Escape from the truth
Wieslawa Lewandowska talks to Prof. Jacek Trznadel about political disdain and vulgarity, the pseudo-authorities and the ‘poison’, which made ‘the stupefied nation mad.’
Wieslawa Lewandowska: – Your initiative to gather signatures under the appeal to Prime Minister Donald Tusk to establish an international technical commission to explain the causes of the plane crash at Smolensk has been supported by over 50,000 people. Have you received any answer from the Prime Minister?
Prof. Jacek Trznadel: – Yes, I have, but only recently, two months after the appeal was written. It was not the Prime Minister that answered but Minister Tomasz Arabski, the Head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. The justification was extensive, on almost three pages: the investiture of such a commission was not possible then and is not possible now.
– Were you surprised at the Prime Minister’s refusal?
– Frankly speaking, I did not expect any answer. And when I received I was not surprised at its content. As early as on 19th April, which is the date of my appeal to the Prime Minister, it was evident that the activities of the government were at least odd and did not aim at explaining the true causes of the crash. It was made clearer with time. In my later commentary to my appeal I wrote about the improper reaction of the Polish government to the tragedy at Smolensk, i.e. entrusting Russia with the investigation. Has Russia changed enough since the completely falsified communiqué of the special commission of Nikolai Burdenko concerning the Katyn affair of 1944? The recent statements about Katyn have not confirmed that. Will the investigation conducted by the Russians be accurate and careful? The last publications concerning the Russian MAK, which is investigating the causes of the plane crash, confirm the mafia character of the investigation.
– But the Polish government has big confidence in the Russian investigating officers and Prime Minister Putin, and its befriended elites have expressed their indignation at every expression showing lack of such trust since it could thwart, as it was stressed, the chances of the Polish-Russian reconciliation…
– It is propaganda like during the times of the Polish People’s Republic. Commenting the appeal to Prime Minister Tusk briefly at my webpage I had in mind numerous contemporary examples of political crimes in Russia and deceptions connected with them, the lack of results of the investigations, e.g. concerning the cases of Litvinenko, Politkovska, Starovoitova… I was also morally disgusted when during the funeral Mass in St Mary’s Bronislaw Komorowski dared to speak about the benefits of the crash, which was to be some improvement of the Polish-Russian relationships.
– You have not managed to change the decisions of the government but perhaps some part of our society has been made to think, to ask questions…
– In Poland it is very difficult to have some critical reflection because of the special media-political situation… Therefore, the discussions about this issue are being conducted only in the Internet and not in the other media, the majority of which favours the option of the government. But the 10 April Movement was created and it organised demonstrations in front of the Presidential Palace and organised gathering of signatures. We all collected some 60,000 signatures. It was significant enough to gain the attention of Peter King, an American congressman. He presented a resolution in the US Congress, which will be probably debated after vacations. It concerns the investiture of an international commission to investigate the Smolensk crash.
– In the meantime there have been many different, worse or better justified, speculations and questions, e.g. why did the Polish government entrust the Russians with the investigation without any debate although – we know it today – it did not have to do it?
– The reason may be that because of some remissness the government could have contributed to the crash. In such a case it would have been safer to ask the Russians to investigate the matter and even to plead helplessness because then they did not need to seek very diligently the causes in their own activities. It was clear a priori that the Russians would not look for any remissness of the Polish government and at the most they would show the fault of those who lost their lives… But thus the Polish government can become a hostage to the Russian interests and influences…
– One of the most politically improper speculations about the causes of the crash at Smolensk is the consideration of the possibility of an assassination coup. In Poland it was presumed that a coup was out of the question and all those who suggested this theory were mocked. Do you still uphold your daring conviction that a coup was possible?
– According to me what the Russians are doing is not only rolling out this investigation like a cake with holes is rolled out but also a potential attempt to cover a coup, which I do not exclude. I want to say more. Since 19th April, when I announced my appeal to the Prime Minister, my suspicions have been intensified.
– From what has been announced it is clear that several seconds before the crash the plane was uncontrollable and was not descending but it was falling at a huge speed. So the steering system was damaged and the navigation tools might have been damaged, too. And at the same time, the Russians illogically state that the Tupolev aircraft was in a perfect technical condition. The location of the remains of the aircraft makes one suspect that one of the engines came off in the air. I have seen tens of plane wrecks in documentary pictures and only Tupolev, which fell from the height of only several meters, has not any preserved bigger past of the passenger cabin. The investigating officers do not ask about the reason… There are more and more logical and technical questions, which obviously are spread only in the Internet. Some pilots-specialists fret about the utter nonsense, which the pseudo-specialists say purposely in the press, assuming the pilots’ error. The Russian investigating officers excel in blaming the pilots. There is no evidence for that in this case. And the Polish media speculate with almost maniacal foolishness. Why don’t the aircraft authorities defend the honour of the Polish pilots?
– Besides the conviction about the pilots’ error there is another suggestion – almost a minute after the crash – that President Lech Kaczynski should have been blamed… Today this theory returns and various people, first of all one of the closest collaborators of the Prime Minister and the Vice-President of the Civic Platform Janusz Palikot persists in spreading it whereas the media are discussing the content of the black boxes assuming his attitude.
– How many pages have been devoted to the assumption that it was the Polish President who caused the crash? Soon this dangerous cynic Palikot will say that during landing the President put a gun to Major Protasiuk’s head. Some importunate seeking of the dead person’s fault since during the flight he looked through the window too much… All of that creates a desirable chaos, turning our attention from simple ascertainments and from all activities of the government. Instead of approaching the truth we are departing from it, drowning in a funny and sometimes simply villainous media noise. Such people like Palikot make this noise. They are trying to divert the public opinion from the truth, ridicule the very pursuit of the truth. In a normal country such a person would be taken to court for throwing calumnies but here his party colleagues and the Prime Minister himself show extraordinary tolerance towards his views.
– But this cynical Janusz Palikot evokes sympathy of many people because he allegedly says what others are afraid of speaking aloud...
– To my surprise it was the writer Eustachy Rylski who has expressed such an opinion recently. Does Rylski share the opinion that Kaczynski is a masked wolf to be shot off? Does he think that Palikot was right to compare Jaroslaw Kaczynski to the hero of the ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, i.e. to the psychopathic and unimaginably cruel murderer? Rylski himself writes that Palikot says what all people think and are afraid of saying, ‘about the terror that the minority used towards the majority, ashamed by this absurd crash…’ And that ‘there is more of Mrozek than of Shakespeare in it.’ Once I voted to give the Jozef Mackiewicz Prize for Rylski’s important literary work and now he himself is destroying his name…
– It is shameful that Palikot’s theses and vulgarisms appeal to the Polish elites so easily because he is rather trying to incite those who cannot think themselves, show them the proper object of hatred…
– In sociological thinking the activities of Palikot and people like him seem to be striking examples of the present totalisation of authority and social mentality. We know this type of incitement of public opinion from the history of Germany, not mentioning the history of Russia. The prosecutor Wyszynski shouted, ‘They should be shot like mad dogs!’ If Palikot uses such formulations as ‘shoot off Jaroslaw Kaczynski’ we should remember that people shouted similarly after the assassination of President Narutowicz! Palikot wants to remove the coffins of the presidential couple from the Wawel Cathedral. There were people who removed the deceased from their graves in the revolutionary France and red Spain. Wait until Palikot’s list of those unworthy buried at the Wawel is extended, perhaps he will want to remove Slowacki as well? It is paranoiacs and not journalists that give him a credit of confidence and make horrifying interviews with him.
–You are giving a depressing diagnosis of Poland’s future and perhaps what is happening today is only a political folklore and empty media noise?
– Even if it is an artificial noise, it is certain that it serves turning attention from the important Polish matters and first of all, I think, is calculated to depreciate and destroy the opposition. The thing is that people should be concerned about Palikot’s calumnies and not the real critical reflection on the Polish reality. Why is such a man still one of the Vice-Presidents of the ruling party in Poland? Is it not strange and horrible that the high-ranking politicians, belonging to the allegedly enlightened party, agree to this criminal agitation that is to incite the nation? In the society that is incited by hateful propaganda of the totalitarian type there are always individuals that are ready to make fascist actions. One should really fear that today…
– Maybe these are only words, words… more or less stupid?
– These are funny but at the same time dangerous words! If in the late 1990s Zbigniew Herbert spoke about the semantic collapse in Poland, said that words lost their proper meanings, I would say that the brutal words uttered today mean exactly what they mean. If Palikot uses some clear formulations that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a murderer and psychopath it is not any semantic collapse but attack, which should be punished by virtue of the penal code, especially that it concerns the leader of the opposition in the allegedly democratic country. But the spokesperson of the Civic Platform says that Palikot’s freedom of speech is most important… I have lived the times when one totalises public opinion to establish the dictatorship of one and only right political formation. There is no censorship bill but unwritten censorship penetrates the media. That’s why and fortunately, the socio-political journalism is developing in the Internet, replacing what was the paper ‘second circulation’ during the marshal law.
– Oh, you are exposing yourself to the Polish elites whose majority supports, like never before, the ruling coalition?
– Has such a big homogeneity been created? I think that today in independent Poland the public opinion is manipulated by pseudoauthorities! The situation was similar after the war when the outstanding, appreciated writers in the 20-year period between the wars, suddenly supported Stalinism using the rightly gained authority. Then many of them were ‘converted’ and denied their attitudes… While conducting the author’s evening with Adam Wazyk I heard him say, ‘I go mad!’ But it was not an attempt to avoid responsibility but simply acknowledgement of the defeat of his mind…
– Isn’t your comparison of these two epochs too drastic?
– Perhaps it is but for the disadvantage of the present epoch! Those representatives of the intellectual elite escaped into stupid hope before the fresh memories and horrible experiences of man’s fall. They experienced a terrible war, which favoured extreme choices, acceptance of Stalin’s temptation. And today I am simply astonished by the rankling attitude of many old men the nation respects, men who vividly remind us of Stalin’s propagandists. They could be regarded as pitifully comic ‘stars’ of the political Polish pop culture if not for the effects of their activities. The harmful thing is first of all that their statements, including those in the international forum, as world-known Polish authorities, form an untrue picture of our national matters. And the whole council of our elderly from who we would expect wisdom is often a council of clowns, not having the style of Stanczyk, not having the wisdom of the royal jesters. They are only prompters of suggested stupidity, today including – unfortunately – the legendary figure of Walesa. I am asking only one question, ‘Why do the journalists quote eagerly the opinions of prompters and make their odd thoughts known to the public?’ Indeed, this rush at the most shocking statements replaces analyses of important facts in the media.
– It may result from their desire to make work easy or perhaps their too much emotional involvement in one political option which all people, even journalists, and especially socio-political ones, have the right?
– Certainly, but I would not describe this odd and dangerous phenomenon only in the categories of political fight. In my opinion we are dealing with some half-conscious sliding of Poland towards a totalitarian situation, towards false homogeneity. We can only hope that people will see arrogance and lies and they will express their discontent. But our society has gone so far away from the practices of democracy that people do not make any requirements at all; they do not demand any explanations!
– You are referring to the investigation of the crash at Smolensk?
– Yes, but not only to that. There are many facts that are not simply spoken of. And concerning the crash a Smolensk – how was the nation treated? Someone allowed manipulating, without any Polish control, the remains of the victims that were so dear to us. The remains of the plane were left unattended at the site, which crowds could visit, as if visiting interesting festivities. Disdain! There were also cases of ordinary robbery of the victims by the guards and to erase the dishonour from the Russians they were awarded Polish distinctions… The Russians want to question the relatives of the victims, including perhaps their children, but the Polish prosecutor’s office reversed the decision to question the Prime Minister and President-elect! And who knows more than them what was just before the crash and soon after it?! Jurisdiction is getting much closer to the executive power, despite democracy… But all of that is transmitted to every field of social life in our country. Let us recollect the recent flood, ‘why wasn’t such a huge disaster recognised and the elections postponed? Should the government have not justified that decision?
– The election results show that half of Poland and perhaps most Polish elites did not share the bad opinion about the government, spread by the losing ‘minority.’
– But this ‘minority’ is almost as big as the ‘majority’! The fact is that in Poland we have two elites like it was towards the end of the 18th century… Then there were the patriots graduating from the School of Chivalry and those who attended the Targowica school… However, there was a situation of big mob law… When Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz published his book ‘Wieszanie’ [Lynch Law] in which he described cases of lynch in the streets of Warsaw at the end of the 18th century, I thought that the long period of injustice without tribunal might, unfortunately, end like that. May the mob not replace courts!… That book was an important warning. And today Rymkiewicz’s opposition and attitude are bothersome and people want to show them as whims… Because he shows the existence of another elite. I am glad that the great talent of this writer provides a new work.
– But these true great figures are often excommunicated and the symbol of the Polish elite is ‘a philosopher, politician and owner’ (as he eagerly presents himself) Janusz Palikot...
– I think that his symbolic figure will wander in our history like the body of some Sicinski that could not find a place of eternal rest during the period of the First Republic. It was him, using liberum veto as the first person, that broke the meeting of the Parliament and then the collapse of the Commonwealth began…
It is what Adam Mickiewicz wrote in his poem ‘Popas w Upicie’ [The Layout in Upita], Jego trucizną naród zdurzony oszalał,/ On królom ręce związał, kraj klęskami zalał! [The nation went mad, intoxicated with his poison/ He tied the kings’ hands/ flooded the country with disasters]. In my opinion the puppets of the government do exactly the same… Fortunately, history left us proper evaluations and instructions. Many Poles know them.
– Meanwhile we have two Polands; we are living in two mentally and socially separated worlds…
– … and in one of these worlds we have some of Sarmatian Poland where patriotism was unimportant, when the Prussian and Swedish kings ruled us… ‘Eat, drink and loosen your belt’ – the common saying. Today we add shouts of aggression, slander and disdain. However, I fear that we can have political violence, not only intellectual one but also physical one…