Poland - autocracy is coming?
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21-03-2016, 02:35 AM
Poland - autocracy is coming?
Situation in Poland is deteriorating. Venice Commission says that democracy in Poland is in danger. It's diagnose which is far from uncommon as articles in NYT and The Guardian shows.

Sadly it's nothing more than tip of the iceberg, new gov is looking for conspiracies everywhere - first it's Smolensk deemed by those in power as some nefarious Russian plot next there are talks about president Duda car crash being more than accident.

There are also internal problems like populist idea called 500+ which is supposed to change reproductions trends or talks about religion being part of exams at the end of high-school.

What are your thoughts? Will Poland be another Hungary? Or rather shadow of it as Kaczyński and his clique are lacking in competency.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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21-03-2016, 05:49 AM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
Good question, but let me ask an question back before, cuz i am really puzzled:

What happened to Poland (same for Hungary!), between being a "progressive/rebellios" communist lot, forcing Jaruzelski to accept free unions and going back to the "dark ages" of autoritarism right now?
WTF happened? I was so proud of you guys, really!

I fear that it will be like you assumed. Hungary and Russia are probably good role models for what to expect. I am in no way an expert on eastern europe, but it seems to me that there is aculturally a culturally and historically deeply rooted tendency for autoritarism, just like it was the case with germany (and thats why the Weimar Republic failed), and it took another (world) war to get the german population as a whole cured of it.
So i am curious, if i am right: What will it take to *cure* the polish people as a whole from that?
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21-03-2016, 06:25 AM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
(21-03-2016 05:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Good question, but let me ask an question back before, cuz i am really puzzled:

What happened to Poland (same for Hungary!), between being a "progressive/rebellios" communist lot, forcing Jaruzelski to accept free unions and going back to the "dark ages" of autoritarism right now?
WTF happened? I was so proud of you guys, really!

I think it is wrong question steaming from false perception of Poland which is somewhat common in my experience at least.

Authoritarianism weren't gone from Poland, gov changed, sure but underlying problem remained. You can't erase the past and Poland past was full of authoritarianism, i.e. Piłsudski regime and then forced "friendship" with USSR. Authoritarianism isn't just leader and political police, it's I think state of the mind in which values other than yours aren't worth preserving.

Problem is this that individual Pole want freedom but for himself and his family, rest can be subjected to whatever rules state deem necessary; there is no compromise and Manichean worldview is quite common, there is only white and black with no shades of gray. You're either True Pole or traitor and communist. Discussion is hard if not impossible but when other side is deemed evil then it is no surprise.

Some say that Poles love freedom to the point of espousing anarchy. In a way it is right and this is the problem for in place where there are no rules might is only answer to problems. You got bunch of anarchists who want to impose their rule on others but don't want to be subjected to state authority. Lack of left wing parties and solidarity between people aren't coincidences.

There is also issue of lets call it national agreement which is dating back to Polish Commonwealth. Dissent is not tolerated, decision must be made with agreement of all and if someone disagree then that someone has nefarious purposes. There are no room for different points of view only for unity. And it is this unity that causes problems as there is no tolerance for differing views and anyone with other ideas is looked upon with suspicion. Democracy is art of compromise not agreeing on everything and sadly this is not something that much of my countryman understands.

(21-03-2016 05:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  I fear that it will be like you assumed. Hungary and Russia are probably good role models for what to expect.

I'm afraid that you're right.

(21-03-2016 05:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  I am in no way an expert on eastern europe, but it seems to me that there is aculturally a culturally and historically deeply rooted tendency for autoritarism, just like it was the case with germany (and thats why the Weimar Republic failed), and it took another (world) war to get the german population as a whole cured of it.

I think so too. Majority of Poles were peasantry beholden to their lords. Serfdom lasted longer in Poland than in other states, land reform was really done during The Polish People's Republic era. So the Poles knew either slavery and authoritarian rule of nobility uncaring of struggles of majority or anarchy barely curtailed by state. Democracy is very young and easy to twist when nation lack solidarity.

(21-03-2016 05:49 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  So i am curious, if i am right: What will it take to *cure* the polish people as a whole from that?

I think you're right and I have no idea. It's Gordian knot of problems:
- viewing life in black and white
- lack of tolerance to differing worldviews
- being uninterested in politics
- no trust and solidarity between people

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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21-03-2016, 10:21 AM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
I was thinking a bit, especially what makes germany so different from countries like Poland, Hungary (or Romania, i have colleagues in Romania and talked a lot with them when i was there), particularly when we look at the past.
The big difference i see between post WWII germany one one hand and post WWI germany and metioned countries on the other hand is:

Prosperity (basically rooted in the Marshall Plan). Germans didnt change instantly after WWII was lost. Not at all. But the "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) that catapulted germany back up in the top ranks of nations during the 50s and 60s was rooted in the fact, that the allies (USA particularly) decided not to "punish" but to "rebuild". The effects were undeniable. Germany prospered. There was no point in pointing out that anyone would favour monarchy, nazism or anything else. Democracy combined with free market worked, once the "kickstarter" Marshall plan started it all.

Maybe there is a way, one thats currently even tried in the EU right now. Wealthier countries like Germany are already paying the poorer ones, in hope the economic situation will level out, yet there are some major differences to post WWII germany:
  • USA had the power as an war winning ally to put its plans into practice, witout hindrance
  • Germany was so far down on the floor that it had no option but to accept what was offered. There was no hindering national pride and political power left
  • In todays EU, Germany neither has the political, nor financial power to pay off everybody else
  • Other countres who could be supportive in that role, rather want to profit themselves *cough* UK *cough*
  • "Recipients" like Poland are spoiling plans to help them by "arrogantly" having their own plans. A patient should not tell the doctor what to do

So, do we need more true cooperation, between both, the "doctors" and "patients"?
Or, do countries like Poland need to have a "deep fall" down, so low, that a fresh and proper start from scratch can be done? I fear that would only go with lots of people killed by (civil)war or famine.

I really dont know. Just the result of some brainstorming, sorry for verbal diarreha.
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21-03-2016, 10:59 AM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  I was thinking a bit, especially what makes germany so different from countries like Poland, Hungary (or Romania, i have colleagues in Romania and talked a lot with them when i was there), particularly when we look at the past.

Per Jan Sowa The Phantom Body of the King. Peripheral Struggles with Modern Form Poland is characterized by it's fundamental lack. Roman civilization didn't touch lands that later would became Poland. It's first major difference and there are others, like lack of enlightened despotism in Poland history or so called second serfdom which fucked up peasantry. There is also distinct lack of bourgeois.

(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Prosperity (basically rooted in the Marshall Plan). Germans didnt change instantly after WWII was lost. Not at all. But the "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic miracle) that catapulted germany back up in the top ranks of nations during the 50s and 60s was rooted in the fact, that the allies (USA particularly) decided not to "punish" but to "rebuild". The effects were undeniable. Germany prospered. There was no point in pointing out that anyone would favour monarchy, nazism or anything else. Democracy combined with free market worked, once the "kickstarter" Marshall plan started it all.

Effect of Marshal's Plan can't be really disputed - simple fact that Poland was unable to profit from it go a long way in explaining it's fragile economy. But issue is much deeper one and economy is symptom of real sickness.

(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  So, do we need more true cooperation, between both, the "doctors" and "patients"?

Cooperation would be good but again it's not the economy that is the real problem.

(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Or, do countries like Poland need to have a "deep fall" down, so low, that a fresh and proper start from scratch can be done? I fear that would only go with lots of people killed by (civil)war or famine.

History shows that falling down don't really improve things for Poles, it only creates cult of failures or "moral victories". If Sowa is right then Poland problems are rooted in deep past and there is no simple way of solving them.

While some of Poland problems are economical in nature I think that main issue is in seeing themselves as the victims and being totally uninterested in politics. It's like the times of Commonwealth, but than nobles could afford to ignore the state which was more like a loose confederation than anything else. Now we have "citizens" ignoring the state, thinking themselves heirs of nobility of old, but in reality being descendants of enslaved rural population.

There also are problems with anti-Semitism, strong influence of church and cult of failures. Strong polarization and genuine feeling of being hurt also does not help. Gov can't talk with people who see themselves as victims, or rather former gov couldn't. This one is good at using language that masses could identify with, finding scapegoats and conspiracies but end result is only bigger polarization. Language corrupts the thoughts, opponents in disputes are becoming traitors and there is no compromise with such. It's cycle that will not end soon if ever.

(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  I really dont know. Just the result of some brainstorming, sorry for verbal diarreha.

No problem. It's interesting to see one own country from perspective of another.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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21-03-2016, 11:37 AM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
We may have a kind of disconnect here. Ill try to rephrase:

I am aware of economy and political position being different things.

But my claim is: They are interconnected nevertheless. Once you get your economy working under certain socio-political circumstances, there is a good chance that this socio-political system will have a bigger acceptance.

Usually the political struggle is all about improving economy and wealth. But -just maybe- once things are really fucked up (and you are too far down the rabbit hole), and what i read from you gives any indication that Poland is seriously fucked up in some aspects, you need to put the horse before the cart so to speak: Improve the economy and wealth with help from outside with a matching socio-political framework. Then wait while the acceptance is rising due to everybody doing better. Then let go, as your country is "back on the road".
Hence my comparison with post WWII Germany.

Do i sound like Marx? Sorry, i shouldnt have visited Trier last autum Blush
Of course i am not talking about dictatorships or so when i am talking about "influence from outside" or other forms of octroyieren (?).
I am looking for political solutions that are morally acceptable, and the EU seems to try such a way (if i understand French and German government correct since the 1990s).

Question: Was there a time in Polands past where the economy and society was doing quite well? Was there sttill lots of bickering, political apathy, anti-semitism, polarisation, etc.?
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21-03-2016, 01:20 PM (This post was last modified: 21-03-2016 01:26 PM by Szuchow.)
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
(21-03-2016 11:37 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  But my claim is: They are interconnected nevertheless.

Maybe my wording made this unclear but I never claimed otherwise. Though I think that it's not economy which is causing Poland woes but rather woes of Polish people which are negative influence on economy.

(21-03-2016 10:21 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Once you get your economy working under certain socio-political circumstances, there is a good chance that this socio-political system will have a bigger acceptance.

System in general is more or less accepted (if by system you mean liberal democracy and free market). It is specifics that are contested and contested in a way that will not lead to anything good.

(21-03-2016 11:37 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Usually the political struggle is all about improving economy and wealth.

I disagree. If it all was about economy then issues like abortion, same sex marriages or euthanasia would be of no consequence. But they are hot topics.

(21-03-2016 11:37 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  But -just maybe- once things are really fucked up (and you are too far down the rabbit hole), and what i read from you gives any indication that Poland is seriously fucked up in some aspects, you need to put the horse before the cart so to speak: Improve the economy and wealth with help from outside with a matching socio-political framework. Then wait while the acceptance is rising due to everybody doing better. Then let go, as your country is "back on the road".
Hence my comparison with post WWII Germany.

I disagree. Poland gets quite large amounts of money from UE and it's all in vain. It's not economy that need fixing first, it's relations between people. Without trust you can't build stable country, without ability to compromise all money in the world won't be enough to do everything.

While I certainly can be wrong I see lack of trust as main issue - gov don't trust citizens so it focuses on telling what people can't do. It look quite absurd from where I stand, for example school canteens could not sell sweets. Sure, it's nothing major but it shows that gov deem people nothing more than cattle who needs to be herded in right direction. Worse thing is Tax Office treating people as would be criminals which is shown by language used in correspondence. You're under suspicion by default and it's up to you to prove your innocence, or at least such is public perception.

People don't trust politicians, hence low frequency during the elections and populist gaining votes of radical minority.

People don't trust each other and it is not conductive to good economy.

On top of this language of the debate is not helping - those who wan't higher taxes aren't people wanting higher taxes but communists hell bent on taking away hard earned money of True Poles. To be fair it is true in reverse also - people wanting lower taxes are brainwashed neo-liberals wanting to keep all cash to themselves and starve all others.

(21-03-2016 11:37 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Do i sound like Marx? Sorry, i shouldnt have visited Trier last autum Blush
Of course i am not talking about dictatorships or so when i am talking about "influence from outside" or other forms of octroyieren (?).

I understand. But UE already provide influence from outside. The thing is that Poland believing itself backed into corner do not listen to the voice of reason. It's politicians are more concerned with playing the victim and using the rhetoric of standing from the knees.

You can't have reasonable discussion with someone believing himself a victim who still getting hurt. You're either sympathetic to the victim cause and then your words aren't intended to change the victim outlook, or you try to make use of reason and then you're dismissed as one who don't care about suffering.

(21-03-2016 11:37 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Question: Was there a time in Polands past where the economy and society was doing quite well? Was there sttill lots of bickering, political apathy, anti-semitism, polarisation, etc.?

Depends how you look on that. Looking objectively situation in nowadays Poland is somewhat good and better than it was in the long time, though there are huge issues. But it is perception that matters more than reality and in perception Poland is wreck which in some cases isn't far from the truth. Poland isn't autocracy but it isn't country where law reigns supreme - church in some ways is above the law, rights of citizens are trampled, corruption isn't unheard off and politicians aren't called into account.

As for history - there were times when Poland was influential but one hardly can say that society and economy were doing well. Take the Commonwealth for example - nobles wealth were immense but dependent on selling the grains abroad and however it pains me to say something akin to slave labor. Serfs weren't much different from slaves.

Later years weren't much kinder and situation in which Poland found itself now is best thing that happened to it. It shows how fucked up that country is.


There is article titled Trust, Associational Life and Economic Performance. It does not deal with exactly same thing that I'm talking about but it could be worth reading.

If you want to better understand my position I would recommend reading Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe by David Ost, Jan Sowa The Phantom Body of the King. Peripheral Struggles with Modern Form* and Revolution Slept Through* (Prześniona rewolucja) by Andrzej Leder.

*As far as I am aware booth books are only in Polish.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

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21-03-2016, 02:18 PM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
I see. Of course the distrust of the government in its own people (the *sovereign* so to speak in a pluralist system) is a very nasty problem in itself.

A general lack of trust in each other of all parties involved also wont help a lot. I would say thats something that German may separates from Poland. While there is lots of bickering, some basic trust of various parties involved does exist.

Victimhood, victim complex, completely counter productive, i 100% agree.

Tax: interesting topic. Although the German tax system probably is the most complicated in the world, it would be maybe surprising to an outsider, that Germans maybe are some of the most *honest* taxpayers, and in return we usually dont have lots of quarrels with the tax office. I just did my tax for 2015 and am expecting no problems, like usual. And off toe top of m yhead, i cant remember anyone that i know having REAL trouble with tax. This is maybe an indicator of trust, dunno.
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21-03-2016, 02:47 PM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
(21-03-2016 02:18 PM)Deesse23 Wrote:  I see. Of course the distrust of the government in its own people (the *sovereign* so to speak in a pluralist system) is a very nasty problem in itself.

It's not only distrust but will to control, allegedly for good of the people. And sadly it isn't something that is meeting with universal disapproval. Being a tough sheriff in Poland is good stance for a politician to take.

(21-03-2016 02:18 PM)Deesse23 Wrote:  A general lack of trust in each other of all parties involved also wont help a lot. I would say thats something that German may separates from Poland. While there is lots of bickering, some basic trust of various parties involved does exist.

Here is no trust between parties which in a way is not surprising. Some of them springs from same core movement and there is no more bitter disagreement than one between former partners. Rest is just ideologically opposed and language used in Polish politics don't allow reaching compromise.

(21-03-2016 02:18 PM)Deesse23 Wrote:  Tax: interesting topic. Although the German tax system probably is the most complicated in the world, it would be maybe surprising to an outsider, that Germans maybe are some of the most *honest* taxpayers, and in return we usually dont have lots of quarrels with the tax office. I just did my tax for 2015 and am expecting no problems, like usual. And off toe top of m yhead, i cant remember anyone that i know having REAL trouble with tax. This is maybe an indicator of trust, dunno.

How Tax Office treats people is I would say great indicator of trust for citizens. People perception of said office could not be lower I think and in this case perception is worth more than reality. And one can't blame people for having such perception when Tax Office stance is that you're if not guilty then suspect. To illustrate I will quote fragment of article from press dealing with finances called Gazeta Bankowa (Bank Newspaper):

Tax Office feel that businessman who make sure that his papers are in order probably have something to hide, otherwise he would not be so meticulous.

As you can see trust is in short supply in Poland.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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21-03-2016, 03:47 PM
RE: Poland - autocracy is coming?
Ok, i think i am starting to see whats wrong with your country, and it seems to be fundamentally fucked up in some instances.


Quote:It's not only distrust but will to control, allegedly for good of the people.
Then, your countrymen are voting for politicians who have fundamentally not understood who is the dog and who has the leash in a democracy, as we like to say here. "The people" is the sovereign. As a (elected) government official you are going to serve your sovereign.
Trying to "control" the populace only demonstrates that your political class hasnt understood democracy yet.
And with government trying to control the people, and people trying to elect other politicians who have the same basic flaw of understanding democracy will result in a "clusterfuck".

Reminds me a bit of my conversatoin with my transylvanian colleagues. When i asked why Romania is still doing so bad overall (but improving, thanks to an ethnic german president Laugh out load ) in spite of having democracy, they told me:
"We are practicing democracy, yet we didnt really understand the concept here yet. We are *emulating/simulating* democracy, but we did not internalize it yet." Does that make sense to you or ring a bell?

Quote:Tax Office feel that businessman who make sure that his papers are in order probably have something to hide, otherwise he would not be so meticulous.

This sounds as irrational as the drivel of the average theist of "Q"s or CotW like. Utter rubbish!
According to occams razor the -most probably- correct answer is: The taxpayer makes sure his papers are in order, because he wants to be sure everything is in order as requested by the fucking tax office. Duh! Hobo

The major lack in mutual trust in Poland will result in two things:
  1. Everybody makes sure he can fuck somebody/everybody else
  2. Everybody gets fucked by somebody/everybody

My claim is: #2 escapes most people most probably.
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