Culture, History, & Metapolitics in Poland: An Interview with Jaroslaw Ostrogniew, Part 2Ondrej Mann
Part 1 here
This part of the interview was published in the XXXIV issue of the magazine Reconquista.
In this part, Jaroslaw will discuss metapolitics, Polish culture, music, art, his travels, and writing.
Ondrej Mann: Have you organized any metapolitical conferences in the past? Do you plan to organize any again? Do you have any practical tips for this type of conference?
Jaroslaw Ostrogniew: Yes, Szturm has organized two editions of the Europe of the Future conference in 2017 in Warsaw. Apart from the speakers from Poland, the foreign speakers included Olena Semenyaka, Ruuben Kaalep, Leo Marić, Daniel Friberg, and Denis Nikitin. Richard Spencer was invited to the second edition, but he was deported from the airport and got the famous “Schengen zone ban” from the Polish authorities. The third conference was supposed to take place before the Independence March in 2018, with Greg Johnson as one of the key speakers, but there was a huge crackdown on nationalists at that time. Many activists got detained and arrested, so the conference could not happen. However, these speakers who managed to get into Poland and these organizers who did not get detained met in two separate locations and could proceed with the speeches and networking. One of these locations was actually raided by the police, but they did not manage to stop anyone. Apart from these international events, Szturm has also organized smaller conferences with editors and authors of the magazine as speakers, especially with Grzegorz Ćwik, the present chief editor. However, it is getting ever more difficult to organize such an event due to the pressure from Polish authorities both on the local organizers as well as on the foreign guests. But the more they attack us, the harder and better organized we become.
Practical tips: get good speakers to come, find a good location, promote the event, and the audience will surely show up. Remember that speeches are only half of such an event, the other half is the networking, so get a good place for a dinner or nice “free time” after the conference. And always have a back-up plan — and a back-up plan for the back-up plan.
OM: Are there any well-known nationalist historians, writers, or artists in Poland?
JO: Many of the classic Polish writers and artists were connected with Polish nationalism. The most interesting example is probably Stanisław Wyspiański (who is one of my favorite Polish artists and writers), who wrote the famous drama Przebudzenie which is directly inspired by the writing of Roman Dmowski, the main ideologue of classic Polish nationalism. Another example is Władysław Reymont, who was close to the Polish agrarian and national democracy movements, who is the author of probably the best Polish novel Chłopi (a great peasant epic comparable with Knut Hamsun’s Growth of the Soil) and who received the Nobel prize in literature. One of the best Polish poets, Tadeusz Miciński, was also close to nationalism and he might be especially interesting due to the themes of mysticism and occultism present in his work. His aim was to create a new national mythos for the Polish nation, based on a synthesis of Polish folk beliefs, Neoplatonism, Vedic tradition and Indian philosophy, mystic veins of Christianity, and Gnosticism. There was also Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski, who introduced Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg to the world in his travel memories Beasts, Men, and Gods and who was the most popular writer of his era in Poland. Another author connected with nationalism was Ferdynand Goetel, largely forgotten due to communist censorship. Current Polish literature is in the grip of liberalism (just as everywhere in Europe). Traditionally, Polish science-fiction and fantasy writers were right-wing, as they grew out of the anti-communist circles, though the two most-promoted and popular Polish writers of these genres are Left and liberal, namely Stanisław Lem and Andrzej Sapkowski.
OM: What are the most popular bands among nationalists in Poland? What kind of music do you listen to?
JO: The two most popular Polish bands among nationalists would be definitely Honor and Konkwista 88, both in the classic RAC/hatecore [Rock Against Communism] vein, both already inactive. There was also an NR-oriented RAC band, namely Legion. There are some younger Polish HC/RAC bands popular among nationalists now, such as Obłęd, Legion Twierdzy Wrocław, Gammadion, Tormentia, or the inactive White Devils (the projects are new, but some of the members belong to the old guard). There are also some NSBM bands, though most of them are actually regular black metal, with some radical leanings. Well, I think Polish nationalists listen to very similar music as Slovak, Czech, Austrian, Hungarian, German, French, or any other nationalists. The advent of the internet made it possible for all the radical bands to reach audiences in various countries. Personally, I listen mostly to black metal and neofolk. I also like classical music and more experimental and melodic acts, such as Dead Can Dance, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Popol Vuh, or Kraftwerk. I also really like fashwave — this is still one the best “young” trends in music right now. I don’t get rap or hip-hop at all, but I support the nationalist rap scene, as I think it is a good way of promoting the right ideas among the younger generation. There is no point in namedropping all the bands I like, but I think readers of Reconquista might be interested in some Polish acts. I strongly recommend Polish black metal bands from the 1990s, such as Graveland, Veles, Fullmoon, Infernum, Thor’s Hammer, North, Kataxu, or Arkona. The second Polish wave, such as Mgła, Kriegsmaschine, Szron, Dark Fury, Selbstmord, Gontyna Kry and Plaga, are also very much worth your attention. If you like atmospheric black metal and folk influences, Wędrujący Wiatr and Stworz are some of the best you will find in this genre. For fans of neofolk, I recommend Ludola. There is also an interesting martial dark ambient project: Jowisz.
OM: I know you write for the website Counter-Currents. How did you first contact this website? What do you like about CC?
JO: Since my entry into nationalism, I was looking for a medium that would cover all kinds of topics, such as politics, culture, art, ecology, or history from a nationalist perspective, which would have the best authors and which would also publish translations of authors writing in languages I have not mastered. And exactly in the moment when I was really tired and disappointed with the state of the nationalist scene, I came across Counter-Currents, which had just begun to operate at that time. It was pretty much everything I was looking for. I read it for some time and then I just wrote an e-mail to Greg Johnson, asking if he would be interested in having his work translated into Polish. Later, I sent him some of my essays, and he encouraged me to write more. After some time I got the chance to meet him in person when he came to Poland for the first time to visit Leo Yankevich. Currently, I focus on writing in Polish and doing translations of other authors into my mother tongue. I think that there is quite a lot of good English-language nationalist and New Right authors, whose work is much better than mine, while I think that the Polish nationalist metapolitical movement needs all hands on board. Thus, I decided to focus on writing in Polish.
OM: What is your most-read article? What type of articles are people most interested in?
JO: These are three separate things: articles I like to write, articles people read, and articles I think are most important. The articles I like to write the most are about culture, especially about literature, and especially about poetry, which I think is not appreciated enough both in Poland, as well as in nationalist circles. Many of the best writers were on our side, and I think it is an important task to remind people about this fact. The articles people read the most are quite random: the ones I saw had quite a few reads and even got translated into other languages were the ones about my experiences of working with Leftists, my extended review of the book Prison of the Nation by Alexiey Shiropaiev (an ethnonationalist history of Russia), and my reports on the Asgardsrei festival (which can be read in Czech thanks to your efforts). The articles I think are the most important are the ones connected with the practical aspects of the nationalist movement, such as “Feeding The Counter-System” and “Across The Line,” and the ones connected with the higher meaning of life and death, such as “On Mortality” and “Tragiczna koncepcja życia.”
OM: I know that you were also interested in translations of books. Are you currently working on something?
JO: Yes, I definitely think translations of the best nationalist or New Right books into Polish is one of the most important metapolitical tasks. However, I know now that to get a translation done, you do not start with the translation, but with finding a good publisher. It is much easier to translate single essays and publish them in Szturm or other magazines or blogs than to translate whole books. So far, I have translated essays by Greg Johnson, Tomislav Sunić, Timo Hännikäinen (from English), Ivan Mikhieiev (from Russian), or Serhiy Zaikovskiy (from Ukrainian). I have also translated New Right vs. Old Right by Greg Johnson into Polish, but it has not been released yet. I plan to translate more essays in the future of the most interesting nationalist and New Right authors, especially from English. When it comes to books — we will not get much done until we have a good publisher in Poland. As I said before, this project should become a reality in the near future and then there will be many more translations of good authors into Polish. In the nearest future, Szturm will publish the first Polish translation of collected sayings and aphorisms of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera.
OM: In Szturm magazine, you give a space to talk with foreign nationalists. Which people and initiatives have you already addressed and which ones do you still plan to address? Are they interested in such conversations?
JO: I think it is one of our main goals to create connections between nationalists from various countries and interviews are one of the best ways to do it. So far in Szturm we have published interviews with such initiatives as Plomin (Ukraine), Nordisk Ungdom (Sweden), Dritte Weg (Germany), PNOS (Switzerland), Russkiy Centr (Russia), Azov Regiment (Ukraine), Black Front (Netherlands), RAIDO (Italy), or NPD-JD (Germany), among others. We are not afraid of controversies, so we even published an interview with Luni from Landser in which he clarified the reasons for some of his anti-Polish remarks in the past. In the nearest future, we plan to publish interviews with Reconquista SK (which you might know something about) and Sriblo Troyandi (Ukraine). So far everyone was interested in such interviews, though not everyone had the time to reply to our questions. I also try to write more about culture and I know some of the more interesting writers and artists (especially these coming from the underground milieu) are at least sympathetic to our cause, though many of them are not willing to speak to an openly political medium — and we have to respect that, as they are already in a difficult position and should not do things which could hurt their work.
OM: What motivates you to write?
JO: That is a difficult question. Writing is something that I both enjoy and can do quite well. The main cause for this is that I write a lot: if you count everything, including all translations, essays, reviews, articles, stories, etc. I do both for work and in my spare time, I think I have just passed the 1,000 mark. Luckily, most of it was done as an exercise and never got published. So writing is one of my main activities, I do it also for work. I believe that the nationalist movement is the only real alternative to the globalist system and the only hope for the survival of Europe and the European nations, including my nation. Thus, I believe and think that I need to contribute to it what I can do the best, so I write. Having written for other media, including mainstream cultural media or academic publishers, I want to emphasize that the nationalist media are far more serious and the nationalist intellectuals are far more interesting than the mainstream ones. Furthermore, far more people read or discuss my nationalist writings than my “normie” ones, so it is also very encouraging. Writing for the nationalist media gives me a deeper sense of living and is very rewarding intellectually — though, like all writing, it is a demanding activity.
OM: Do you have any other hobbies besides writing and reading?
JO: I have quite a lot of different interests, though just reading all the books I would like to read would be able to fill my whole time. However, I don’t have that much time for everything as I would like. Besides writing and reading, I listen to music, watch films, go to museums, hike both in the mountains and more flat areas. I like strength training and bodybuilding (I recommend everyone to try it, especially with the simple Starting Strength 5×5 or 5/3/1 programs). I also play some instruments and draw, but this is pure hobby entertainment, I don’t have any achievements in this area. I also love nature, always had some animals and grew plants, I like to watch animals in their natural habitat, I really enjoy visiting national parks and botanical gardens. I encourage everyone to cut down on social media, Netflix, video games, and do more creative and productive stuff. Go out, enjoy nature, meet real people in the real world, contemplate art, lift some weights — these are the best things in life, especially if you have a family of friends with whom you can do these things together.
OM: I know that you travel quite a bit. What would you recommend seeing in Poland and around the world?
JO: Yes, I traveled a little, though I am not one of these “not all who wander are lost” Instagram types. I like visiting places, though I don’t really like traveling. I hate buses especially. Anyway, I like visiting both places connected with civilization, contemplating traditional architecture or museums, as well as places connected with nature, like mountains or forests. I especially like to visit sacred sites connected with traditional European religions. The ruins of Greek temples are the places that have really made a lasting impression on me — I recommend going to them during sunrise or sunset for a real spiritual experience.
My favorite museums are the Belvedere and National History Museum in Vienna, the British Museum and Tate Gallery in London, and Musee d’Orsay in Paris. I also visited some interesting museums in Turkey, which are very unique if you are interested in the Hittite Empire. Recommended places in Poland — our three countries are connected by the mountains (Karkonosze and Tatra mountains) so I think it is best to start with going to the other side of the mountains when you have the chance. I have spent quite some time in Karkonosze and I always try to go to the Czech side, to experience them in a new way. I generally like northern Bohemia — Trutnov is one of the nicest small towns I have visited, and Adršpašskoteplické skály are magnificent.
Speaking of mountains, I recommend visiting the Ślęża mountain in Lower Silesia, which was a holy mountain for Slavs in the pre-Christian times. When it comes to nature, Poland is a large country with very interesting national parks. I strongly advise everyone to visit Białowieża National Park (the oldest forest in Europe) and Biebrza National Park (river Biebrza with its marshes and thousands of birds). They are close to each other, so you can do it in one vacation. As much as I don’t like sitting on the beach, I have to say that the Baltic coast in Poland is very good, sandy with clear water, with no annoying salesmen from foreign countries — a very good alternative to the Mediterranean coast.
When it comes to cities, the best to visit in Poland is definitely Kraków with its old town and especially the Wawel Castle. Wrocław and Gdańsk are also interesting due to their past German history and architecture different from the rest of the country. Warsaw is also a must-see with many places to see.
When it comes to museums, the National museums in Warsaw and Kraków are the best with their collections of the peak achievements of Polish art from the break of the 19th and 20th centuries. There are two small gems among Polish museums. Muzeum Pomorza Środkowego w Słupsku has the largest collection of works by Witikacy, who was one of the most interesting and original Polish artists before the Second World War. Muzeum Historyczne w Sanoku has the largest collection of paintings by Zdzisław Beksiński, whom I sure you are familiar with.
So if you do not have any plans yet, come to Poland, I am sure you will all like it.
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