Firstly posted : May 2016: reposted as
Lech Walesa Is Fearful Where Democracy Is Headed In Poland
Τhe alarming rise of the Far Right movements in Europe has been recorded and well established as a determining factor of internal political balances at national level, mainly in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia (Visegrad group ), well before the refugee crisis dominates the debates and Islam becomes the scapegoat of Visegrad’s politics in order to mobilize the poor masses of people who struggle to exist and earn one’s living into a Europe (poverty has led to an exodus of workers to the Uk especially) that didn’t meet their expectations for prosperity when they entered the EU;
According to the last census taken in 2011, 99.9 percent of the Poles who belong to a religion are Christians. Only 5,000 people stated that they were faithful Muslims. “PEGIDA Polska therefore protests against Muslims who are almost non-existent in Poland and Muslims who are not coming to Poland” said expert Miroslaw Bieniecki, of the Polish think tank FISM to DW.
Few migrants, in fact, are particularly interested in settling in Eastern Europe, preferring to head to Germany or Scandinavia, where social welfare benefits are higher, employment opportunities greater and immigrant communities better established.
What has caused the rise of the far right movements in Europe could be explained through a different perspective in Western and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe, the Maastricht Treaty has disappointed the younger European generations as The European Union was supposed to be an economic superpower, but it is still struggling to recover from the global economic crisis of 2008. Widespread joblessness and diminishing opportunities confront an entire generation of young Europeans, especially in Spain, Italy, France and Greece.
In Eastern Europe, as it happened in Slovakia recently when a far right whose leader used to dress in a uniform modelled on the Hlinka Guard, the militia of the 1939-45 Nazi-sponsored Slovak State entered the Slovak Parliament, the far right movements take us back during the time between the two world wars when variants of authoritarian regimes had power in Visegrad countries. (The Hlinka Guard is responsible for the massive deportation of Jews in Slovakia during the WWII. ). However, former Czechoslovakia was the only one in Eastern Europe where “normal” democracy took place between 1918-1938.
The refugee crisis has skyrocketed the far right feelings ideology especially in the Visegrad countries. Their stance — reflecting a mix of powerful far-right movements, nationalism, racial and religious prejudices as well as economic arguments that they are less able to afford to take in outsiders than their wealthier neighbors — is the latest evidence of the stubborn cultural and political divides that persist between East and West.
It is hard to avoid the feeling that Central Europe is living 1989 in reverse. In that year, peaceful revolutions in the name of liberal democracy spread from one Communist country to another. Today Visegrad countries are revising the history and promoting heinous nationalism and Russophobia. for Russians.
When joining the European Union ,as the former Communist Eastern Euopean countries have done since 2004 , nations are asked to pledge support to a raft of so-called European values, including open markets, transparent government, respect for an independent media, open borders, cultural diversity, protection of minorities and a rejection of xenophobia.
“And the countries that have very little diversity are some of the most virulently against refugees,” said Andrew Stroehlein, European media director for Human Rights Watch. However, a big number of Polish or Hungarians leave their own countries and immigrate to the Uk or Germany to find a better job.
But the reality is that the former Communist states have proved sluggish in actually absorbing many of these European values and practicing them. Oligarchs, cronyism and endemic corruption remain a part of daily life in many of the countries, freedom of the press is in decline while rising nationalism and populist political movements have stirred anti-immigrant tensions.
In Estonia, which has a population of just 1.3 million, an agreement to accept fewer than 200 refugees over the next two years was enough to set off protests. Right-wing bikers demonstrated outside the country’s only refugee relocation facility in July, and afterwards it was severely damaged in a fire.
Officials in Latvia said back in October 2015, they would continue to resist mandatory requirements that they accept a set number of refugees while the parties in the ruling coalition appear unable to agree on whether to require a parliamentary vote on the issue.
This month, tens of thousands of Poles took to the streets in Warsaw on May 7. Their motto: We Are and Will Remain in Europe. The huge crowds were protesting against the policies of the Law and Justice party(far right), which swept to power with a parliamentary majority in October 2015.
— SBS News (@SBSNews) 8 mai 2016
— NBC News (@NBCNews) 26 avril 2016
As Syrians are pushed out of their homes, they have to go someplace. And most have ended up in camps: internally displaced persons (IDP) camps within Syria or refugee camps in neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan. These countries are being stretched to their limits by the influx, with both the host countries and of course the refugees themselves suffering under the burden. For Europe it has been reported that there was approximately one million of additional migrant arrivals in Europe by sea.
- For Carnegie Europe, what is taking place in the EU’s fifth-largest member state, today, is the politics of revenge against its communist past.
These countries lived the bona fide socialism (real socialism) and were strongly influenced by the rise of ethnic nationalism in Europe in the 19th century. The First and Second World Wars strengthened rather than weakened their ethnic nationalist thinking.
While Germany was forced to deal with the excesses of her nationalist past, Czechoslovakia and Poland got away with the expulsion of twelve million ethnic Germans and some Hungarians after World War II. orchestrated by USRR local forces of course.
The catalyst for the political transition of these countries was the rather forceful establishment of ethnic nation states with arbitrary boundaries after World War I leading to inter-war nationalism, Nazism, the Holocaust, the post-war expulsions, communism and an ongoing policy of assimilation towards minorities.
In 2011, Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice Party (known as PiS), announced he wanted to create “Budapest in Warsaw.” Since his party’s resounding election victory in October 2015, has kept his promise. Led by Kaczyński, Beata Szydło, the new Prime Minister has done everything it can to emulate the authoritarian course of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: already, it has attacked the constitutional court, undermined Poland’s independent civil service, and set out to bring the public media under government control. Unlike in the case of Hungary, the European Union has reacted quickly. The European Commission announced on Sunday (3 January) that it would discuss the state of the rule of law in Poland after the country’s hard-right government pushed through changes to the judiciary and media over the Christmas break.. And on January 13, the European Commission was sufficiently concerned to open a “probe” into the workings of the rule of law in Poland, a step that is unprecedented in EU history.
According to NYTimes.com, Central Europe’s authoritarian turn has come as a surprise to many Western observers. Why, they ask, has it happened in countries that after 1989 were at the vanguard of the movement to transform Communist dictatorships into liberal European democracies? Why Poland, which is the only major European economy that came through the Great Recession of 2008 with continuous economic growth and which has been the largest beneficiary of subsidies from the EU? What outsiders have often missed is that the broad consensus in Poland and Hungary about joining the EU obscured deep economic and cultural divisions—and a corresponding winner-take-all mentality among the two countries’ political elites. Few noticed the seeming paradox that the more state socialism receded in time, the more intense the anti-Communist crusades of leaders like Orbán and Kaczyński became.
Today with the triumph of PiS in Warsaw, both Poland and Hungary now offer a toxic ideological brew that is reminiscent of interwar Europe: anti-communism and anti-capitalism can be combined and justified in the name of a highly intolerant nationalism based on Christian values that conclusively define who is a true Hungarian or true Pole.
Law and Justice, led by Jarosław Kaczyński, has justified its battery of political and personnel changes by saying that the party is only undoing what its predecessor, Civil Platform (highly corrupted), did during its stint in power from 2007 to 2015. Yet before that, Law and Justice had tried to steer the country in a conservative, Euroskeptic direction during its previous term in office between 2005 and 2007—a direction that Civic platform reversed.
This polarizing politics of revenge has its roots in the Solidarity movement, which in 1989 succeeded in bringing Poland’s Communist regime to its knees. Then, both sides agreed to hold roundtable talks to pave the way for a peaceful transition to democracy. The very essence of those roundtable talks exposed the deep ideological splits in Solidarity.
- Poland is in war against its communists ghosts’ era and its nonexistent Muslim immigration
Are we still asking ourselves today about the real socialism era in Eastern Europe and its crimes in Poland or Hungary? What life was really under the bona fide socialism rule in these countries? How the system worked so successfully to impose it? What really happened in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and in Hungary in 1956?
The Polish parliament recently adopted a de-communization law, giving local governments one year to remove all symbols representing communism from the public space.
As of April 1, the bill, fully titled “On the prohibition of propagation of communism or any other totalitarian system through the names of all public buildings, structures and facilities”, bans public display of names commemorating communism, including “people, organizations, events or dates symbolizing the repressive, authoritarian and non-sovereign regime of 1944-1989 in Poland” and criminalizes any propaganda in their favor.
— 9 мая 1945 (@petrov_1945) 22 février 2016
The crimes committed by Nazi Germany on the territory of Poland during WWII were of tremendous and unprecedented scope and scale. The Red Army was instrumental in crushing the Third Reich, the liberation of the Jewish people and other nations from extermination in concentration camps. That the USSR, despite the criminal rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy, was able to mobilize against the Nazi war machine and ultimately defeat it, was a reflection of the enormous strength of the 1917 October Revolution.
Following the 1917 revolution, Germany was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the USSR, bringing Russia in from the cold of international isolation. In the course of ten years, from 1926 to 1936, the Soviet Union received more than four billion reichsmarks’ worth of industrial equipment and machinery from Germany. The USSR used raw materials, agricultural products, and gold to pay for the shipments.
In September 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union jointly began World War II by invading Poland—Germany on September 1, and the USSR on September 17 —as per the August 23, 1939, Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and agreement between Soviet and German military commands. Russia is still trying to gloss over that historical episode. It’s been conclusively proven, however, that at that moment Stalin took Hitler’s side in his confrontation with the rest of the Western world.“We can’t allow Germany to lose” was the phrase Stalin uttered during his conversation with Ribbentrop on August 23, 1939. Moscow helped Hitler in his military campaigns, particularly in his confrontation with Great Britain. Hitler used Russia as a raw materials base (in 1940 alone, Moscow provided Germany with 600,000 tons of cotton, 1 million tons of grain, and 1 million tons of oil). Soviet economic aid helped thwart the British blockade of Germany.
After the liberation of Poland from the Nazi forces, the rapes of females had begun as soon as the Red Army entered East Prussia and Silesia in 1944. In many towns and villages every female, aged from 10 to 80, was raped. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel laureate who was then a young officer, described the horror in his narrative poem Prussian Nights: “The little daughter’s on the mattress,/Dead. How many have been on it/A platoon, a company perhaps?”
- The revenge?
On March 31 of this year, in Poland, four activists from the Stalinist Communist Party of Poland (KPP) were given 9 months of suspended prison sentence with forced labor and fines by the Regional Court in Dąbrowa Górnicza in Silesia for propagating communist ideology through the Internet and their newspaper Brzask. Around the same time, on April 16, around 400 neo-fascists were allowed with impunity to march to celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the establishment of the ONR party (the National-Radical Camp) in Białystok.
The fact that the de-communization law comes 27 years after the collapse of real socialism, amidst great disillusionment with capitalism and protests of the working class against worsening living conditions, exposes the true nature of the act: far right propaganda.
Last month, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said that Russia poses more of an existential threat than groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and reiterated Warsaw’s call for more NATO troops to be deployed to defend the alliance’s eastern borders.
“We have existential threats and non-existential threats. Of course the Russian activity is kind of an existential threat because this activity may destroy countries,” he said. “And we have non-existential threats like terrorists, like massive wave of migrants.”
The fact that Poland is now in part of the EU and NATO both makes the statement more ridiculous, but also makes it more dangerous, because Poland risks infecting Europe with its own fantasies
According to the 1992 Russian-Polish Agreement on Friendly and Neighborly Cooperation, Poland must protect and preserve Soviet and Russian cemeteries, graves, monuments and other memorial sites located in the country.
- NATO’s deployment in Eastern Europe
Last week, NATO officials quietly informed the media that 4,000 additional NATO forces are being deployed to the Baltic states and Poland, to be reinforced at the start of 2017 by a further 4,200 NATO troops. US military officials told the Wall Street Journal last week that they plan for an “increased rotational presence” in the East, including “more regular exercises and presence in both Romania and Bulgaria.”
The announcements came amid large-scale war drills in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, still ongoing, including more than 1,000 US, British and Georgian soldiers, held provocatively in a geopolitical flashpoint that nearly brought Washington and Moscow to blows in 2008.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance’s planned buildup in the Baltics wouldn’t have happened if Russia didn’t insert itself into the Ukraine conflict in 2014. Stoltenberg said NATO’s deployment was a reaction to Russian aggression.
The announcement of heightened military measures on both sides comes after a serious of incidents in the skies and the Baltic Sea involving U.S. jets, a U.S. destroyer and Russian warplanes.
- What should be the ideal plan for Eastern Europe today?
“One very simple, but radical, idea: to democratise Europe.” as Yanis Varoufakis said
Today, the naive dream of the marriage between “capitalism and democracy” has died. We saw in last summer’s Greek referendum that voting can serve merely as a kind of decoration, and that financial interests (from international monetary institutions to private banks) win out. Instead, we need a system in which democracy really means decision-making by the people, from community organising to general assemblies, from participatory budgeting to self-management.
If we are not able to restore and re-invent democracy in Europe, we are not just sleepwalking but running into a catastrophe. And the name of this catastrophe, once the period of interregnum is over, is war.
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