Omar and Osama's Kampf
History possesses many stories like this: a political party emerges, and most people think it a bad or sick joke. Everyone tries to ignore it; that is, when they are not laughing at it. Suddenly, the economy becomes bad or an external threat looms and that party marches toward power. When it seizes the government - think of Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini, even of Mullah Omar in Afghanistan - all laughter stops.
In Poland, a ``joke'' party of malignant intentions is emerging. Called ``Self-defense,'' it voices (it says) the discontents of poor farmers and those displaced and radically dissatisfied with politics here. The leader of ``Self-defense'' is a shrill primitive named Andrzej Lepper. A thuggish guttersnipe more akin to Aleksander Lukashenka, the dictator of Belarus, than to the great dictators, Lepper nonetheless represents a hideous post-modern form of irrational politics.
For this reason, I cannot laugh at him. Hitler, Lenin, and Mussolini sought power in order to use the state to impose their will and their programs. Today's anti-democrats, however, view the state as an obstacle. They want to gut state power so that jackals like themselves can feed on the corpse.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in