[Marxism] Polish reactionaries oppose privatization--so what...

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 19 11:58:41 MDT 2006


(If any proof is needed that resistance to privatization does not exactly 
go hand in hand with progressive politics, here's proof.)

NY Times, July 19, 2006
Poles Fear Political Twins Will Double Drift to the Right
By CRAIG S. SMITH

GDANSK, Poland, July 14 — Lech Walesa, the hero of the Solidarity movement 
and former president now adrift in this political backwater, sat back in 
his office atop this city’s historic Green Gate to reminisce about another 
Lech who worked for him years ago.

“His approach is to first destroy and then think about what to build,” Mr. 
Walesa said of the country’s current president, Lech Kaczynski, who served 
as Mr. Walesa’s national security chief.

That sums up a growing consensus that has rippled across this still 
fledgling democracy in the days since Mr. Kaczynski appointed his twin 
brother, Jaroslaw, to the post of prime minister earlier this month. Many 
Poles see the twins’ leadership as consolidating a shift toward right-wing, 
nationalist politics that has polarized the country between older, less 
educated rural voters who elected Mr. Kaczynski and the younger, educated 
urban voters who largely oppose him.

Already, President Kaczynski had alienated Germany and strained relations 
with the European Union. He has nearly stopped the government’s 
privatization program and has concentrated on a parliamentary commission to 
reassess privatization and banking practices since the end of Communist 
rule here 17 years ago. His current focus is lustration, the process of 
exposing former Communist Party collaborators and rooting them from 
positions of power.

“They concentrate on the past,” said Marek Ostrowski, an editor at the 
Polish weekly magazine Polityka. “The future seems to be not so important 
for them.”

A poll this month by the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza found just 21 
percent of people questioned saw Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s appointment as a 
positive move.

The Kaczynski twins were born to a World War II resistance fighter and a 
philologist 57 years ago and got an early taste of celebrity as child film 
actors. They look so much alike that to tell them apart people look for a 
mole that Lech Kaczynski has on his left cheek.

They say their hero is Jozef Pilsudski, the Polish field marshal who 
resurrected the Polish state in 1918, but later, disillusioned with 
partisan quarrels, seized power in a 1926 coup and ruled as dictator until 
his death in 1935. The Polish press has made much of the inevitable 
comparisons.

Many people see the appointment of President Kaczynski’s brother as prime 
minister as a step toward the so-called Fourth Republic that the twin 
brothers have said they want to build. The Fourth Republic would purge 
former Communists from the corridors of power and concentrate power in the 
hands of the president.

They lack the two-thirds parliamentary majority required for the 
constitutional changes that would make that dream a reality, but securing 
the presidency and the prime minister’s job comes close to the same thing.

Since Lech Kaczynski became president in December 2005, he has spent much 
of his energy on consolidating control of Poland’s major state-owned 
enterprises. Early this year, he sparked a public outcry with the 
appointment of Jaromir Netzel, a Gdansk lawyer with no experience running a 
large company, to head the country’s biggest insurer, PZU.

The ambitious electoral program that helped bring Mr. Kaczynski to power, 
meanwhile, has been mostly forgotten. He promised to build three million 
apartments in the next eight years, for example, but now says that is up to 
private enterprise.

Foreign relations stand to suffer the most from Mr. Kaczynski’s tenure, 
observers say. The president canceled two major foreign visits earlier this 
month, one to Britain and the other a summit meeting with Chancellor Angela 
Merkel of Germany and President Jacques Chirac of France, citing 
unexplained health problems. Many Poles believe that the cancellations were 
more likely a case of diplomatic flu.

The cancellation of the three-way summit meeting came after a German 
newspaper lampooned the twins as the “new Polish potatoes” and said that 
the only thing Lech Kaczynski knew about Germany was “the spittoon in the 
men’s toilet at Frankfurt Airport.” He has demanded an apology from the 
government.

Relations with the European Union, meanwhile, have been strained over 
Poland’s resistance to cross-border takeovers of its big companies.

Many people are wondering if the twins had a hand in the sudden downfall of 
Zyta Gilowska, deputy prime minister and finance minister, who resigned 
last month after a new public prosecutor started an investigation into her 
possible links with the Communists’ secret police. The investigation was 
stopped as soon as Ms. Gilowska resigned. It is unclear on what evidence 
the investigation was started, but many Poles see the case as an example of 
how lustration can be abused.

“I didn’t like their constant conspiracy theories, always suspecting 
people, always involved in intrigues,” said Mr. Walesa, his signature 
mustache now snowy white. He fired both brothers — Jaroslaw Kaczynski was a 
senior adviser — in 1993.

Despite the concerns about their policies, Mr. Walesa said that the 
brothers would not have time to do much damage because a free press and 
nongovernmental organizations would keep them in check until new elections 
in less than four years.

“Democracy is working,” Mr. Walesa said. “If they threaten that, they will 
be taught a lesson.”

--

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