Check out this email we got at work today...
...about our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Poznan uprising (see previous post) and of the Radom uprising of 1976. We presented the transition from communism to capitalism in a positive way – well, who wants to live under a regime that shoots its own people when they go out into the streets to protest? – but, it seems, not all Poles agree.
This is from ‘Kamil K’:
‘Do you function as an objective news source [he doesn’t mean the beatroot – least I hope not!] or as a propaganda piece for today’s capitalists? Under ‘communism’ I had a job and healthcare. Now everything is being taken from me and my fellow workers and given to the rich. If communism was such an ‘evil system' then what about this one? Heaven on Earth?’
I have great sympathy with ‘Kamil K’. The transition from commie authoritarianism and a ‘planned economy’ (snigger – those idiots couldn’t ‘plan’ a piss up in a brewery) has been costly to many, many Poles. The unemployment, the increase in the gap between the rich and the poor, the crumbling social services, the growing holes in the roads, etc.
But are we to believe that things were so much better back in those dark days, when people got shot in Poznan, Gdansk, Radom, for wanting ‘bread and freedom’?
Many Poles would say, ‘Yes, they were, actually...’. Depending on what opinion poll you read – and when – between 30 to 60% feel a bit like Kamil. They long for the old, but boring, certainties, when virtually everyone had nearly nothing.
Happiness studies, is a big thing in the social sciences, these days. They try and measure how happy we are and urge governments to make happiness a policy priority (?). Poles, measured by one of the many different criteria they use (what the hell is happiness, anyway?), register in the middle of the international tables. Interestingly, rural dwellers and the religious seem to record greater contentment in life.
Perhaps they have lower expectations?
But , on average, Poles seem normally content/discontent with their lot under capitalism. No more, no less.
The big difference, today, is that Kamil and others who don’t like what is going on have the opportunity - even gays have won the right to protest - to show some self-determination, organize politically and change their circumstances.
Sitting around writing angry emails to not particularly important news providers (in English!) is a waste of his time.
Though I hope writing angry letters makes him feel a little happier.