After November 11 and the Polish Independence Day, Poland once again was in the spotlight of foreign media. This media coverage also generated some reactions. “Poland’s March of Independence was not like it’s being portrayed” – wrote Marcin Rzegocki on the website of the Acton Institute, a respected American think tank “whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles” (I highly recommend their movie Povery Inc., for which the Acton Institute received prestigious Templeton Freedom Award). I feel that I must respond to Rzegocki’s article as I disagree with both, his portrayal of the recent March of Independence and overall political situation in Poland.
I agree with the author that some titles and articles in the foreign media were definitely exaggerad or featured false accusations. It is true that it was not 60,000 neo-nazis that marched in Warsaw on November, 11. Nevertheless, the (co-)organizers and participants of this march comprised groups which have frequently manifested racism, xenophobia, and hate towards “the other” (do not confuse it with a so-called “hate speech”; in their case it is just pure hatred) and radical aggressive nationalism (not to be confused with patriotism). What may be less relevant for this type of a march, yet, these groups and their followers are collectivists and they do not show any respect for fundamental individual liberties or economic freedom.
Moreover, I am surprised that “mostly young people and families” (as emphasized by the author) and other people who do not support racism, xenophobia, hatred towards “the other”, nor aggressive radical nationalism, still march with people who support these ideas. They can always celebrate the Independence Day in a different way, go to some other events or even organize their own march. They always have a choice! I can only hope that all decent people will choose something else next year.
Finally, I also do not know why the author calls the Kukiz’15 party a pro free-market party (putting aside the fact that they do not call themselves “a party” and do not have one, clear party-agenda). They may have 2 or 3 pro free-market members in the parliamentary group (out of 30+) but the majority of Kukiz’15 supported many anti-free market policies of the ruling Law and Justice (higher taxes, unsustainable welfare state expansion, weakening of rule of law; last week 20 of them supported the ban on opening of shopping malls and supermarkets on Sundays).
I am also sure that many people in the marching crowd during the Independence March were supporters of qusi-socialist economic policies implemented by the ruling party, despite being presented by Rzegocki as a generation “resistant to ideologies of socialism”. And I probably don’t have to mention all disgusting statements of Janusz Korwin-Mikke from the “Wolność” party which are still a huge burden for a liberty movement in Poland as many people associate classical liberal/libertarian ideas with Korwin’s views on women, the disabled or Adolf Hitler.
The author also labels the previous ruling party Civic Platform as left wing. Personally, I think that there is no point in sticking labels “leftist,” “rightist” or “neoliberal” to opponents because they no longer mean what they used to. As a harsh critique of the previous and current government I should only clarify that economically, the ruling Law and Justice is much more left-wing than the Civic Platform – they are even more left-wing than some previous socialdemocractic governments, formed by the post-communist parties in Poland (e.g. SLD).
Some people try to improve the image of the Independence March by saying that there were cheerful families with kids there. You should know that there were cheerful families with kids at the NSDAP rallies as well. Maybe even these families with kids were not fully aware of or fully supportive for the final solution on the Jewish question. Does it make NSDAP any better?
The biggest challenge for decent and true patriotic and conservative leaders is how to discourage people from participating in this form of Independence March next year and to create a truly patriotic alternative without racism, xenophobia, hatred, and aggressive radical nationalism. In 2018, we celebrate in Poland the 100th anniversary of regaining independence. I hope these celebrations will show a more positive image of Poland and promote openness towards everyone who would like to come to Poland with peaceful intentions, of tourism, doing business or working in our amazing country.