Sunday, September 24, 2006

Feed the ducks or shoot the ducks?


The Kaczynskis seem to be getting duck-centric.

Kaczki in Polish means 'ducks'. Lech and Jarosalw Kaczynski’s nickname is ‘the ducks’.

Apparently, the Kaczynskis love this name. In fact their party’s mascot in the up and coming local elections in November is ...a duck.

Well, why not? But the duck thing is getting to be a bit of an obsession. Yesterday, Jarosalw Kaczynski turned up in a park in the middle of Warsaw pleading for better understanding and tolerance of ducks everywhere.

He asked us to make sure we remember to feed the ducks during the long cold Warsaw winter. He then turned on the opposition, ex-communist SLD, which are launching their local election campaign with the slogan: 'It’s the start of duck hunting season’.

Jaroslaw said that this was proof of how far public life has been degraded by the ex-communists and their allies. Even ducks are not safe in today’s Poland, it seems.

Other Poles have reacted by saying that they do not intend to feed ‘the ducks’ this winter. They want to kick them out of the park - or, at least, clip their wings...

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should sue themselves for insulting themselves.

posterboy said...

I think the whole thing's ducking ridiculous...

mullet said...

poor ducks!

Richard said...

Seems to me they're lame ducks.

beatroot said...

Richard - I was saving up that headline. They are not quite lame yet...but getting there.

Michael Farris said...

The real problem is that Polish democracy in it's current state has reached a state of catastrophic failure (in terms of being taken seriously by anyone) and new elections would likely just make things worse. PiS would still probably win a plurality and still be unable to establish a functional working relationship with anyone who isn't them.

And PO, better policy wise in a a few issues would likely be just as ineffective (if not more so).

Predictably, the ultimate winner in this situation will probably turn out to be the ex-commies, this morning on the way to work I overheard a couple of old ladies (of the kind who actually vote rather than think about it) talking about how much dignified the government was in commie times... not good.

posterboy said...

Actually, on reflection, I think it's just completely quackers...

"Why can't they just get on with governing the country?" is the line I hear most often. And say what you will about the SLD government, at least they got Poland in a state fit for EU entry. This government is barely fit for purpose.

beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Posterboy – I really don’t think that the SLD governments were all that brilliant. They were good at foreign policy – many of them were quite urbane, like Kwasniewski, Cimoszewicz. But SLD got Poland in the EU despite all that scummy corruption.

The real difference with SLD was that they were able to form a reasonable coalition – with PSL, UP. The right wing doesn’t seem able to do that. And the leftwing these days is nowhere.

Mike – I was talking to someone yesterday and they were saying that many Poles never talked to their parents about their family history during commie times because it was such a ‘difficult topic’, mired in weird political history etc. So the next time you see those stupid old bitches tell them that a society where you can’t talk about the past to your own mother (especially if they were caught up in soething like Operacja Wistula, is a truly disgusting one. Things were not better in the old days.

Michael Farris said...

"Things were not better in the old days."

You and I know that, but can't vote. Old ladies with selective memories and a distaste for burlesque can vote and telling them that some British guy in Warsaw thinks they're stupid old bitches probably won't have the desired effect (unless your real aim is to get me beaten to death by the babcia brigade).

beatroot said...

I was trying to imagine yesterday what it would be like to live in a place where the subject of your family history was a bit of a taboo subject. Only a freak would think that was the good old days.

And no, I didn't mean for you to tell them they were stupid old bitches - but they are. I think they have a perverted view of what the good life is....

sochaczewski said...

They should get together on new elections, meaning the left wing plus the P0 (the smaller portion of that stew was made up of left wing plus democrats with Onyszkiewicz)
personally i just hate the vision of prolonged nightmare that PiSs with hands on power created a year ago. they seem like keeping it for some time more, hopefully they'll fail

beatroot said...

Greetings Sochaczewski.

I am never going to recommend any party here because that is not what this blog is about. But one day, one party from Solidarnosc will take the plunge and go with an ex-communist party. But can you see free market types like PO teaming up with SLD? Im principle it is perfectly possible – social democrats get together with parties like PO all the time in Europe. But in Poland, history always keeps getting in the way. But when they finally do take the plunge we will have more stable government here.

Anonymous said...

October 7th!

Pangloss said...

It's wishful thinking, I know, but if you can't indulge yourself in the comments section of a blog where can you?
PO and SLD (and SDlP or SdLP or whatever they call themselves) should coalesce, not for the sake of the economy, but for the sake of more important things like tolerance and freedom of opinion. I am an incurable optimist when it comes to the economy: people will work and strive and enrich themselves and those around them, helped or hindered by whoever is in power, but a warped government made up of wackos like the LPR can have a really poisonous effect on civil society.

I think even PiS realise this: look how little attention they pay the economy (how many ministers for finance have they had? 3? 4?) and look, also, how well the economy is doing.

beatroot said...

Greetings Pangloss

I agree. The economy is made up of a lot of people doing ..lots
of things. Government here is apparently made up a few people doing not very much. And still Poland goes on. The finance position is particularly difficult for them. They don’t seem to have anyone from within PiS they think is good enough, so they keep on getting these ‘non PiSites’ in and then not trusting them. Or in the case of Lubinska getting someone in who was simply not up to the job.

LPR is government? That’s the voting system.

jannovak57 said...

Isn’t the free market system beautiful, sort of carries on with the goofy politicians not doing a thing and as we know in some cases the politicians doing nothing actually creates a better outcome. That would be heresy to a socialist.

This is chance to see if the ducks are really good at the game or shall they fall by the wayside. The manoeuvres are likely to make Machiavelli blush.

Lepper had a chance to govern in a ministry that greatly affects his core support group, he demonstrate not identifiable capacity to govern as it is with most populists. It seems logical that some of his rats will leave the sinking ship.

The Polish political landscape continues to be dysfunctional, but we can only thank the authors of the Roundtable Agreements for the mess at hand and let’s not leave out there foreign backer (or agents of influence) east and west.

Under external pressure and poor leadership the victors of 1989 allowed themselves to loose a poker game were the other party was openly holding no hand at all. Thus saddling Poland with political instability for what may be another 20 years. The art government in a mature democracy is the ability to reach consensus and carry on with governance for the good of society. Polish society at this stage cannot duplicate this behaviour effectively.

As much as we may deride the political classes in Poland for their fragmentation and conflicts, we need to look at the cause.

We have a nation were the political classes are bitterly divided viewing their opponents as people who betrayed Poland. On one side anyone who participated in PZPR structures and on the other those who resisted them. Lets not confuse any publicly displayed civilities with what lies in people’s hearts.

I don’t know how 16 years later a country could address such issues; it looks like the political circus will continue. What course of action could a society in this situation take to remedy such a problem?

Michael Farris said...

"we can only thank the authors of the Roundtable Agreements for the mess at hand"

This is the rightwing equivalent of old ladies babbling about how much better things were during communism.

Where RA's perfect? No. But they were a very good deal at the time, better than any of the realistic alternatives (though of course not better than idealized fantasy-land alternatives created in hindsight).

Are they or a 'group holding power' or 'foreign interests' or ex-commies or any other boogeymen you care to name the direct or indirect cause of the current mess? No.

The direct causes of the current mess are infantile ego run rampant in the leadership of the main parties and impossible campaign promises come home to roost.

beatroot said...

we can only thank the authors of the Roundtable Agreements for the mess at hand and let’s not leave out there foreign backer (or agents of influence) east and west.

Sorry Jan but that is exactly what many in the present government would say – do say. This is the Fourth Republic talk. I think it’s wrong.

Compare countries that did have a more radical break with the past than Poland did in 1989 – which was a compromise of different interests. Take Hungary. Economic basket case. Romania – corrupt economic basket case.

All in all, Poland hasn’t done that badly. And given its size and the very many different interest groups within it, the political impasse is understandable.

Poland is a giant oil tanker that takes a very longtime to turn around. But it will.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

What if
a family tree
brought life to
Aig Credit Card Philippines?

beatroot said...

...go bugger off...

Anonymous said...

"...victors of 1989 allowed themselves to loose [sic] a poker game were [sic] the other party was openly holding no hand at all." (Jannovak57)

No hand at all? What about the Soviet Union? Russian troops were still stationed on Polish soil at the time.

beatroot said...

yeah, but that wasn't the Soviet bear anymore, that was Russian pussycat. They had got a hiding in Afghanistan - their last spasm of imperialism. They were a bust flush. That's why Solidarity could go for it. No more threat.

But what they then went for was a comprimise. Solidarity always was a self-limiting revolution...

ignacy said...

Hindsight is 20/20. Or not. Certainly, I don't recall too many references to Russian pussycats in those daze anywhere in the world. And as Lao-Tsu's Art of War informs us: when somebody's up against the wall, they are very likely to strike out in a last totalistic spasm of violence. What's done is done. I am sick of the blame game. Who's doing what now?

jannovak57 said...

Beatroot said:

Sorry Jan but that is exactly what many in the present government would say – do say. This is the Fourth Republic talk. I think it’s wrong.

Compare countries that did have a more radical break with the past than Poland did in 1989 – which was a compromise of different interests. Take Hungary. Economic basket case. Romania – corrupt economic basket case.

All in all, Poland hasn’t done that badly. And given its size and the very many different interest groups within it, the political impasse is understandable.

Poland is a giant oil tanker that takes a very longtime to turn around. But it will.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Firstly the present government keeps talking about the creation of the Fourth Republic thus perpetuating the myth of a Third Republic. There never was a Third Republic; from 1944 to 1989 was a period of Soviet occupation with a Quisling type administration under the control of the Soviet Union. And yes they were allowed to make a few decisions to keep the lid on. The Soviets from Stalin to Gorby fully realized the Polish people viewed their government as something imposed on them by Soviet arms.

“You have a better chance of putting a saddle on a cow than making Poland a communist country” …………………..J. Stalin

The above wasn’t widely quoted by the Polish Communist Party.

If you look at Norway and Holland where the Nazis installed local administrations no special terminology is applied to this other than a period of occupation.

Our ducks are wrong to dignify the Quisling administration as the Third Republic.

How significantly different was Hungary’s break from the past in comparison to Poland’s, seems like Hungary has their “former communists” running around openly in all aspects of national life.

The Romanians on the other hand had the best-choreographed revolution in European history. The old commies with Moscow’s nod invited everyone to join the revolution except for Ceausescu, his wife and a handful of their security people. Thus leaving virtually every functionary of the state in his original post with time for a graceful exit if you were widely recognized as having too much Romanian blood on your hands.

Yes Poland hasn’t done badly but could have done a lot better. Also Poland is not blessed with a lot of time to waste, last time they had only 20 years.

If it wastes a lot of time it risks entry to a difficult period in a very weak condition.

In the worse case:

With the geopolitical winds shifting in Europe, the potential spectre of a French-German-Russian axis forming exclusive of the US and Great Britain, there is a real danger of Poland being in an untenable strategic position.

beatroot said...

No Ignacy, it is not hindsight.

I was doing a bachelor degree then and was studying Russian economic history (a very bizarre subject which I loved) and everyone knew when Gorbachev began glasnost and perestroika that unless that worked (the economy was on its knees) the Soviets were in big trouble. And Afghanistan was the Soviet’s Vietnam.

That became clear around 1989. I equally remember doing an essay in another class two years before, gibbering on about the lack of possibilities for change in Russia and the soviet block. So in two years things changed very quickly. And none of us ‘social scientists’ saw it coming.

Which makes my specialism about as relevant as the Soviet Union is now.

beatroot said...

I agree with most of what you say about the Quisling nature of the ‘Third Republic’. But you know what PiS mean when they go on about a Fourth Republic. They mean the job was not finished in 1989. And in many ways it wasn’t.

But other countries did have a de-communization period much earlier than Poland did – which is really a recent, politically motivated thing here. People, normal people in many professions, are going through ‘auto-lustracja’ now.

ignacy said...

So there was no US military adventurism after Vietnam?

Of course the Soviets were economically in big trouble. It was essentially just a matter of when and how communist rule would end. I remember reading in the 1970s Andrei Amalrik's Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984.

But the thing is... what assurances were there that the Soviet leadership would act rationally in the case of Poland? Or anywhere else for that matter.

Afghanistan was the Soviet's Vietnam? What about that Chechnyen schoolhouse?

Push more often than not comes to shove. Especially so vis-a-vis the USSR. And given the situation,with their backs up against the wall, I'm not so sure they would have acted rationally or reasonably and just thrown in the towel.

Yes, it can be said that more risks could have been taken. But they would still have been risks. Are you saying, BR, that you knew so much at the time that you would have risked your blood and/or the blood of the Polish people?

Self-restraint, indeed a self-limiting revolution, makes a lot of sense to me. You don't have to shoot your wad all at once.

beatroot said...

what assurances were there that the Soviet leadership would act rationally in the case of Poland? Or anywhere else for that matter.

I can’t answer that. There is more known about Solidarity in 1981 than in 1989. But I do not think that the Communists here would have given in so easy if they had had the support of Moscow for a hardline crackdown. In 1981 they agonized about sending in the tanks, but they did because they were still scared of Russia. In 1989 they were not scared. So that gives an indication of what the secret services were telling them: ‘Moscow is a bust flush’.

beatroot said...

And when I bring up Vietnam I am referring to the massive knock to the confidence (especially foreign policy) that kind of humiliation gives a nation’s governments. It’s the same with the British government with Suez in 1956. They suddenly realize there are limits to their power.

jannovak57 said...

The Polish government in 1989 threw in the towel only because all other options were exhausted. They were hoping for a non-violent transfer of power and no retribution for past actions as a best-case outcome. Instead they won the lottery, thanks to lack lustre performance of Lech and company. It could be they didn’t understand the position of strength their side was coming to the table with or magnitude of their victory.

The Polish government was no longer able to count on the army; its draftees were not usable directly against the people. The army had just been purged of some 11 senior officers all hardliners planning a change of management. The Soviets had already declared they would not send troops to prop up the regime or any other in the Warsaw Pact. With the army of no utility the regular Militia and Zomos were all that was left. The government had a collapsed economy on its hands and no public support.

Since the inception of the PRL it was house of cards with one pillar of support the treat of external military force to keep it in power. As soon it was clear this condition did not exist it was over.

So why now do we need this Lustration business?

Several million people were involved with PRL structures and today it’s reasonable to say that most pose no threat to Poland. However some do and some don’t even know the do. The entire file system or a copy of everything useful was sent to Moscow just before the hand over. A foreign intelligence service has resources to blackmail potentially hundreds of thousands of Polish citizens.

ignacy said...

Maybe they threw in the towel because they managed to save their asses through the negotiations -- which did not take place in the course of the blink of an eye (or payoffs using tax money). If they couldn't save their asses, they may well have chosen to rely upon an unreliable army. Who had all the guns? And it just amazes me how folks today are so sure the Russians would have sat idly by if things got out of hand.

And stealing this from Our Man in Gdansk, a quote from Leszek Kolakowski:

"Today the Polish Round Table and its participants are frequently slandered and reviled, often by people who didn't lift a finger if it meant bringing themselves to the attention of the Polish People's Republic authorities. They know that getting involved in talks with the communist government was a crime, that the affair should have been settled entirely differently. How? This they don't say. Should an uprising have been started, bringing the country to its feet? If so, why didn't they rise up? Who was stopping them? We don't know. But we do know the terrible conditions and the immense difficulties the first government, of Mazowiecki, Balcerowicz, Skubiszewski and KuroĊ„, worked in while putting the country on a new track. They succeeded in the end and for this TP (True Poles) cannot forgive them, claiming they would have done it differently and a hundred times better (we still don't know how though) and without sullying themselves with the negotiations with commies that cause TPs to react with such horror.

Ignacy said...

Also it seems to me that the biggest threat to Poland today is the present ruling party and the LPR. Lustrate them! What's good for the goose is good for the gander and other such ducky desserts.

Anonymous said...

It seems strange to me (a westerner, too young then to read the signs) but apparently Poles in the late 1980s knew/sensed that communism (in Poland anyway) was coming to an end. Of course I knew about glasnost then but that communism was winding down????

Has anybody else heard this kind of thing from Poles of a certain age?

Anonymous said...

"Of course I knew about glasnost then but that communism was winding down???? Has anybody else heard this kind of thing from Poles of a certain age?"

To answer this question. One public person in Poland once said "Russians are like beets, red on the outside and red on the inside; Poland is like a radish it's only red on the outside and it's white on the inside". I don't think that people knew exactly when communism would come to end, but they new it would. Communism penetrated some Poles, but not the majority of them.

This is true. Even in times where they couldn't speak their own language they were speaking it and learning it underground. Even in times when they could not practice Christianity, they were doing it underground. and Even in communism, under Soviets, they were devout Poles at heart, they were sharing humor, Polish culture, etc... underground.
----------
What's my opinion on what happens in Poland? I believe, former communists had their chance and they did not do much good. Whatever they did everyone else could do sooner.
Millions of people emigrated, many lost their jobs. Kwasniewski's constitution allows for discrimination of women, and older individuals in the workplace. Job Postings freely can say " I will hire a young woman with experience.." Even in order to work as a cashier, a person needs to be young and with higher education. The constitution and many laws that came to be under his reign disallow for small investors, small companies to function effectively due to many taxes etc.. whereas larger agglomerations paid low taxes and have numerous benefits.
SLD and PO and LiD are not very different; members of these parties where involved in corruptions; the relationships between them function based on who was involved in what.
For example, instead of spending money on building highways, etc., money were spent, but highways never built. Why didn't they pay attention to what happens. If the service was not provided why did they release the payments?

Corruption penetrated many levels of the society. State companies were sold, yet not everyone had the opportunity to buy them. Those who bought, paid off appropriate people (politicians) , yet the money they gave the government for the companies did not seem to appear in the state accounts in full amounts (if any).

Another issue with the former government is that politicians don't make that much money. Then how come the same people who were not very wealthy before, now after becoming politicians, own many companies and have multi-million revenues? The answer is corruption.

The Kaczynski brothers don't have a fortune from politics, that's why I believe them. I know that the prime minister and PiS are not without any faults and I know that I don't agree with them on all the issues. But I believe in the Fourtn Republic. I know that "The Ducks" want to distribute wealth more equally in the society, as they believe that all levels of the society need to be healthy in order to build a better country. PiS had only 2 years to make changes and we see some good ones. SLD and others on the left had 10 years, and they caused many millions of people to emigrate and many too loose jobs.

What happened during Third Republic, could have happened anyways. The borders were opened and free market economy flourished. ... however with a fault, because business was effortless for the rich, but more difficult for the average Jan or Maria.

PiS has a better program than PO. The only problem with creating a coalition is that PO doesn't want to be on the same side as PiS. Even if there's a good law to be passed PO doesn't allow it. They complicate things. They don't do what they do (opposing PiS) for the people of Poland, they do it only for their own advantage. Have you ever read Orwell's "Animal Farm? That's the reason why, because that's the way communists are; for the most part, they are the pigs.

So for me Kaczynski brothers may be the ducks, because it's better to be a duck than a pig!

Regards