Counter-movement at a critical juncture

A neo-Polanyian interpretation of the rise of the illiberal Right in Poland


  • Sławomir Czech University of Economics in Katowice
  • Maciej Kassner University of Warsaw

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illiberal democracy, economic liberalism, social discontent, power struggle


This article seeks to explain the causes of the growing popularity of the illiberal right, taking the Polish political party Law and Justice as an example. The adopted analytical approach combines insights derived from the work of Karl Polanyi and the tradition of historical institutionalism. The victory of Law and Justice in the 2015 Polish parliamentary elections is argued to constitute a critical juncture that initiated a fundamental break with the liberal order. Following Polanyi, we argue that the seeds of the recent anti-liberal counter-revolution can be found in the malfunctioning of the Polish economic order built during the period of transition. However, Law and Justice has managed to make use of the critical juncture arising from social discontent and has used it instrumentally to dismantle liberal constitutionalism and the rule of law.




How to Cite

Czech, S. and Kassner, M. 2021. Counter-movement at a critical juncture: A neo-Polanyian interpretation of the rise of the illiberal Right in Poland. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 7, 2 (Jul. 2021), 128–148. DOI: