Global Independent Analytics
Bojan Stanislawski
Bojan Stanislawski

Location: Poland

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Poland: another swing towards right-wing extremism

After the general elections held last Sunday (Oct. 25th) in Poland the country has fallen into yet another abyss...

Mawkish nationalism, Catholic fundamentalism, bigotry and backwardness with a solid dose of neo-liberal economics -- this is the Polish perspective for, most probably, at least two years.

Most Western media have stated, quite incorrectly, that the recent elections in Poland are symbolic mostly due to the overwhelming victory of the extreme right wing which was said to have now gained the most stable representation in the Sejm since 1989. It was almost 15 years ago when the now completely marginalized Democratic Left Alliance (DLA) had gathered 43 per cent of the votes in the parliamentary elections held in 2001. Back then the hopes of people were clearly placed in the hands of the Left and it was a fairly shocking experience to see how the immutable and permanent leader of this structure, Leszek Miller, brought it to complete plight and level of devastation that the Left was not to recover from until today.

The Catholic jihadists and neo-liberal Russophobes of Law & Justice have collected less votes nominally speaking as well as in terms of percentage of the overall vote than the DLA in 2001. It is only due to the end result and the calculation in the final aftermath that they will be able to form an uniform, homogenous and non-coalition government. However much more symbolic than this structural nuance is the fact that this is the first Polish parliament where the political composition will not include anymore any kind of left or at least a party claiming to have such a profile.

Again, many journalists and “experts” have learned long ago, since the emergence and victory of the until yesterday ruling Civic Platform, to label the political arena in Poland as “American” as the two main opponents were political parties of similar agenda, background and with only some differences in relation to what is now referred to as “liberal values”. However that is also wrong to the core. American politics are full of vivid and - the biggest difference - real debate. The best example of that is the current run for the Democratic presidential candidate nomination and the fantastic performance of Bernie Sanders. Unlike in the US, nobody calling himself officially a “democratic socialist” could ask to stand for any elections in any of the mainstream parties (including DLA).

The Polish political reality is a bleak conglomerate of ritualistic, political candy-patriotism, drastic cultural Kulturkampf waged years ago by the church and all kinds of phobias. To the traditional Polish antisemitism and just as traditional though recently mainstreamed Russo- and Germanophobia now the insane phobia of Islam has been added to the paysage. The Civic Platform, despite being much better linked with the European establishment and having closer ties with the business sector rather than the episcopate has never represented any major, qualitative difference from L&J. Not only in terms of ideas (that is classical backward neo-liberal conservatism), but even cadres. The constant flow of top functionaries between the two parties is a fact. Even in this elections two former L&J vice-ministers have been elected from the CP’s electoral lists. Therefore, there can be and there is no other difference but the one in style and image.

However this is not without a meaning. Even if the merits of the political life orchestrated by Kaczyński and his friends will not be so much different from the order installed here by Tusk and Kopacz (two CP’s prime ministers) the thing that can always be used are the drums of the “cultural war”. Once things start stagnating, and they surely will considering the fact that L&J has exactly nothing to offer in terms of economics, the dogs will be unleashed again. By then the right people will be in the right places and we can expect waves of bombastic statements on “Smolensk assassination” (do not laugh, two years ago slightly over 30 per cent of the population believed that ‘Russians have killed our president’), provocative preventions of annual pride parades, ostentatious arrests of prominent figures and widespread violence against the labor movement.

The particular and quite major difference between the current parliamentary term dominated by Law & Justice and their former period of rule (2005-07) is the fact that in the past the Kaczyński twins were kind of alone. They were the fresh right-wing warriors who have gotten to power after such a long and difficult time. However, they had all the political parties against them as well as the entire media machinery. The neo-liberal media, that already felt cozy in their new shoes of keepers of the balance inhibiting the hegemony of the church were all against L&J. But this has now changed. As the CP has kept the pendulum in its position where it has completely swung to the right while establishing a fantastic - nomen omen - platform between the government, the media and the business, things developed and have now finally overwhelmed them. By making no effort to confront the lunatic narrative designed after the fatal 10th of April 2010, the CP paved the way for the major change.

Now Kaczyński has not only the new media that emerged and grew combating the consecutive govternments. of the Civic Platform, but also a huge and violent movement officially named the March of Independence to back his party up with. It is a mass of bold-headed, neo-fascist and neo-nazi youth who regularly storm the Polish capital on Independence Day (Nov. 11th). Thus, we shall soon see how this festival of extremist violence will uperate under the new conditions and to what extent the Law & Justice Party will want to control their recruits. And the real question regarding the future is who can effectively confront the right-wing Polish political elite and be credible enough in this mission to actually be elected next time. The famous classical book with the title “What is to be done?” written 113 years ago seems to be pretty much worthwhile reading for the Polish left, but one can detect no traces of such an organic, political and scientific approach here. At least not yet.

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