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Global issues March 2010 World

LECH KACZYNSKI: A POLITICAL POST MORTEM

Why is a man respected when he’s dead?

Shouldn’t that respect be given to the living instead?

-Mystic Revelation of Rastafari

The hypocrisy of the media and world leaders is seldom more venal than when a head of state or prime minister deceases. This was most recently on display after the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski along with nearly the entire Polish political leadership died in a plane crash in Russia last month. Tributes of praise came from the Presidents of the United States and France as well as the German Chancellor. Typically, the media echoed the chorus of praise without analyzing the life and politics of Kaczynski. This follows the same modus operandi followed when other leading politicians have died. In 2008, following the death of Austrian fascist politician Joerg Haider, the entire Austrian political establishment gushed over Haider. The western media glossed over Haider’s fascist politics, his racism and xenophobia, as well as his open admiration for Adolph Hitler. Of course, when former American President Ronald Reagan died during the past decade, the American media not only praised Reagan as the greatest President ever but by doing so intimidated any voices of dissent from openly dissecting his wretched legacy.

 

Kaczynski and Reagan are particularly illustrative since the former was a disciple of and largely created by the latter. As the second part of my series revealed, “What is wrong with Poland”, the Solidarity movement against the communist regime during the 1980s was orchestrated and financed through an alliance between Reagan and Pope John Paul IV. Indeed, it was Kaczynski who was the liaison between the Pope and Solidarity. Kaczynski transformed a secular labor movement into a Catholic Church crusade. Kaczynski was for the most part responsible for the restoration of the Catholic Church as the leading political and social force of Poland.

Kaczynski was a member of the Polish Communist party as was Lech Walesa . Both men were, in fact, labour bureaucrats within the communist state apparatus. This enabled them to take the leadership of the Solidarity trade union. One should call into question whether their anti-communism was one of principle. Were Kaczynski and Walesa clever subversives who became members of the Communist Party in order to topple the state from within or rather were they simply opportunists who were lusting after power for their own?

An examination of Kaczynski’s political life reveals many sources of contemporary Poland’s social and political climate. Kaczynski was an arch-reactionary. Despite his rhetoric for “freedom” against “communism”, Kaczynski spent nearly 30 years attempting to establish a Catholic theocracy in Poland. His subordination of Solidarity to the Vatican prevented a truly libertarian and secular Poland to emerge from dictatorship. His split with Walesa had more to do with ego clashes and power struggle than anything else. Kaczynski went on to form the Law and Justice Party, a far right wing and nationalist party. For all intent and purposes Law and Justice was the unofficial party of the Catholic Church and represented all the backwards teachings of the church as reflected by Pope John Paul IV and his successor, the German Nazi Raztinger now known as Pope Benedict XVI.

Apart from helping to establish a democracy after dictatorship, there was nothing in Kaczynski’s politics which remotely hinted the slightest interest in the attendant features of democracy: freedom of religion, gender equality, and protection of minorities, tolerance, and the right of due process in justice. Kaczynski was a foe of abortion and typical of the majority of anti-abortionists, he supported Capital Punishment. (The hypocrisy of this contradiction boggles the mind. How is it possible to on one hand talk about the sanctity of life and the moral wrongs of abortion and on the other hand to ruthlessly advocate the death penalty?) The only reason Capital Punishment wasn’t restored in Poland was thanks to the European Union which explicitly prohibits the death penalty in any of its member states. It was Kaczynski which signed into law the procedure for the chemical castration of men convicted for pedophilia.

His foreign policy submitted Poland to the dictates of the Bush White House. He let himself be used as a pawn by former American Defense Secretary and war criminal Donald Rumsfeld to be played against France and Germany in their opposition to the illegal Iraq War. It was Poland Rumsfeld was referring to when he spoke of “New Europe” against “Old Europe.” Kaczynski put his foot in the mouth on numerous occasions making undiplomatic outbursts not only against Russia but also Germany.

Kaczynski’s political career began to decline precipitously in 2007, when his twin brother he appointed as Prime Minister was soundly routed in parliamentary elections. Law and Justice was relegated to an embarrassing 3rd place finish and the party was a living corpse politically. Kaczynski became a national embarrassment. He initiated two public witch hunts. He formulated regulations to hunt and weed out homosexual teachers in the school system. On the most baseless accusations, hundreds of teachers were hounded out of their posts with careers ruined. The second witch hunt was against former communists. Under communism, people were encouraged to denounce others suspected of being anti-communist. Under Kaczynski, people were now encouraged to denounce those who had been members of the communist party in the past. This failed for obvious reasons. The Kaczynski twins themselves along with Lech Walesaa and nearly every politician over the age of 50 had been members of the Communist Party.

Poland under Kaczynski became a country of suspicions and fear. People were afraid to be labeled homosexual and those who were actually homosexual lived in a state of terror. The old totalitarian suspiciousness returned as to whether neighbours, friends, colleagues were communists or not. It was not surprisingly that by the time of his death, his popularity hovered around 20% and was widely expected to lose his bid for re-election scheduled for later this year.

From the preliminary investigative reports to the media, Kaczynski’s plane crashed in heavy fog over Russia. Kaczynski and all the leading political and military officials were on their way to attend the massacre of Polish officers at the hands of the Soviet Red Army during the Second World War. The massacre has been used by Kaczynski and other Polish reactionaries, nationalists and fascists to whip up anti-Russian chauvinism. Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin had in recent years acknowledged that war crime and to officially apologise. Of course, Russian repentance was not enough for the reactionary nationalist Kaczynski. Kaczynski was on his way to fly at a separate memorial organized by Poland. He snubbed the official Russian invitation to have a bi-lateral ceremony and insisted that Poland have its own.

Kaczynski was a reckless flier. On a few occasions he ordered the pilots of his presidential aircraft to fly and land in less than optimal conditions. During the 5 day war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Kaczynski ordered his pilot to land in the Georgian capital Tbilisi in the middle of Russian shelling of that city. His role was to advise the beleaguered Georgian President and to try to drag NATO into the conflict. In other words, Kaczynski attempted to start World War Three in 2008.

Russian air traffic control told Kaczynski’s pilot to land in Minsk as the weather made thick fog. The Soviet built aircraft was ill-equipped to fly under those conditions. When the pilot informed the Polish President, the President and his senior Military Generals told the pilot to land despite Russian air traffic control advice. Like Joerg Haider who was drunk the night his Mercedes Benz crashed into a wall in southern Austria, Kaczynski perished from his own recklessness combined with hubris.

Alive during his political career there was little to respect about Kaczynski. As much as the media tried to portray a shocked nation grieving for its beloved President, the truth is that nearly 3,000 protested Kaczynski outside his funeral. Kaczynski was not a world leader. He certainly wasn’t a great leader by any stretch. He was nothing other than a narrow minded, provincial and reactionary politician who let him self be led by the hand in the service of American imperialism and Catholic ideological hegemony. The only respect he deserves is that of a human being who died before his time. May he rest in peace.

Categories
Iran March 2010 USA Video World

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S NOWRUZ MESSAGE

In this video, President Obama sends an important message to those celebrating the Persian holiday of Nowruz, and in particular to the people and government of Iran. While recognizing our continuing differences with the Iranian government, the President outlines his commitment to a more just and hopeful future for all Iranians. To everyone celebrating Nowruz around the world, may you have a peaceful and prosperous new year.

Categories
Global issues March 2010 News Racism Religion USA World

THE AGE OF INFANTILE REGRESSION

When I was a high school student in New York during the 1980s we used to say the following to others who behaved foolishly: Hey! Act your age, not your IQ! In other words, behave like a mature adult rather than an infant. Nearly 25 years later on I find myself wanting to say that to more and more people. Europe is suffering from a debilitating identity crisis. It doesn’t confront its issues rationally as mature and responsible adults. While North America doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis (apart from Canada’s permanent questioning of itself ), Western civilisation is in the process of  de-evolution to infantile regression .

In 1996, the American poet Robert Bly wrote a book entitled “The Sibling Society “. In that book, he wrote that the United States and Americans were no longer adults. Rather, the society had regressed back to adolescence. He cited the partisan battles between then President Bill Clinton and the Republican leadership of Congress as case examples of an adolescent society. He said that American society had become conformist adolescence competitors and warned of the danger of fascism. Four years later, another middle aged adolescent by the name of George W. Bush was seated in the White House.

How quickly things degenerated over the past decade! The terror attacks on 9/11 caused further regression. The President and media reacted with infantile claims about terrorist hating our freedoms. The contagion spread across the ocean to the UK. Rather than acting like responsible adults, politicians acted like infants and expected the people to do the same.The movement of infantile regression crossed the English channel and infected continental Europe. From the Alps to Scandinavia, xenophobia, islamophobia and right wing violence is on the rise. Within the past decade, European countries have found themselves embroiled in hysteria and controversy regarding the role and place of immigrants, in particular Muslim immigrants within society. From the murder of Dutch filmmaker Van Gough on the streets of Amsterdam

by a Muslim angered by his films perceived to be anti-Muslim, to the debate about the hijab and burka in France , an atmosphere of fear and loathing permeates Europe.

Why this identity crisis now? Europe has not been the centre of the global system since the end of the Second World War. The United States has long eclipsed Europe as the leading economic and military global power. Europe lost most of its colonies during the 1960s. Yet, Europeans never felt an inferiority complex during the real decline of their power for 40 years after the war. Why now the sudden identity crisis about what makes a person French, German, Swiss and British? Why now the sudden nostalgia for a past which disappeared in the previous century? What happened to European rationality and soberness? Bly compared Europeans to Americans stating the former were by and large mature adults compared to the latter. That might have been so 15 years ago, but sadly Bly has been proven wrong.

In France , President Sarkozy owes his election by playing the race card and whipping up anti-Muslim fear. The Swiss Peoples Party won the largest number of seats in the last election with a campaign poster of white sheep kicking out black sheep. (See title image above) In Italy , Silvio Berlusconni swept to power promising to clear the streets ofGypsy people . The story repeats itself more or less the same in every country in the EU.

Opportunistic politicians are encouraged by tabloid newspapers out to sell copies. From Austria to the UK, the daily tabloids scream about the flood of asylum seekers swamping their countries. There are lurid reports how asylum seekers are simply economic migrants who simply make up stories about repression just in order to get a free flat and money from the state. Hardly a week passes without an columnist or editorial calling for more border controls or cracking down on the “high” number of illegal immigrants. There are calls for debates on national identity coupled with demands that immigrants integrate themselves better into the society. There are concerns that national cultures and languages are endangered of being extinct. The atmosphere is that of impending doom and the end of the world.  I think someone needs to have their diapers changed.

On the other hand, religious fundamentalists fare no better. The death threats against artists who defame the Koran or Mohammad are also examples of infantile regression. Why not organise campaigns to boycott offensive works of art? Instead of making angry denunciations, why not educate the public about Islamic culture? Instead of holy wars and calls to arms, why not initiate sober and serious public discussions and forums. Are there any adults left? If so, please rise up!

The most pertinent question is why there aren’t any politicians or intellectuals making mature and rational debates or at least demanding a more sober debate? Why do election campaigns resemble more like adolescent popularity contests rather than serious and dignified debates advancing policies to the advantage of all. Why are so many middle aged media and political figures having temper tantrums in public? Why do people vote for political parties and politicians who treat them like little children offering them nothing substantial other than candy and sugar?

Europe has no reason for an identity crisis. The only region in Europe to have an excuse to have an identity crisis in the former Yugoslavia . Yet, despite the traumatic shock of civil war and a violent break up, most people living in the former Yugoslavia do not suffer from the same identity crisis as their better off neighbours. When Serbs endured 78 days of NATO bombing , they dusted themselves off and carried on with life. They didn’t react hysterically or degenerate into adolescents or infants. The NATO campaign was an attack much worse than what the U.S. endured for a few hours during one day. Neither immigrants nor the Americans are to blame for the woes of Europe. Europeans need to grow up. Americans must stop blaming “socialism” for their problems.  If they are not satisfied with the political order, then they should agitate to create an alternative. If they are no happy with the European Union, then they should organise a movement to withdraw. On the other hand, they must accept the reality. Now only must they act like adults but they should demand to be treated as adults rather than fall for cheap gimmicks proffered by insincere politicians who scapegoat members of the community. There is no doubt that the West is in crisis. The crisis is internal rather than external. The crisis will only be solved by responsible adults. Otherwise the crisis will degenerate hand in hand with social infantile regression.