The Other Poland

Recently, the European Parliament condemned the Polish government’s attempt to strip Bronislaw Geremek of his parliamentary mandate. A leader of Solidarity, a former political prisoner, and the foreign minister responsible for Poland’s accession to NATO, Geremek had refused to sign yet another declaration that he had not been a communist secret police agent.

The EU parliamentarians called the Polish government’s actions a witch-hunt, and Geremek declared Poland’s “lustration” law a threat to civil liberties. In response, Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused Geremek of “damaging his fatherland” and “provoking an anti-Polish affair.” The same phrases were used by Communists when Geremek criticized their misrule.

A ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Court issued on May 11 gutted much of the lustration law, and made Germek’s position in the EU parliament safe – at least for now. But the lustration law was but one act among many in a systematic effort by Poland’s current government to undermine the country’s democratic institutions and fabric.

What is happening in Poland, the country where communism’s downfall began? Every revolution has two phases. First comes a struggle for freedom, then a struggle for power. The first makes the human spirit soar and brings out the best in people. The second unleashes the worst: envy, intrigue, greed, suspicion, and the urge for revenge.