Politics. Serving values or interests? Beata Szydło and Cardinal Dziwisz at the plenary session

Competing for power is an inherent element of politics, hence the election propaganda. Nothing can change that. However, we can and should strive to strike the right balance between these two dimensions of politics: the instrumental and the axiological. The question is how to find the golden mean – wondered the participants of the panel.

The moderator Danuta Holecka from TVP kicked off the discussion with the question “What’s politics?”. In reply, Prime Minister Beata Szydło admitted that politics was her world and added that all politicians should strive to do “good for other people”.

Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, who also participated in the discussion, stressed that even though he is a shepherd, his service has also a social dimension and therefore he could be among the participants of the plenary session. He cited the definitions of politics coined by the sociologist and philosopher Max Weber and Saint John Paul II. All the citations led to one conclusion that politics is a skill that consists in serving ideas.

Viktor Yushchenko, the former President of Ukraine, started with explaining what politics is. He cited the words of Aristotle which, in his opinion, best reflect the sense of politics that is related to organizing people’s lives. He stressed the importance of democratic politics, considering democracy as the regime that can most effectively solve social problems. He expressed his hope that the discussion would help define the stands of its participants and also reminded that being a citizen is a duty.

On the other hand, Bruce Stokes, Director for Global Economic Trends at Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, said that politics is responsible for influence on human life and creating happiness. He talked about different visions of democracy and various definitions of political systems, and concluded that the greatest challenge that politics is facing is reconciling contradictions and various points of view.

Viktor Yushchenko, replying to the question about populism, wondered about the relation of values and interests. He arrived at the conclusion that if we follow only interests, we’ll quickly forget about values. He stressed that what’s crucial for people is the sense of security that gives the perspective of life.

In the summary, the panel participants pointed to the key elements necessary to maintain harmony between politics, interests and values. Cardinal Dziwisz pointed out that a politician should be able to recognize and order objective values. Prime Minister Szydło stressed the importance of traditional rules and Christian ideas in shaping a political strategy and also the sense of determining a common set of values of the European countries. Bruce Stokes added that politicians should strive to maintain social stability in the evolving and scattered world, whereas President Yushchenko mentioned that values should always be placed above interests and that we should do our best to make the spirit prevail.