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"Europa" - An article about recent history of Poland


AdamKadmon 2 | 508
8 May 2010  #1
On February 1st in Europa, a supplement to the Polish newspaper Newsweek, an interesting text, evoking the recent history of Poland, was published.

I have translated the first part of it:

The debate aimed at settling of accounts with the past that took place in the nineties was concentrated on lustration and decommunization. The lustration-decommunization quarrel helped to secure the loyalty of the electorate; and for the voters the mud-slinging between the former communists and former Solidarity activists, typical for the post-communist countries, was more exciting than a discusion about the character of the capitalist system being introduced in Poland.

Reacting to the historical rhetoric of the right wallowing in the past, the left responded by choosing the future. Those obsessively focused on the past were typecasted as "oszołomy" - the nutters. Trying to draw people's attention, the left promised to build a normal country, distancing itself from the political divisions stemming directly from the history. Thus the left, cleansed of the past, could now become a pioneer of transformation, better carrying out modernization of Poland than quarreling and fixated on the history right.

At the same time, the communist left tried to win support of the people by bringing back some good memories of the past and stirring nostalgia for the People's Republic, namely bringing back the memory of the post-war reconstruction, the relatively high standard of living in the 1970s, they also tried to justify the difficult but necessary decision of introducing the Martial Law. The aim of choosing the future and evoking the feeling of nostalgia was to make the communist past of Poland dead, an excess luggage, and to send it outside of the scope of current considerations.

Myth and pragmatism

On the other hand, after March 1968 when the real socialism used nationalistic rhetoric and anti-Semitism as a political tool, the left led by the revisionist dissidents contesting the official line of the communist party formed with other fractions of the civil society the Solidarity movement. After the Martial Law the Solidarity was forged into myth, which became the corner stone of the 1989 change of the political system.

According to that myth the Polish society, which was defeated in 1981 by the brutal regime, gained a victory at last due to the Round Table negotiations. Introduction of the democracy and of the market economy was the direct consequence of the freedom movement and the fulfilment of the dreams of generations after generations of Poles relentlessly fighting against the communist system. The Gazeta Wyborczaand Unia Demokratyczna circle rid oneself of all illusions and opted for small realism, as it were, i.e. building capitalism. Main activities of this circle consisted in presenting some of the reforming policies as having no alternative because the state socialism, which was supposed to be an alternative, collapsed.

After putting Solidarity on the pedestal, tradition associated with the movement was practically thrown overboard. Solidarity turned into myth was then reduced to pure anticommunism. Thanks to this, everyday political decisions were no more burdened by the considerations of the so called August legacy. Now, the politicians of the day were only expected to take part in the commemorations of the strike anniversary, thus silencing the spirit of the unwanted past. The end of the history in 1989 opened the gate of normality, the gate which should be protected against excessive radicalism and ideological deformation.

Bringing back the past

Settling accounts, which was the scare phrase for both the communist left and Solidarity left, must begin with telling of the story anew. Let's begin telling it from the '70s, with the modernisation and wide opening to the west resulting in establishing strong ties with the capitalist system economies. Taking the example of the western model of the welfare state, the communist regime in Poland legitimised their rule neither relying on radical social reforms characteristic of the '50s, nor on nationalism of the '60s, but on consumption level, and social security net. Coca-cola, Czterdziestolatek - the popular TV series, farmers' social insurance these were the symbols of those changes. At the end of the 70s the crisis began, the local economy couldn't resist the tensions of the global economy. The oil crisis of 1973 and increasing of the interests rates of 1979 by the USA put the communist regime in the situation when it could no longer uphold its guarantee for steady access of the consumption goods, and thus delegitimising the regime.

At the beginning of the '80 the crisis turned into mass protests and so called Solidarity carnival. There appeared a dream of possible constructing of a better social order, in which the limitations of both capitalism and socialism could be overcome. So the work without exploitation of workers, self-government, freedom from censorship and democratic participation of all were within reach. Attempt to put into practice those ideas led to a dead-end and then the brutal force was used to call people to order. The Martial Law put an end to dreaming and to any attempts of solving of problems by collective efforts. The consequence of it was the end of Solidarity as a great social movement and, what is less obvious, of the communist party, which rule was replaced by the military rule lasting till the very end of the People's Republic.

The political imagination formed by the Martial Law lasts to this very moment. On the obverse of it is striving for the normality and stabilisation. On the averse of it is treating people as objects and not subjects.

In that sense the averse side of the Martial Law emerged in the Balcerowicz's reforms, four reforms of Mr Buzek, and in the liquidation of the alimony found. The ruling elites decided about reforms having long-term effects without consulting the people. That model of changes has its roots in the fear among both communist and opposition elites of the '80, fear of uncontrollability of the system in the situation of social unrest.

That experience of fear was at the base of the system changes called the transformation, which began from the mid '80s, which brought the Polish economy closer to the capitalist model. The main point of the transformation is the transfer of responsibility, from the state to an individual. To introduce the socio-economical changes the elites on all sides must have formed an alliance, made a deal, which came out of fear rather than out of profit seeking.

Tomorrow I will translate the rest of the article beginning from the Round Table negotiations. I hope you will find this article interesting.
plk123 8 | 4,150
9 May 2010  #2
hey, can you link the original Polish version? thanks
OP AdamKadmon 2 | 508
9 May 2010  #3
I couldn't find the text of it. I've got only the paper version. Search the Net and look for Lewica musi rozliczyć się z PRL, the author Maciej Gdula.
1jola 14 | 1,879
9 May 2010  #4
Who is this Maciej Gdula, the author of this drivel?

To Mr. Gdula, the son of a former senior Communist Party official, a revival of the left can build upon such theatricsby tapping into the hopes of a younger generation alienated by the conservatism of the Roman Catholic Church.

What theatrics?

In 2008, its charismatic founder Slawomir Sierakowski, a 31 year-old sociologist, took part in a multimedia art show of the Israeli-Dutch artist Yael Bartana. He gave a rousing speech, accompanied by a guard of children in uniforms,calling for Poland's three million Jews murdered during the Holocaust to come back to save the country from its stifling homogeneity and stagnation.

LOL

"The right has defended Poland from this crisis while the left are parasites," said Stefan Niesiolowski, the deputy speaker of the Polish Parliament and a member of the governing center-right Civic Platform party. He said that not only are today's leftists out of touch with current issues, but many of them conveniently forget the atrocities committed under communism.

It is perhaps a sign of the times that in Wroclaw, in southern Poland, dozens of students gather each night at Club PRL - or the Polish People's Republic, the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1989 [...]

I wouldn't call them freaks; they are just carrying the torch their daddy's carried.

His daddy is the perfect, and I mean typical, example of a hardcore communist doing extremely well in today's "free" Poland.

pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrzej_Gdula

I was surprised with Sławomir Sierakowski and the theatrics, because I enjoy his debates with Ziemkiewicz on TVP Historia and it seem odd. I looked it up and it was part of some Israeli film, so the NYT didn't get it exactly right.

I also forgot to link to the article I quoted:

nytimes.com/2010/03/13/world/europe/13iht-poland.html
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #5
Adam this article is hogwash, son of the hardcore communist writing with an agenda, this guy is practically anti-Polish, he even had a blog (abandoned not scrapped) i'll find it if its still there.

populist right-wing party

SLD used to be far more populist than any party in Poland, the guy writing this article shouldnt even dare to use the word.
OP AdamKadmon 2 | 508
9 May 2010  #6
populist right-wing party

He's a bit envy of that popularity because of poor support for SLD, I guess. That's why he's trying to forge a left-wing version of PiS's Politics of History. His opinion is an interesting one, whatever my attitude towards it, and what's more from someone who was, as I infer, and maybe is the chief advisor to Kwaśniewski.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #7
He's a bit envy of that popularity because of poor support for SLD

SLD engaged in criminal dealings with the openness that exposed much of their activities, Poles willing to give them a second chance were turned away by said criminal affairs, since then SLD was and still is painting itself in some self-righteous colors that p*sses me off to no end given their ties with mafia and Russia when they had their political 5 minutes.

His opinion is an interesting one, whatever my attitude towards it, and what's more from someone who was, as I infer, and maybe is the chief advisor to Kwaśniewski.

His article reveals that he has an intimate understanding of the polish political arena and uses this understanding to put forth some completely false theories that are present in his article for the sole purpose of reinforcing his agenda, like i said, hogwash.

I could get into the article and start dismembering it but its not worth it, suffice to say a hardcore communist is manipulating the facts to whitewash his own faction (SLD) and tarnish the one he's opposed to (PiS), on the way there he manages to spit on the few good things that happened in Polands political enviroment in the last few years.
plk123 8 | 4,150
9 May 2010  #8
I could get into the article and start dismembering it but its not worth it,

of course it should be` worth it if you find it all to be hogwash.. otherwise you're just farting in the wind.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #9
I'm not ready to start a 1000 paragraph rape of that communist' bollocks, explaning manipulation of facts regarding our financial reform or the round table is enough to fill several pages alone since it'd require bringing up large chunks of recent history.

So i'll be "farting wind" but i'll stay clear from analysing that rag of an article, its not all lies since its manipulating the truth rather than outright contradicting what happened but its intent is still malevolent and dishonest.
OP AdamKadmon 2 | 508
9 May 2010  #10
start a 1000 paragraph rape of that communist' bollocks

I would like to add an explanation as to why I have chosen this article for translation. I think that it presents a new, different and interesting point of view. However, now it is outside of the mainstream, but it has some potential to enter it.

explaning manipulation of facts regarding our financial reform or the round table

If you are not going

to start a 1000 paragraph rape that communist' bollocks

, then I present an article of Jacek Żakowaski discussing the same outrageous opinions of dr Gdula:

Aleksandra Klich (w "Gazecie") i Witold Gadomski (w "Metrze") z oburzeniem zareagowali na wypowiedzi w TOK FM dr. Macieja Gduli, że stan wojenny i reformy Balcerowicza "były z tej samej logiki. To znaczy też były przeciwko duchowi Solidarności".
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #11
I think that it presents a new, different and interesting point of view.

Not really its just a compilation of all the separate assaults on polish heritage that communists banged on separately thus far.

but it has some potential to enter it.

Mainstream media is held by the nuts by PiS and PO, anything produced by Polish communists has no chance whatsoever to enter it.
OP AdamKadmon 2 | 508
9 May 2010  #12
The final version of the translation:

In the nineties, the debate aimed at settling of accounts with the past concentrated on lustration and decommunization. The lustration-decommunization quarrel helped to secure the loyalty of the electorate. For the voters the mud-slinging between the former communists and Solidarity activists, so typical for the post-communist situation, was more exciting than a discussion about the character of the capitalist system being introduced in Poland.

Reacting to the historical rhetoric of the right wallowing in the past, the left responded by choosing the future. Those obsessively focused on the past were typecasted as “oszołomy” - the nutters. Trying to draw people’s attention, the left promised to build a normal country and, at the same time, distanced itself from the political divisions stemming directly from the history. Thus the left, cleansed of the past, could now become a pioneer of transformation, better carrying out modernization of Poland than the right fixated on the history. The rhetoric of distancing itself from the past was at the same time accompanied by the attempts to bring back some good memories by stirring nostalgia for the People’s Republic; namely, by bringing back of the memories of the post-war reconstruction and of the relatively high standard of living in the ‘70s. The communist left also tried to justify the difficult but necessary decision of introducing the martial law in 1981. The aim of that policy, i.e. of choosing the future and evoking the feeling of nostalgia, was to make the communist past of Poland dead: an excess luggage that was to be sent outside of the scope of the current considerations.

Myth and pragmatism

On the side of the anti-communist left, which emerged after March 1968 when the real socialism used nationalistic rhetoric and anti-Semitism as a political tool, the revisionist dissidents who contested the official line of the communist party formed with other factions of the civil society the Solidarity movement. After the martial law the Solidarity was forged into a myth that became the cornerstone of the 1989 change of the political system.

According to the myth, the Polish society, which was defeated in 1981 by the brutal regime, gained a victory at last due to the Round Table negotiations. Introduction of the democracy and of the market economy was the direct consequence of the freedom movement, and it was the fulfilment of the dreams of generations after generations of Poles relentlessly fighting against the communist system. The Gazeta Wyborcza and Unia Demokratyczna circle rid oneself of all illusions and opted for small realism, as it were, i.e. building capitalism. Main activities of this circle consisted in presenting some of the reforming policies as having no alternative, because the state socialism, which was supposed to be an alternative for the capitalist system, collapsed.

After putting Solidarity on the pedestal, tradition associated with the movement was practically thrown overboard. Solidarity thus turned into the myth was reduced to pure anticommunism. Thanks to this, everyday political decisions were no more burdened by the considerations of the so-called August legacy. Now, from the politicians of the day was only expected to take part in the commemorations of the strike anniversary and serving the ceremony of silencing the spirit of the unwanted past. The end of the history in 1989 opened a gate of normality, the gate which should be protected against excessive radicalism and ideological deformation.

Bringing back the past

Settling accounts, which was the scare phrase for both the communist left and the Solidarity left, must begin with telling the old story anew. Let’s begin telling it from the ‘70s, with the modernisation and wide opening to the west resulting in establishing strong ties with the capitalist system economies. At that time taking the example of the western model of the welfare state, the communist regime in Poland legitimised its rule, neither on radical social reforms as in the ‘50s, nor on nationalism as in the ‘60s, but on the consumption level, and on guaranteeing the social security net. Coca-cola, Czterdziestolatek - the popular TV series, and the farmers' social insurance these were the symbols of those changes. At the end of the ‘70s the crisis began. The local economy couldn’t resist the tensions of the global pressure. The oil crisis of 1973 and the interests rates increase of 1979 put the communist regime in the situation when it no longer could uphold its social guarantees and steady access to consumption goods, thus to the delegitimization of the regime.

At the beginning of the ’80s, the crisis turned into mass protests and the so-called Solidarity carnival. There appeared a dream of possible constructing of a better social order in which the limitations of both capitalism and socialism could be overcome. So the work without exploitation of workers, self-government, freedom from censorship and democratic participation of all seemed to be within reach. An attempt to put into practice those ideals led to a dead-end and then to the use of the brutal force which ended the Solidarity carnival. The martial law put an end to dreaming and to any attempts of solving problems by collective efforts. The consequence of it was the end of Solidarity as a great social movement and, which is less obvious, of the communist party, which rule was replaced by the military rule lasting till the very end of the People’s Republic.

The political imagination issuing from the martial law lasts to this very moment. On the obverse of there is striving for the normality and stabilisation, on the averse, treating people as objects and not subjects.

In that sense, the averse side of the martial law emerged in Mr Balcerowicz’s reforms, four reforms of Mr Buzek, and lately, in the liquidation of the Alimony Fund. The ruling elites introduced the reforms, having naturally long-term effects, without consulting the people. That model of putting changes into effect has its roots in the fear among both the communist and the opposition elites of the ’80s, fear of the uncontrollability of a system in a situation of social unrest.

That experience of fear was at the base of the system changes called the transformation, which began from the mid ‘80s and brought the Polish economy closer to the capitalist model. The main point of the transformation was the transfer of responsibility from the state to an individual. To introduce the socio-economical changes the elites on all sides must have formed an alliance, made a deal, which came out of fear, rather than out of profit seeking.

Three pillars of the alliance

Joined in an alliance with the political elites was the Catholic Church hierarchy. The base of the alliance between the Church and both the communist and opposition elites was the pastoral concept of authority, the patriarchate and the character of the capitalism being restored.

During the ‘80s the ruling communist elite changed its policy to accommodate it to the Church's needs. After the martial law, lacking the popular support and legitimisation of its power, to stabilise the system and break the international isolation, the government sought to win the support of the Catholic Church. In the ‘80s the Joint Commission of Representatives of the Government and of the Conference of the Polish Episcopate was established. The task of the Commission was to sort out the current issues of politics and also to protect the Catholic Church's interests and to provide a legal form of its presence in the public life.

In 1984, the draft of the Act on Relations between the State and the Catholic Church came into being, and in 1989 the last Sejm of the People’s Republic voted the bill through. During the ’80s the Pope John Paul II visited Poland two times. In the situation of international isolation, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland’s last communist leader, needed Pope’s visits very much. In the 1989 negotiations of the Round Table, the influential position of the Church was confirmed. The negotiations were undertaken in order to gain much needed support for already introduced economical reforms. The Church’s main role was not only a mediatory one, but also to serve as a guarantor of the validity of the agreement between the authorities and the opposition. In return for its service, the Church was duly rewarded. The Church’s properties were returned, government subsidies provided, religious education in public schools introduced, anti-abortion law forbidding pregnancy termination enacted, and finally, the Concordat of 1993 signed.

The first pillar - The pastoral model of authority

The rapprochement of political elites and the Church occurred due to the pastoral model of authority. The model is based on the assumption that the common people need the protection of a leading elite. The elite has necessary knowledge how to manage the people and where to lead them, so they won't hurt themselves. The pastoral relation does not presuppose the absolute passivity and subservience of people, but requires that the elites do not allow the common people in deciding crucial decisions shaping the future. Most of the fundamental reforms of the transformation period were introduced by the parties that gained the popular support in elections, but after them they ruled in the name of the absolute necessity, regardless of the opinion of the people. That was the case of Mr. Balcerowicz’s reforms, voted through in the Contract Sejm by representatives of both sides, i.e. that of the old regime and of the opposition. The similar model worked well when the four great reforms of the AWS/UW government were implemented, but also in some other trivial cases. The Church’s role in it was to protect the reforms by calling for moderation and discouraging any involvement in protests and strikes.

The second pillar - patriarchate

The patriarchate means the control and authority over women but also informal arrangements in the decision making process resulting from the close social relations among men. So, in unofficial talks at Magdalenka, crucial for the Round Table agreements, there were many clergymen but not a single woman. A good example of how the patriarchate works is the introduction of the religious education into the public schools in 1991 under the directive of the Ministry of National Education, just as it was foreseen in the previous arrangements.

The third pillar - the character of the restored capitalism

The left chose the capitalist system in the full confidence that it is natural,
ahistorical and non-differentiated system. In this way, the left abdicated from the responsibility for the character of the capitalist system introduced in Poland, and in the long run lost the popular support on behalf of the populist right-wing party of Prawo i Sprawiedliwość.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #13
the left responded by choosing the future.

An example of the lies cointained in the article, the post communist parties responsible for criminal acts and tied with mafia and/or russian agents feared their own shady dealings from the past surfacing, thats why those shouting "its time to forgive and forget" where those who themselves had so much to fear from those who didnt want to "move on".

In communist rhetoric choosing the future meant escaping responsibility for what they did to our country so of course they "chose the future".

The left chose the capitalist system in the full confidence that it is natural,

The "left" aka the communists chose the capitalist system because it allowed them to steal national property during the privatisation process in dealings that bordered or were criminal activities.

See how many significant facts this article just skims over and why its not worth rebuking it? An advocate of thieves and criminals writes about Polands future, disgusting.
OP AdamKadmon 2 | 508
9 May 2010  #14
choosing the future

You are partially right about the corrupt left. Up to now choosing the future was a better choice for them than trying to win the lost battles of yesteryear. But now the young left seems to change the leftist attitude towards the past and opts for Politics of History, as it were, and it is beginning to take a shape due to Mr Gdula's efforts. I don't think that they already lost that battle.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
9 May 2010  #15
You are partially right about the corrupt left

Lets not use the word "left" they're leftist in name only, they're not even communist by ideology, basically a corrupt interest group that doesnt represent any recognizable political ideology except for their drive to power and wealth at any cost.

But now the young left seems to change the leftist attitude towards the past and opts for Politics of History, as it were, and it is beginning to take a shape due to Mr Gdula's efforts. I don't think that they already lost that battle.

Than they lost already i'm 27 years old so relatively young, most of my generation as well as earlier and later will eat the young leftists alive for such attempts at manipulation.


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