A long little story to start with
An interstellar psychologist, travelling by UFO from outer space and landing in Poland, would certainly not only see in the citizenry an abundance of positive energy, but would experience the immensity of a population full of human potential and ready for the beauty of living in a free and mature society. This feeling is obvious to everyone; this is what we have all felt in Poland for the past two decades. However, the intergalactic visitor would also encounter some other, quite distinct, emotional turns and atmospheric bumps within the country.
The current emotional state of Polish society is, by and large, understandable and apparent, and in the long run it may even prove practical. It might appear unlikely at the moment, but one can discern a pattern of historical regularity with a light flickering at the end of this somewhat gloomy tunnel …
The state of affairs in Poland, as discovered by the otherworldly psychologist, would look thus: A large social group, convinced of harm either suffered in the past or currently experienced (the origin of which is irrelevant), has succeeded in organising itself fairly well in terms of logistics, and has, through real democratic procedures, been chosen to exercise authority over the 40-million-strong populace. In cases when effective governance is not possible through the established means and processes, the group subsequently produces new suitable, governing tools. The method used by this group in coming to power is also equally irrelevant, as the result is a fait accompli. Democratic systems have their imperfections, and a susceptibility to public emotions is one which particularly afflicts young democracies. Thus, the tools and techniques used to manipulate and affect public moods are well-known and, on the other hand, generally accepted by the public.
The group that currently governs the country has been chosen by a populace experiencing a similar sense of social injustice and who hope that the newly elected leaders will alleviate this perplexing feeling of internal dissatisfaction and unrest.
While the underlying historical context of this situation is relatively complex, it is actually easy to diagnose and define.
More than 200 years of the vicissitudes of independence have caused a compulsive addiction to a permanent struggle for freedom. Stated differently, there exists in the national consciousness an obsessive need to live in perpetual opposition to the solutions of any type of political system or social order. The political groups that can guarantee a stable enemy are generally populist and conservative in their philosophy. They are outwardly “omni-parties” offering a complete spectrum of policies ranging from the revolutionary and nationalistically mutinous, through to those based upon conspiracy theories, and finally include those supporting ultra-progressive welfare reforms. The offer characterised by all-inclusive service. These groups are based on an electorate of common heritage opportunistically taking pleasure in their eternal enemy’s failures. Such a framework guarantees a stable election result, even when no specific political programme is on offer. A reliable enemy can always be found, and if not, one can be easily generated. This is a well-understood procedure that has been widely used in our recent history.
Obedient compliance is, in turn, also a repercussion of the same 200 years, but this time, these have been felt to be years of submission. We feel safe being the victim because, in fact, we do not know any other state and, at the same time, we regard ourselves as an extension of our ruling “Overlord”. It is a textbook example of the emotional state of a person brought up in an environment of heightened anxiety, which, in adulthood, usually develops into some form of masochistic behaviour. Having a powerful and determined master, who is both omnipotent and dictatorial, excellently assuages this masochistic discontent.
Stability in Poland is synonymous with boredom and the lack of a continuous emotional high. Society needs the ancient Games, though gladiators and wild animals have been excellently replaced by political excitement. We all love Caesar; he is mysterious and does not say much, but he is very distinct. We all wait in anxiety for the moment he will cast his thumb up or down.
Trauma after plane crash.
People died, lives were shattered, and many people’s fates reversed. A volcano of emotions. The skilful channelling of emotions of people who already felt harmed and who needed a strong arm under which they could feel safe and atone for their aforementioned masochistic lusts has caused the tragedy to become a salvation. A remedy for the routinized monotony of life has successfully turned out well. It has worked like a charm and has become an indispensable element of their lives.
Western societies are at a collective stage of social maturity. This stage is characterised by a sense of cultural unity, by a communal concern for the common good, by a feeling of peace resulting from belonging to a social organization in the form of statehood, and by the implied consideration of workable solutions for the problems of every individual citizen. The current “new” Polish problems concerning censorship, freedom of thought, the meaning of the judiciary and legislature and the organisation of the society in general, are not new and were significant in another time. These problems were central in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during Bismarck’s unification of Germany, for example or during the Russian revolution. They were certainly of key concern during the familiar epoch of the Polish People’s Republic. The mechanisms and techniques used for cultivating and exercising statehood are very well-known and returning to these as to concerns is simply counter-natural. The achievements of past generations have established the solutions and should have thus rendered further consideration superfluous. The World has moved forward, and it has new challenges now. Until recently, Poland was moving forward together with the World. An erosion of these established socio-political solutions and civil liberties poses a risk of re-experiencing the already won battles again and again.
The status quo.
Western culture, with which we, the Polish people, would like to identify ourselves (since we do not want to be identified with the cultures of the East or the Middle East, possibly it the future there will be more room and will for it), is currently facing a problem of how to look at life and humankind in a global sense. How do we, Western culture, connect with a sense of belonging to the Earth? How do we want mankind to progress and continue? Naturally, the question is asked in a general, philosophical sense and not only in terms of the practical use of the Earth’s resources. The essence of this matter lies in the feeling of spiritual belonging to the human race as one of the Earth’s inhabitants. It lies in the sense of intimacy with others, and in the connection and empathy with people whose cultures and customs, due to the geographic distance, are significantly different from European ones, but to whom we nevertheless feel bound because we as humans are all on same road striving towards the same goals. The problem, or rather interesting discussion, of this topic in Poland will be deferred for obvious reasons.
In fact, all of the above considerations are obvious, given the fact that a vast, emotionally turbulent social group does not want to perceive the problems which cause the anxiety. One may attempt to alleviate +the unrest using the different ways described above, but since the roots of these problems are buried in the past and realistically no longer exist today as current issues, they cannot be solved de facto in this way. On the other hand, a huge emotional wound is very real, and it is very difficult to heal.
Here appears the light at the end of the gloomy tunnel. Our visiting psychologist from space would certainly perceive that the current situation is not so dire, since all humans usually suffer some form of emotional wound, though some are larger and some smaller. Quite often, we humans realise that we wage an inner struggle about whether we should listen to the voice of “our heart” or whether this is in fact merely surrendering to the fears of unchecked emotions. Sooner or later, the past must be cauterised and the inner conflict healed. It will require a joint effort so that we can walk forward together again, for each party has their own equally valid arguments, and even though some appear irrational to the other side, they must at least be respected as valid for the opposing party. There is a space needed on both sides to let some humbleness in, that would re-trigger a comforting feeling of brotherhood.