Saturday, 7 August 2010

On crosses, rants, presidents and would-be presidents

But before I dwell on the current issues my apologies to Adthelad. Regrettably, I did not find time to watch “The Trap” so understandably I cannot review it today. When will it happen? Hmmm… Pending…

I had a second busy week at work, but everything seems to indicate the pressure is going to ease up a bit in the coming days so maybe three evenings will be enough to watch three parts of the documentary, jot down some key points and remarks and then put it together and share on the blog with the readers.

From the beginning of the year weather has had many swings and has surprised Poles many times. This week’s stars were storms and downpours: one on Tuesday, another yesterday. If meteorologists are right, today we should expect a repetition of yesterday’s show. I have guests today, so there might be a bit of a problem, or a necessity to put them up overnight.

This week has been extremely hot in the politics. On Tuesday Poland witnessed an attempt to move the cross from outside the presidential palace. The operation was scheduled for that day, as an agreement between the scouts (who had put up the cross), the Church (cross is a religious symbol) and the presidential office (it is their premise) has been reached. Predictably, unrelenting defenders of the cross (excellent rant by fellow blogger Scatts, I fully back him) blocked the whole operation, the state gave in and the cross is still left outside the palace and a group of weirdoes are still guarding it. Many leftist and liberal commentators hailed the Tuesday events as the failure of Polish state. I partly agree, for the following reasons:

1. Poland is theoretically a secular state so this symbol should not be present in a public space, in front of one the most important official edifices, but on the other hand it is no longer a religious symbol, it is a purely political symbol. The cranks who scuffled with the police on Tuesday called priests “communist secret service agents in disguise” and named scouts “Bolsheviks”, as befits truly religious Catholics. They pray during their sentry, but I wonder to whom – I do not think to God, this is the shrine to late president Kaczynski, I suppose. The cross is a political symbol (and no mistake?).

2. Why can a group of people appropriate a public place and a cross they didn’t even put up. In most countries such an illegal assembly outside a public building (unless there’s a reason for it, as it was during the mourning in April) would be gently scattered to four winds. Here, as the defenders of the cross point out with unhidden satisfaction, the System was totally HELPLESS. The System was overcome, the anarchy is victorious. But it is not the fact that this cross is still there that fills me with dread. I don’t care if there is a cross, two crosses, one thousand crosses and how many PiS-lovers chain themselves to them. There is a Polish proverb which goes roughly: “Let them bite your finger and they’ll eat your whole arm”. I am afraid once the state has succumbed to their claims, they will be impudently eager to break other laws.

3. And there is a reason why I am content the cross is still there. Bearing in mind how dogged its defenders are, the operation of moving it to a nearby church would end up with a bloodshed and those injured would be made martyrs. And sorry to say that, I would not swallow it. I heard double Dutch about martyrs who died in a plane crash (or rather were murdered by the System) and I would surely lose my temper if heard about a PiS-believer wounded or, Heaven forbid, killed by the functionaries of the System.

BTW – look at how Moscow looks today – the fog over the capital of Russia is the best evidence to support the hypothesis that Russians can create fog and they did it in Smolensk on 10 April ;)

I fully understand why Mr Komorowski is reluctant to move into the presidential palace. I would also feel uneasy if outside my house picketed a group of people who would call me a traitor or find me an illegitimate president.

PO once again proved to be too timorous to get to grips with some contentious issues. Two months ago I thought PO was in line with my moderate social views. SLD with its ostentatious anti-clericalism was too leftist for me. Today, if the only criterion for voting for a party were social views and I did not give a damn about the economy, I would vote for SLD…

A propos economy. What do you make of the plans of VAT hike? Am I one of the minority who think it is necessary and justified. In my perception of economic policy a balanced budget and low public debt are more likely to guarantee sustainable economic growth than low taxes which generate deficits. I have never been optimistic about moves of PiS-led government which cut taxes and other burdens when the economy was booming. Such moves are apposite when economy is in the doldrums to stimulate it, not when the growth is running at 5 or 6 per cent per year. It was like adding fuel to the fire and it contributed to current budget setbacks. Everyone knows Polish social security system is ailing, but is it a reason to cut its revenues (sickness benefit contribution) without cutting down on expenses? The same about taxes – taxation rates went down and at the same time government spending was boosted. What do I make – the objective of the government should be to generate budget surplus, through both raising taxes and retrenchments. Low level of public debt means government is unlikely to increase taxes and this certainty creates a really friendly environment for businesses. The move made by PiS in 2006 was very short-sighted and those who benefited from it surely were not the voters of the party.

Breaking news – Mr Kaczynski’s statement on the Mr Komorowski’s swearing-in ceremony.

For those who do not know yet, Mr Kaczynski was absent at that ceremony. One version is that he had to pick up his mother from a hospital (I wonder if he used a private car for it and paid for it from his own purse) and surely fortuitously arranged for the day when the ceremony was scheduled to be held, the other is, as deputy Mariusz Błaszczak had said, that Mr Kaczynski’s absence was obvious in the light of how critical PO politicians were about his brother. Hang on, is it not normal in democracy to be critical about someone else’s rule?

Now some quotes from Mr Kaczynski’s today’s appearance.

1. To zaprzysiężenie było wynikiem śmierci mojego brata i i moich bliskich (That swearing-in was an implication of my brother’s and my relatives’ deaths)
Rebuttal: If you had become a president it would also have been because of their deaths. If your brother was alive he would run for presidency, not you!

2. Sądzę, iż w dużej mierze został on wybrany prezydentem przez nieporozumienie, bo jestem przekonany, że bardzo wiele osób, które na niego głosowały zapateryzmu w Polsce nie chce (I think it was a considerable misunderstaning that Mr Komorowski was elected a president, I am convinced many of his voters do not want Zapatero-like policies in Poland).
Rebuttal: Mr Komorowski is too timid to take steps characteristic for leftist social agendas, but he was elected because many leftist voters put a cross against him to choose the lesser of two evils. As far as I can see around, most Poles want the cross to be removed from outside the palace, but they do their bits and do not protest, those who want the cross to stay there make the noise. It would have been a misunderstanding if you had been elected a president. Mr Komorowski did not lie about his Catholicism and has not used religion to wage a war against “enemies” (you love that word, do not you, it is one of your favourites). You told stories to Poles about your change and returned to the rhetoric of aggression after the lost election. If you had won, you would have done the same, it is natural for you. The result of recent election many Poles put stock in your change. Soon, when they realise you are just a mendacious man with lust for power, the support for your lousy party drops. And after all rows over the cross the one who gains will be SLD.

Over. Just a month ago I did not bear any grudge against PiS, its voters and acolytes, today I would hold back from declaring that. I think I lost my temper.


adthelad said...

no apologies necessary - still, am curious how you will perceive the films. Are we headed for a 'Federation' along the lines of that 'promoted' in Star Trek:)

as for the rest - OUCH!! Beggars the line 'Oooh you awful, but I like you'.


Michael Dembinski said...

The Trap - necessary viewing.

I'm always interested in seeing critiques of free-market democracy that are not conducted from the perspective of a dreary old leftie, but fresh insights based on psychology or biology.

As for the rest - do you not think that PO are manipulating the cross business for party political ends?

Jarosław Kaczyński has been given a noose and has obligingly put his own head into it. Now all Jarosław needs to do is kick away the stool.

student SGH said...

"The trap" - watched the first part, everything seems to indicate the review should by ready by the end of this week.

And I'm open to see the critique from the leftist slant. Sometimes for fun (I'm not as biased as you Michael), sometimes to pick out errors in their reasoning, sometimes to nod, because their diagnoses of free market flaws are right, only their ways of fixing it aren't.

Free market is imperfect, we should not deny it and be very careful about trying to correct its functioning, not to make things worse.

PO - they're not clever enough to manipulate, they handle it blindfold. They'd be most grateful to wash their hands out of it.

Do you really think the cross issue will be Kaczynski's political death? He's just going back into the territory of lunatics.