RADU TOMA, ROMANIA
In Poland, the ‘shock therapy’, of economic restructuring, after the communist era was terrible and useless, its father, the American economist Jeffrey Sachs admits it now. Youth unemployment reached 50%, over two million Poles left the country permanently, and those who believed in the neoliberal myth, especially small entrepreneurs, found themselves competed by transnationals and big corporations, lost everything and were re-proletarialised under the name of precariats, meaning those with a precarious existence. Social status, social protection and social solidarity were shattered, people became selfish, in 2014 the mothers of children with disabilities, who protested in front of Parliament, were labelled as ‘hysterical broads’, aiming to live on the back of others, on a Tv-station on the payroll of multinationals. But, from 2015 until now, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his party Law and Justice (PiS) have raised the minimum wage and substantially increased the children allowance – adult poverty has decreased by 20-40% and that of minors by 70-90 % – they reduced the retirement age by seven years, granted government loans for the purchase of housing and, by doing so, were labelled by the opposition and media in the neoliberal service not as a populist leader and party, but … a Nazi one! (24) In recent years, when Brussels raised its voice, snapped, threatened sanctions and took out the ‘nuclear weapon’, meaning threatened to cancel the right to vote in the European Commission and cease EU funding to Poland, Warsaw announced that they will continue to go on their path. Will maintain the reform of Justice, will strengthen the control over foreign companies, will take over more than 50% of the banks, will further improve the social state; will bring democratic direction changes in media and propaganda, will reconfigure diplomacy and external relations, in one word will continue to say a categorical NO to neoliberalism and the hegemonic market imposed by the West. In Kaczynski’s Poland the rejection of EU quotas of Islamic immigrants took on epic proportions, millions of people took to the streets and organized the ‘Patriots’ Marches’ against the Brussels elites and called for the defence of Christianity, with slogans such as ‘For God, Honour and Country, ‘Here our King is Jesus Christ, out with Muslim immigrants’ etc. On May 26, 2017, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo announced that Warsaw had not signed an agreement on mandatory immigrant quotas and, in a brave speech in the country’s Parliament, said: ‘Poland cannot and will not accept Muslim refugees. Poland will not give in to blackmail from the European Union’.
The political opponents of Law and Justice and its leader have no long ago expressed their hope that in the coming years the EU will lose its patience and will act energetically in the case of Warsaw. But, at that questionable moment in the future, with the Polish nation on its side, the nationalists and those hundreds of thousands who came out on the streets, or those millions at national marches and demonstrations, it could be the other way around. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, his party and Poland may no longer need the EU.
2015 was the glory year for the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland. In May, its candidate Andrej Duda won the presidential election; in the October elections he obtained the parliamentary majority in both chambers and appointed the prime minister, and thus, its leader gathered ‘under one sceptre’ the presidency, government and parliament. The winner took everything, and the unanimous opinion in the country and in the world is that, since then, Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the most powerful man in his country and an influential leader in the European Union. Bruxellocrat, neoliberal and senior official of a German-direction EU, the de-polonised Polish, connected to western channels of fake news (25), Donald Tusk speaks treacherously of the dangers for Poland’s independence represented by the ‘dictatorship’ of Kaczynski, of course ‘reached’ in the hands of Putin’s Kremlin.
Poland’s de facto leader has become, along with President Donald Trump, a symbol of populist threats to the Western model of democracy. After two years of government, Kaczynski managed to change national policies and set in motion the two desiderata for which he got the population’s endorsement: social transformations – child and family protection, the containment of poverty, free healthcare for the elderly, reduction of the retirement age , reduction of taxes and duties for those with low incomes etc. – and the refusal to receive EU quotas from outside Europe migrants.
PiS committed itself to a process of ‘de-Europeanisation’, to give the Poles a stronger sense of national sovereignty and to reject the socio-cultural model imposed by Western Europe. The efforts made by Kacszynski’s Poland to distance itself from the EU are ideologically and economically motivated, this country believes that its values and identity are threatened by the Union, believes that the goal of becoming one of the six major economic players in Europe is being foiled by the excessive competition from Western countries. For fulfilling these two desiderata, Warsaw moved away from Berlin, its traditional partner in recent decades, and approached Britain and the neighbouring states of the Visegrad group, as a counterpart to Germany. PiS reproaches Germany that it was the source of the extra-European refugee crisis and that is trying to impose its multiculturalism policy on other Europeans. Western politicians also estimate that PiS has turned 180 degrees from EU in terms of security and Defence, that it opted for a partnership with the US and NATO and abandoned the project of a common European defence. The single currency, euro, refusal, the anti-immigration position and the internal social policies, to which the vital issue of common defence is added are the essential motivations for Poland’s removal from the EU. The list also includes something that in the West already received the false name of ‘the assault on democracy in Poland’, that is, on the pluralist media, the independent judiciary, the public administration free of political interference, against a civil society outside political and governmental control.
The state of affairs in Poland clearly shows that, once entering the EU, an East European country, whatever it is, must forget everything, from the poverty of its own children to the security and national Defence, and to follow docilely only the dogmas and coercions of an European Union increasingly abstract, tyrannical and detached from the pluralistic reality of 500 million Europeans. They must unconditionally accept the dogmas and imperatives imposed by a West where free market democracy – an aberrant impossible jumble of political, moralizing ideas, and market economic norms – is the unique ideology, without any nuances and circumstances objectively imposed by history or geography, and where everything else is labelled ‘like Hitler and Stalin,’ putinism, etc. A West where nationalism, traditionalism, economic patriotism, banks removed from foreign discretionary control and recharged with domestic capital, and the populism in Poland, or other eastern countries, are considered fascism (26), ‘the darkest hours of Europe’ (27), or xenophobia and ‘returning to former Soviet policies’ (28). This inquisitorial West, mccarthyst (29), embarked on the path of the last human invention in the field of totalitarianism, we propose to baptize now and here as free market totalitarianism.
In the meantime, what do the ordinary Polish and people worldwide sympathising with them say? Here are some opinions of readers in Poland, and some Westerners, in articles or comments on the state of Poland, collected from the Internet:
‘Alexandre – Those who are desperate due to the lack of arguments call everyone fascists;
Andzrej K. – Fear arises when you see in Western Europe the hysteria campaign of the media and NGOs against Poland. You simply cannot identify Poland in the apocalyptic picture painted by the German and Anglo-Saxon media, this media’s fantasies do not correspond to reality. See the comments full of lies and exaggerations from CNN and Washington Post;
Irishpol – It is amazing how the Western media likes to discredit Poland;
@CB – In fact, Poland is today a country with the greatest freedom of speech, media, demonstrations, etc. from the EU. You can talk freely, you can demonstrate for whatever you want and for as long as you want, and people take advantage of this. You have all kinds of manifestations, left, right and centre, for and against any cause;
Croc – The European Union dislikes Polish patriotism but has nothing to object to patriotism in Western countries. Also, it never criticizes the United States for being overly patriotic, though there you see the American flag on every street corner and in every movie. As a Polish, I would say that only now we began to learn from the West what patriotism is. Only now, after living in the West for many years, I see how the English, Dutch, French and Germans love their countries, are proud of their traditions, their way of life, but from what I read here, it seems that we Poles are not allowed to do the same. Probably because Poles’ traditions are connected with Catholicism, of which the EU wants to get rid of, to replace it with secular ‘traditions’, such as Halloween, Oktoberfest, parades of equality, black Friday and other nonsense;
@edel -It must be said that Poland has every right to be proud of its history, as it has never committed such brutal crimes and on such a large scale, so many atrocities, such as the Western imperialist nations, such as the British Empire, France, Dutch or Spanish empires, Portugal, Germany. The whole history of Western countries is full of bloodshed, violence, extreme damage, destruction and extermination. And, what are the values of Western democracies today? Is it better? The present-day Western civilization is marked by a savage capitalism, ruthless and on plundering, by the desire to obtain immediate profits, by a large-scale corruption, lobbyism, a false and hypocritical democracy, a propagandistic media, the subjugation of other continents and by geostrategic wars;
Sylvester Fiet – Greetings from Poland, an island of freedom! Defend yourself from neo-Marxism, it’s a monstrous system;
Citizen – The Polish patriots are called fascists. The march of the 50 000 people with Polish flags is used by the political competition against Poland. Calling the Poles Fascist and anti-Semitic means xenophobia, these accusations are completely false:
Veritas-Semper – Give just one name, someone from Poland who, in the last two years, since PiS was elected with a parliamentary majority, was imprisoned for their political opinions, or for their associations? No doubt PiS is doing the right thing since, after two years in power, is gaining even more supporters. And the self-titled ‘total opposition’ has never been so low, at only 20% in polls;
Rafael – I think it should be clear to all of us Eastern Europeans that the West has never considered or treated our part of the world as an equal. Western Europe has always seen Eastern Europe as a market expansion, as a place where production is cheap and where is possible to completely dominate people, people who they considered being inferior, good to be mocked and despised. So, let’s not get lost in the details when talking about Poland and Hungary. There we are talking about a huge and dramatic change, a change in all, in diplomacy and external relations. Poland no longer accepts to play according to the instructions and rules established by the West.
The European Union, but mostly France and Germany, fear they will lose control over Eastern Europe. They also know that the Visegrad group should not be underestimated. Eastern forces opposing EU have the potential to create an avalanche and make things look very ugly for Brussels. And we all know too well that the EU is not in its best shape right now and is causing headaches for the entire continent. And for this very reason, there is a lot of pressure on the ‘rebel countries’, Poland, Hungary and whoever else.
And now a final argument. It was not the Eastern European countries that were desperate to join the EU. The West has been eager to take over Eastern Europe as a huge market for their products and as a place where production can be made at lower costs, considering the advantages offered by cheap labour. The Poles were very distrustful before joining the EU, I am talking about 2004. Huge amounts of money were spent on media and advertising campaigns, to convince Polish society that accession will mean a bright future for Poland. The Poles were afraid to enter this countries bloc, thinking of all sorts of disadvantages, such as the considerable increase in prices, which actually happened, and the taking over of their business and the exploitation of the country by corporations and foreign capital, which, again, happened.
In Poland, from 1990 until today, so for more than a quarter of a century, the discontent generated by the post-communist transition, which became popular anger – at first it was the ‘shock therapy’ and the drastic austerity prescribed in the West, then the harsh conditions of integration and Europeanization and, in the end, the so-called perpetual globalist financial crisis – have brought and strongly support a conservative, nationalist, populist, traditionalist and reformist party. It has been proven in that country that economic neoliberalism and free market democracy do not work in Eastern Europe. Undoubtedly, it would not work either in the case of Ukraine, or Georgia, both riparian to the Black Sea, but unaffiliated to the West. Both are nationalist, traditionalist, heavily addicted to their historical misfortunes, orthodox, eager for social and populist reforms. What lunatic would believe, or what lying politician would be able to say, that another 50 million East Europeans with such a ‘business card’ could one day be accepted and then able to find peace and fulfilment in the EU and NATO?
(to be continued)