Global Independent Analytics
Bojan Stanislawski
Bojan Stanislawski

Location: Poland

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

The non-politics between Poland and the EU

There are no winners or losers in the recent confrontation between the EU and Poland. Both sides were rather equally compromised during the January debate in the European Parliament.

The debate itself, regarding ‘the rule of law’ (or rather trying to prove its absence), was quite unfortunate and embarrassing for Poland. The European Commission decided it must teach Poland a lesson on the ‘rule of law’ and ‘independence of the media’ while Martin Schulz, who decided to take the position of the Reichskommissar vis-à-vis Poland, said that "the rule of law, the question of checks and balances, is not a question of procedure but one that is central to our European democracy and society". One may wonder what kind of democracy Greece and other EU members exactly enjoy in Merkel’s Fourth Reich. Who checks the European Commission? The debate was held on the 19th of January.

The Polish PM Beata Szydło was called to Brussels pretty much like a pupil to the school headmaster’s office and had very little chance of winning, no matter how much sympathy she could have potentially garnered from individual MEPs. The entire apparatus was rigged against her.

However, she did have a chance to stand up to the accusations and to try to make at least a few points in the discussion, at least in the eyes of a more objective outsider. That was not really difficult considering the ignorance and the truly hysteric stance the other side demonstrated. It was a cheap spectacle, a happening with nearly no political content. Both the Polish PM and the Euro-parliamentarians that played the role of the attack dogs have yet again proved that they are not politicians worthy of the name, let alone leaders or statesmen.

The debate on Poland showed that they all behave like a group of abandoned actors on a movie set which they will never leave because they have no future outside it. Despite no director or other personnel being there and no film recording, they continued to take themselves very seriously. They all followed a script that they remembered, and repeated things, pretending they were practicing, but, in fact, they were squandering their time and effort. They played these genre scenes, but nobody can understand what for. To an accidental passerby, they appeared as an ensemble of eccentric artists doing a street performance. To those better informed they were just a cluster of useless people. The fact that such was the quality of the debate and that both camps had not even attempted to enter into a serious political discussion is nothing more than a confirmation of the deepening postmodernist degeneration.

Beata Szydło has lost pretty much every chance to be taken seriously and to be heard in earnest. She was seen as making excuses. Obviously, the debate, even with the bar being placed very low, surpassed her. She just kept repeating “everything is OK, everything is fine” with increasing neuroticism. She went to Brussels without any  plan. The Polish PM’s official website admitted as much. The information published there shortly before the debate contained not a teardrop of a specific, concrete idea about what to actually put forward. She fell into the trap of the propaganda of her own camp. From the moment it became clear that the EU wanted to chastise the new Polish government, a wave of lament engulfed Poland: “Poland is being vilified”, “the Polish nation is being offended”, and “we all have to unite and resist”. Some media supporting the government came up with covers presenting the president of the European Parliament and some important EU figures in Nazi uniforms. Others reached for the cheapest, most provincial forms of patriotic calls to duty one can imagine.

But even such a shoddy propaganda could have been part of a plan, of an idea, on how to move in these difficult circumstances. However, Beata Szydło behaved as if she had become a hostage of cliches she and her companions were delivering not to the European Commission, but to the audience in Poland. Instead of being assertive and rationally deconstructing the accusations thrown at her, she just mechanically repeated the slogans she uses at home. “This debate is not necessary”, “the actions of the European Commission do not have a foundation”, “democracy and the rule of law are not endangered in Poland”, “my government is a product of democratic elections”, “we put into practice the will of the people of Poland”, “this kind of interference in Polish internal affairs is not necessary” and so on, and so forth.

These were the only things we heard, neurotically repeated, plus quotations from John Paul II, plus some blatant lies, like the one that Poland had allegedly received one million refugees from Ukraine, when in fact there were just 5,000, and one can figure this out for oneself by just by looking at the immigration service website.

Beata Szydło’s presentation and responses once again demonstrated how poor and pitiful the Polish ruling class is. They obviously not only do not want but also simply cannot step out of their local, deeply provincial and obscurantist framework. To them, propaganda rhetoric is actually the only content of politics that they understand, and also the only that appeal to them.

Beata Szydło defended herself and her government in a grandiloquent manner although she could have proved that at least some of the accusations have no foundation. She could have not only attracted the attention and sympathy of a few sane and influential MEPs but also scored quite a few points in Poland. But instead, by going there without a plan or a minimal set of goals, she only got a few comical libertarians and hard-core right-wingers to support her. It was such grief and sorrow to watch Janusz Korwin-Mikke, a mad Polish libertarian MEP, who made himself famous by things like denying Hitler’s role in the Holocaust or demanding the reintroduction of the ban on women to vote, being more rational in his argumentation than the Polish PM. By simply stating that all the EU functionaries attacking the current Polish government should maybe think what actually made the Polish people vote for Law & Justice (Szydło’s party, which won the elections last October), and how outrageous the previous government must have been if the Poles preferred  such a power- hungry regime in its stead, he made better points than anyone else. His was probably the most politically astute, no matter how low-class, a voice heard during the entire debate.  He also said one should consider why the Polish government did not intervene earlier.

It was also particularly sad to see Beata Szydło repeating her platitudes when her opponents came to the European Parliament to bully her unprepared. From what they said it was clear that they have not studied the situation in Poland carefully and they based their attacks on slogans just as cheap as hers. In the beginning, there was some talk about the constitutional court, but it was smoothly  transformed into the hysteric labeling of the new Polish government as “putinist”, and the spinning of catastrophic scenarios of “further putinization” of Polish and European politics, and about “preventing Poland moving even further to the east”. Such quips could have easily been dismissed with a 10-sentence, rational, assertive response. Instead of that, what we heard were pathetic cries that these allegations are offensive.

All in all, what we observed was a spectacle. It was the emanation of Polish political backwardness and its typical whining vs. eradication of European liberalism which, again, forgot to do its homework and struck not only in the wrong place but in a completely counterproductive way.

As stated in the beginning, both sides lost, but it may turn out that the EU has lost a bit more. The Polish government has not been restrained from continuing its actions, and despite Szydło’s cheap performance, her performance could produce a slight increase in the popular support for her camp. Poles, like most Eastern Europeans, perceive politics mostly through symbols, they hardly recognize interests, be they group or individual, which is one of the reasons why the region as a whole is not shifting politically. It will now be enough for Law & Justice to intensify the atmosphere of defending Poland as a besieged fortress to get more people to ‘unite around the leader’. But again, this would require a plan, a strategy, and some flexible tactics. None of these can be observed at the moment on the part of the new government.

The January debate was held by people who do not understand anything about the field they should be experts in. Neither about what is going on in Poland (the EU side) nor about what European politics are about (the Polish delegation). That is a dismal state of affairs.

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