Monday, 22 February 2016

Poland's PiS Regime , "Provocations", Paramilitaries and Propaganda

According to the fervent backers of PiS, the Polish nationalist Party-Movement that came to power in October 2015, those opposing them are always guilty of 'provocations' or being crypto-communists or else 'cultural Marxists' intent on destroying Poland's identity as part of a carefully 'concealed' agenda.

Bizarrely, 'enemies' are labelled in almost Stalinist manner as 'reactionary stooges', 'hired shills' and 'paid slanderers'. This is the vulgar style of language redolent of the People's Poland, the national communist regime given essential form as an ethno-nationalist construction under Wladislaw Gomulka, 

At the same time, the PO is absurdly labelled as 'socialist' because only PiS is truly anti-communist; the rest are either appeasers of 'crypto-Marxoid forces' or actually guilt of being a 'kolaborant' with Moscow. Walesa is Agent Bolek and Adam Michnik, editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, is really Adam Hechter. 

Representing demonic forces, earlier in December 2015 a group of PiS radical complete with priest tried to perform an exorcism on the Gazeta Wyborcza's  office. Something like a far right radical lunge for power has been coming for a long time because there are, in reality, two Polands. 

The more urban middle classes have never shown much sympathetic understanding of how callous and technocratic top down neoliberal 'reforms' have had a devastating  impact on ordinary working people ever since traumatic impact of Balcerowicz's extreme  'shock therapy' in the early 1990s. 

That destroyed Solidarity and the word has now been reduced to a largely vacuous soundbite and positive buzzword used by politicians such as Ewa Kopacz to imply poland should help Germany out in the Syrian migrant crisis or that Poland should be more pro-EU. 

As a consequence of the callous and failing neoliberal policies of successive Polish governments, the old idea of 'solidarity' has morphed into a rather nasty and shrill radical nationalism that sees transnational capitalism and communism as two equally destructive and interconnected forces. In many ways, 

PiS is clearly in 2016 a throwback to Endecja regime of 1930s Poland with Jarek Kaczynski showing signs of being a latter day Roman Dmowski  The lewica have been destroyed as a political force leaving the way open for far right nationalists blaming a host of evil enemies without and within for Poland's problems.

The situation in Poland does not look good and the most terrifying aspect is the danger Warsaw will do something extremely reckless and foolish in Ukraine such as sending lethal weaponry and paramilitary support for far right Ukrainian paramilitary groups fighting in Donbass or elsewhere in Ukraine. Neal Ascherson wrote 
'If there is danger to Europe here, it is strategic: that this Warsaw government could lose its head over eastern policy.,,,,There is a big difference between intense vigilance towards Russia and hysteria. Nobody has more experience than the Poles of living – and sometimes dying – next to Russia. But it’s little comfort that Kaczyński’s ministers and followers are almost as rude to the Germans as they are to the Russians. Demonising Russia with myths and insults, as opposed to watching and standing firm, is taking the eye off the ball in a critical period. If it stays on its course, this Law and Justice government will not only bring Poland to boiling point. It may undermine the security of all Europe.
The Defence Secretary, Antoni Macierewicz, appears to believe that Poland needs defence not merely from Russia but from other poles who do not share his conspiratorial outlook. Annoyed by NATO's refusal to place a base on Polish soil, he has now embraced Polish paramilitaries to bolster 'the eastern flank.'

This is especially the case as attention has been deflected away from Ukraine by Russia's military intervention in Syria and Obama is hated by PiS as weak and not prioritising the 'defence' of favour of his shift towards focusing on Asia. In fact, some PiS politicians just dislike him for being 'black'.

Poland is heading towards a resurgence of the radical far-right as it is a nation that underwent a disappointing and traumatic economic transition which, despite the image given to the contrary, has failed to lift living standards and provide long term economic security to millions of its citizens, especially in small towns. .

Pyscho-social anxiety is propelling the rise of the far right and the polarisation of politics. The 'losers' from globalisation regard Poland as beset by enemies within and without that 'collaborate' with evil Russia or its allies in the shape of a German dominated EU that wants to destroy Poland's National-Catholic identity 

These fears of PiS  recall those of the Endecja and the writings of Roman Dmowski, with the West imposing its values on Poland and the Jews or other aliens such as intellectuals attempting enforced atheism and the imposition of Godless liberalism in a way that would destroy the National Community

Paranoid conspiracy theories define the PiS outlook towards the world and the Smolensk air crash that killed Lech Kaczynski is seen as a political assassination carried out by Putin in league with the opposition PO party, one that culminated with the Russian involvement in creating the separatist para- state in Donetsk. 

Macierewicz wants to defend Poland against the next stage-the invasion of Poland. Yet Poland is firmly in NATO so the idea of an imminent Russian attack is simply neurotic and about redirecting attention away from the domestic deficiencies of PiS and pointing to the 'enemy over there', the oldest demagogic trick.

The emphasis on paramilitary forces stressed by Macierewicz has an even more sinister aspect. According to Ukraine's UA Today, 
The country could follow Ukraine's example, where volunteer battalions play a key role in the fight against Russian-backed separatist forces. But some fear co-opting irregular fighters may not only be about deterring external threats.Professor Roman Kuzniar, Department of Strategic Studies of Warsaw University: "I am afraid that the ministry of defence is trying to take control over these spontaneous paramilitary organizations to be able to use them later for the purposes of internal politics. That is what I would be afraid of."'
The trauma of Polish history, the morbid desire for the 'eternal martyr status' as unique victim is being instrumentalised to serve a revanchist far right nationalist agenda that wants to ratchet up the battle against Russia and to seek out and destroy internal collaborators and traitors : i.e  Poles who oppose PiS. 

The chilling aspect of this is not that it is cynical; PiS really is led by ideological fanatics who are clinically paranoid and locked into a mindset determined by anti-communism some twenty five years after it ended. For the PiS ideologue it is forever 1986 and there is some mental inability to accept the Cold War finished.

NATO nations need to keep a  watch on Warsaw because the danger of a PiS government doing something very reckless to provoke Russia is highly likely. Macierewicz is already gearing up for conflict by removing defence and security personnel in what appears part of a slow motion and piecemeal coup d'etat. 

Macierewicz shows real signs of having a pathological personality disorder-he's a dangerous figure who would best be off in a pyschiatric institution than in the Polish Ministry of Defence. His removal from office should be a demand by the civil society KOD protesters as he is not only bad but also manifestly mad.

Criticism of PiS would always be met with accusations that there is a conspiracy of sinister liberal elites ( and Jewish 'cosmopolitan' influences ) which are backing the opposition protesters against Kaczynski's constitutional changes. George Soros is a maligned figure blamed for trying to 'destabilise' Poland's government. 

Opposition nationalist Kukiz, supposedly the radical 'counter-cultural' anti-politician against 'the system' in Poland referred to him as a 'Jewish banker' probably behind protests against the government. Despite Poland's Jewish community being minimal, 'anti-semitism without Jews' remains a potent force

Anger at the disappointments of the post-communist transition, the anxiety that comes from declining birth rates and emigration of the youngest and brightest -as well as the threat of mass migration from the Middle East-is causing a very uneasy mood in Poland. 

This has never been well understood outside Poland to the West where it was portrayed wrongly only as a seamless  economic success story with few social stresses and tensions. The reality is different. Entire small towns have died or decayed leaving only jabcok drinkers and babcie behind. 

Many young Poles think only of leaving before they even finish school. Those who stay feel they have been left behind and take refuge in radical nationalism to reaffirm their sense of worth in the face of economic insecurity. The National Radical Camp is exploiting this mood of alienation.

In Chrzanow pamplets advocating the ONR are handed out. The ONR is on the march in Malopolska against the oligarchy, the decadent parliamentarians, leftist propaganda and stands proudly in the continued tradition of Roman Dmowski, Jan Mosdorf, Tadeusz Gluzinski, Henryk Rossman and Adam Doboszynski

Paramilitary groups are gaining in popularity as they await a' Russian invasion'. Part of this is due to a strain of anti-Russian racism, the idea of barbarian hordes from the East rathather than any realistic need for a firm and decisive response to Russia's attempts to expand its influence once more.

While PiS has probably overplayed its hand and seen its popularity decline within a month due to its rushed constitutional changes, it has a four year term to serve and may well be able to override criticism by exploiting distrust of 'them' or 'globalised elites' as 'enemies of the people'.

There is a clear danger this could get worse should ominous events elsewhere cojoin to bring back a situation akin to the 1930s: a global economic crash triggered off in china appears to be more possible as does the collapse of Saudi arabia and the destabilising results of an oil price spike.

The dark irony is that PiS nationalism shows all the hallmarks of the very national-communist 'people's Poland' a number of its leading figures were once committed to fighting. The reason is the continuity with the ethno-nationalism of the Endeks that the post-1945 national communist regime appropriated.

That basic truth about Polish history would be one reason why PiS ideologues are intent on stripping the historian Jan T Gross of his honours for pioneering historical work into the murder of Jews by Poles at Jedwabne and the continued anti-semitism and pogroms that happened after Auschwitz ( in Fear )..

Clearly objective documented historical truth, the sort produced by years of carefully cross referenced research, is not truth if PiS finds it offensive that some Poles were complicit in Nazi War crimes against Jews. This is connected with the inability of PiS to confront 'ghosts in the consciousness of Polish society’’

The stupidity of this is clearer. Gross' Revolution from Abroad was one of the first to document in detail the inhumane treatment of Poles-both gentile and Jew-by the Soviet authorities after they invaded from the east in September 1939 and attempted to liquidate 'class opposition' from those despised as the 'pans' ( lords ).

Such evident attempts at objective history are not wanted by PiS which, in Orwellian style as the Party and Nation-as embodied by Jarek Kaczynski who actually physically resembles one of the Pigs from Orwell's Animal Farm- has set itself the task of defining something akin to Nationalised Truth.

Trying to force early elections and the protests of KOD could help ensure the regime is challenged and removed, But in the longer term, the substantive greivances of those 'losers;, those left behind by a failed US style neoliberal economic order require redress:and real economic reform is required.

The alternative is to return to the 1930s. 


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