 'unfit for self-government and self-defense' (Federalists 2001, 94). This anarchy, embodied by the liberum-veto rule, was, nevertheless, a corrupted form of political individualism that made Polish political culture so similar to the American one. In line with that tradition when in 1989 for the first time since World War II time Polish citizens voted in elections over which Moscow had no substantive influence, the pro-democratic Solidarity block used a picture of Garry Cooper from the film 'High Noon' on its posters. The sheriff, who wore a 'Solidarity' badge was; holding not a gun, but a folded ballot. 'July the 6th, 'High Noon' - said the slogan. The message was clear. It said that it is time for every citizen to make an individual decision about what he thinks is right and do so disregarding the multitude of those, who may want to oppose such a decision. Referring to that specific film suggested that even against the many, the cause of the democratic opposition would prevail. Indeed this approach may be deemed the positive 'liberum veto.'

Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

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