The thematic issue Rhetoric and political polemics is dedicated to one of the most important aspects of political communication. Polemics, controversies, contestations, arguments oft en degenerate into what counts nowadays as pure sophistics. Therefore the volume opens with a study by Cyprian Mielczarski The heritage of the classical sophistics and the modern culture in which the author challenges the received views on the sophists’ ideas and offers a positive interpretation of their influence on the modern political culture. Joanna Partyka, in her article Ancient tradition as an argument in the polemic with the enemies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, explores the Old-Polish patterns of polemics. She shows that while refuting the arguments formulated by the „slanderers of Poland”, the seventeenth-century writers relied heavily on the authority of ancient texts, regarded as very respectable counterarguments within the argument culture of the time. Monika Kostro and Krystyna Wróblewska-Pawlak, in their article Between courtesy and depreciation. The forms of address as a rhetorical means in political polemical discourse, study the television presidential debates between Polish and French politicians, respectively. The authors identify when and why some occurrences of the forms of address, regarded as the most important linguistic markers indicative of the social relationship between the participants of interaction, function as a rhetorical means which dissimulates ad personam attacks by apparent politeness. Agnieszka Kampka, in her contribution We are from another courtyard – political opponents about each other, examines press interviews from the point of view of the criticisms that politicians address against their adversaries. The study shows that the most frequent accusations, expressed through vivid language involving irony and metaphors, concern the alleged hypocrisy, weak character and neglect of the democratic rules. The article Homo seriosus and homo rhetoricus in the political discourse. The argumentative strategies of Janusz Palikot and his opponents by Oliwia Tarasewicz-Gryt is dedicated to the analysis of rhetorical and eristic mechanisms in speeches by one of the most controversial Polish politicians. Against the homo seriosus strategies, privileged by his adversaries, Janusz Palikot mobilizes them resources typical for the homo rhetoricus. The contrast shows the revealing differences characteristic for both styles of communication in the political polemic. The contribution by Tomasz Olczyk We, They and the virtual universes of the TV political advertisement, explores the construction of the axis we/they within the constructed universes of the political commercials. The author points out such framing devices as inclusion, exclusion, amplification and narrative structurization. He describes the role of these processes in creating „dystopian ” and „arcadian” versions of reality in political ads and the construction of the we/they opposition.
Continuing the discussion on the present challenges of the rhetoric with respect to the tradition, initiated in the previous issue of the quarterly, Marek Czyżewski prevents from the risk of the banalization of rhetoric by reducing it to the easy and quick tips – also in political communication – which have almost nothing to do with the original rhetorical concepts. Since the reflection on the modern status of rhetoric is essential for the discipline, we invite the representatives of different academic backgrounds to express their views in the ongoing discussion.
The articles collected in the volume contribute to the vivid scholarly debate on one of the most fascinating aspects of rhetoric: its role in creating, alimenting and, hopefully, resolving the political conflicts. Oddly enough, none of the contributions considers this last case…
FSR – Rhetoric and political polemics