Thursday, November 08, 2007

The new ‘liberal’ Polish government?


Now Poles have thrown the conservative Law and Justice government out onto the streets, we can expect an end to the homophobia and other backward social policies that characterized Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s two years in power, right?

Well, most probably, wrong!

According to one member of the ruling ‘liberal’ - oh, how the Polish media loves to call them ‘liberal’ - Civic Platform party, prime minister-to-be-Donald Tusk has better things to do with his time than getting down with the sexually oppressed – and anyway, there is no discrimination against gays in Poland.

Thenews.pl reported today that:

"Tusk has no time for such tripe as meeting feminists, gays and lesbians", says Stefan Niesiołowski, Civic Platform’s newly elected deputy to Parliament.

Niesiołowski said that the lies about discrimination against homosexuals in Poland are the usual tactic used by certain organisations to achieve more privileges for gays and lesbians, such as same sex marriages or child adoption.

“It is also a way of advertising their lifestyle, which is frowned upon by the majority of society. (...) For me, marriage is a bond between a man and woman and no one will convince me to otherwise”, he told Rzeczpospolita.

“I have never seen them wave their tax self-assessment forms at the so-called equality parades”, he commented on the subject of unequal tax treatment of homosexual couples, and has added: “Instead, I’ve seen obscene mimicking of the Holy Father or a gay dressed up as a nun”.

PO deputy speaker complained that homosexuals “provoke society” by manifesting their contempt towards the Catholic Church and moral standards in general, and has pointed out that the circles demanding more tolerance display arrogant and intolerant behaviour themselves.

So if you think that the new Tusk government is going to be ‘liberal’ in anything but economic policy, then you should think (and vote) again.

35 comments:

jannowak57 said...

This would be completely consistent with what was know about PO, socially conservative but fiscally liberal. No surprise or for that matter promises to the contrary.

The economy has to come first and only after measurable gains in the material condition of the average Pole are seen to take place will you also see a change in social attitudes. Look at Ireland, Portugal and Spain; these countries like Poland had started out with deeply rooted conservative values and a highly influential Catholic church. But look at them now.

There is a relationship between the growth of material affluence and the transformation of conservative societies to more moderate social attitudes and a simultaneous decline in the authority of the church.

geez said...

The economy has to come first and only after measurable gains in the material condition of the average Pole are seen to take place will you also see a change in social attitudes.

Where'd I come across that kind of thinking before? Karl? Is that you channeling through jannowak 57? Or maybe it's just one of those socio-political hangovers from the days of ONI.

In any event, I'd venture to say that there's a relationship between the growth of materialistic attitudes and the number of souls that find their way into heaven.

If there ain't such a relationship, then fuck it, everything and everybody as long as I got mine.

BTW, the Church was and is very influential in Latin America with base communities and liberation theology becoming popular again. Conservative? I think not.

And I don't think that now or in the future or in the past have liberal capitalist economic guaranteed "more moderate" social attitudes. Look at the U.S. today.

Hugo said...

I would not be so sure about that, look at the USA

beatroot said...

I totally agree with Jan - it is no shock that Platform are basically 1980s Thatcherites - something this blog has been banging on about for as long as the blog has been.

I also agree with the sociological argument about rising material living standards and social attitides. There is only one country (as a whole) where it does not work - and that is the US. Although, the liberal wings of America are the east and west. The 'liberal' Republicans - Arnie, even Ronnie - were both from Calafornia - and the ex-NY mayor is maybe a bit too liberal for many social conservative Republicans.

But the 'liberal' tag does confuse many in the west, so I want to emphasise that things are a little more complicated.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, did PO campaign on a platform extolling homosexual/transsexual rights? Feigning surprise that PO has no interest in this promoting the gay agenda as it exists in Amsterdam or San Francisco betrays a bit of a personal agenda, rather than any real news.

I agree with Niesiolowski that there are probably 100 issues more important for the next Polish government to work on than gay issues.

jannowak57 said...

Third world Latin America and the US are all societies that are sufficiently different that I would not use their patterns of development as a basis for predicting the ways thing are likely to progress in Poland. However Ireland, Portugal and Spain have enough similarities to be reasonable indicators of how things are likely to play out.

If economic progress stalls or fails to produce visible improvement for the majority of Poles you can count on the return of populist/authoritarian types government to return. And rest assured they would be extremely intolerant.

As much as I don’t like to use the US as an example! Look at the period of the 1960’s perhaps the greatest change in social attitudes to ever occur during that century. It was done in the midst of a society that was at its height in terms of the material affluence of the average person. In those days a single wage earner could support a wife who stayed home with the children, purchase a home and car. The US is still a very wealthy country today but most families require both husband and wife to work in order to maintain an acceptable life style. The distribution of wealth is very uneven and the middle class is under constant pressure.

beatroot said...

Anon - I think you have come to this blog late. The western media calls PO liberal; the english media in Poland calls PO liberal, giving the impression to the western world - and particularly the US - that PO are 'liberal' in the American and western European meanings.

They are nieiher. It's a point I try and make as often as I can to counter balance the misinformation people are being given outside the country about Civic Platform.

They are not 'liberals' in the sense we understand it. They are free market conservatives. And PiS are conservative socialists.

Polish politics is crazy, man.

opamp said...

PO has always had a very strong (socially) conservative wing (Rokita), so this shouldn't come as a surprise.

The mere fact that Stefan Niesiołowski is in PO is very telling. Back in 1990 or so he and Marek Jurek formed a party called ZChN. They were campaigning for a complete abortion ban, pornography ban and putting a cross on the coutry's coat of arms. I believe that they were waaay over the top (and note that I pass for a resident devout Catholic here). Although I must admin that since Niesiołowski joined PO he talks in a way that actually makes sense to me.

homosexual/transsexual rights?

Hm, we have transsexual discrimation in Poland? Last time I checked the treatment was state financed and the courts weren't making problems either.

beatroot said...

The homophobia thing is a way some parties (last government) use to make a ‘constituency’). These parties don’t have real, deep rooted voting bases and they have to make and remake the vote.

Generally, I think most Poles couldn’t care less and are generally quite tolerant in an indifferent kind of way.

But the sexual orientation thing is a good peg to hang some kind of principle. I don’t think gays need special right, they just need to have the same rights. Something both sides forget.

sonia said...

Compared to Giertych's Ligue and to PiS, PO is quite liberal. The fact that Tusk refuses to meet with feminist and gay groups is sad, but predictable. I would be very happy if he did, but I am not exactly devastated that he doesn't.

Poland is where the West was in the late 70's. It will get better.

geez said...

Look at the period of the 1960’s perhaps the greatest change in social attitudes to ever occur during that century.

I'm not so sure the changes were all that big or widespread or encompassed wide ranging "social attitudes."

There are still a heckuva lot of right wing Christians who were never touched by and hate the mere thought of the sixties. Same with lots of other stripes of conservatives, too.

Funny thing is that quite of few of the evangelist types may wind up voting for very pro-gay, pro-abortion Rudy Ghoulie, who's gone through quite a few wives in his day. TV evangelist Pat Robertson just endorsed him.

Seems like it ain't only Polish politics that are crazy.

Anonymous said...

Aren't there restrictions concerning homosexual blood donations in many Western European countries?

Renegade Eye said...

What is the situation with prostitution and pornography in PO.

michael farris said...

I don't think most of the more progressive souls in Poland expected much in positive terms from PO (they'd have to be deluded to do that). But as long as PO doesn't actively use gay-bashing as campaign rhetoric, that alone would represent a distinct improvement over the Kaczynski regime.

I'd look for LiD to be able to make _big_ inroads among the youth vote in the next few years if they can forego the use of old fossils as their 'face' and connect with the concerns of the young, especially those born after 1989 who on the whole really don't give a rat's ass about grudges between ex-solidarity types.

opamp said...

I'd look for LiD to be able to make _big_ inroads among the youth vote

Nah, impossible. The young people here are so right-wing economically that they want to abolish social security -- something that no left-wing party would accept.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the PO mayor of Warsaw re-instated Gay Pride parades after PiS were voted out of office? PO aren't pro-gay rights, but I really don't think the majority of them are anti-gay rights either. Indifference

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Poland was devastated in WW2 and was taken over by Russia for a period of time. People were forced to learn Russian, the country was forced to become Communist and that really screwed up people mentally. Poland fought its way out of Communism in the 80's but there are still many people out there who were raised in a primitive communist society that are corrupt and don’t care about anything else except themselves. Most of the political people in Poland were raised in a communist society and Poland probably won’t change until the new generation takes over. *I hate communism and I hope it disappears completely off the face off the world!*

opamp said...

People were forced to learn Russian, [...] and that really screwed up people mentally.

Yup, because learning Russian is really going to screw you up mentally. Remember, only languages with heaps of irregularities and weird spelling are good for you.

michael farris said...

FWIW I'll mention that I work in an institution that teaches foreign languages and Russian is one of the most popular languages at present.

AFAICT the Russian language (and much Russian literature) has always been aesthetically pleasing to many Polish people but politics have often gotten in the way.

Anonymous said...

Yep, that little historical business about wanting to make Poland the 16th province of the Russian Empire, or creating the Polish region of the ZSRR, or threatening to cut off natural gas if the country joins NATO, or a million other things, that'll turn people off of the Russian language.

Anonymous said...

Or deporting three million Poles to Siberia to kill them.....

opamp said...

Yep, that little historical business [...] that'll turn people off of the Russian language.

This kind of thinking is exactly why Poland looks the way it looks. It doesn't matter that Poland (or EU for that matter) cannot do without Russian gas and oil, so we are forced to do business with them; it doesn't also matter that there is also good business to be done in Russia anyway; heck it doesn't even matter that you should know your enemy's language -- all that matters is that Russians have killed three million Poles and so you will not learn the language, as a political demonstration. Of course, Russians don't care and you end up only hurting yourself.

This is a part of a more general trend; namely that people are so mentally stuck in the past that they are unable to move forward.

If I ever was in charge of education in this coutry, nobody would graduate from grammar school without being fluent in both English and Russian.

beatroot said...

people are so mentally stuck in the past that they are unable to move forward.

That’s very true of much of Polish society – it’s prohibitive of moving on, but hardly
surprising – Poland’s history is of having its history denied. So Poland’s identity is still trying to be found and formed from the dusty past.

In UK, on the other hand, they are embarrassed by their past – Colonialism and all that, even the monarchy – but they can’t seem to find a better alternative identity better suited to the 21st century. So as the monarchy declines there is no great enthusiasm for a republic.

So Poles are trying to find an identity in the past (which never existed) and Brits are left without a past or future – just a petrified present.

Anonymous said...

If Britain got rid of the monarchy, it would become just another mid-level parliamentary democracy. Kind of like Canada without the moose.

Anonymous said...

There is a balance to be struck in Poland with the views of the church and a liberal but law abiding society in Poland.

Most Poles are more interested in providing for their families and I am afraid for now Gay rights have to come second to putting bread on the table and changing the Polish economy into a modern and efficent which will allow(in time)positive advances in all areas of civil society.

John,Poznan

beatroot said...

Canada without the moose.

The Queen is head of state in Canada, too. Absurd? Oh, yeah!

michael farris said...

"In UK, on the other hand, they are embarrassed by their past – Colonialism and all that, even the monarchy – but they can’t seem to find a better alternative identity better suited to the 21st century."

That's it. There's very little that's distinctive enough (that doesn't cause regret and/or discomfort) in modern day Britain to build an identity around.

Language? No. The downside of having your language become a de facto lingua franca is you can't shut anybody out (and lose control of the language yourself). That is it stops functioning as an emblem of group membership.

Lifestyle? Like colonialism, most modern British people seem vaguely embarrassed by anything that might be regarded as a uniquely British lifestyle.

Food? The local traditions are so dreadful (canned beans on squishy white bread? fried .... tomatoes?) that it's no wonder that few want to own up to them. but depending on former colonies for all your edible food is not necessarily culturally healthy either.

Popular culture: Some potential here, but it's too easy for British and NAmerican popular culture to squish into each other (and too financially rewarding for the British side to resist the temptation) and it's too easy for multiplying tv channels to fill up the hours with any old crap from America they can find.

The final result of all of this is that they're nothing to latch onto. Even if immigrants wanted to assimilate there's nothing for them to assimilate to. No wonder that SAsian immigrants identify by religion and separatism in such a featureless landscape, I'd do the same.

America has some of the same problems but escapes the worst consequence by sheer scale (almost all popular culture is locally produced for example) and lingering pride in traditional lifestyles.

A said...

Most Poles are more interested in providing for their families and I am afraid for now Gay rights have to come second to putting bread on the table and changing the Polish economy into a modern and efficent which will allow(in time)positive advances in all areas of civil society.

It is these exact same arguments that the male leadership of Solidarity used to make when women participants in the movement would raise issues of gender equality. Apparently it's never the right time to work towards equal rights and protection, to enforce the human rights agenda, and to foster tolerance and open-mindedness in society.

When will Poland (and the US, and many other places) see that a tolerant culture IS, in fact, a bread and butter issue? If you make talented, educated, enterprising young people feel as if they will never have opportunity, never be able to express themselves openly, and cannot have a comfortable life, then they will leave. And they'll take those 17 years of state-funded education with them.

geez said...

Can't Poles multi-task?

Why does one agenda item have to delay another?

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

And 'a' is correct about basic rights being a 'bread and butter' issue - POland has to appear a modern place before the new cosmopolitan Poles abroad come back.

beatroot said...

Food? The local traditions are so dreadful

Baked beans on sunblest white sliced bread? LOVE IT! It was what I was brought up on.

The French stopped trying to invade the UK over 100 years ago because they were so disgusted by what people ate. A country which was eating baked beans on toast wasn't worth invading.

And the British national dishes have always been stolen from someone else.

Roast beef? France

Fish and chips? Portugal

Chicken tikka musala? An invention Bengalis thought up to satisfy British piss artists after they roll out of the pub.

Oliver McCarthy said...

This sounds as if it's meant to be good news, but of course it isn't. Fundamentally the new Polish government is Europhile, which means that it will do whatever the country's new masters in Brussels and Strasbourg want -- including, most probably, about buggery and baby-killing. Economically my impression is that they will actually be comparatively rightwing, but on everything else they will almost certainly dress to the left, and so the onward march of "progress" will be allowed to continue.

michael farris said...

"(new Polish government) will do whatever the country's new masters in Brussels and Strasbourg want -- including, most probably, about buggery and baby-killing"

you know, if I didn't know better, I'd think you're trying to say those are bad things...

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