The political subject and hero in culture in the light of Juri Lotman’s theory

The case of Lech Wałęsa


  • Agnieszka Doda-Wyszyńska
  • Monika Obrębska



Juri Lotman; Lech Wałęsa; subject; hero; explosion


Politics appears to have a direct impact on the quality of our lives as citizens of states. We outline here the dependence between culture and its inherent mechanism of forgetting, and between a hero and a political subject. We employ the theory of Juri Lotman, who underlines the role of individuals and of single events in culture. The primary illustration given is the figure of Lech Wałęsa, politician, legendary co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. He exemplifies Lotman’s notion of a mobile hero, one who powered the course of history, but whose present-day political and social activity is of an empty and querulous nature, lacking a goal and deeper meaning, while the actions he performs take place within a closed semantic field. He is an example of a paradoxical hero, whose actions no longer generate tensions or build a new semiotic quality. Wałęsa’s problem is the ossification of his discourse and failure to perceive that transformation has already taken place.