Polish Slavery

The author analyzes the increasingly frequent analogy in both journalism and academic literature between Atlantic slavery and the system of manorial serfdom. While the comparison is in his opinion justifiable on moral grounds, it is of little use intellectually because it does not help us understand the specifics of serfdom. Without doing so, we cannot understand where there is continuity between that regime and contemporary Polish society, nor can we come to terms with the stigma of history. The reason we still treat serfdom as “Polish slavery” is, according to the author, Westernism, namely, the belief that the West has been the locomotive of global history. A brief analysis of the “real” slavery that prevailed in Poland in the era of the first Piasts, and which was a consequence of exporting slaves to the Islamic world, shows how we can talk about the people’s history of Poland without the burden of Westernism.