Time for Well-Deserved Retirement for Third Polish Republic’s Elites

Jan Matejko: Stańczyk // Public domain

In order to defeat the Law and Justice party, it is essential to take the microphone away from the “scary grandpas”, who lecture younger and younger listeners with their righteous views on everything.

Poland is still ruled by metrical and mental old-timers who built their position in the early day of the Third Polish Republic. They are described as the creators and symbols of the Third Republic – the Deserving Ones.

Poles are all hostages of their conflicts, clichés of thoughts, views that were defined decades ago. Due to their unquestionable position they influence not only the whole story, but also actions of the opposite side. And the results are well-known. The Law and Justice party has been in power for six years and the situation is not likely to change.

A legendary editor wants to save the Polish Church. A famous economist is fixated on the Soviet views on the market and country. A prominent actress publishes embarrassing memes. A musician and a journalist scour myriads of own goals in defense of the only truth. A star of TV journalism invites only his favorites to speak in his program, thus turning it into a poor-quality infotainment.

The Deserving Ones fight against the emergence of an alternative which could threaten the position of their favorite party. They nip in the bud every critical thought. They fight and ridicule those who dare to break out of the unanimous crowd. It is easy to say that there is no alternative if one has previously done everything to prevent it from coming into being.

These people used to explain the world to us. Today, they are on a crusade to defeat the Law and Justice party because it questioned their successful life. The aim is righteous but the methods and people are not. If Poles want to have hope to free themselved from the binding shackles of Law and Justice, first it is essential to put the Deserving Ones out to grass.

The creators of the Third Republic still have their fans. They collect thousands of likes, which confirms their belief that it is necessary to give some sort of a contribution. They have worked for years for their recognition and they do not hesitate to use it.

However, their enthusiasts do not need to be convinced that “Law and Justice is bad”. They are already too busy “saving Poland”, and in the next elections they will punitively go to the ballots. Nevertheless, grumbling opposition uncles will not convince anyone new, including those who do not like the current government. By mobilizing The Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD) they discourage the others.

Criticism is easy to dismiss with an argument: Are you jealous? Build your position, start your own newspaper/party/program on TV. I suppose it is understandable that the Deserving Ones reap the fruits of their success for which they have worked.

The point is that today it is impossible to duplicate the model which created the elites of the Third Republic. Positions are already taken. Recognizability was assured in times were there were only three TV channels. Financial means possible to gather in a short time then and now are completely incomparable, except for the sphere of new technologies.

If they really wanted the end of the Law and Justice, they would efface themselves. However, they are too egotistical for that as they are accustomed to being the very center of the world. Even though their titles are dominated by “former”, they are still ready to fight like Kilkenny cats for democracy and, of course, for their position.

By fighting against the Law and Justice party they defend their positions. And they are being defeated. Nevertheless, it is not painful because their cozy seats in the Parliament allow them to live through another attack on the democracy, in addition to selfies taken at less and less numerous demonstrations.

The Symbols are surrounded by obedient assistants and dependent secretaries, who are not going to break free, create new ideas, nor pull the crowd in. Self-censorship, the necessity to gain acceptance, and dependence: These are all traits deeply rooted in the consciousness of people around the Deserving Ones, who are lower in age and rank. It is visible, for example, in the feeble effects of rejuvenating the political leadership of the party. Retro does not want to go out of style. The liberalizing society still struggles to find its political representation.

The bill for the numerous failures of the Deserving Ones is being paid by ordinary citizens, who feel increasingly alienated and uncomfortable in their own country. Millions of Poles, who mobilize themselves for another lost election, cannot wait another couple of years. For them, the costs of the Law and Justice governance are not broken by the comfortable cushion of privilege.

The change must be profound. It must resemble the political revolution from twenty years ago which created the Civic Platform and the Law and Justice parties. It is time to let this polite generation influence the public life without waiting for their turn and wasting their great opportunity. There is plenty of time to build alternative language and reach for new resources without the pressing feeling that elections are coming.

To win the war for the hearts of Poles and to create more meaningful divisions, it is necessary to win the battle in one’s own backyard. It will be the battle for resources and opportunities, and  to take over positions and tools. The battle which will allow them to influence the debates in the adult’s room without being taken out or being bulldozered into academic and journalists niches.

It is time to stop pretending that those who are forty years old are still “young people” who should politely wait for their turn. Raised on the authority figures, they are still aware that “it is not appropriate”, and that there is still a lot to learn and to achieve. Poles allow to have their future furnished by people who are interested in here and now.

It is all about fairly obvious things, at least to those who have lived most of their lives in the 21st century: green energy and green livable cities; sustainable development with respect for the environment and for the improvement of life quality for as many people as possible; women’s reproductive and social rights; marriage equality regardless of gender; a secular country that does not pay tribute to the Church; police that sides with the citizens and a justice system in which people do not have to wait years for verdicts from independent judges; high-quality public services that are in no way inferior to private education or health care; a state that can be handled in an app on your phone.

These ideas are within reach. What is missing is a change of the institution and elites, which should be ready to meet the challenges posed by modernity, and bring enthusiasm and renewal to Poland.

The key to the revival is self-reflection on the part of the opposition and realization that the way it was – nice and comfortable – cannot be continued unless Poles want to be ruled by the right wing forever. It does not pay off for anyone, even those at the top.

The revival, if it is to be authentic, must be painful. There is no place for sentiments. The worn-out faces – symbols of the Third Republic – belong to the avenue of the distinguished, in the national pantheon, and in the chronicle of memories.

The article was originally published in Polish at: https://liberte.pl/zasluzona-emerytura/

Translated by Natalia Banas

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