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Sunday, May 19, 2024

I’m going back to Switzerland. Maciej Wierzyński’s column

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In the previous text, I quoted Benia Krzyk, the hero of Isaac Babel’s Odessa Stories. In the past, quoting Benia Krzyk, and in fact Babel, was in good taste, today Babel has gone out of fashion, but it is still suitable for quoting no worse than, say, Olga Tokarczuk or Michał Rusinek.

So let me remind you once again of Babel’s words praising charms Switzerland, as a place where God, probably by mistake, did not settle Jews “among first-class lakes, mountainous air and the French themselves”. Today, when the world order is shaken, it is worth remembering that there are countries on the globe that others envy, even though they do not use the services of the Good Name Redoubt to improve the opinion of their homeland in the world. Such a rarity is the case of Switzerland, and that is why I am writing about it again.

And there is another reason. People ruling Poland talk a lot about the need to make up for the neglect left by their predecessors. For example: I heard with my own ears that Prime Minister Morawiecki, explaining the failure of the apartment+ program, blamed Donald Tusk and governments of the Civic Platform. Of course, the lack of housing, especially for poor people, especially young people, is a serious problem, but not Tusk’s fault, but inherited from real socialism. So the question arises: why does the heroic fighter of Fighting Solidarity, and our Prime Minister likes to play this role, pick on Tusk and not the communists? The reason, in my opinion, is simple: bright campaign planning boys rightly saw that a competitor PiS Communists are not in power in this campaign. He is not Gierek or Gomułka, this rival is Donald Tusk, and the nation should be scared with him. It is Tusk that a true Polish patriot should be afraid of.

But let’s go back to Switzerland. Switzerland is also associated with elections in Poland, because the electoral program implemented by the currently ruling team is the opposite of what the Swiss owe their success to. In the book “Swiss Made”, its author, R. James Breiding, allows himself the following remark: “Although the Swiss, in the long history of their statehood, have invented many wonderful things, unfortunately they have not been able to find a cure against excessive complacency.” As – let’s pretend – a child of the People’s Republic of Poland, I remember that a disease for which even the pharmaceutical company Pfizer had not invented a cure was called “success vertigo”. Well, if they can even the Swiss get sick, what can we say about our Prime Minister, according to whom the whole world looks with envy at our successes.

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I suspect, moreover, that Morawiecki directs his self-praise to one addressee, who is located at Nowogrodzka Street in Warsaw, rather than to various Poles living at different addresses. The addressee from Nowogrodzka does not know the world and holds the prime minister who has foreign languages ​​as an expert on the West. In Switzerland, where the law has – to the dismay of the dominant German-speaking population – established four official languages, our poor CEO would be better off: he wouldn’t have to trust a single expert because he would be surrounded by herds of obliging polyglots, but in other respects he would have such a president worse. I will quote here another critical enthusiast of Switzerland – a foreigner, by the way. This foreigner believes that the Swiss political system is conducive to avoiding such mistakes, because there is “direct democracy, self-determination of municipalities and regions, de-professionalization of the political class, and the Swiss do not trust professional politicians or any state authorities.” These are the reasons why I stubbornly recommend Switzerland as a role model.

At the beginning of our transformation, i.e. thirty years ago, there were more such maniacs, supporters of turning Poland into Switzerland. Over the years, when they came to power, they found out how difficult it is to “rule Swiss”. In the name of efficiency, they resigned from other institutions that made it difficult to rule – truly public media, apolitical civil service, regional autonomy and the idea of ​​self-governance. Fortunately, private property remains sacred. For how long? I do not know, because powerful state-owned companies dominating the market, humbly implementing government policy, tempt all governments with their allure.

This is clearly visible in the media market. It is impossible to govern it effectively when foreign companies have so much to say about it. Unfortunately, we must realize that the order to earn money is only sometimes tantamount to the ideal of freedom of speech. This dilemma was not solved even by the inventive Swiss.

Opinions expressed in columns for tvn24.pl are not the editorial position.


Maciej Wierzyński – TV journalist, publicist. After the introduction of martial law, he was released from TVP. In 1984 he emigrated to USA. He was a scholarship holder at Stanford University and Penn State University. He founded the first multi-hour Polish-language Polvision channel on cable television “Group W” in the USA. In the years 1992-2000 he was the head of the Polish Section of the Voice of America in Washington. Since 2000, editor-in-chief of the New York “Nowy Dziennik”. Since 2005, he has been associated with TVN24.

Main photo source: TVN24

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