Saturday, April 29, 2017
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West or East? Questions about Place of Poland in Europe

For 40 years after WW II Poland was stuck in so called friendship, partnership and cooperation with our powerful ally from the East, Soviet Union. Officially we called it a friendship although it is hard to see any equality or partnership between a country which is the biggest in size and the second powerful in arms and a middle-sized country like Poland. The western countries called us a satellite. I would be cautious to use a term satellite however because Poland had relatively more freedom than several other countries from Eastern Block. Our agriculture was never fully socialized, our Roman Catholic Church also was never fully subdued to the regime, even in the worst times of 50-es.

What is a "headache of freedom"?What Forty years of socialism, five years of the WW II and also over hundred years of partitions until the end of WW I did to Poland? Poles became used to resist, to a sabotage, to be against rather than for. They felt rightfully that they are subdued, limited in their rights. The work ethnic was hurting because people felt that they did not work for themselves but for the alien government imposed from outside. It was almost improper to work well. People also did not take care of the property at work, sometimes taking in for their own use, because it was socialistic - that means it belonged to "nobody" in their eyes.

This crisis was visible to its full extend after Solidarity Workers Unions were created in August of 1980. The government was seen as a bad capitalistic employer with unlimited resources.

People were striking in many places demanding not only the increase in salary but also more vacation time, less working hours, shorter working days and more benefits. If one group of workers was able to ensure more benefits for themselves others were following with even bigger demands. Some people could not comprehend, as workers in the developed Western countries do, that if their demands would be too extreme their employer could became bankrupt also.

It was the socialist government that was commonly seen as the employer. Some workers and their leaders also did not understand that their production affects the rest of the society. Thus giving too much benefits, rights, for example shorter working hours to themselves in reality decreases the amount of the products on the market. It led eventually to the worsening of the market situation, high inflation and demand that exceeded the supply greatly. Read about food troubles in Poland.

Common people's and their leaders actions could be justified to a large extend by a fact that the Solidarity crisis revealed a lot of abuse among the leaders of our communist government of 70-es. The members of Gierek's government (read an article about Gierek) seemed to be concentrated more on gathering goods and luxury products, houses, cars, sailboats rather than caring for their people. The abuse was not only personal - communistic government wasted lots of money lent by foreign states and organizations for a development of unprofitable steel industry etc.

The first independent government was formed in 1989 when Gorbatchev was a leader of weakened Soviet Union. Since this time the "headache of a freedom" did not really left Polish politicians.
So finally we did have our own government. Since it was our own government - it could not be seen anymore as a foreign force, an alien easy to blame. Because it was ours, our new appointed politicians had a headache of choice, what to do, which way to go, which countries to join.


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This is Brande from Uganda with a photo of Ela, my daughter.

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