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Friday, June 21, 2024

Maciej Wierzyński’s column: Gęk symetristy

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I came across an old issue of the monthly “Znak” from June 1998, almost 25 years ago. In this issue, the monthly, whose editor at that time was Jarosław Gowin – this fact alone shows that we are dealing with prehistory – printed a discussion on morality in politics. The theme, perhaps not as exotic as the guest lineup.

They took part in the discussion Jaroslaw Gowin, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Adam Michnik, Dariusz Gawin, Andrzej Walicki, Józef Tischner, Henryk Woźniakowski, Jacek Salij, Kazimierz Orłoś, Aleksander Smolar, Zbigniew Romaszewski, Andrzej Zoll and Paweł Śpiewak. And I don’t mean that these people couldn’t be seated at the same table today. The thing is, today they probably wouldn’t want to talk to each other. Instead of talking, they would be insulting each other. Or even worse – none of the editors would think that it would be appropriate to sit these people next to each other.

But it is not everything. The discussion was provoked by the text of prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, earlier Archbishop Józef Życiński and Professor Ryszard Legutko spoke. In text From the editor we read that this is a return to the topic of morality and politics, because the editors believe that “the existence of democracy in Poland does not seem to be threatened”, but “its quality is a concern”. These noble words also do not raise objections today, but it is astounding that there were times in Poland when not only the names of Michnik, Legutka, Krasnodębski, Zolla, Salija appeared in the pages of the same magazine, but also their texts. And that the authors did not invent the agents of foreign powers, but gave the impression that they allowed the idea that people are not obliged to think alike.

Today, these same people have locked themselves in their societies, which are called information bubbles. And in these bubbles they talk to like-minded people, they laugh at the same jokes, in a word, they fall into mental poverty, which is harmful not only to democracy, but generally to life in the collective called society. Let me explain in advance – professors Krasnodębski and Legutko are not my masters, but I think it’s worth knowing what they think.

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In the times of real socialism, it was common to complain about the authorities, which suppressed all deviations from the official truth about the world. The highest value was considered to be “the moral and political unity of the nation”, i.e. a state in which everyone thinks and says the same thing. Today, within the “bubbles” there is also moral and political unity, fortunately, there are still no tools to enforce it, but I suppose that many politicians would like to bring them back to life. For example: because I like to know how people whose gray cells work differently from mine think, I read the magazine “Sieci” quite regularly and every week I find out from it what a terrible threat to our country are the scheming Eurocrats from Brussels. So far, the result of these schemes me and a lot of my countrymen quite like, so I think with fear of the day when these monstrous Eurocrats will lose their patience with us. I am preparing myself and my family scattered around the world for such an opportunity. This is one of the reasons why I buy “Networks” from time to time, because I hope that reading this will help me understand what they really think and I will set my foot in the world, just like in 1984 I managed to elude Jaruzel. And it’s much easier today than it was then. And back to the bubbles…

In “Rzeczpospolita”, a newspaper that I like, read and respect, Bogusław Chrabota, probably out of fear of the opinion prevailing in his “bubble”, found it necessary to explain why he printed the text of Jacek Kurski, sent by the President for a well-paid job at the Bank global.

The job of journalism is to inform. About how much Kurski is worth as a representative of Poland in the World Bank, the article of us – the readers of “Rzepa” – exhaustively informed. We learned from Jacek Kurski himself, i.e. first hand, that he, Kurski, is worth nothing as a representative of Poland in the World Bank, and the only thing he cares about, the only thing he wants to do in Washington, is to improve relations with Morawiecki. So there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The turnip did what it had to do. Although the sense of loyalty to his own “bubble” made him explain why he did something so outrageous.

I realize that expressing such opinions exposes me to the accusation of symmetry, because I give the rostrum to Kurski. This is true, but I also believe that Kurski will discredit himself better than his enemies repeating over and over Kurski is a cynic, he only looks out for his own interests. Partisanship is, in my view, the enemy of credibility.

The ideal I preach is difficult or even unattainable. That’s true, but let’s consider which is more damaging in the long run: the recognition that an ideal is hard to achieve, or the conclusion that if it is, then let’s not bother with ideals and let’s do what is beneficial for us at the moment.

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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