Public and Private in Poland
(Photo: Magro / Flickr Commons)
by John Feffer
In Poland, the market has replaced Solidarity as a symbol of civil society
Poles are happier than they've been in years. More than 80 percent report that they are "very happy" or "quite happy," and that number has risen steadily since 2000. But happiness in Poland seems to derive largely from private life. There's not a lot of volunteering, and even the rates of Church attendance have been going down. Although Poles still value democracy as a concept, they have very little trust in their politicians. They also have very little trust in each other. Only 12 percent believe that "most people are trustworthy," which puts Poland near the bottom of the European rankings. These social attitudes also reflect an overall lack of tolerance toward minorities. For instance, only 9 percent of Poles think that homosexuals "ought to be able to arrange their lives in accordance with their own convictions."
These figures come from the most recent Social Diagnosis, a comprehensive analysis of Polish attitudes that psychologist Janusz Czapinski has been conducting since 2000. It's perhaps not surprising that even 25 years after the end of Communism, Poles are in retreat from the public sphere. But this was also the country where trade unionists and intellectuals in the 1980s constantly spoke of the values of civil society. For a time, Solidarity with its 10 million members was a symbol of this civil society. Increasingly, after 1989, the market replaced Solidarity as this symbol.
"At the beginning of the 1990s I was involved in the topic of civil society, which was an East-Central Europe sort of topic," philosopher and diplomat Piotr Ogrodzinski told me when I met up with him after 23 years in Warsaw in August 2013. "The main thrust of my argument was that there is a strong logical relationship between market economy and democracy. I never interpreted civil society simply as a set of NGOs. I saw it as a certain structure of society in which the state is externalized -- this is the Hegelian sense of civil society -- so that there is a space for freedom of action. The market is logically a type of such activity. There are certain rules but within the rules there is room for initiative. But that was probably the mainstream thinking of quite a few people at that time, that if you want to have democracy you need to have a market economy. It had a catastrophic result for those who were largely the real authors of the transition, since the power of Solidarnosc was connected to the great industrial plants, which very often proved to be economically inefficient."
But Ogrodzinski has been rethinking the concept of civil society. "If I have time to write a book properly, I would start by criticizing the concept of civil society and try to find another way of expressing certain issues other than the purely economic one," he told me.
One of those issues would be the exercise of freedom and the expression of tolerance. "In a sense I'm proud that Poland, which did quite poorly at the Olympic games in London, did very well as far as handicapped people are concerned," he continued. "The Polish people were interested in the Paralympics. People with handicaps have rights and are using their rights. So, the space for freedom has increased. The same thing is happening in this society's attitude toward women's rights and toward animal rights. A lot still must be done. But in comparison to 23 years ago, there is a much stronger understanding of the need for tolerance. That doesn't mean that everyone is tolerant, but it is a step forward."
Despite progress along this dimension, the overall lack of trust in political elites has also prevented the formulation of new directions for Poland. "Generally speaking, we have deep crisis of political elites at this point, which is incapable of producing a new concept for changing reality and to organize the political scene," Ogrodzinski concluded. "This is something I'm very worried about. Reading Manuel Castells this morning, I was a little surprised that this crisis of the political elite is not just happening in Poland. It is happening in many other places. It is a sign of the present dynamic that the changes are so dramatic that it's difficult to create a synthetic direction of where you want to go. There are too many options going in different directions."
We talked about how he first got involved in the Polish opposition in the 1970s, his experience working at the Polish embassy in Washington, and why Poland needs a signature product in the same way that Finland has Nokia.
You were talking about the general lack of interest in 1989.
The young generation here in central Europe is not really very keen to reflect on the transition from Communism because they treat the present-day reality as given. They have problems that require them to look at the future and not into the past. In the United States I heard people saying that 1989 was a very long time ago when the dinosaurs were living and the TV was black and white.
Reading a little bit about the topic of democratization, mainly English-speaking authors, I have this impression that the issue of post-Communist transition in East-Central Europe is not a topic of reflection. For example, John Keane published an 800-page book on democratization, and it doesn't mention Solidarnosc. I read everything between the covers. There's an interesting chapter on the first Polish commonwealth, the Polish parliament between the 16-18thcenturies that was very democratic. It was elected by the nobility, which was 10 percent of society. So in terms of the size of the electorate, I believe it was more democratic than 19th-century Great Britain according to the census. But Keane didn't care to mention Solidarnosc. Keane is an Australian professor but prominent in political philosophy. He's quite well known. But he's of the Left orientation. And probably for someone in the Left paradigm, the transition, especially in Poland, is difficult to cope with. The values, to them, seem incoherent. There is a lot of God and a lot of proletariat, both things at the same time.
Here in Poland, does the young generation have the same lack of interest in 1989?
I'm not a teacher. It would be imprudent to make some generalizations. My impression is that young people now in Poland are in a very demanding situation that requires them to manage things that have nothing to do with what happened in the Polish People's Republic. The main issue is to find a job.
My son is now trying to find a job. He is producing CVs, resumes, letters in unbelievable numbers -- several hundred. He's using Facebook, LinkedIn. These are skills that are foreign to me, but for him it's an issue of life and death. Perhaps that's too strong a word. But he wants to find a job that is more or less consistent with what he learned during his studies, which is difficult.
What did he study?
That's very popular in United States at the moment.
I don't know. He is in Canada at the moment. Within cognitive science, he wants to specialize in something called usability, which means determining which products are more useable and which ones are less useable for people, which is a basic thing for a firm. If you have smartphones of different kinds, some are easier to use than others, even if the capacity of these products is very similar.
Do you remember where you were and what you were thinking when you heard about the Berlin Wall?
I don't remember. It's surprising that I don't remember.
No, I was in Warsaw. I was watching on TV. It was quite awesome. One always enjoys it when one sees the festivities of people, if we can use that term, when people are together and very happy. Obviously it was great. I would have to be very careful in saying what I was thinking about at that moment. But probably we had this feeling that we have pushed a certain change in circumstances that contributed to what we were watching in Berlin.
Some people in Poland have told me that the changes happened much faster in other countries in the fall of 1989 compared to what had happened in Poland earlier in the year. So there were mixed feelings that other countries were moving much more rapidly.
No, I don't think so. I think we moved quite rapidly. I was very involved in the elections in June 1989, which were semi-free and which we won nearly completely. We won not because everybody voted for Solidarnosc candidates. We were surprised because we didn't understand the mechanism of democratic elections. If you have a majority evenly spread over the country, then it's obvious that you will win all the seats you are contesting. That was a tremendous victory. I was on the national committee, in the unit that was basically enforcing the "propaganda" that we used. Propaganda is a dirty word in English, but here it just means election promotion. It was very exciting for me. I had the feeling of tremendous success.
It was, as you said, unexpected -- Solidarity lost only one seat.
It was unexpected by almost everyone around. I remember the sociologist Janusz Ziolkowski came to us when we were working in the unit. Several days before the election he told us that we would win everything. We simply didn't believe him. But he had time to think through the consequences. He was aware that the spread of Solidarity's support was even throughout the country. The rest of us, though, were surprised.
You continued your involvement with the Civic Committee afterwards?
I was involved in the first round. In the second round I ceased my involvement because my wife was pregnant, and I was involved in family matters. This boy that I mentioned, who is searching for a job and involved in a startup that will be interesting if it succeeds, was born at the threshold of the third republic -- between the two rounds of this election.
When I talked to you before, you were working on a research unit on Eastern Europe that focused on a number of research topics. How long were you involved there?
It was a comparatively short period that I worked in that research institute. It completely disintegrated very quickly. People were sucked into the foreign ministry. Some went to work at the chancellery of the Sejm. So we were dispersed. I tried to continue, but it didn't really work out.
I started to work at the foreign ministry in 1993. I tried to have some continuity in academia, but it didn't last too long. That was a period when you had to work in four different places to provide for your family. It was a very difficult period in an economic sense. For someone involved in foreign affairs and who cared about Poland, it was quite logical to work for the ministry. During this transition, we needed to have international support and redefine our involvement in the international dimension.
I published a small book called Five Essays on Civil Society. At the beginning of the 1990s I was involved in the topic of civil society, which was an East-Central Europe sort of topic. The main thrust of my argument was that there is a strong logical relationship between market economy and democracy. I never interpreted civil society simply as a set of NGOs. I saw it as a certain structure of society in which the state is externalized -- this is the Hegelian sense of civil society -- so that there is a space for freedom of action. The market is logically a type of such activity. There are certain rules but within the rules there is room for initiative. But that was probably the mainstream thinking of quite a few people at that time, that if you want to have democracy you need to have a market economy. It had a catastrophic result for those who were largely the real authors of the transition, since the power of Solidarnosc was connected to the great industrial plants, which very often proved to be economically inefficient. The current market reality of the Gdansk shipyard is a symbol of such a process.
When we talked in 1990, we discussed the importance of the notion of civil society changing from one of simply being oppositional to the government to a space in which a number of initiatives take place. Have you changed your thinking about that issue over the years since you published the book?
The overemphasis of the concept of civil society is an ideological way of thinking. You can't explain everything with civil society. In the last book by Francis Fukuyama -- the first volume of The Origins of Political Order, his very big analysis of political power -- he doesn't use the concept of civil society but simply the concept of control. On one side there is centralized power and on the other there are people at large, with a balance between these forces. You need centralized power in order to have the state. But at the same time you need space for the people at large, so that they have a capacity to control the state. There is struggle between these two dimensions. In Hegelian terms, the substance of society is freedom. The more freedom there is, the more you need to have space for people to act -- but in a way that is not destructive to others.
In a sense I'm proud that Poland, which did quite poorly at the Olympic games in London, did very well as far as handicapped people are concerned. The Polish people were interested in the Paralympics. People with handicaps have rights and are using their rights. So, the space for freedom has increased. The same thing is happening in this society's attitude toward women's rights and toward animal rights. A lot still must be done. But in comparison to 23 years ago, there is a much stronger understanding of the need for tolerance. That doesn't mean that everyone is tolerant, but it is a step forward.
If I have time to write a book properly, I would start by criticizing the concept of civil society and try to find another way of expressing certain issues other than the purely economic one.
I thought you were going to mention Fukuyama's other book, Trust, and the recognition that some other element had to be present for basic market relations to be successful and for basic political structures to be representative. He identified trust as this element.
I was rereading this book a year ago, and I was surprised at the extent to which he missed the evolutionary process behind this concept. But still the issue is important in the sense that it is easier to change institutions than people's systems of values. Here the continuity between generations is bigger than expected despite the fact that young people have had different experiences. Largely, this is because thinking is very much a social process, in which we use a common language to answer questions asked by many at the same time. We don't think only in our own heads, but we think in dialogue with others.
With respect to civil society, you mentioned the necessary link between markets and democracy. In 1990-91, that was the consensus opinion. Today, it may still be the consensus among some. But there is a lot of disappointment with political elites and political structures, and disappointment with inequality in society. Has that led you or others to reexamine this link?
First of all, we were looking at an authoritarian state that tried to control every aspect of social life and thinking of the market as the externalization of the state that would create a certain space for social activity by the people. The market was a way of creating a power structure that could oppose the state, with the important element that the state should be under the rule of law. There should be a legal structure that defines the rules of the game.
As far as society is concerned, most of the people in Poland are quite satisfied. And in this sense, they accept reality as it is. You know Polish, so you should try to read the focused studies on Polish attitudes conducted by Janusz Czapinski, which he has done every year. It's an in-depth study of every possible element of social life. In spite of the fact that most Poles are deeply disillusioned with social life, they are very happy with private life, family life. In terms of the dimension of happiness, Czapinski believes that it's the highest ever, starting from when this type of study was first conducted. In other words, a lot of Poles, 80 percent, are quite satisfied with private life, which is remarkable. But they are very unhappy about politics.
There are quite a lot of people who did not manage to adapt to the transition. They contest reality in a very symbolic way with an uncritical dream of returning to what was before the changes. This means having social security without answering questions about who will pay for this social security. This phenomenon is the basis for the Law and Justice Party (PiS) to exist. They've made a tremendous attempt to create an opposition party program. But it's really quite shocking how strongly anachronistic this program is. What's really surprising is that they could destroy Platforma [Civic Platform] simply by pointing out what Platforma has promised to do and didn't manage to do -- like a normal opposition party should do. But PiS is incapable of doing this. Instead they operate in the world of symbols.
Generally speaking, we have deep crisis of political elites at this point, which is incapable of producing a new concept for changing reality and to organize the political scene. This is something I'm very worried about. Reading Manuel Castells this morning, I was a little surprised that this crisis of the political elite is not just happening in Poland. It is happening in many other places. It is a sign of the present dynamic that the changes are so dramatic that it's difficult to create a synthetic direction of where you want to go. There are too many options going in different directions.
There are either too many options or no options at all.
Too many options means that you have no options, because you can't do everything.
As you said, this crisis of the political elite -- and the Kaczynski response to it at a symbolic level -- is not just in Poland. Hungary is a primary example. But you can see it in other places in this region and not just in this part of the world.
That's what I was reading yesterday. Castells was describing Italy and Spain. Berlusconi can be treated as a type of leader who is using the mass media in this symbolic way. This personalization of politics in Italy as well -- that was really a surprise to me. Seen from this perspective, or from the perspective of the fall of Zapatero in Spain, it seems that Kaczynski is not as anachronistic as one would like him to be. At the same time, he is a leader of a party that lost the elections six times. And he is still leader of the party! It's unbelievable.
Orban too lost elections in Hungary. But in losing he learned a great deal about how to survive politically.
Orban was able to maintain the momentum of frustration. And that is what Kaczynski is basically doing. Fortunately for Orban, he did not have the problem of Smolensk, like Kaczynski. Smolensk is difficult for many Poles to handle simply because it is so negative.
Wouldn't Smolensk create a huge amount of sympathy for Kaczynski, since of course his brother died in the crash?
Yes, initially. But it is difficult to hear the same story along with the same few unrealistic ideas for three years. Mourning, traditionally, is something you should do for a loved one for one year, but not for three years.
When you went into the foreign ministry in 1993 you were responsible for NATO, EU accession?
Initially I was in the planning department where I did various things, including writing briefs for the minister. I started at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, which was integrated into the ministry with the old guard. A lot of people had been working there for many years, including during the Polish People's Republic. I started as a deputy director, knowing nothing about international affairs. But I was handy because of two elements. I was a Solidarity guy, who also had been involved in the underground, so I was recognizable to new political elites. On the other hand, I was the son of my father, who had been a diplomat in the Polish People's Republic, and so I was acceptable to the old guard. I was clever enough simply to learn and not to boss people around.
Then there was an opportunity to go to Washington. I was first minister counselor and then deputy chief of mission during a very exciting time. That was the period of our very successful accession to NATO as well as the crisis in former Yugoslavia and the conflict with Iraq. We had the crisis around Kosovo, and that was the great moment of entry into NATO. We watched NATO unable to resolve the conflict for 70 days, which was extremely frustrating -- to a large extent because of the reluctance to use ground troops. Then with Iraq, we decided to be involved. So this was an exciting time. Washington treated us as darlings, which meant that all the doors were open to us. During Operation Desert Fox, which was the bombardment of Iraq, I was sending two cables a day. I had no problem receiving information from colleagues in the Pentagon or the State Department. Of course, from the point of view of Washington, Poland was a success story, and Americans like success stories.
The way it's described in The Economist or the American press, Poland has changed its geopolitical focus and moved away from its status as a darling of Washington and closer to the EU. What is the origin of that shift? Is it is result of the perceived loss of American status globally, or the greater importance of the EU? Or…?
To be extremely down to earth, compare $60 million of foreign military financing from the United States and something like $70 billion in structural support from the EU. But I'm unhappy. I would prefer to see transatlantic relations in a better condition than they are at this moment. There was a lot of disillusionment in Poland and some misunderstanding. This can still be mended, which includes, surprisingly, even the issue of the visa regime, which was a stupid problem. But my feeling is that the United States is less popular among people here than it used to be 20 years ago. We were very excited back then about friendship with America.
To some extent, it's a change in psychology. We have become extremely provincial. It's quite shocking. When I was in Washington, the negotiation of the CFE [Conventional Armed Forces in Europe] Treaty was a front-page item in Poland. Now even my younger colleagues, when I ask them about CFE, ask me what it stands for. If you look at the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza, you will not see any international items. It used to be that America was the most popular foreign nation here. Now it is the Czech Republic. This shows that we are petit bourgeois. We like to have a car, a dacha, a nice life, a holiday in Greece or Italy or Turkey. We tend to think in terms of making our lives as cozy as possible. Which is wrong. But that's the situation.
The visa waiver has created problems. It's a stupid issue that hasn't been resolved in 20 years. Before I left Canada, I went with my wife and younger son on a trip to the U.S. West Coast. It was 15,000 kilometers. I love to drive, any distance, especially in the United States where it's very easy because you have many hotels of good quality and very good camps. That was my second trip to the American West Coast. The first was when I was posted in Washington, probably in 1996 or 1997. The second was when I was completing my mission in Ottawa in 2009. The surprising thing, at the Grand Canyon, was that there were a lot of Poles as tourists. They wanted to travel there to see the country. It used to be construction workers from the mountain region, from Zakopane, going to work in Chicago. Maybe they are still there. But people are not traveling to the United States to work, because they can work in the EU. So it's a pity this visa waiver issue has not been resolved. But there's still a chance.
How did you become involved in Solidarity in the first place? You said that your father was a diplomat…
Before the war, in Lwow, my father was a member of the Polish Socialist Party, which was different from the Communist Party. It was within the underground state, connected to the government in exile in London. After the war, he joined the Polish People's Republic government simply because he believed that realistically this was what should be done in circumstances where there was no other option. That was the reality in Poland at the time.
For me, I was Left-oriented, but quite critical of the Polish People's Republic. Already in the 1970s, I was in the gray zone of KOR [Workers Defense Committee]. They had a bulletin called Robotnik (Worker). Their archives were at my flat. The editorial board met at my flat. So, I knew them. It was quite natural when Solidarnosc was created that I was trying to find some ways to get involved in the new movement. Initially, I was connected through the bulletin called NTO,which stood for Science, Technology, Education. Just after the great strike in August 1980, the people working in the Polish Academy of Science decided to create an independent trade union of their own. At that moment, it wasn't clear whether there would be one union or different unions according to trade. There was a decision to have one, Solidarnosc, and that's how I was pulled into the organization. Being on the editorial board of NTO, I became a kind of journalist of the first Solidarnosc.
After the imposition of Martial Law in Poland, half my colleagues that were in NTO joined the underground structure MRKS (the Inter-Factory Workers Committee of Solidarnosc). It was the first underground structure active in Warsaw after the imposition of Martial Law, before the Mazowsze region could reconstitute itself. We organized the independent May 1 parade in 1982 in the Polish People's Republic. It was a big success. The police force was afraid to disperse us with tear gas. They were focused on protecting the official May 1 parade. We had 30,000 people walking around Old Town. Unfortunately, our nationalistic colleagues from KPN [Confederation of Independent Poland] called another demonstration on May 3 -- Constitution Day -- and they took a very hard beating on that day. The police had no distractions on May 3 protecting an official parade.
In other words, my involvement in the opposition was natural. There was a very strong sense of continuity with the concept of intelligentsia from the 1960s and 1970s and the tradition of underground movements. Both my father and mother were members of the underground movement in Lwow. That's more or less how I found myself in opposition.
When my father left Lwow for Lublin, he got involved in the new government of Polish People's Republic and got sent to Italy. But in Lwow, he was searched by the NKVD [the precursor to the KBG] because of his activity in the underground during the Soviet occupation. He was actually arrested at that time and kept in a prison just before Operation Barbarossa. He was fortunate enough to be in the same cell as the criminals. So when the Soviets were withdrawing, the NKVD opened the gates of the prison. Some of the inmates were afraid to run, so they stayed. My father was among those who ran. The bosses of this prison decided that this was not the way it should be done. Those who remained in the cells were summarily executed.
Canadians like to say that they are a country that has too much geography. And Poland, I used to say, is a country that has had too much history.
You said that back when you were part of KOR, you had a kind of Leftist orientation.
I was not part of KOR, but they were my friends. They were not happy with my leftish orientation, but they turned out to a large extent to be leftists too. When I was in Canada, I had a funny conversation with a representative of Polonia, of Poles living in Canada. He was a gentleman of right-wing attitudes. He explained to me that he was preserving values. I was not interested in preserving values. I wanted to change the system.
Jacek Kuron somewhere expressed an opinion that any good person will always start with a Left orientation. They might change, but they all start that way. Because this is an attitude of being involved. Of course, it is something of an exaggeration. And I mentioned that it is very complicated for people of Left orientation outside Poland to understand what happened in Poland because of the Catholic Church factor. At this moment, we have big problems with the Church. But at that time it was a very positive element. Adam Michnik is the voice trying to combine those two options.
When I was in Ottawa, we had an event at the cathedral the year after the death of John Paul II. The nuncio and I both gave speeches. As a result I received a letter inviting me to participate in an evangelical group -- which I had to decline, because I am not a believer. But of course I am a believer. I'm a believer in certain ideas that require you to be involved.
Have you had changes in perspective, your worldview, your political philosophy in the last 23 years?
There's been no change. I still believe myself to be a happy man. Probably at this moment I'd prefer to be in different circumstances in order to do what I want to do.
I am 61 turning 62. That is a good time to be in some kind of think tank. But it's difficult at this moment because we have a crisis and it's not easy to move from the ministry to a think tank. The options are narrowing.
But otherwise there is no other generation that has been so happy. I'm thinking about my father and my mother. One could say that they were happy, because they ended up in an independent Poland -- but only after so many years. The experience of World War II and of Stalinism was terrible. And the experience of the Polish People's Republic was not terribly happy either.
I'm worried about what will happen in the future. There are big challenges before this country. The political elites did very well in terms of transition. But somehow they were unable to adapt to a completely new political reality. Maybe it's an issue for the new generation. But the challenge is before us and we have to do something about it at this moment. This requires not individual thinking but a restructuring of the political scene in Poland.
Do you see anything on the horizon that promises to restructure the political scene?
We need a new political option focused on modernizing the state but also industry, which is something that we are doing very fairly well. But we haven't found our trademark in the international division of labor. For example, Finland is producing cell phones, and everyone knows Nokia is a Finish production. We don't have such a specialization. We have many people, but we are incapable of commercializing innovation.
I tried to do something about this in Polish-American relations, but we were not successful. Americans are extremely efficient in commercializing innovation. We should simply learn from them. Even if they use some of our ideas, we could at least participate in the profits, if we do it officially. Here's an example. The Blu-Ray Laser was created in Poland in the 1970s. But we had no idea how to earn money with this. We probably lost several billion dollars because no one knew what to do with this particular capacity. We treated it as a military element. We've developed some great ideas, but we lacked the money and the conception to commercialize them. But Americans are marvelous at this.
When you look back to 1989 and all that has changed or not change in Poland from then until now, how would you evaluate that on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being most dissatisfied and 10 most satisfied?
8 or 9. Quantitatively we have done very well. Yes, we lost some opportunities, so we could have done better. But in the end, we did quite well.
Same scale, same period of time: but your own personal life?
I am satisfied. Of course I could have been more successful. But a similar number: 8
When you look at the near future, how do you evaluate the prospects for Poland on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being most pessimistic and 10 most optimistic?
I don't believe that we are facing a catastrophe. We have the instruments. We just don't have good ideas of how to use those instruments. So I would say 5-6.
Warsaw, August 12, 2013
An economist by training and a political philosopher by profession, Piotr Ogrodzinski is the recently appointed director of the Eastern European Research Unit. He has written about economics (notably a paper about the philosophical implications of Janosz Kornai's famous book on the economics of shortage) but concentrates on the topic of civil society. He has looked at the historical origins of the term, located in English philosophy in the 17th and 18 century. He has also compared two more recent Eastern European takes on the concept, the 1970s version focusing on human rights and civility and the more recent type involving marketization. The first led to the opposition--state versus civil society. The second potentially produces a trilateral system of civil society operating between market at the bottom and state at top. He looks at the transformations in Eastern Europe as the problem of moving from the first conception of civil society to the second.
We then discussed the Research Group. It is a private research group, started in September 1989, funded by the Stefan Batory foundation (Soros foundation money) and designed to be an independent unit that influences "the alliance of power" (government and major points of opposition). Its 14 members include two ministers, one member of parliament (Adam Michnik) and the probable Polish representative to the United Nations. All are mid-professionals in the social sciences and all, Ogrodzinski stressed, are quite loyal to one another.
Presently, the group is working on five projects.
1) IMF stabilization plans
2) Elections-analyzing the results across several Eastern European countries; preparing for the next round of elections by plotting the changing political maps; co-sponsored by Solidarity's Parliamentary Commission election team and the Citizens' Foundation, the group that actually handled the elections
3) Alliance of power-comparative study of East and West Europe, beginning with face-to-face interviews with new parliament members
4) State of consciousness--a psychological/sociological look at Poland and Hungary
5) Strategic relations between USSR and Eastern Europe
The group recently sponsored a conference on Latin American and Eastern Europe which served in some sense as a dry run of capabilities. Michnik (Gazeta Wyborcza), Bujak (Solidarity--Mazowsze), Onyszkiewicz (Defense Ministry) and Geremek (head of Solidarity's parliamentary caucus) all participated. Several follow-ups to this conference will take place including a series of workshops at the University of Texas-Austin.
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- Congo: Two Visions for Development
- Skating on Thin Ice, Tunisia Chooses a New President
- South Sudan: Action Needed Now to Prevent Another Year of Devastation
- Poverty: The Petri Dish That Grows Ebola
- Ebola's Racial Disparity
- Africa's Place on World Stage
- Ebola & Economic Inequality
- Women Bearing Brunt of Ebola
- Tunisia's Upcoming Elections
- Militarizing the Ebola Crisis
- What Role for UN in Tackling Ebola?
- Ebola Dwarfed by Malaria & HIV/AIDS
- Africa's Islamic State?
- Cutting Corners in South Sudan
- A Forgotten Crisis at the Heart of Africa
- Sudan: Forced Faith is Not Faith
- Moral Compass Points Toward Retribution in Nigeria
- Nigeria: Extremist Islam Scared of Little Girls
- What We Can Do for the Kidnapped Nigerian Girls
- Nigeria's Stolen Girls and Clueless Leaders
- South Africa Takes Stock Ahead of Elections
- South Africa: ANC and Zuma Enjoy Wide Support Despite Discontent
- 'Crimes Against Humanity' in South Sudan
- UN Criticizes South Sudan Leaders Over Famine Response
- African Union Hopeful on Resolving South Sudan Crisis
- Outrage As Nigerian Schoolgirls Reportedly Sold As Wives
- Getting the Poorest 4 Billion Online
- Cameroon Says No Terrorists Training on its Territory
- East African Nations Ready to Send Stabilization Force to South Sudan
- Africa's Supposed Failure to Achieve Millennium Development Goals
- Jose Manuel Ramos-Horta on Restoring Democracy to Guinea-Bissau
- Africa: Diaspora's Remittances are Relative Advantage
- Nigeria's Bright and Young Mean Business
- Mangos, Not Mining, the Future of Guinea
- Guinea: How to Stamp Out Corruption in the Mining Sector
- West Africa's Vast Marine Wealth Being Depleted
- Nigeria's Economy About to Achieve Global Status
- Nigeria: Progress and Crisis Will March Hand in Hand
- Superpowers Making Strategic Moves in Africa
- Mandela's Gift: A Model of Leadership
- Is Japan's Prime Minister the Next Putin?
- Cambodia's Remarkable Journey
- India: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Flares Up
- China Pulls Pollution Documentary
- India: Worshippers in Cremation Ritual
- Japan: World's Oldest Celebrates 117th Birthday
- Japan: Cats Overrun Island
- Mass Wedding in South Korea
- South Korea: Ending International Adoptions
- The New Face of Chinese Repression
- China's Economic Slowdown and the Necessity of Reform
- China's Crazy Plan to Mine the Moon
- The Good Life of the Newly Rich in China
- North Korea's History of Broken Nuclear Promises
- North Korea In Numbers
- Hong Kong: Pragmatism vs Liberalism
- Great Gamble on the Mekong
- Indonesia's Seaward Shift
- The New Nuance in Chinese Diplomacy
- China Now Top Economy
- Nuclear War Threshold Keeps Dropping
- China's Interest in Defeating ISIL
- Japan Is Antagonizing Everyone
- China and The United States: The Dance of Superpowers
- South Korea: The Politics of Patience
- Fishing for Peace in Korea
- Hong Kong is not Tiananmen
- Why China Won't Talk to Hong Kong's Protesters
- Hong Kong: The Future of People Power?
- Can China Pacify Its Minorities?
- Pragmatism Challenges Superpower Status
- A Capitalist in North Korea
- Japan Still Hobbled by Racism and Militarism
- The Tao of North Korea
- Political Turmoil and the Pakistani Army
- The Indian Jihadist Movement: Evolution and Dynamics
- India's New Leader Could Have Global Impact
- Third Obama Disappointment Seems Imminent
- United States and China Go Private with the Cold War
- Trans-Pacific Partnership Bad Deal for America
- Mao's Little Red Book: China's Spiritual Atom Bomb
- The Rise of China and Its Impact on International Economic Governance
- Examining China's Strategic Interests in Latin America
- Crusade Against Cronyism Shaking Up India's Political Landscape
- Benazir Bhutto's Assassination: The Case Goes Cold
- Is China Copying the Old Imperial Japan?
- Learning The Wrong Lessons from the Three Gorges Dam
- In India Book Withdrawal Sparks Criticism
- Japan's Sun is Rising Again
- Why North Korea Today is Not East Germany 1989
- Afghanistan: Americans Show More Signs of War Fatigue
- Learning to Look on the Bright Side Chinese Style
- India: A Sacrifice That Went Unrecognized
- China's Space Program Tries to Catch Up
- India's Neglected Generation
- Can Taiwan Pull China Toward Democracy?
- America's Pivot to Asia a Misguided One
- China's Low-Profile Imperialism
- Dicing with Death Penalties in Indonesia
- Afghanistan: Talking to the Taliban
- Military-wise, There Is No Europe
- Is France Taking a Strategic Holiday?
- Belarus Brings Back Forced Labor for 'Social Parasites'
- Dying to Get Into Europe (Part 1)
- Dying to Get Into Europe (Part 2)
- Economic Development is Crucial for Kosovo
- Right-Wing Terrorism in Germany and Beyond
- The EU-Pakistan Relationship: Looking beyond the Trading Partnership
- Gaspar Miklos Tamas: Hungary's Boomerang Thinker
- Making Green Cool Again in Hungary
- Celebrating Romani Resistance Day
- Solidarity's Offices: Where Time Has Stopped
- Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?
- Poland's Uncivil Society
- Russia's Stolen Future
- Sanctions and Russia: Lessons from the Cold War
- U.S. Too Casual About the Prospects of War With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis
- European Union Slow to Address Migrant Smuggling and Rescue
- Islamophobia in East-Central Europe
- Britain's Role in the World Just Keeps Shrinking
- Putin Ensuring Authoritarian Governance With an Orderly Political Succession
- Balkans: Still Digging Toward NATO
- A Greek Canary in the European Goldmine
- Greece's Golden Dawn: Fascists at the Gate
- Germany's Selective Memory About Greece's Debt
- The Kremlin's Kool-Aid
- Greece: Echoes of Battles Past
- Authoritarian Symps
- The Weakening Foundations of Western Power
- EU-Latin American Cooperation: An Affair of One?
- British Girls Enter Syria to Join ISIS
- British Spies Sacked For Snooping
- Europe & Islam: The Way Forward
- Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland's Overall Deficit Is Falling
- Lionel Barber on David Cameron
- Europe & Islam: The Way Forward
- Putin & the Irony of Helsinki
- Russia's Defense Industry
- Turning the European Debt Myth Upside-Down
- Germany Emerges
- The New Drivers of Europe's Geopolitics
- Does Germany Trust Greece?
- The European Union, Nationalism and the Crisis of Europe
- The Intersection of Three Crises
- Population Decline and the Great Economic Reversal
- A New Crackdown in Belarus
- Church and State in Poland
- Greek People 'Need To Suffer More'
- Greece Says Euro Zone Deal Won Time as Cash Bled From Banks
- Ireland's Fine Gael Considering Coalition With Labour, Independents
- 1 Year on, Kiev Bloodbath Remembered
- Updating German Thrift for the Age of Austerity
- Migration, Islam and Security in Europe
- Reconciling the Faultines of Europe's Past
- Can Ukraine Gnaw Its Way out of Trouble?
- Europe Gets up off the Mat to Battle Austerity
- Calls for Appeasement in Ukraine
- France's New Strategy: Two Years On
- How the Left Failed France's Muslims
- Syriza: The Greek Earthquake
- Catching up With the State of Human Rights in Poland
- Is Europe Going the Way of Yugoslavia?
- Greece Rejects EU Austerity
- Greeks Divided Over Syriza Win
- Can Central Bankers Save Europe?
- A Japanese Lesson in Deflation for Europe
- Police Arrest Four Suspected Islamist Militants in Spain
- Anti-Islam Politician Aims to 'Paralyze' Dutch Government
- Thousands Celebrate Leftwing Syriza Victory in General Election
- Syriza Party Seeks Talks with Right Wing Independent Greeks
- Will Greece Turn to the Radical Left?
- Why Greek Party Scares EU Leaders
- Lagarde Says Greece Must Honor Its Commitments
- Tsipras Calls for Change
- Greek Drama: 'Situation Is Really Bad'
- David Cameron: British Voters Deserve Tax Cuts
- Seven-Party TV Debate Announced for UK Election
- End in Sight for the United Kingdom?
- Church of England Ordains First Woman Bishop
- Looking Back at Sir Winston Churchill's State Funeral
- France Says Big Businesses Must Help Fight Terrorism
- France Takes Battle Against Radical Islam into Schools
- Poland's Geographic Challenge
- Decades After Auschwitz, Past Horrors Haunt a Polish Town
- Europe Plans New Laws to Combat Terrorism
Rising Religious Tensions in Western Europe
- Will Britain Leave the EU?
- Spain Goes Wild as the Country's Winter Sales Kick Off
- Will Greece Leave the Eurozone?
- How Greek Politics Affect Economic Trends
- French Extremists Find Platform in Terrorist Propaganda
- How Counterterrorism Expert Views Paris Attacks
- Charlie Hebdo, Islamophobia and the Freedom of Expression
- Does The Quran Forbid Images Of The Prophet Muhammad?
- Cartoonists' Solidarity For Charlie Hebdo
- Charlie Hebdo Attack Vigils Held Around the World
- France Falls Silent for Victims
- France's Deadly Attack Will Not Be the Last
- How Will Europe Handle the Rise in Terrorist Attacks?
- French Hold 'Je Suis Charlie' Vigil
- Attack Fails to Silence Paris
- Paris Attack: Marginalized Islamic Society Partly to Blame?
- Famed Cartoonists Among Dead at Charlie Hebdo
- Charlie Hebdo and Islam: The History of Its Satire
- Hungary's Irregular Border Crossings
- Whither Ukraine's Revolution?
- Before Solidarity, There Was the Polish Church
- Public and Private in Poland
- Transforming Spain's Political System
- In Spain, Catalonia Compromises
- Greece, Cyprus Determined to Thwart ISIL
- Greeks Prepare for Elections
- Rebooting EU Foreign Policy
- NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?
- The Bildt-Sikorski Effect
- Germany's Islamic State Problem
- Conflict Resolution and German Reunification
- Polish Activists on the Cutting Edge
- The Strange Non-Death of Polish Neoliberalism
- Poland: Land of Junk Contracts
- Scotland, Nationalism, and Freedom
- Greece: The Story of OXI Day
- How Hard Times Are Healing Bosnia
- NATO, Russia and Ukraine: Roulette or Reset?
- How Putin Could Defeat NATO With Nukes
- The Lesson of Russia's Serial Treaty Violations
- Ukraine: Red Meat for the NATO Alliance
- Outcome of the European Parliament Elections
- The Tea Party Lives -- in Europe
- Europe: The Social Immune System
- Ukraine: The War to End All Wars
- What Ukraine Really Needs
- The Rich List and The West's Culture of Envy
- What do the Putins of the World Want?
- Putin's Well-Worn Fascist Lies
- How the Russian Intelligence Mind-Set Differs From America's
- The Right Rises Again in Europe
- Germany's Elite Falling Out of Love with EU
- Euroskepticism and Political Fragmentation in the EU
- Ukraine: Not Time to Turn Virtual War into Real One
- Outcome of the French Municipal Elections
- Why This Cold War Reboot is Different
- Next Step in Ukraine Crisis is Unknown
- Ukraine and Russia have Created an International Disorder
- Reforms Push Greece to Economic Recovery
- Superpower Europe or Disintegration?
- Obama Clings to Diplomacy to Resolve Ukraine Crisis
- Obama's Diplomatic Dance with Putin is a Sad Sock Hop
- Legacy Of France's Colonial History Being Played Out in Paris Suburbs
- Russia: Not Your Father's Cold War
- Dangerous Mischief-Making in Ukraine
- Russia: What Do United States and the West Now Want?
- How to Rein in Putin
- Export Opportunity to Ukraine, Not Ukrainian Nanny State
- Obama Rules Out Military Solution on Ukraine
- Hitler Analogy Overstates Situation in Ukraine
- Will Britain Leave the EU?
- Can the Violence in Honduras Be Stopped?
- Ecuador: All You Need Is Love and Oil?
- Argentina's Tangled Web
- Human Rights Violations in Brazil
- Paraguay's Legacy of Violence
- Nicaragua Canal: Critics Line Up
- Brazil's Presidential Elections
- Brazil's Struggle with Gang-Run Slums
- Ebola: Is Cuba Caring too Much?
- The Mass Shooting in Mexico
- No Happy Ending to the Child Refugee Crisis
- The Decline of American Influence
- More Than a Mexican Problem
- Mexico's Hidden Epidemic
- Venezuela Progresses in Battle Against Contraband
- The Challenges of Panama's President
- Low Point of US - Cuba Policy
- Cuba's Currency Conversion
- Colombia's Challenger Vows Hard Line on Venezuela
- Pope Francis Carrying Out Silent Diplomacy in Argentina
- Many Expect Post-Kirchner Economic Boom in Argentina
- In Cuba, Technology May Beat Censorship
- Chile's Success Story May Be at Risk
- The Future of Latin America's 'Growth Engine'
- Santos May Oversell Colombia Peace Deal
- Uruguay Wrong About Not Taxing Pot
- Latin America's Growing Press Freedom Troubles
- Believers in U.S. Decline Will Be Disappointed
- Vargas Llosa Deserves Nobel for Courage
- Latin America's Other Big Internet Problem
- Costa Rica's New Leader Says He's a 'Moderate' Leftist
- Latin America's Economic Forecasts May Be Too Rosy
- Cuban Twitter Project was a Tweet in the Dark
- Venezuela's Best 'Anti-Coup' Medicine - Dialogue
- Latin American Inventors Thrive in United States
- Who's Winning, Who's Losing Innovation Race
- Russian Bases in the Americas: A Bluff?
- Colombia's Santos Re-election Won't Be Easy
- Bachelet's Chile Moving Closer to Venezuela?
- OAS Vote for Venezuela and Maduro May be Short-Lived
- Mexico's New Friend: Castro's Cuba
- Getting the Poorest 4 Billion Online
- Examining China's Strategic Interests in Latin America
- Argentina Forced By Ailing Economy To Change Populist Policies
- Trying 'El Chapo': Let's Let Mexico Handle This
- What's Wrong About 'El Chapo's' Capture
- Venezuela's Maduro Faces Hard Choices
- Should U.S. Cut Venezuelan Oil Imports?
- 10 Questions for Venezuela's President
- Two-Track War Against ISIL
- The Need for a New Syrian Narrative
- Why ISIS Exists
- Why Are Women Joining the Islamic State?
- When Bibi Came to Town
- The Geopolitics of Speeches
- 10 Reasons I'm Praying for AIPAC's Decline
- Understanding Turkey's Tilt
- Some Good News from the Middle East
- ISIS Unites the World
- An Eritrean in Israel
- Global Warming Triggered Syria War
- Is Turkey Holding Up a Resolution in Syria?
- Does Syria See the U.S. as an Ally?
- Nationalism under Pressure: Islamic State, Iraq and Kurdistan
- Syria's Future and the War against ISIS
- The Syrian Labyrinth
- So, Islamic State, You Want to Rule a Caliphate
- Wanna-Be's Doing Islamic State's Bidding
- Is ISIS Capable of Nuclear Terrorism?
- Khomeini Drew the Line at Nukes
- Israel's Lack of Interest
- Recognizing Palestine
- Gaza: Bipartisan War on Human Rights
- Iraq Long Awash in Carnage
- Turkey's Dealings With ISIL
- In What World Are the Kurds as Dangerous as the Islamic State?
- Iran: Netanyahu UN Speech Baseless
- Without Iran, Coalition to Confront ISIS is Doomed
- Treat ISIS Like an Onion
- Turkey & Israel: There and Back Again
- Kingdom of Slaves
- Six Steps Short of War to Beat ISIS
- How the U.S. Enabled ISIS
- Intra-Jewish Discrimination in Israel
- Israel's Nuclear Weapons Program
- Restricting Egypt's Public Space
- Obama Could Spare Israel Terrible Outcome
- John Kerry's Folly in the Middle East
- Israel Projects Its Own Nuclear Behavior on to Iran
- New Books: Spotlight on the Middle East
- Getting the Poorest 4 Billion Online
- Overcoming the 'Manufactured Crisis' with Iran
- Certainties That Underpin Saudi Arabia Need Reappraisal
- Did Nonviolence Fail in Egypt?
- American Departure Will Leave Behind Carnage and Ruin
- Syria: The People Have Lost Their Voice
- Zbigniew Brzezinski on How to Avoid a New Middle East Explosion
- Why Are Governments Not Looking After Themselves?
- Isolationist Instincts of Americans are Sound Ones
- Obama Firm: No Boots on the Ground in Iraq
- Syrian Refugee Plan Poses Security Risks
- Egypt: How the Brotherhood Failed
- Rays of Hope in Egypt
- Syrian Dead End
- Egypt: The Opposition's Next Steps
- Egypt: Persistent Issues Undermine Stability
- The Next Phase of the Arab Spring
- Yes, Black America Fears the Police
- New Boston Bombing Video
- Obama's Last National Security Strategy
- What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service
- Wal-Mart Does Something Right
- Guantanamo Bay's Place in U.S. Strategy
- Obama Corrects a Historic Mistake on Cuba
- Why Obama and Congress Should Go Further With Cuba
- U.S. Cuban Relations Reimagined
- China and The United States
- Tensions in the Arctic
- Ebola and Moral Panic
- What West Africa Can Teach the U.S. About Ebola
- Everything Wrong with Obama's War on ISIS
- Maya Angelou was Deeper than a Pithy Quote
- Give Killers Coverage, Not A Soapbox
- Our Culture Behind Wisconsin Girls' Stabbing Case
- Are Hispanics in Danger of Becoming White?
- Obama Outlines the Limits of Foreign Intervention
- Just Don't Call It 'Reparations'
- Small Men with Ugly Thoughts, Expressed Aloud
- It's Time to Show Our Veterans Some Love
- Justice for All, Except Those Too Big to Jail
- On the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- Policing Thought Crime
- Turmoil and Intimations of Gender Bias at The Gray Lady
- Jayson Blair and All The Lies Not Fit to Print
- Mental Illness and Guns have Created a National Epidemic
- Army of One
- Mass Killers Hold Culture and Country Hostage
- Florida Governor Takes Deep Dive into Climate Change
- Charlie Christ Flip-Flop is a Bad Idea
- Botched Execution Should Be Death Knell of Capital Punishment
- Cruel and Unusual Ways of Execution
- Bring Back Firing Squads? We Do Worse
- Clayton Lockett: A Just Execution, Regardless
- Supreme Court Rules 5-4 on Public Prayer
- Supreme Court Rules on Public Prayer -- But Should It?
- John Kerry Warns of Excessive Isolationism
- Obama's Foreign Policy Nonexistent
- On Race: Meet Dumb and Dumberer
- Believers in U.S. Decline Will Be Disappointed
- A Nation Divided with Liberty and Justice for Some
- Can Ethnic Hate Be a Mental Illness?
- Pulitzer Committee Makes Stand for Free Press, Accountable Government
- NRA Members Need To Step Up on Ending Gun Violence
- Military Chief's Plea: Put Returning Soldiers to Work
- Home from War, Our Soldiers Continue to Die
- Better Gun Laws Needed to Protect Mentally Ill and Rest of Us
- Guns: Monsters in Our Midst
- The Knowing Donald Rumsfeld
- United States Never Reaped Bonus of Post-Cold War World
- America's Quiver of Outrage is Empty
- U.S. Foreign Assistance: More Guns than Butter
- Infrastructure Terrorist Attacks Cause for Concern
- Obama's Disposition: Combine Threats with Accommodation
- The Good and the Bad of North America Summit
- Sincerest Sympathy to the Filthy Rich
- Asphyxiating Education
- Welcome to Florida, Where the NRA Rules and We Proudly Stand Our Ground
- Trigger Happy in Florida: The Gunshine State
- If It Doesn't Work, It Doesn't Work. Period
Article: Courtesy of Foreign Policy in Focus
"Public and Private in Poland"