BALICKI Zygmunt—political activist, publicist, social psychologist, and sociologist, b. December 30, 1858 in Lublin, d. December 12, 1916 in Petersburg. He was one of the authors of national doctrine and one of the leaders of the Polish national-democratic movement.
Balicki studied law in Petersburg where he was a member of the League of Polish Socialists. After he completed his studies he moved to Warsaw. In Warsaw he engaged in socialist activism, for which he was arrested in 1882. When he faced arrest again in 1883 he departed for Switzerland where he joined the group “Lud Polski” [the Polish People]. That group had been founded by Bolesław Limanowski and proclaimed a program of socialism and independence. He entered the secret democratic and independence-seeking organization “Liga Polska” [Polish League], which had been founded by Zygmunt Miłkowski. In 1887 in Kraków he founded the Union of Polish Youth “Zet”, a secret association of young students from Poland and abroad.
In the years that followed he rejected socialist ideas and collaborated with Roman Dmowski. Together with Dmowski in 1893 he transformed the “Liga Polska” into a group of a national character under the name “Liga Narodowa” [National League]. In 1896 he became a member of the Central Committee of this organization. He was one of the founders of the Stronnictwo Narodowo-Demokratyczne [National-Democratic Party]. From 1908 to 1814 he was editor of the “Przegląd Narodowy” [National Review] published in Lwów.
After the outbreak of World War I, he became a member of the Polish National Committee which aimed at collaboration with Russia. One of his tasks was the organization of Polish legions with the Russian army. When this mission failed, he concentrated on publicity work. After Warsaw was taken by the Germans, he moved with the Committee to Petersburg and died shortly thereafter.
His works: Demokratyzm i liberalizm. Studium socjologiczne [Democratism and liberalism. Sociological study] (Przegląd Społeczny 2 [Social Review] 2 (1886) n. 8, 75–90); Uwagi krytyczne nad socjalizmem współczesnym [Critical remarks on contemporary socialism] (Lw 1898); Socjologiczne podstawy użyteczności [Sociological foundations of utility] (PF 2 (1899), n. 3, 17–32); Hedonism jako punkt wyjścia etyki [Hedonism as the starting point of ethics], (PF 3 (1900) n. 2, 1–40); Parlamentaryzm. Zarys socjologiczny [Parliamentarism. Sociological outline] (I–II, Lw 1900); Egoizm narodowy wobec etyki [National egotism in the face of ethics] (Lw 1902, 19083); Metody nauk społecznych i ich rozwój w XIX stuleciu [Methods of the social sciences and their development in the nineteenth century] (Przegląd Narodowy [National Review] 4 (1909), 308–402); Psychologia społeczna. Czynności poznawania [Social psychology. Activities of cognition] (Wwa 1912).
Balicki was primarily occupied with political and organizational action. He subordinated most of his publications to this end. He also did strictly scientific research. His treatise Egoizm narodowy wobec etyki [National egotism in the face of ethics] is regarded as his most important scientific work. In it he examined the problem of the relations between individual ethics and social ethics (which he called the ethics of ideas). He thought that the primary aim of social ethics is the good of the concrete collective to which a particular individual belongs, and he regarded the nation as the most important social collective. By accepting such presuppositions he was able to formulate an ethics of national egotism, which he treated as a specific kind of social ethics. The question of the future of Poland was the main problem taken up by this ethics. Balicki thought that it would be successful only if Poles would be capable of educating their citizens to be soldiers and patriots who would represent the best national traditions.
Balicki also studied psychological and social problems. He commonly approached them from an epistemological point of view. In his views he distinguished the way in which an individual knows from the way cognition occurs in society. The differences between them result from the fact that the individual’s judgments and concepts are connected with the judgments and concepts of other people. In effect this leads to the socialization of the function of cognition. For this reason only individual cognition is simple and common to all people, while social cognition is a process that is constantly coming into being and has no terminal point. The evolution of this kind of cognition results from the fact that the social group lives in changing conditions, and the principles of its functioning also change.
Balicki perceived an essential connection between these two kinds of cognition. Both ultimately contribute to the rise of human collectivities. At the same time, he showed an important relation of dependence. The more complex and perfect is cognition, the higher are the forms of social relations that arise from them. As he developed this relation of dependence, he distinguished four categories in the process of cognition: impressions, mental images, judgments, and concepts. In the social structure the following correspond analogically to them: nation, society, people, and state. This mutual dependence, however, has a merely formal character. Balicki’s conception did not provide clear rules to distinguish ultimately why particular individuals enter into some but not other social relations of dependence.
Ś. p. Zygmund B., Przegląd Narodowy [National Review] 8, (1919), 1–2; M. Seyda, Polska na przełomie dziejów. Fakty i dokumenty [Poland at a milestone in history. Facts and documents], Pz 1927–1931, I–II (passim); W. Feldman, Dzieje polskiej myśli politycznej 1864–1914 [History of Polish political thought], Wwa 1933; Z. Wojciechowski, PSB I 2337Ndash;236; J. Kurczewska, Dwie postawy wobec kryzysu ethosu demokratyczno-patriotycznego: Bolesław Limanowski (1835–1935) i Zygmunt Balicki (1858–1916) [Two attitudes toward the crsis of the democratic-patriotic ethics], Wwa 1975; G. Grott, Zygmunt Balicki, ideolog Narodowej Demokracji [Zygmunt Balicki, ideologue of National Democracy], Kr 1995 (bibliogr.).
Robert T. Ptaszek