Poland is in the center of Europe. Poles often stress that their country is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe. The title of Norman Davies’ immense study of Poland is The Heart of Europe. Indeed, throughout history Poland has been central to the European experience, from the medieval curriculum at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and… Continue reading Poland on the Economic Periphery
Neo-liberalism, like the famous cat, seems to have nine lives in Poland. The effort to cut back the state and give freer rein to the market has suffered at least three near-death experiences. The initial “shock therapy” approach implemented by Leszek Balcerowicz in the first Solidarity-affiliated government in 1990 generated such high unemployment and social… Continue reading The Strange Non-Death of Polish Neo-Liberalism
When revolutions happen bloodlessly, it’s usually because some part of the elite has found its place in the new order. They don’t just open up the gates of the city to let in the Trojan Horse. They become founding members of the Trojan Horse party. They set up kiosks that sell Trojan Horse trinkets. They… Continue reading What Happened to the Red Capitalists?
Its corner location was unbeatable. But Brave New World cafe faced steep competition on Warsaw’s most fashionable thoroughfare: a pricey French bakery, a trendy sushi restaurant and the famous Café Blickle, which began serving coffee and pastries long before World War I. Moreover, as even its passionate defenders would admit, the food at Brave New… Continue reading Meet the Polish Activists on the Cutting Edge of a Possible Left Resurgence in Eastern Europe
There is an infamous story in Poland about a sign at the shipyard in Gdansk where the trade union movement Solidarity got started in 1980. Although nobody actually saw the sign, many people firmly believe that it existed. The sign read: “Women, do not disturb us. We are fighting for Poland.” “The sign is very… Continue reading Poland’s Feminist Genealogy
Poland was both the most likely and the most unlikely place to expect the rebirth of the Left. The country has a rich Left tradition that predates the Communist period, and many figures of the anti-Communist opposition, like Jacek Kuron, considered themselves on the Left. At the same time, however, the Polish Left has already… Continue reading Reinventing the Left in Poland
The great Polish playwright and intellectual Slawomir Mrozek was best known for his absurdist plays, most of them written after he’d gone into exile in 1963. I saw his play The Emigrants performed by two enterprising Polish actors in a camper van parked on a Dublin street as part of the Fringe festival there a… Continue reading The Revolution Devours Its Children