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Poland's westernization


mvefa 5 | 591  
30 Sep 2009 /  #1
It's been 20 years since the iron curtain fell, all of the eastern countries were open to the world and offcourse a clash of cultures happened.

You hear often polish or eastern europeans saying that the west is shallow, superficial, etc etc. But to be honest, those characteristics are not alien to the Polish communy, in fact they even go extreme on those.

What are your thoughts? does Poland hates the western culture even though they use it and adapt it to themselves? Or is it just a double faced statement and its fashionable to hate the western culture?

Please comment. I'm puzzled.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752  
30 Sep 2009 /  #2
You're quite easily puzzled are you? :)

Anyway, Poles indeed go to extremes when trying to copy our Western "pop"-culture. Unfortunately they rarely copy the real and rich culture we have, only the cr*ppy things we have. Apparently these things are seen as more important than our deepest and finest utterings of cultural awareness. They all want to be like us and think by becoming some freaking "barbie-doll" that they are like us. Well, they are not. It's always done in an "over-the-top" way (not every Pole does this, I am not saying that) and it usually looks kinda ridiculous to us Westerners. What I personally find funny when Poles try to imitate us is when they try to use English words within Polish. There are a lot of examples of that, but right now only Skaip comes to mind (Skype). When spoken, this would be ok, however, they should write it the correct way. Strangely enough they write it this wrong way as well. Another example is: Fajna/Fajny, which would be Fine. But those are just details, not really important, I just find them funny, that's all.

M-G (lunchtime)
jonni 16 | 2,485  
30 Sep 2009 /  #3
Is Poland Western or Eastern?

To a Russian or Ukrainian, it's certainly in the West. There's the 'moody Slavic soul' here, but there's always been a part of Poland that looks West rather than East.
southern 75 | 7,096  
30 Sep 2009 /  #4
Poles are Slavs but definitely more touch than other Slavs due to german proximity.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #5
They looked West to look out for Germany's drang nach osten.

Mvefa, please define your conception of westernization. That'll get the discussion properly started.
OP mvefa 5 | 591  
30 Sep 2009 /  #6
Mvefa, please define your conception of westernization. That'll get the discussion properly started.

You know in general culture, like the way the west, thinks, act, dress, perform, our habits, etc etc

MG
That's not polish only, i have seen a lot of that in mediterranean countries, like in Spain: play station: pleysteishon
freaky:friky..

or like italians
Ziemowit 13 | 4,269  
30 Sep 2009 /  #7
Another example is: Fajna/Fajny, which would be Fine.

"Fajny/fajna" is an assimilated borrowing into Polish from the German word "fein"; the borrowing occurred long ago before English acquired its ridiculous omnipotent importance in Poland.

Otherwise, I do agree with the rest of your comment. As a Pole living in Poland, I am also very much annoyed by people using English words within Polish. It is a characteristic of those who try to feel "better" by imitating those whom they regard "better" as themselves. Please notice that it is not an exclusively Polish speciality, however, and was best ridiculed in Molière's masterpiece comedy "Le Bourgeois gentilhomme" of the 17th century which was describing the complexes of the "newly-rich" inhabitants of Paris.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #8
And how does the West think, mvefa? Did Conservative Britain think the same way as liberal Holland? Did the socialists think the same as the capitalists?

Does an Englishman act in the same way as a Spaniard? If so, in what ways?

Does a German dress like a Scotsman?

Perform has multiple meanings, what do you mean here?

Are the habits, gestures and demeanours of the West the same? Does an American gesticulate like an Italian? Does a Frenchman have the same habits as a Welshman?
OP mvefa 5 | 591  
30 Sep 2009 /  #9
Damn it i cannot type much, busy at work.

There might be not common political views between england and Holland, but there some common grounds like in Human rights, inmigration policies, rights of women, etc. which to some countries of the east block was asked to join the EU, before that they did not have them.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #10
The capital letter system is the same. It's England ;) ;)

Well, the EU has undoubtedly changed things. Is Poland a signatory to the ECHR? What rights did women not have in communist Poland?
Mr Grunwald 29 | 2,014  
30 Sep 2009 /  #11
Are the habits, gestures and demeanours of the West the same? Does an American gesticulate like an Italian? Does a Frenchman have the same habits as a Welshman?

Spot on! ;)

mvefa: "There might be not common political views between england and Holland, but there some common grounds like in Human rights, inmigration policies, rights of women"

Yeah and in the middleages you were still western while not having all this! Still gotta have some more uniqe qualities then that!
thinking of the religious wars in Western part of europe doesn't make it more civilized either... all the butchering! The French revolution! Don't get me started!
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #12
And there's Norway. Their conception of high taxes to pay for advanced social services didn't square with Thatcher's low income tax policy. There are so many differences.

Let's look at how Poland has transformed itself from its communism days. The first steps were taken by Balcerowicz but the country was soon plunged into hyperinflation and his reforms were criticised.

Things picked up a little but it was the accession to the EU in May 2004 that really revolutionised things. The change to democracy being a notable one. Fully-stocked shops is another one at ground level. The advent of international chains etc etc. These are more areas of discussion as Europe and the West pride themselves on diversity and thus it's hard to put your finger on 'Western' ideas.
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
30 Sep 2009 /  #13
There might be not common political views between england and Holland, but there some common grounds like in Human rights, inmigration policies, rights of women, etc. which to some countries of the east block was asked to join the EU, before that they did not have them.

What makes you say that?

does Poland hates the western culture even though they use it and adapt it to themselves? Or is it just a double faced statement and its fashionable to hate the western culture?

I think you are confusing the communist regime with a culture.

Holland

Also I think Holland is far a head of the rest of Europe on many social and legal issues.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,269  
30 Sep 2009 /  #14
The first steps were taken by Balcerowicz but the country was soon plunged into hyperinflation and his reforms were criticised.

The reforms of Balcerowicz took the country into hyperinflation ??? Where is the idea from? The reform did the reverse to the inflation!!!
MareGaea 29 | 2,752  
30 Sep 2009 /  #15
Also I think Holland is far a head of the rest of Europe on many social and legal issues.

Indeed, we are and it puts us on the chopping board of many countries who are not as advanced as we are. Remember the nice discussions we had in the past about this.

Seanus

No, not every country is the same in the West, nor is every culture identical. Every country has its own little things that distinguishes them from the rest. However, I think the point that mfeva is trying to make is this: the Poles seem to take the greatest common divisor and try to make it theirs as well. The mistake they make with this is to think that this is the general rule for Western culture, when it is not. True, there is a greatest common divisor which spans the entire Western culture (think about Eurohouse, brrr!), but most of the Poles who adopt this are ignoring the cultural differences of the diverse countries in the West.

M-G (had chicken Kiev, which wasn't chicken Kiev at all; when do they learn how to cook in our canteen?)
Matyjasz 2 | 1,544  
30 Sep 2009 /  #16
There might be not common political views between england and Holland, but there some common grounds like in Human rights, inmigration policies, rights of women, etc. which to some countries of the east block was asked to join the EU, before that they did not have them.

O common mvefa, next you will tell us that before Polish accession to EU we had slavery in Poland and women didn't have the right to vote. :/

In terms of human and women rights Eastern Europe and western Europe don't really differ (I don't know about Belarus, but Czech republic, Hungary, Poland, etc most certainly don't).

I think that what people think when they say westernization is consumptionism. .

@ MareGaea

You pretty much make a mistake of lumping all Poles into one bag with each other. I can assure you that a professor from a university has a different taste than a guy from a construction site. Maybe in Holland truck drivers read Dostoyevsky, listen to Vivaldi and spend their free time at Opera, but in Poland a menial worker will most likely listen to pop-music, won't read anything apart for some tabloids and spend his free time drinking beer down at the pub.

What are your thoughts? does Poland hates the western culture even though they use it and adapt it to themselves? Or is it just a double faced statement and its fashionable to hate the western culture?

Does Poland hate the western culture? It depends. The simple folk, as I imagine all simple folk in the world, love the consumptionist way of life. After all, this was what they dreamed about and couldn’t get during the commie times. A new TV set, cable TV, a new car and some vacations somewhere nice from time to time. The intelligentsia is somewhat more critical towards consumptionism, preaching the impotance of some higher values and all. Is this that different from wherever you are?
SeanBM 35 | 5,808  
30 Sep 2009 /  #17
Indeed, we are and it puts us on the chopping board of many countries who are not as advanced as we are. Remember the nice discussions we had in the past about this.

Sorry it must have been during one of my black outs, any links?
But you are correct, Holland does get a beating instead of being used as a model.

the Poles seem to take the greatest common divisor and try to make it theirs as well.

Are you talking about all those silly TV programs like the X factor, (enter country) has talent etc?
I think that is just TV culture, kinda like this forum being internet culture and there are certain expectations e.g. we will never all agree ;)

but most of the Poles who adopt this are ignoring the cultural differences of the diverse countries in the West.

I think the same could be said for people in the West talking about the East.
It was only 20 years ago when the old iron curtain was up and we were in an arms race.

had chicken Kiev, which wasn't chicken Kiev at all; when do they learn how to cook in our canteen?)

When they learn Kiev is not in Poland ;p

Does Poland hate the western culture? It depends. The simple folk, as I imagine all simple folk in the world, love the consumptionist way of life. After all, this was what they dreamed about and couldn’t get during the commie times. A new TV set, cable TV, a new car and some vacations somewhere nice from time to time. The intelligentsia is somewhat more critical towards consumptionism, preaching the impotance of some higher values and all. Is this that different from wherever you are?

Good post.
MareGaea 29 | 2,752  
30 Sep 2009 /  #18
truck drivers

Believe me, in Holland truck drivers don't listen to Vivaldi and certainly don't listen to Dostojevski, that is, if they can read.

I can assure you that a professor from a university has a different taste than a guy from a construction site.

Don't you think I don't know that? I see it all around me. I was aiming at the major lump of ppl. Unfortunately it's the kind of ppl you see most. The intelligentia doesn't show itself that obviously as the lesser spirited ppl. It was based on them, not on the professors, the doctors, pHd's etc.

It is a characteristic of those who try to feel "better"

And from most Polish ppl that I know, I understand it's regarded very highly if you are able to speak English. My ex -again- couldn't speak one decent sentence of English, yet she was regarded very intelligent, smart and classy (ha-ha-ha) by her Polish friends because of her English. While I believe there is nothing wrong with Poles learning English or any other foreign language, it should be considered a necessity if you want to go to other places, not an accomplishment. But I know, when I was in highschool, we looked up to ppl who spoke French or Spanish fluently (perhaps they couldn't speak a decent line in those languages, but to us it seemed fluently as we couldn't say one single word in French or Spanish), so I guess it's the same everywhere. Or maybe not. Might as well be.

M-G (omnipotent)
OP mvefa 5 | 591  
30 Sep 2009 /  #19
Its not about hating it, but trashing it! like with comments of how shallow it is, how superficial, how consumist, and bla bla...My point being that every culture has this characteristics, but some can afford it, some cannot. does that make us worse?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #20
Well done, Ziemowit. I was just checking to see that my post was read :) He indeed stopped hyperinflation but unemployment grew and a general malaise set in.
southern 75 | 7,096  
30 Sep 2009 /  #21
Poland's westernization

No,thanks.
Ironside 50 | 10,935  
30 Sep 2009 /  #22
You hear often polish or eastern europeans

First we don't consider ourselves eastern Europeans.

does Poland hates the western culture

Poland is the western culture.

Poles indeed go to extremes when trying to copy our Western "pop"-culture.

Are you serious ? There nothing there except some people are trying to make money and unfortunately crap is sold as a culture adding pop to stress is crap for plebe.

Majority of any society is numbered by plebeians.
They have similar taste in any country.

who are not as advanced as we are.

What are the signs of advancement?

does that make us worse?

In a way, yes!
You in the geographical west have some basic, primal trust into your institution and government, even if you question or criticize this or that you on some deep level trust those in power and believe in system.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #23
Well, I wouldn't say it's the western culture, Ironside. It's becoming more of a western country though.
Ironside 50 | 10,935  
30 Sep 2009 /  #24
I wouldn't say it's the western culture, Ironside.

Well, is a version of western culture.....
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #25
What makes you say that, Ironside? I'm not saying you are wrong, just wondering :)
Ironside 50 | 10,935  
30 Sep 2009 /  #26
Isn't that obvious?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
30 Sep 2009 /  #27
I dunno, is it? Asides from the EU, I mean
OP mvefa 5 | 591  
1 Oct 2009 /  #28
yeah evil westerner, but who hell helps central-eastern europe with huge subsidies? yeah the evil west.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,269  
1 Oct 2009 /  #29
Well done, Ziemowit. I was just checking to see that my post was read :) He indeed stopped hyperinflation but unemployment grew and a general malaise set in.

It is because I rememember hyperinflation and the time which followed the reforms of Balcerowicz ...

In a way, his reforms were perceived in Poland much in the same way as the Thatcher reforms in the UK ten years earlier, although the Polish ones were undoubtedly harsher (Incidentally, I spent both respective periods firstly in Britain then in Poland). Critics might have well be putting their words in Mr. Balcerowicz's mouth just in the same way as they were putting them in hers ("Mrs. Thatcher": "People keep saying to me that our policies are wrong, that they are derisive and that they will wreck British industry ... I know ... but they are ever so brave!"). Unemployment - in my view - was inevitable, as thousands of people with poor professional skills had suddenly found themselves in companies confronted with real market conditions ("Mrs T." again: "Unemployment - how dare you!?; why must everyone persecute me?, ... every lazy minority who can't fend for themselves ..."). Finally, both governments repeatedly said to their people there were no easy solutions as things must first get worse before they can get better; this turned out to be plain truth for Poland, although you can judge for yourself if it was the case in Britain ("the Iron Lady" of 1981 once again: "We never said things would be easy. Of course, we never said we'd cause a recession and three million unemployed ...")

This, in short, was the beginning of our Polish path to ... westernization !!!
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
1 Oct 2009 /  #30
Exactly. His reforms were too radical but he needed to get the process underway as quickly as possible so I'd've been more forgiving. We still see the remnants of communism now so implementing such measures at the very start of the 90's was always going to be fraught with pitfalls. Creating a free market doesn't happen overnight. His reforms differed from Thatcher's in that he was seen to be penalising high earners by imposing a stiff tax rate. He introduced interest and revamped the status of the Złoty, making it freely convertible.

Another thing I liked about his reforms was that he opened Poland's borders to imports. 1989 was a monumental year and he had to follow through and act in kind. I think he did remarkably well but was earmarked for harsh treatment and ousted. He was a scapegoat for doing what others may not have dared to do. A black time in Polish politics when that happens.

An area where Poland hadn't reached the status of the West was openness and transparency. Too many things under Kwaśniewski were hush-hush and the infamous lustracja was never passed. Dubious allegiances/coalitions followed, the hallmark of Polish politics.

Still, democracy has been steadily evolving and the anchoring process is in full flight.

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