August 1, 2016 –
Translated by Jafe Arnold (J. Arnoldski)
“Dear colleagues and comrades,
The second month has already passed since the moment I became a political prisoner of the ruling elite in today’s Poland. Unfortunately, repression against people seeking a different path than the one dictated by the system has a long history in our country. The most different regimes and political forces have made use of repressive methods to deprive opponents of influence and authority. During the time of the partitions, thousands of our compatriots and independence fighters found themselves in exile, prison, or receiving the death sentence. Although we might disagree with their romantic message or faith in the efficacy of an armed uprising for independence, we must bow our heads before their dedication and steadfastness.
In the already “free” Second Republic, the sanitation regime opened the Bereza Kartuska isolation prison, organized political trials, forced the opposition to emigrate, and locked up opponents in prison. This particularly impacted populists and communists, i.e., those people for whom a sense of social justice was dear.
After the Second World War’s partial destruction of the Polish nation, Polish Stalinists locked up people with different views contrary to their visions of the new Poland. Many intellectuals, like Jan Stachniuk, and even patriotic Polish communists like Wladyslaw Gomulka wound up in prison.
From the late 1970’s of the 20th century, political repression hit worker activists and trade unionists who demanded respect for the rights of the working class and the poor. After 1989, so-called liberal democracy was decreed from above in our country along with what is essentially the neoliberal system of capital’s total domination over man and human dignity and rights. The arsenal of measures serving to destroy political opponents was extended to include those of an unofficial character: coordinated media campaigns feeding media witch hunts, campaigns for discrediting opponents directed by the special services, provocations, and blackmail. The first victim of such activities was the presidential candidate Stanislaw Tyminski in 1990, who was ruthlessly destroyed and taunted. Then the fearless defender of the Polish countryside, Andrzej Lepper, was sent to prison for his social activism. Anarchists, tenancy rights defenders, trade unionists, and farmers were also put behind bars. The leader of the August 80 Free Trade Union, Daniel Podrzycki, died in mysterious circumstances surrounding a car accident in 2005 when he was running in presidential elections.
In 2011, Poles were shocked by the death of Andrzej Lepper. Even in the cinematic interpretation of this tragedy there appeared the quite likely trace of the special services’ involvement. On May 18th, 2016, I was arrested and then imprisoned on the basis of slander and false accusations. Repression continues and there is much indicating that the neoconservative PiS government will only sharpen such measures.
I want to offer you all heartfelt and great gratitude for your support and activism to get me released. I know that the repression which claimed me has only strengthened your steadfast conviction to oppose the current pathological system. We know that the ranks of those fighting for a sovereign and socially just Poland are growing. I believe that our goal is within our reach even though it might seem so distant.
Zmiana is occupying enduring and important places in the Polish political scene. It is becoming the force that most consistently rejects neoliberal capitalism and neoconservative Atlanticism. Class contradictions might be temporarily reduced by the social reformism of the PiS government, but the PiS group will nonetheless soon painfully learn that Poles’ sense of the lack of justice will only gradually increase as long as the foundations of the system, in particular the primacy of capital over man and private property over social and national ownership, are not called into question. The propaganda cosmetics surrounding the Family 500+ program and the so-called Morawiecki Plan are incapable of hiding the existence of ever-growing swathes of poverty and hopelessness. Neoconservative Atlanticism, especially of the variety preferred and promoted by PiS, has already led to the decision to host a foreign power’s armed forces on our territory. This is unprecedented in our modern history. The US Army will conduct operations provoking international tension in our region and American imperialism, using Cold War rhetoric and pursuing the interests of the military-industrial complex, will strive to sharpen geopolitical confrontation.
In this scenario, together with the Baltic states, Romania, and Bulgaria, Poland is being made into a conflict zone, a frontline against the Russian Federation. This conflict will turn from a cold into a hot one the moment that Moscow rejects the neoliberal order and takes decisive action against the interests of international capital and the local oligarchy. This could also happen as soon as Russian society painfully feels the effects of dependence on international commodity and financial markets, and their vulnerability to blackmail. The coming global conflict will ensure that the dividing line between the war party working in the interests of capital and the peace party in the interests of humanity will be of even greater significance. Zmiana is and will be the most consistent representative of the peace party in Poland.
Current conditions render social activism necessary in many spheres at one time. There is the struggle for peace and sovereignty against foreign troops on our territory and for maintaining and rebuilding partnership and mutually beneficial relations with all of our neighbors. There is the fight for Poland’s economic sovereignty, the re-nationalization of the banking and financial sectors and strategic branches of industry. There’s also the introduction of minimum guaranteed prices and contract rules in agriculture and the establishment of anchors for social policies including the regulation of wages and benefits and the setting of regulated maximum prices, e.g. for renting flats. The struggle for culture and education is also extraordinarily important to pull them out of parochialism and douse the fumes of hatred while respecting historical tendencies and national traditions.
The tasks facing Zmiana are undoubtedly difficult ones whose vastness and scale might indeed be frightening. Realizing them necessitates the creation of a broad social movement bringing together different organizations and groupings on an equal footing. It is certainly worth attempting to cooperate even with those forces with whom we only partially agree, even if our differences are insurmountable in other cases. Socialists, syndicalists, nationalists, identitarians, agrarians, traditionalists, anti-globalists, and new social movements can all be Zmiana’s allies. We should be characterized by our openness and capacity for discussion and debate with everyone without prejudice, resentment, or aggression. The current system’s victims include almost everyone besides the managerial class and the ruling elites carrying out the orders of their patrons in Washington. Hence why Zmiana’s open, broad formula is indispensable.
Specific programmatic proposals are obviously important, including discussing the system which we must build beforehand in a wide format. Zmiana has many excellent specialists in different fields. Each of them have potential which we must use. The synergistic effect of cooperation between people with different experiences and ways of life, intellectual types, and sensitivities will yield the best political vision, the most comprehensive and consistent one among all of those existing in modern Poland.
I am awaiting the moment when I will be able to join you on the other side of this wall. Zmiana has led, is leading, and will lead only legal actions so that the system will not be able to deprive all of us of our freedom without any reason. We must also use any and all institutions defending human and civil rights. Even though the doctrine of individualist liberalism standing behind such can arouse doubt, they can still provide crucial support in exposing the hypocrisy of the ‘shining democratic system.’ Breaking down information barriers and taking advantage of the freedoms of speech and assembly will allow our message to reach a growing number of Poles. Of course, this has nothing to do with the ‘democracy’ of the Democracy Defense Committee (KOD) or the current parliamentary opposition, both of which have their roots deep in the pathologies of neoliberalism itself. We mean people’s and national democracy based on the republican belief that only the informed and knowledgeable citizen can make conscious, informed decisions.
I believe in you and in our mission. I know that the pain and suffering of my loved ones brought by my arrest is not in vain. I know that, regardless of the scale of repression and persecution, we will win in the end.
Dr. Mateusz Piskorski
P.S. I hereby invite everyone to the March in Remembrance of Andzrej Lepper, organized by Zmiana to commemorate one of the heroes mentioned in this letter, on August 6th at 14:00 to 30 Aleje Jerozolimskie street in Warsaw, the site where his memorial plaque is set.”