No one with a grown-up experience of life in Poland under the Communist rule should have the slightest difficulty in recognising propaganda techniques used today to demonise the global Polish diaspora, collectively known as Polonia. We had once known this surreal, Orwellian newspeak quite well, as a so- called „propaganda of success”, at its peak in the late 1970’s. No Communist apparatchik would be without it then, just as no Polish politician would now, for this crude mixture of agitprop, stick and carrot delivers unprecedented social control.
The political class of today’s Poland has no personal experience of state power exercised in any way, shape or form other than the pre-1989 Communist fetish of social control. To them, social control is what prevents the sky from falling down. Accordingly, they firmly believe it is the control that defines the state, and not the other way round. Strong strings must be attached to subjects, and state puppet masters must pull them as they see fit, and there is no other way about it.
The notion of responsible exercise of power that spawned the checks and balances of Anglo-Saxon democracies is a culturally allien invention, incomprehensible to Polish politicians. The enjoyment of holding power in Poland is the enjoyment of unfettered power.
Neither the politicos nor the mind managers of Poland have ever mastered the true meaning of a difference between governance and reign. To them, it has been obvious since the time they ruled the kindergarten yard, that governance means giving orders and enforcing compliance; there is nothing more to it and there is no other way.
The reign masquerading as governance of Poland involves manipulation of state powers to compel individual behaviour of subjects for personal benefit of the rulers. Reaching any defined goals is not the principal objective of the reign. Its principal aim, and principal pleasure, is to repeatedly demonstrate the extent of subordination of the ruled to the rulers, mainly by devising and enforcing laws and regulations intricate to the point of baroque in their micro- management of everything. Naturally, the rulers, their friends, business partners and relatives need not comply. This results in construction of gigantic and exquisite Potemkin villages of corruption, presented for foreign consumption as cornerstones of democracy.
To convince the Polish electorate they are winners in ongoing transformation from Communism, and beneficiaries of the wise and kind rule of a sage President of All Poles, a reference standard of loser must be created. Every last Pole in Poland must know what a loser is, before he or she can feel a morally superior winner. An image of a miserable emigré, holed up like a rat in faraway ghettoes of poverty, eking out a miserable existence through backbreaking manual labour, is subtly promoted in order to create the standard against which just about any excess of Poland’s robber barons will appear a success. To deal with professionals in the diaspora, an image of a greedy renegade, unwilling to support the beloved Motherland, will do just as nicely.
Casting members of the diaspora as either rats or renegade Scrooges improves the Polish domestic electorate’s self-esteem no end. Obviously, if the diaspora outside Poland are sewer rats or traitors, then those in Poland must necessarily be patriotic Poles and economic tigers of New Europe, must they not? Well, if not tigers, at least smart weasels in shiny coats.
However, when the primary premise is deliberately faulty, the conclusion derived from it must inevitably fail. In reality, the Poles in Poland are in the same rat race as those abroad held out to them as dead end, bottom-layer losers; except the Polish domestic version of the race is much tougher, with more stick and less cheese. The much reviled ‚rat Poles’ of Greenpoint, NY, are about as representative of the Polish diaspora as dumpster scavengers of Warsaw are of Poland.
The secondary objective of diaspora vilification is the propaganda run-up to a forthcoming experiment in taxation without representation. Everybody in Poland knows by now that the rats have had it too good for too long. And every Pole in the West can well guess that Poland’s appetite for free cash, with no strings attached, is exactly the same it has always been – unlimited.
A social mindset is being created in Poland that may eventually allow a declaration, at an as yet undetermined point in the future, that any and all individuals of Polish birth of origin, irrespective of their place of residence or acquired nationality, their children, heirs and successors, all owe their dues to the distant Motherland. A 10% global tithe would go a long way towards provision of comforts to 600 thousand state officials, members of the byzantine local government, Young Communists League apparatchiks struck by the revelation of social democracy in their middle age, and jackbooted nationalist populists, decidedly brownish going on deeper and deeper black in their hue of shirts.
Such a development would see many dancing in the streets of Poland. The economic tigers of New Europe (20% unemployment at the last count) truly adore the taste of free cash, courtesy of foreign suckers. The Polish modern slang for sucker is „leszcz”, bream. Bream is a species of fat, tasty, and exceptionally stupid freshwater fish. Honest work, just reward and personal sacrifice do not taste nearly as sweet in Poland as a good bream does.
The prospect of turning the most or the whole of the Polish diaspora against Poland by such a move is of no consequence to the political class. There will be enough breams forced to pay by tugging the emotional strings tying them to ancestral graves and ailing old parents in Poland to make the whole thing profitable.
Altogether, my mood at all this is one of pervasive sadness.
The contours of old Communist Poland remain in plain view under a hastily applied thin veneer of democracy. The Polish President, an enthusiastic Communist Party apparatchik until the day his Party sank from under him, declares his happiness with „OUR decision to fight Communism”. My friends left behind are increasingly inclined to accept I must have become a rat, since they all know that my business skills are insufficient for a rich renegade.
And tertium non datur.
© Stary Wiarus 2004 Unlimited copying and distribution are allowed, with attribution to the source.