Last Thursday, Professor Jan-Werner Müller of the Politics Department at Princeton echoed a statement that resounds through the ranks of EU politicians and academics alike. Something deep, dark, and authoritarian is brewing in the depths of Central-Eastern Europe: a foreboding regime reminiscent of the interwar years. As he claims in his article, “The Problem with Poland,” it supposedly threatens the liberal democracy that is so enshrined by the rest of the Union. Müller places the blame on the newly-elected Prawo i Sprawiedliwośċ (“Law and Justice”) party of Poland, focusing his attacks on Chairman Jarosław Kaczyński and President of Poland Andrzej Duda.
Constitutional amendments! Media nationalization! Administrative purges! Doomsday is nigh!
Even we at the University of Pennsylvania are to be visited by the harbinger of political tragedy, courtesy of Anna Grzymala-Busse (Professor of European and Eurasian Studies at the University of Michigan). In a lecture to be held on March 4th, 2016, Grzymala-Busse will purport that the circumstances are resulting from “a failure of the political party system and its ability both to represent voters and to articulate a coherent opposition to the abuses of office by previous governments.”
Based on such accounts alone, we should have every reason to denounce Poland as the malignant seed that will soon spread its poison across Europe. To do so, however, would be to ignore any semblance of historical context. Such brash, alarmist denunciations of a “right-wing government” are so egregious precisely because of their outward infallibility. In reality, though, the English-speaking world is being blinded from the truth by a bureaucracy of collusion and corruption.
In their response to Müller, the editorial board of Polish web portal wPolityce (“In Politics”) calls out such articles as standing on half-truths spouted by a heavily biased press. Analysis of the rest of the piece boils down to a single fact: the previous administration, led by the Platforma Obywatelska (“Civic Platform”) party, promoted Germany’s ascent to de facto leadership of the European Union. The party, distancing itself from what it called a “quarrelsome, messy, Eastern European ‘democracy,’” sought to turn itself into a “model European pupil.” Considering the accusations with this in mind, the EU-apologist slant is evident. Ultimately brought into disrepute with the 2009 Eurozone crisis and the recent migration crisis, the Union has certainly not proven itself to be a desirable model. The Law and Justice administration rightfully wants to distance Poland from its grasp, emphasizing that the EU should benefit Poland – not the other way around.
As to the purportedly “anti-democratic” acts committed by Law and Justice, they only reveal the party’s true efforts to rebuild a Polish democracy, strengthen the country’s independence, and foster a healthy sense of patriotism. After all, Poland’s history is rife with overcoming adversity: a century of partitioning, occupation by the Nazis and the Soviets, and post-Communist repression of the 1980s Solidarity movement. It became Europe’s only major economic success story in the midst of a worldwide recession, and currently enjoys a bustling cultural and artistic renaissance.
Despite the slander from the EU establishment and their cronies in the press, Law and Justice is fighting to clear out the remnants of corruption in their country’s closet. When the party introduced new legislation to require more judges to be present in court for important rulings, pro-EU journalists accused them of curbing the constitutional court’s power. They accused Law and Justice of censoring and controlling state media after the party took back state radio and TV stations from largely German control to make the press “impartial, objective, and reliable.” They cried authoritarianism as the government ousted ex-Secret Police conspirators from positions of power. Perhaps most despicably, they condemned Poland as xenophobic for not “agree[ing] to a dictate of the strong” – the EU’s compulsory Muslim immigrant quotas – while they completely ignored the approximately 350,000 Ukrainian refugees and migrants that Poland accepted after the Russo-Ukrainian military conflict.
Unfortunately, as long as the English-speaking world, led by EU higher-ups, continues to twist reality, this toxic rhetoric trickles down through the media, into academia, and finally settles in the minds of tomorrow’s politicians and lawmakers. It’s about time we get to the truth.