In the excellent Polish television series titled Krol (The king), the hero is a Jewish boxer from Warsaw who does the dirty work of a communist trade unionist who extorts small traders in the ghetto. Two years before the invasion of Poland, Jakub Szapiro tries to survive in a world where the communist mafia and fascist groups compete for power. When the opportunity presents itself to save his family and flee to Israel, he cannot bring himself to do so. Despite the tragedy that looms, he chooses his roots, Poland and its tragic history.
The scenario is confusing as is often the reality of these former countries of Eastern Europe, as long as we accept to understand them. “Diversity” is always easier to brandish than to live with. We have a glaring example of this these days as Poland is nailed to the pillory of self-righteousness by a technocracy convinced to represent the epitome of modernity.
On October 7, the Polish Constitutional Court ruled that Articles 1 (which promotes an “ever closer” Union) and 19 (relating to the Court of Justice of the EU) of the Union Treaty were contrary to the Polish constitution. Rejecting the primacy of European law over the rules democratically adopted by the people, the court thus affirmed that Poland intended to remain sovereign in all areas where it had not delegated powers to the Union.
The Poles are not the only ones to think so. Several French judgments point in the same direction. On May 5, 2020, it is in this spirit that the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled the ECB’s “quantitative easing” policy contrary to European treaties. This judgment was the last in a series considering that in the European Union, the ultimate seat of power cannot reside elsewhere than in the nations and their parliaments, the only real places of democracy.
All that was needed was for the Commission, whose members are not accountable to anyone, to threaten Little Poland with financial reprisals. The dispute between Brussels and Warsaw is not new. Not a day without the Poles being reproached for betraying the “fundamental values” of the EU by not communicating, for example, to the idea that the technocrats in Brussels have about the rights of homosexuals, the family and rule of law.
To these often well-founded criticisms, the Poles and their Hungarian friends rightly retort that they are not Texas and that not a word in the treaties obliges the member states to have the same laws and the same ideas in these matters. A champion of economic liberalism (and “fiscal dumping”!), Ireland has long banned abortion without, it seems, offending the “values” of the EU.
The same is not true of the Poles, whom Europe looks down on as if they were a bunch of latecomers who will one day end up obeying the diktats of “modernity” of which Brussels would be the indisputable beacon. It would not occur to the technocrats of the flat country that the journey of these nations has something to teach us and that our “modernity” is far from making them dream.
Hungarians and Poles may know more about “modernity” than we do. Is it not in his name that the proletarian vanguards have despised man as rarely in history. Heir to Kafka, Vaclav Havel saw in the experience of communist totalitarianism “a magnifying mirror of modern civilization as a whole”. Milan Kundera also saw in it, “in a hyperbolized and caricatural version, the common features of the modern world”. And the novelist quotes “institutional arrogance”, “standardization”, “juvenile imbecile” and “disrespect for the individual and for his private life”. Doesn’t that remind you of something?
All the polls show that the Poles are as much if not more attached than the French and the Germans to Europe. They alone dare to speak of “Europe of nations” and “European civilization”. They quickly recognized under the progressive varnish a little smell of empire. As if by chance, after Moscow, it is Brussels’ turn to demonize patriotism, national identity, religious roots, family and classical culture. However, these “values” formerly qualified as “bourgeois” are those which have served as a refuge for the Poles whenever the country has been butchered as it has been so many times in history.
How to blame the Poles for not swapping the prey for the shadows and for not sacrificing an identity to which they owe their survival for a Grail that no longer makes anyone dream? Quebeckers should be the first to understand that Poles do not wish to one day find themselves in the situation where a foreign court which obeys another nation will decide some of the most vital elements of their identity.