Friday, 3 August 2012

Lemmings and Poland's "right"*

Today's Gazeta Wyborcza publishes a text by Adam Leszczyński Lemingi zatopią prawicę ('Lemmings will sink the right'). The use of the pejorative term 'lemming' to describe anyone who's not a paid-up PiSite Smolensk conspiracy theory is not new to me. Two years ago (almost to the day) I had an evening meal at the India Curry with Toyah, a commentator on his blog, Lemming, and a commentator from my blog, AdTheLad. That particular evening's discussions are recorded here. Mr Lemming is notable for me as being the first person that I met to use that term (although as an online nickname for himself, with a probable dose of irony).

The term has now come to suggest lemming-like uncritical followers of The System which will lead them all to their doom. Mr Leszczyński's article is comprehensive in its analysis (if you can't read Polish copy it into Google Translate for a rough idea of his drift), but he is suggesting that the Poland's Young Educated Urban citizens, concerned about mortgages, drinking lattes from Starbucks, playing around with their iPhones and iPads, are not in the least bit interested in Smolensk conspiracy theories and just want to get on with their lives.

Yet by mocking this growingly significant part of the electorate, PiS is cutting off its nose to spite its face - you will never win over people you openly mock. Derision breeds derision.

PiS languishes in the opinion polls around the 25% mark. Mainly the disaffected, the economic losers of Poland's economic and political transformation (mainly, not not exclusively).

Smoleńsk was a national tragedy of proportions unparalleled in Poland's post 1989 history. But let's move on, PiS. Stay focused on this and that 25% will dwindle with every subsequent election (and Jarosław Kaczyński has already lost three).

I remember our curry dinner two years ago, at which Mr Lemming interestingly pointed to Germany's two major postwar parties - the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, saying that this offers a closer comparison to where the fault line lies in Polish politics than a viewpoint comparing Labour and Tory, Democrat and Republican.

If PiS are to rise to the stature of German's CDU, they'd do well to ditch the baggage, stop calling the rest of us names, and offer some constructive policy initiatives on improving the functioning of the Polish state, finding ways of financing infrastructure projects and making Poland's economy more competitive.

[* I use the lazy term "right" in the sense of Francisco Franco rather than Margaret Thatcher]

This time last year:
Mazowieckie province tempts with mini- and micro-breaks

This time two years ago:
Pride and anger [Warning - post contains Smoleńsk-related content]

If you're new to my blog, having popped over from Toyah's, do take a look at all these posts.


Anonymous said...

Lemmings will sink the right and then they will sink themselves (no jobs, huge debt).

Lemmings are naive materialists with a big inferiority complex towards western europe. "Jak nas widzą za granicą?" is their infantile life motto and their biggest concern.

And of course cynical PO politicians & media people use those complexes and secret desires to stay in power.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Toyah:

I may not share your point of view nor past experiences living under communism, but I will not stoop to ad hominem insults.

@ Anonymous:

Debt is a problem, but it's worth putting Polish government, corporate and consumer debt into a Europe-wide perspective.

"Lemmings" with complexes... I think the term is used to describe people who've turned their backs on politics and are just getting on with their own lives.

@ Toyah, relating to @ Anonymous:
Insulting the people you call "Lemmings" is so utterly counter-productive - using this approach you'll not persuade enough floating voters to support PiS at the 2015 parliamentary elections to win power.

I'd like to see PiS as a credible political opposition, a strong force breathing down Tusk's neck. But there needs to be a clear policy programme (especially in the sphere of macroeconomics).

What's PiS's stance on Quantitative Easing? On Eurozone entry? On PPPs? On shale gas? On strategic transport policy? If PiS does have clear policies on these issues, the message is entirely drowned by a cacophony of name-calling.

Anonymous said...

As I can't possibly post my comment as Toyah, this will hopefully go as Anonymous.
What's Palikot's stance on Quantitative Easing? On Eurozone entry? On PPPs? On shale gas? On strategic transport policy?
You don't know? Then why did you not so long ago on your blog suggested that Platforma should pick him up as the coalition partner?
I know why. The aim has always been one. To keep Kaczyński out of business forever. Why so? The answer is as simple. You hate Kaczyński's guts. For what? For the hell of it. This is your skill as a political commentator.
And please, don't tell me I am insulting you. You know I'm not. This is nothing but argument. Man has always been doing this. Arguing.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Toyah:

I do not 'hate Kaczyński's guts' (Now Leszek Miller, that's another issue:)).

I believe Kaczyński's politics would be bad for the country were he ever to be elected for any public office. In Britain, I believed that about Michael Foot when he led the Labour Party against Margaret Thatcher in 1983, and I believed that about Neil Kinnock in 1987 and 1992; I hated neither left-wing politician, I merely did not wish them to run the country. That is democracy.

Anonymous said...

Tusk and Kacznyski are equally bad.
The whole Smolensk disaster is a direct result of PO's incompetence, lazyness and narrow mindedness. The same goes for many other areas (road construction, energy policy, innovation, education, health care and so on.)

And that's why there should be a PO-PIS coalition. It would force Kaczynski and Tusk to concentrate on politics and not on PR campaigns. Both parties need a STRONG coalition partner instead of a hungarian Gyurcsany=Tusk/Orban=Kaczynski mess...

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Anonymous:

There should have been a Po-PiS coalition in 2007 with Jan Maria Rokita as premier. Just think how much farther Poland could have risen without those silly clots from Samoobrona and LPR dragged into a needless coalition just because of petty personal political ambition.

Po-PiS could have been an advanced version of the AWS government, which, let's face it, did institute some meaningful reforms.

toyah said...

Rokita as premier? Very good. I assume that Rostowski for finances, Sikorski foreign affairs and Gowin for justice? Right? What do you think would get this nephew of Gowin's who is in Samoobrona today? Internal affairs or industry? Would you see any job of responsibility for Grabarczyk who has always been a very important figure in Platforma. No? Come on! This is Łódź. Platforma loses Łódź, you can forget everything. And Pakikot? And Schetyna? You haven't forgotten him, have you? What comes for him? And last but not least, Tusk. Would we ask Lech Kaczyński to resign? What if he didn't? Do you think Tusk would accept culture and national heritage? I understand that Jarosław Kaczyński, as Lepper's close associate, would go for agriculture. Right? Is this how you view of politics?
Let me tell you something. Your idea of politics is a three-word key: NO TO KACZYŃSKI. Otherwise, you will accept everything. Along with Leszek Miller, too.

adthelad said...


Sitting here reading today's blog and the comments I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Giving any credibility to a PO-PiS coalition is laughable given the cynical approach by PO to post election negotiations and their deliberately unrealistic conditions. Not that I blame them for not wanting to appear as underdogs, or to be seen as accepting a smaller share of ministries, but let's not kid ourselves. PO torpedoed any chance of a coalition and blamed PiS. And idiots believed them and the post PRL media narrative. PiS took the lesser of the two evils and showed themselves to be somewhat touchy and paranoid, and with good reason, but not incompetent.

Leszczyński, and you Michał, seem to be towing the PO party line and continuing the narrative justifying ambivalence and incompetence by numbers alone. Whenever I hear such claims, or 'concern' that PiS is on the margins and mocking a significant part of the electorate I can't help but think of the Milgram experiment. Originally only 35% refused to administer the final lethal electric shock, and in a re-visitation by the BBC in 2009 only 25% refused to continue to the end. Yet the present politic in this country aree appalled when anyone calls the 75% lemmings, after all, it's so derogatory. After all if the majority are happy to be led by the nose to shit on others from a great height, what's the problem, eh?

Recently, there has been much furore in the public arena over whistling and jeering that greeted PO political representatives as they took part in the commemorations of the Warsaw Uprising, taking the TV limelight for themselves, and excluding other political parties from the official proceedings (unlike when Kaczynski was President). Not being so knowledgeable about recent history as those who have lived through it I have many bloggers (e.g. to thank for enlightening me and one especially comes to mind for recently quoting Marian Hemar -

'A dzisiaj ta ciżba moskiewskich zaprzańców,
a dzisiaj te same psubraty
z butami się pchają na groby powstańców
i wieńce im niosą i kwiaty.
Dziś oni te groby chcą wziąć w swą arendę
i ukraść im honor tej chwili.
I zwołać umarłych pod swoją komendę,
gdy żywych już sami dobili'

And when I read on your blog the title 'PSLgate: We're not surprised - yet we should be.', regarding PO and their 'rosy' coalition partner in the knowledge that a majority, including people who should know better, voted for these crooks, I lean towards crying rather than laughter.

toyah said...

Thank you for the support.
As for "chamstwo" and our moral duty to stand against it, let me link this:,2,ID414534815,n
And this was AFTER Smoleńsk. "Yes, you who philosophise disgrace and criticise our fears, take the rag away from your face ..." etc.

adthelad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adthelad said...

I do see some plus points in Michał's blog, in as much as he believes PiS is cutting off its nose to spite its face. However, the Poland scenario is somewhat complicated and given the way the mass media is employed, it was, is and will be an uphill struggle. For me it is a matter of conscience and being amongst those 25% who are not prepared to turn a blind eye.

AndrzejK said...

In reality there is no more point disucssing politics or patriotism with a PiS supporter than it is disucssing with a psycopath the finer points of erudtion. Like Mike I do not hate Kaczynski, in my case at least because to be able to hate would require a degree of engagement which the moral ambiguist does not deserve.

A few days ago @Toyah accused Mike of considenring Kacynski to be an idiot. However how else can you evaluate the twins: How do you explain the complete lack of reaction to the subcretionius comment by the Warsaw press spokeman who said in effect that PiS considers cyclists to be country bumpkins. Fine in so far as it goes but NOT when a significant part of your electorate have a much lower level of proven educational achievent than the populat at large and are of an age when the achievements of the intellectually challenged were artificially increased to meet central party criteria. How can you describe as other than stupid a person who calls people who have an intellect higher than their own "wyksztaciuchy". This is just basic boorishness and lack of uprbringing. What mental defect does an individual suffer from who, when asked by journalists why he chose to shop in Warsaw's most expensive local store in order to point score against (global) inflation reply that he considered Biedronka to be only for the very poor. Never mind the expensive cars parked outside many Bierdonli, never mind the generated free publicity for Jeronomo Martens and never mind how insulting to the vast majority of the population (76%) who will never vote for PiS be they poor, rcih, practising catholics or raving atheists. And lastly how can you even contemplate saying that the organisation of Euro 2012 was a fisaco and disater?

Anonymous said...


is that all you have to say against PIS and Kaczynski ? Pretty lame and childish if you ask me.

Maybe we should compare it to Tusk and PO ? how about Smolensk incompetence, how about the killed PIS politician in Lodz, how about spy statistisc, how about false accusations towards Kaminski, Agent Tomek, Ziobro and Kaczynski ? Do you know where Sawicka is ?

And how about corruption and nepotism ?

AndrzejK said...

Where do I start with you lot. Dead trarnsplany patients directly as a result of scaring the populkation, how many kilometres of roads built, Poland the laughing stock of Europe. How do you know the accusations against Kaminski. Ziobro and Kaczynski are false. Their reactions could suggestr otherwise. Somloensk incompetence. Try reading some facts - almost entirely down to the insane bravado of the Polish air force, the Kaczynskis desperate need to organise a seperate media show, ignoring of all air regulations, putting at risk the lives of highly respected individuals such as President Kaczynski and his padre in the name of inmcreasing the patheticall low support for an incomompetent President. Even Mitt Romney a rgight winger with a large PiS supporting electorate did not consider ot necessary to humour Jaroslaw. The PiS politician was killed by a lunatic who had on his list politicians from other parties but of course you lot have a direct line to God almighty himself.

And no I do not believe that PO is perfect. They have wasted opportunities the major one was to sack ALL PiS appointees from all levels of government.

I notice that you do not even try to criticise Kaczynski over his boorish comments regarding the organisation of Euro 2012. I notice that you do nothing to condemn the recurrant behaviour at cemetaries and monuments to true heroes of odious and malevolant little old men and women, who no doubt have for years before they were entitled to a state pension lived of supposed disbility pension. Somehow I cannot find any trace of Raymund Kaczynski having fought in the AK. Anecdotal evidence, never disproved of having chased the AK after the was into early graves. Evidence of lectruing to high communist party officals at the nototrious summer school. Michnik and Kuron came clean. But of course to you lot they are not rue Poles. Amd I do not expect that I will in any way chage your rabid views but at least I hope that foreign readers of Mike's excellent blog will take the trouble to find out the truth for themselves. Because believe me Smolensk is a complete side show which has lost all global interest. And it was such an opportunity to highlight the true tradegy of Katyn. In case your brain acnnot diefferentiate Smolensk was the result of stupidity and ignorance of a large number of idnidviduals from many professions and all parties. Katyn was the direct result of the sick mind of Stalin and his yes men. Auschiotz et all were the result of of the isk mind of Hitler and the failure to react of the German nations which preferred to believe the fairy tales of immediate prosperity if only Jews were eliminated. Just as some people are prepared to believe Kackynski and Radio Maryja that prying to God without making any effort to work will ensure a hight standard of living. And don't tell me there is no work available. Try finding someone to clear snow, tidy up gardens, do simple repair jobs. And I am not talking about just Warsaw. The same applies to the PiS hinterland.

toyah said...

Starzy alkoholicy twierdzą, że jak dłonie zaczynają drżeć tak, że nie sposób wykonywać najprostszych czynności, najlepiej walnąć setkę zwykłej wódki. Na napisanie jednego prostego komentarza z pewnością wystarczy.

adthelad said...

Dear AndzrejK,
Jerzy Urban and Jacek Żakowski would be proud of you, and although there's still a way to go to before you're quite as erudite as they are, you definitely get 10/10 from me on the bullshit scale. Well done.

AndrzejK said...

Instead of insulting Mike and myself please provide some cogent arguments showing Kacynski in a good light. I poor lost soul cannot see any. And unkike you I will defend your right to hold whatever views you might have so long as you do not try to force them on me.

adthelad said...

Perhaps it would be an insult to compare what you've written to the style and substance of the cited individuals if there were no similarity - here however this is not the case. As for cogent arguments against your diatribe they are plastered under your nose on the internet - temat rzeka as they say - and it just requires you to exercise some open minded curiosity and 'ograniczonego zaufania' to the things you read or hear (from both sides). And unlike you, I can't see where I denied you the right to hold whatever views you have. I only challenged them in as brief and cogent a way as possible given that to address the crap you wrote would require a great deal of time and your own inclination to verify the matters for yourself - which to my mind you demonstrably do not possess. I do insist of course that there haven't been cock ups during the brief and media ravaged term of PiS but they pale into insignificance once they are delved into or compared to those of PO, SLD, PSL etc.

adthelad said...

that should be 'I do NOT insist'.

Anonymous said...

Someone who has a basic command of English is a PIS supporter? Shurely some mistake!