A new issue of Liberté! magazine, devoted to political culture after the transformation, has already been published in print and will soon be available for online purchase. In the meantime, enjoy the English version of the editorial by Leszek Jażdżewski, Editor-in-chief of the magazine.
Our Own Red Sea
A movement of accounting for transformation and “neoliberal faith”, which is allegedly said to have been the key notion for the elites in the Third Polish Republic, seems to be recently extremely popular in Poland. It is this faith that, according to some critics, is responsible for poverty, alcoholism on state-owned collective farms and increasing social inequalities. Liberal elites along with western consortia have stolen Poland from the left wing, from the right wing – liberal elites going hand in hand with communists. The left wing sees in the Third Polish Republic neoliberal violence, the right wing – national betrayal.
Currently widely criticized belief of Polish elites in the market, liberalism and democracy was the best feature of those elites in the past. Polish transformation is one of the most spectacular examples of the triumph of the idea over the matter. It was possible primarily thanks to the fact that Polish elites have agreed that the reforms are their historical mission. Poles have crossed the Red Sea of the transformation because they started to believe that there is a coast on the other side of the water. We were building castles in the clouds not knowing that we have no chance of succeeding. At first, the oppositional elites did not acknowledge the fact that no one can overthrow the communist system. Later, that it is not possible to build in Poland well-functioning liberal democracy and capitalism at the same time.
Entering a new, unfamiliar era, we had at our disposal society exhausted by Polish People”s Republic, oppositional elites inexperienced in governing the state, disgraced elites of the authority, Polish People”s Republic – to the majority of Poles the only familiar state – which was going bankrupt before our very eyes effectually as well as morally. The authoritarian Second Polish Republic, online slots the times of annexation and increasingly corrupted gentry democracy have set a lousy example to follow.
Thanks to belief in democracy and free market we would have been able to achieve a lot more than our contemporary potential has suggested. Today, in times when politics is well-suited to this potential, we experience a deep disappointment, being accustomed to those “starry times”. If we were rooted in our socio-cultural capital back then, we would now be somewhere between Mečiar”s Slovakia and Ukraine or Georgia from before the coloured revolutions. It might have been a less poetic paradise for Polish writers such as Andrzej Stasiuk or Ziemowit Szczerek, but it would have remained a black hole for its inhabitants, a land of impossibilities.
The biggest failure of the Third Polish Republic is not its lack of attention paid to the voice of populists, but its inability to raise citizens who would force changes when modernization enthusiasm of the elites has already run out.
We have introduced liberal democracy and capitalism not because it was our original idea and because we were all engrossed in the reading of Hayek, but because that”s how it was “arranged in the West”. The provincial complex has worked out miracles for Poland. However, despite many years of a successful pursuit, we are still in a completely different position than the developed countries of the European Union. They are satiated while we are still hungry. Their competitiveness is based on a high productivity and innovativeness while ours on cheap labor. They try to maintain their status quo while we try to catch up.
Today, the provincial complex and simple imitation of the current leftist trends as well as clutching quarter-century-old recommendations need to be abandoned. We must seek new compasses and new maps. Navigare necesse est. This is our task. A task present not only in this issue of „LIBERTÉ!”.
Enjoy your reading,
Leszek Jażdżewski, Editor-in-chief of LIBERTÉ!.
Translation: Olga Łabendowicz