Monday, March 26, 2007

Teraz Polska

Prelude: please begin by reading this article by Doug Ireland.

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Here's a question: what's the deal with Poland's creeping fascism, and what is integrated Europe---risen from the ashes of its militaristic, intolerant, genocidal, and all-around street-thuggish past---going to do about it?

I ask this because I care deeply about the place. Before moving to The Hague I lived for a while in Poland, and may again someday. I fell in love there. I gained a family and incredible, fascinating friends there. I've climbed its mountains, performed in its theaters and clubs, studied in its cultural capital. I've learned its language. I've taken it for my own and many Poles have welcomed me as their own.

So what? So now when I visit Poland I have to contend with what may very well be the EU's leading fascist state.

It is already quite well known that the Polish government has happily allowed the CIA to transport its captives through Poland, to be later subjected to torture. (More on that here.)

And I don't have to remind anyone that four years ago, in opposition to a slight (and rational) majority, the Polish government sent troops to criminally assist the United States in its illegal mission to invade Iraq, murder its people, and destroy its environment and infrastructure. Last year the current government broke its predecessor's promise to withdraw Polish forces from Iraq by 2006.

At the moment, openly fascist twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, president and prime minister, are taking serious and aggressive steps against homosexuals. This government has some ties to groups that advocate violence against gays, and incidents of violence are on the rise.

The Kaczynski government enjoys friendly ties with the criminal government of Israel (built partially on Poland's ashes but still no friend to universal human rights). But its open encouragement of extreme intolerance harks back to the early days of another pseudo-socialist regime, one that ended up bleeding Poland not only of its Jews, but many Catholics, Roma, and yes, homosexuals as well.

One of the most disastrous things in all this is the way wealthy "Christian" groups in the US lend enormous support to the Polish government's hateful policies. Some civil rights disaster is bound to occur because of all this, and with Poland's horrendous unemployment and the flight of skilled workers to Western Europe, it's more a question of when than if.

I think at a certain point internal opposition becomes powerless against unrepentant fascism. It would have been immensely helpful if elements in the United States (for example) had not done business with Nazi Germany preceding (and during) the Second World War. Similarly, I honestly believe that world governments have a moral obligation to diplomatically and economically isolate the United States until it ends its utter belligerance and rejoins the international community.

International law, basic human decency, and some help from our morally-equipped friends in business are necessary to prevent the proto-fascist regime in Poland from goosestepping over the edge. Yes, I am appealing to the business community: stop doing business with a Polish government that includes the odious Liga Polskich Rodzin (League of Polish Families).

The European Union is currently celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of its direct predecessor, the European Economic Community.

Now. I know that the EU was and always will be first and foremost an economic arrangement, that it favors capitalists, and that capitalism always conflicts with human rights (if not at home, then at factories, farms, prisons and war zones abroad).

Still. Let's pretend that there is some validity to the press release version of the 50th anniversary festivities, that peace and stability, freedom and democracy are also part of the EU's mandate. Let's allow, for a moment, for argument's sake, that European integration had everything to do with a strong and justified reaction to the horrors of the Second World War. Imagine that. It follows that the EU must do everything it can to prevent the atrocities the Polish government is preparing.

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Postscript: lest anyone think this issue---of depriving gay people of their civil rights---is an isolated issue within a weak Polish government, think again. It looks like Europe's newest member, Romania, is preparing the same or worse.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Interesting reads

* Anthony Arnove: Four Years Later...and Counting

* Geert Lovink: Blog Theory interview

"The Third World is not a reality but an ideology."
---Hannah Arendt

"I must admit that I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings."
---Margaret Mead

Friday, March 16, 2007


When will my country die for me?

---attributed to Grace Slick

If violence is contagious, then, I think, so must be its antithesis -- compassion, decency, tolerance. It's difficult to broadcast those examples, especially when it's easier to sell advertising on CNN when all your news stories are about terror and destruction.

---Megan Neuringer

In fact, there is some evidence that the ubiquitous moral injunction to think positively may place an additional burden on the already sick or otherwise aggrieved. Not only are you failing to get better but you're failing to not feel good about not getting better. Similarly for the long-term unemployed, who . . . are informed by career coaches and self-help books that their principle battle is against their own negative, resentful, loser-like feelings. This is victim-blaiming at its cruelest, and may help account for the passivity of Americans in the face of repeated economic insult.

---Barbara Ehrenreich
(from "Pathologies of Hope", Harper's February 2007)