Wisdom from Poland 42


A Polish gentleman told me something profound last night. He said he had for months been determined to vote No, because he thought the United Kingdom had welcomed him in. Then he started to notice something very important indeed.

He had supported Solidarnosc as a young man, and he had lived through the overwhelming barrage of state media propaganda against it. All the newspapers, radio and TV had broadcast for month after month that if Poland left the Soviet orbit the economy would be destroyed, trading links would be severed, everybody would lose their pensions and housing, they would be invaded, the currency would collapse. Democracy campaigners were branded as right wing nationalist thugs. The people had no access to a fair hearing on the media, and communities had to organise alternatively through social networks.

A few weeks ago he had suddenly realised that precisely the same thing was happening in Scotland that he had witnessed in Soviet controlled Poland. A monolithic and all-pervading media was pumping out the same propaganda on a permanent basis, and even the arguments they were making were precisely the same arguments the Soviets had made. He had suddenly realised that democracy in the UK was an illusion – the apparatchiks of the main political parties and the entire media, both state and private, in fact belonged to and promoted the same ruling establishment. Only the methodologies were different, and raw power slightly better hidden in the UK than in the old Soviet bloc. But the truth was of hard rich men wielding power, in both cases, and keeping the people down.

I have immense respect for him, and will always carry that insight with me. He spoke to me after my talk in Linlithgow last night and it is a great example of the way we have all been learning from each other, in a new understanding of how a real democracy might look.


42 thoughts on “Wisdom from Poland

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  • angrysoba

    Semblance: “Remember the editor of the Daily Mirror who suddenly lost his job for criticizing Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq?”

    Are you talking about Piers Morgan? He lost his job for publishing fake photographs and was fired by the paper’s owner. So yes, I do remember him. Clearly you do not.

  • Peacewisher

    I saw one newspaper front page yesterday. I think it was The Daily Express. The whole front page was three words: Scottish Nasty Party.

    Reminded me again of the 1992 slightly less odious front page on polling day: “Will the last person leaving the country please turn out the lights” … with Neil Kinnock as light bulb.

  • Gutter

    There is a confounding factor to your plans up there that nobody seems to be taking into account – the bad feeling that a ‘Yes’ vote would generate among ordinary English people who never previously had anything against the Scots.
    It will be seen down here as you telling us all to sod off, “that we’re not good enough for you”.
    I foresee a big appetite for obstructionism. I can hear the cry now “They wanted to be indpendent, so let them be facken independent. We shouldn’t lift a finger to help a foreign country.”
    It’s started already. An angry fellow on a local TV vox pop said “We should ditch them however they vote. I’m sick of hearing from whingeing Scots.”
    An arse, but a typical arse, sadly.
    Mutual support and co-operation is what we need, not mutual antagonism and competition.

  • Oceania

    The view from New Zealand is Clear.

    Cameroan and Blair, have destroyed the UK.
    Uncontrolled immigration, bloody wars based upon lies, and more immigration.

    The UK treats Australia and New Zealand as jokes.
    We remember.

    Scotland was watching. The Scots REMEMBER!

    The Future is not certain, but the actions of those in the Past determine out Futures.

    Just remember – whom destroyed the United Kingdom – and Why.

  • zzz

    People were not free to leave Poland till the fall of Communism, unlike the UK. Therefore the Polish gentleman should remain grateful and vote No.

    @Ab Rene, that’s nonsense – first, Poland was NEVER officially declared a communist country. Never ever, even during the Stalinist times. Then, true there were restrictions on international travel, meaning that you needed a passport to travel abroad; however, from 1970s on few people were actually refused passports, and mostly in cases where they were opposition activists, etc. Even today, many countries (including UK) reserve a right to withdraw your passport and this way block you from leaving the country.

    Further, you suggest that fall of communism occurred owing to the UK. You are mistaken, even if we assume that UK played a role in weakening of the Soviet Union (it indeed did). What UK did to Poland, instead, was pushing it into default in the 1980s by purportedly blocking its international trade after the December 1980 military coup.

    That’s all about Polish gratitude to London. Did you mention that London should be grateful to the Poles for defending it against the Nazis in the 1940s?

    A few days ago Polish community in Scotland wrote an open letter to the new EU President D Tusk insisting that the Poles will support the Yes vote and requesting him to make sure that independent Scotland remains a part of the European Union and keeps benefiting from common market, free movement and protection of European laws.

  • Semblance

    Angrysoba: ” “Semblance: “Remember the editor of the Daily Mirror who suddenly lost his job for criticizing Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq?”

    Are you talking about Piers Morgan? He lost his job for publishing fake photographs and was fired by the paper’s owner. So yes, I do remember him. Clearly you do not.” ”

    Setting traps (in this instance by feeding fake evidence) is child’s play. It’s the oldest trick in the book. I suppose you also believe that Dr. David Kelly really did commit suicide for religious reasons?

    ——————————————————————————

    Angrysoba: “The UK is as bad, nay worse!, than the CCCP, in its suppression of breadth of opinion”

    You obviously haven’t been watching Russian television, which — like all the radio stations — is now under the complete control of one man and one mafia. Believe me, the degree of “suppression of breadth of opinion” in Britain can’t even begin to compare with what we have in Putin’s Russia. Ukraine by contrast is now a haven of free speech and balanced reporting.

  • fraser fifield

    Craig, many thanks for your contribution to this referendum process, for your insights into how things really did work, I’m sure it’s been illuminating and very important for many voters in helping reach a decision, and personally I’m glad to have had my own concerns validated through your talks and writings. All the best for now…

  • Ангрысоба

    Semblance: I suppose you also believe that Dr. David Kelly really did commit suicide for religious reasons?

    He committed suicide, yes. But not for religious reasons.

  • Ангрысоба

    Semblance: You obviously haven’t been watching Russian television, which — like all the radio stations — is now under the complete control of one man and one mafia. Believe me, the degree of “suppression of breadth of opinion” in Britain can’t even begin to compare with what we have in Putin’s Russia.

    Yeah, I know that, Semblance. I was being ironic. Taking the piss out of the idea that the UK government is as bad as the Soviet Union in terms of propaganda.

  • Sean Mulligan

    EVerything the Soviets said came true. Many of the Solidarity activists were nationalist thugs, and the Polish economy did collapse. Unemployment and inequality is massive and Poland is now a member of NATO.

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