Translation: Małgorzata Rosolak
In times when the public sphere is oversaturated by unproductive quarrels, with the media manipulating society into conflicts generated by moguls and party gurus, we want to offer our readers an alternative perspective of events, debates and possible outcomes. We want to speak about ideas and their connection to actual social processes, about wider interests and the common good, and also about the implications of current affairs which are drowned out by omnipresent information noise. Our aim is to show the limitations and superficiality of the disputes dominating the public debate, as well as to redefine the priorities which determine how people relate to politics. We do not pretend to adopt the role of ‘unbiased observers’, having our own views and a strong sense that we want to reclaim a voice which has thus far been denied us. We hope that an open account of our beliefs, along with some serious argumentation will, in fact, increase the chances for fruitful dialogue between us, other commentators (some of whom we will be presenting in our magazine) and readers coming from different perspectives.
We are in favour of a participatory democracy in both the political and the economic sphere. Moreover, we recognize a very serious need for meaningful pluralism, not in name only, for public debate in which there is place for various ideological streams. We believe that public debate is necessary and that each participant has a right to most broadly defined freedom of speech.
To advocate democracy in regard to economics means to acknowledge the importance of work councils and self-governing bodies of the employees’, and the trade unions. A healthy economy is a three-sector economy, one in which there is space for private initiatives, cooperatives and other forms of social ownership and for communal and state property. We consider ourselves moderate statists – we believe that the state, which is genuinely democratic and controlled by citizens, does have a positive role to play in the economy.
We believe that a fair and efficient system of redistribution is possible, enabling each person participation in the national economy. Workers’ rights are a great achievement of our society, which must be defended.
It goes without doubt that along with the intensification of the processes connected with globalization, the need for regulations and solutions at the supranational level ( e.g. regarding tax havens or transnational organized crime) will grow. However, we claim that nation-states should maintain their key position in the world order. We object to several conceptions which appear on both sides of the political scene, which see the emerging global institutions and forces as means to tackle national sovereignty.
We look at our country in the light of postcolonial theory. It is high time we realize that contemporary Poland should be considered a part of the global (semi-)peripheries. In order to contest its subordinate position in the world system, it is crucial for Poland to overcome its postcolonial complexes and undermine the economic dependencies which restrict its toom for political manoeuvre.
IV. “THE NETWORK”
“The network” (a term brought into political jargon and popular use by the Kaczyński brothers) is not an element of a conspiracy theory. It describes an existing network of existing connections – at state and local levels – between business, politics, former and present secret services as well as organized crime. The connections are well-known to people who try to run an honest business in one of the more or less “strategic” sectors of economy (such as energy or IT sectors) as well as rebellious politicians , clerks , policemen, prosecutors, journalists and even ordinary citizens, who couldn’t or didn’t want to accept the prevailing “rules of the game”. “Networks” paralyze the operation of state institutions, impede the execution of the rule-of-law and efficient governing.
Another destructive factor for the state and the notion of common good is the culture of nepotism and cronyism which justifies any behaviour as long as it serves “our men”, and the widespread consent to corruption in everyday life. Without the elimination of the abovementioned phenomena, regaining true control over the state by its citizens will be impossible.
In the field of social values, we believe in evolution, not revolution. We object to the politics of “cultural shock therapy”, which does not hesitate to invalidate the convictions and lifestyles of the majority of society. The problems of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities’ rights and gender inequalities are real ones. However, attempts at an external imposition of a new morality must turn out to be inefficient, or even counter-productive. We think that the social and moral norms can be modernized without a destructive and detrimental cultural war.
We want to bring back the ethos of intelligentsia which used to be, and can become again, an important element of Polish culture. The place of the intellectuals is by the side of the weak and their task is to describe and understand social reality, and to look for the possible ways to change it. Paternalistic approach to “the rabble” as well as pleasing oneself with class distinction certainly does not fit with the sort of ethos we are after.
Each of us finds inspiration in different ideas and doctrines: 1981 Solidarity programme (“The Self-Governing Republic”), Polish socialism, alterglobalism, feminism, non-bolshevic streams of Marxism, catholic personalism, political conceptions of Jerzy Giedroyc, messianism, leftist liberalism – and the list remains open. We do not feel ourselves to be the guardians of purity of any ideology. We are open to cooperation with various groups inspired by the aims of freedom, equality and popular participation.
Our main objective is to impact the popular consciousness, permeated by over 40 years of communist propaganda, then followed by naively liberal newspeak. In result, the collective imagination remains marked by the preconceptions about Poland being “mentally behind” and the inevitability of imitation of foreign patterns. Without changing the way people think and without questioning the media’s account of the status quo, no change of reality will be possible.