Sunday, September 21, 2008

Poland’s ‘liberal’ government - part 365


Donald Tusk’s ‘liberals’ are conservatives in drag.

“Poland's liberal opposition Civic Platform party has won a massive poll victory…” (BBC); “Poland's main liberal opposition Civic Platform was leading elections for the European parliament early Monday with 25.21 percent…” (Eurobusiness); “’Liberal landslide ends Poland's era of the twins”…” (M&C); “Foreign leaders and Poland's business community on Monday welcomed the victory of the liberal Civic Platform party in Sunday's parliamentary elections…” (Financial Times).

So wrote the western press after the victory of Civic Platform in last autumn’s general election. With the defeat of the Kaczynski/Giertych/Lepper arch-conservative coalition, the future of Poland was Donald Tusk’s ‘liberalism’, right?

Wrong. As I have pointed out many times there is little ‘liberal’ about the current government, apart from a certain liberalising instinct when it comes to the economy. This past month we have seen how conservative the Civic Platform party really is. Donald Tusk is the equivalent, not of a Polish J.S. Mill, but a weird kind of Polish pro-European Margaret Thatcher - in drag.

Take his call for ‘chemical castration’ of paedophiles following the brutally strange case of the Polish Fritzl. When challenged that castration, be it of the chemical or knife variety, was against human rights - once a punishment is served and a debt paid to society the convict should be free to rehabilitate themselves back into society; or when doctors complain that they are there to treat people, not castrate them; or that this is against the Polish Constitution, the ‘liberal’ Donald Tusk said: “I don’t consider paedophiles truly human, so why should they have ’human rights’?”

Of course, castration would not have prevented the repeated rape of the Polish Fritzl’s daughter…nor would it have prevented the abuse of the majority of the victims of child molesters in general. Most have no previous convictions. But that’s not why Tusk is supporting chemical castration. His policy proposal is the typical knee-jerk reaction of a reactionary, conservative political jerk - the need to be seen to be doing something about a modern folk devil, whenever a media panic ensues.

The liberal Civic Platform government also has a problem with that bastion of liberalism throughout the ages - free speech and expression. Director Paweł Chochlew is looking for funding for his new fictional feature about the Nazi invasion of Westerplatte that effectively began WW II. A thousand national myths surround this event. But Chochlew decided that a fresh approach was needed and decided to look again at some of those myths. But when he sent the script in to the government’s film board to try and get some money to produce Tajemnica Westerplatte (The Secret of Westerplatte) the government promptly threw it in the bin. The script is “anti-Polish” and “demeaning”, apparently. Chochlew’s defence that his film was meant to be fictional and so has no responsibility to be ’historically and/or politically correct’ fell on deaf ears.

It seems that some of Poland’s myths are so fragile that they cannot be challenged.

Donald Tusk’s government is censorial and reactionary. And each time journalists - both at home and abroad - reach for the ‘liberal’ adjective to describe them, John Stuart Mill turns, uneasily, in his grave.

21 comments:

ge'ez said...

Let the film maker find private backers. I don't see why there should be state funding for fictional artworks of any kind that clearly distort history.

Should the Polish government fund David Irving to make a fictional film about the Holocaust?

jannowak57 said...

It’s a democracy Director Paweł Chochlew is free to urinate on Poland and it’s history, we the people (more specifically the taxpayers) are also free to decide whether or not to subsidize his efforts. Not too long ago he would have been in the basement of the local SB office explaining himself through his missing teeth and broken jaw.

This is not censorship, its common sense.

DocHunter said...

Unfortunately, that's Polish liberalism for today.

Well, that or crazy crackpots like Korwin-Mikke.

YouNotSneaky! said...

"But when he sent the script in to the government’s film board to try and get some money to produce Tajemnica Westerplatte"

Agree with the commentators above. This is what happens once government gets in the business of "promoting" the arts. Anyway, what was it that made the film controversial? It wasn't the Major Sucharski loosing his shit thing was it?

beatroot said...

Would it not be a supreme demonstration of self confidence to have national myths that one examined a little, in fact or fiction? That is what sponsoring he arts is about. If the government wants to encourage artistic production then it has to deal with uncomfortable subjects.

Poland is still too touchy about historical events.

Damien Moran said...

Good to have you back BR. I was in mourning for a while and just noticed that your up to your usual shenanigans.

I'm delighted that you have taken issue with the Western media's misuse of political categorising when it comes to Tusk et al. I presume there is no more info. as to what the Tajemnica Westerplatte (The Secret of Westerplatte) film script actually contained for it to be accused of being 'anti-Polish'.

Have artists requested sponsorship for creative pieces on homosexuality and long hair amongst Polish males also just to be knocked back for the subject matter as 'anti-Polish'.

They are rather touchy, aren't they. But what can one really expect when it's still so fresh for many. My girlfriend's grandparent's recently recounted for her their memories of the Warsaw Uprising and it's aftermath, one of whom ended being sent to Matthausen as a result despite having no involvement.

It would be fodder for PiS to allocate taxpayer's money for such a project (whatever it is, hopefully we will find out from a private TV station) and when the Polish public would storm TVP headquarters with the inevitable complaints of 'anti-Polishness' the Twins would be laughing in their cots.

If they only treated Polish citizens like adults and explained why it was 'anti-Polish' that would be helpful.

beatroot said...

Hi man, nice to have you around again. In what country are you now?

As to government money for uncomfortable truths or otherwise. I don;t know any more than the above...don't know what 'anti-polish' elements are. But the logical conclusion to all this is that TVP will refuse to make documentaries that uncover uncomfortable facts etc about Poland's past or present. Is that really the duty of public media? To not upset anyone?

varus said...

Hi Br, it is always good to read you.

"But the logical conclusion to all this is that TVP will refuse to make documentaries that uncover uncomfortable facts etc about Poland's past or present. Is that really the duty of public media? To not upset anyone?"

I am now a little confused as to whether it is fact or fiction. You described it as a fictional account. And yet you talk of a documentary uncovering facts. - Is it (was it/will it be) a Allo Allo or The World at War? May be that was the problem, the government weren't to sure either.

As far as the medicine issue goes, I understood it to be non-permanent, a pacifier to be taken while the person in question is in counseling etc.. is this correct? If so, I am not condoning it, but it is a far cry from the knife variety.

beatroot said...

Hi varus. Hope you had a nice summer.

The film is fiction although it wants to present a new look at historical facts.

what I was musing was: what if TVP, for instance, wanted to make a documentary about the Nazi invasion and challenge some of the heroic myths associated with that? Would the government make a fuss about that?

Probably! Though it is not censorship it does show a little insecurity, does it not?

ge'ez said...

What if TVP wanted to make a documentary about the Holocaust and challenge some of the "myths" about it based on the critique offered by David Irving?

Would the BR say he's in with his tax dollars?

ge'ez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

me no understand, Geez.

ge'ez said...

Would you say it's an infringement on the right of free speech for the Polish gubmint to say no to providing public funding to such a project involving David Irving, a Holocaust denier, as I've outlined above?

Some kind of lines have to be drawn about what to fund given that there is a limited amount of zloty allocated for such purposes. And then there is a debate about how much of the budget pie should be served up to the Arts.

beatroot said...

Firstly, dragging Irving into this is a red herring. But, interestingly, Irving had, at one time a reputation for being both a right wing nutcase AND a good archivalist of German 1930s/40s documents. It was only under the full glare of open debate in a court of law that it became apparent that the man was not a good archivalist at all - in fact he made much of it up.

So, if there is a case to be made that some of these myths about the Nazi invasion are dubious then, yes, I think funding a film or documentary or whatever to get at the truth is the job of a public arts body.

Secondly, notice I say "public arts' body. The government is not one of these but controls funding. Tusk or any of the other political jerks should not be involved in artistic decisions at all. That should left to artists themselves.

but that is not how it works in Poland. Politicians make artistic decisions. Ridiculous!

ge'ez said...

A *red* herring?

In the US, the gubmint controls funding and appoints the artists or whatever on the National Endowment boards.

So which artists decide?

And again, the amount of money is limited.

So how is it decided which projects are worthy? And by whom, really?

ge'ez said...

And what's the best way to get at "the truth"? By funding whackos?

beatroot said...

Why label anyone who questions the orthodox a whacko? Only the very insecure.

Most of these bodies are a result of little political deals between whichever political parties are in power. I do not know why the tax payer puts up with this politicisation of public arts and media...but they seem to think it is normal here. For them I suppose it is. But all tax funded projects should be representative of a wide range of views and interests. So if this guy has a new take on WW II then let's hear it!

ge'ez said...

There's a difference between intelligently questioning and challenging "orthodox" opinion and making an idiotic mockery of all that's reasonable.

Free competition of ideas? Where?

And how wide of a range of views and interests can be funded when there's only so much money to go around?

YouNotSneaky! said...

"So, if there is a case to be made that some of these myths about the Nazi invasion are dubious then, yes, I think funding a film or documentary or whatever to get at the truth is the job of a public arts body."

Isn't that the job of the IPN, which HAS produced some "uncomfortable truths"?
If the government is going to be funding the arts then it's pretty much inescapable that politics will creep in. I don't think Poland's peculiar in that respect.

Damien Moran said...

I'm in Dublin for another few weeks BR. Helping launch book about our Ploughshares acquittal in 2006 (see homepage of http://counterpunch.org/ for details).

Moving the debate away from the Arts and back to chemically chopping willies off.

Not that technicalities matter much to the poor abused daughter of the Polish Fritzl, but technically speaking the father did not perpetrate an act of pedophilia as has been put across.

Due to the fact that the victim was 15 when the abuse started, the actual sexual relationship, removing the non-consensual/familial aspect from the equation, is technically called ephebophilia/Lolita syndrome/phebophilia/hebephilia, which is clinically not a paraphilia due to the fact that it involves post-pubescent attraction/preference/timing, as distinct from an adult choosing a pre-pubescent to abuse, which is technically paedophilia (usually abusers target 5-7 year olds in this case. Infantophilia is the technical term used to describe the much rarer adult paraphilia of attraction/abuse of those under 24 months).

I know, that was an awfully long sentence.

However, the distinctions are important, because given that the age of consent is 15 in Poland, and the fact that the daughter/mother may not be in a mental or willing state to give testimony against her father/husband, the perpetrator may not get such a colossal sentence as one would imagine. He committed incest, statutory rape and he should be brought to justice. But he is not a paedophile, and clarification around this should be asserted by the media.

If the government is to consider introducing chemical castration for ephebophiles then there will be a lot of people quaking in their boots. Will they employ the same or different criteria to an 18 year old going out and sexually with a 14 year old? He is technically an ephebophile, but to use the terminology employed in Poland regarding the Polish Fritzl case, he falls into paedophile category - the perception being that the 14 year old could not have given 'informed consent' and the 18 year old exploited the relationship.

The ages of consent throughout the world can be viewed here:
http://www.avert.org/aofconsent.htm

We now have case of the western media misdiagnosing the political ideology of Tusk and co., while Tusk and the Polish media misdiagnose those who abuse or have a sexual preference for post-pubescent teens.

ge'ez said...

The new movie Towelhead deals with this issue:

http://wip.warnerbros.com/towelhead/