Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'It was unjust from the start'. On the fascist march in Warsaw on 11/11/11

Away from the accusations and falsifications of the media, we now have this very excellent interview that should be watched (if one understands Polish):

Now, Professor Andrzej Rychard is a Professor of Sociology and, to quote from this page:
"His main research interests are in the area of institutional sociology of the transition processes in Central and Eastern Europe with an emphasis on the relationship between political and economic institutions and their social implications. He is particularly interested in the social conflicts of interest resulting from the crisis and transformation of centralised political power and the economic system."

Being legal does not mean that it is good

Such a focus comes in useful.  In the interview he says makes some vital points:
  • The 'March of the patriots' was not 'right' (as in just, righteous) from the very start, i.e. from its organising.  Those who organised it were racist, anti-semitic and anti-democracy.  Therefore it is surprising that people were surprised when the violence happened.

It is most heartening to hear such views offered in the mainstream media.  Indeed, the 'March of the patriots' was not a good thing, and we who stood against them knew that.  We were alone in seeing the necessity of our actions to protest against them (in Wrocław) or block them (in Warsaw).  I would add that, as per my maxim that 'a legal thing is not always good; a good thing is not always legal' that it is for this reason (and for the foreseen consequences of a successful racist march) that leads some to try to block such marches.

Positive and negative messages
  • The 11th of November saw 'two symmetrical sides' opposing each other, those who are anti-democracy on the one side and those who are opposed to them on the other.  For the average Pole there was no place for them to march with.

The anti-fascists and fascists were symmetrical when one considers that they didn't like us and we don't like them; our presence was determined by theirs.  I have seen no evidence however that people on the anti-fascist side went there with the purpose of attacking them.  They certainly came to attack us, hence the attack on the Vegan restaurant, left-wing shop and individuals walking down a street.

Saying that, it was certainly the case that an alternative, positive view of Poland was shown in both Wrocław and Warsaw.

(Bruno Schulz was a Jewish writer, fine artist, literary critic and art teacher.  Roża Luksemburg was a Jewish philosopher, Marxist analyst, economist and activist.  Witold Gombrowicz was a novelist and dramatist.  Notice also that the banners are in different languages spoken within Poland.  One chant we chanted was 'Jedna Polska, różnoodność' (One Poland, diversity).

While in Warsaw we had colour and dancing:

The thing is, it is the socially active who were there; those who are politically motivated, those who are prepared to stand against fascism.  The average person is however not socially active, politically motivated or prepared to stand against fascism.  They wanted to celebrate the independence of Poland.  The counter-demos were seen as negative and reactionary.

Attempts were made to come across as being 'pro-Poland' (let's leave concerns about patriotism aside for the moment), but this didn't work, partly due to the usual media prejudice about the left-wing.  Perhaps next year a counter-demo could be more explicitly 'pro-Poland', with the use (nay, a take over) of Polish flags, music and poetry from popular (and more obviously 'Polish') culture (Miłosz, Chopin, Mickiewicz and Kult), the utilising of ethnic minorities (Romany, Kaszubian, Łemki, Silesian, Ukrainian, Russian and Jewish people), good food, beer, balloons, games for children...all in a festival of the cultures of Poland; all in one celebration of the start of democracy and the end of abusive foreign rule.

Despite reactionary and open-to-the-far-right-in-various-ways of the RC church, I daresay there are some RC people who would be open to taking part in a church initiative for the day.  In any case, we have to find a place for the average Pole to come to.

  • Those who opposed them the extreme-right were 'left alone' before during the march and also afterwards, where a 'falsification of the picture of what happened' took place.

This is very true and I have nothing to add.

Civic society and identity in Poland
  • People saw that this was to be a 'March of patriots' so they attended.  They didn't think to go deeper to see who was organising the march, as civic society and the culture of being critical is weak in Poland.  There lacks in Poland a sense of identity.

No, that cannot be.  Surely people would check out what they were actually attaching themselves to?  Well....the beginning of this article I wrote after the parade in Wrocław was in reaction to the seeing of quite young people on the other side.  I know that I often use the word 'fascist' in my writings about the 11/11/11 parades; I do so largely as shorthand for those who organised the parades and were dominant in their use of symbols, chants, fire and violence.  However, there were many in both places that were conservative or apolitical, and view themselves purely as 'patriots'.

In the report 'Transformation and Civil Society in Poland' by the CSU-affiliated Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation the writer Maria Jarosz describes civic society in Poland as "still limping, dominated by struggle instead of a search for shared traits and dialogue" (from here.)  The sociologue Piotr Gliński says that "the model practiced at the local level, in districts and voivodships, was one of ‘self-government without participation’. Ranging below 20 percent, Poland’s social capital was one of the lowest in Europe. Only a scant two percent of Poland’s non-governmental organisations were engaged in politics and civil rights." (ibid.)

Here Andrzej Waśkiewicz writes that "the appetites had been awakened, and they could soon be satisfied in mushrooming supermarkets. Even before Poland became a democratic state, it had turned into a would-be consumerist society [...] the new order promoted it only to a limited extent and, at the same time, created conditions that did not encourage civic initiatives."

In the communist statist era civil society was effectively forbidden.  Has the 'bottom-up' approach of democracy used by Solidarność been supplanted by the preoccupation of people for material satisfaction (I would add psychological trauma caused by Poland's past to this) as well as the (albeit declining) undemocratic power of the RC church?  Add to that an undealt with cognitive dissonance regarding Polish identity and we have an unhealthy mix, that means that the tips I gave above for making a more positively seen pro-democracy and pro-diversity celebration of Polish independence seem to be fighting against the wind.

Attack the root as well as the cause 

Hopefully a few pointers have been clear here for the fighting of fascism in Poland.  Just one more thing: The other day I was speaking with a member of the German Social-Democratic Party, who is involved in combating Neo-Nazis in Germany.  He spoke of his work as being more preventative than reactionary.  While he is involved in a broad coalition of organising counter-demo to fascist parades, he said that their work is more of promoting democracy and diversity.

It is here where you, my dear reader, can contribute.  In the workplace, in your social sphere, in your church are chances to live out or demand democratic accountability.  One can bother (or to use a better word, harangue) local politicians with ones wishes.  Perhaps you know better ways to strengthen democracy and could write below in the comments?

Regarding diversity there are (despite the common view) enough ethnic minorities (as well as national, also regarding sexuality and religion) in Poland for you to live out diversity with.  Hell, do you have friends from outside your education level?

At the very least, one could support places like Falanster (my offer of a free drink with me there still stands)!

It is therefore incumbent upon me (some posh English there, ay?) to say that in my commitment to democracy and diversity that I wish to hear from you, use the comments bit underneath.  Otherwise, keep in touch either via the RSS Feed at the top right or through this Facebook group.

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