The Rydzykisation of Poland?

July 29, 2010

The Good Father Rydzyk

Rydzyk - the Good Father

Jan Wróbel in a recent article in Wirtualna Polska talks about the ‘rydzykisation’ (pol. rydzykizacja) of not only Poland but surprisingly also of Civic Platform (PO). He is, of course, referring to Tadeusz Rydzyk the de facto head of catholic Radio Maryja and catholic TV station TV Trwam. He claims that although ‘rydze’ (pol. red pine mushrooms – a pun on the word Rydzyk) have been growing in the fields of Law and Justice (PiS) for quite some time, PO has now become infested. Wróbel believes the tide is turning. Many people were overjoyed when PiS was defeated in the parliamentary elections and the three-headed PiS-Samoobrona-LPR monster was resoundingly vanquished. However, the Smoleńsk tragedy changed all that and Law and Justice, like a phoenix from the flames, has returned and is ready to do battle.

Kaczyński - King of Conservatives

Kaczyński - King of Conservatives

Civic Platform could have never expected the support with which millions of people endowed Lech Kaczyński following his death in Smolensk. In many ways, he is a martyr… a political martyr. His death has in many ways helped turn around the fortunes of both PiS and his brother Jarosław Kaczyński. Before his death, all polls were showing a landslide victory for Bronisław Komorowski against Lech Kaczyński. Following the tragedy, Jarosław Kaczyński was only several percentage points away from defeating Komorowski in the presidential campaign. Radio Maryja and TV Trwam helped in this campaign but the truth of the matter is that many people were simply fed up with PO’s promises, PR and politicking. They wanted more substance and Jarosław Kaczyński was the man to give it to them.

Palikot - the Real Demon

Palikot - the Real Demon

Even though Komorowski won, Civic Platform wants revenge. It wants revenge for all those weeks of post-Smolensk emotional turmoil, Kaczyński adulation and Kaczyński hero worship. It too needs its Rydzyk, a hate-filled character that can move mountains. Civic Platform has unleashed its biggest monster. PO has unleashed Janusz Palikot. Compared to him, Tadeusz Rydzyk is a cherub. When we talk about a rydzykisation of Polish politics, we are actually talking about a politics of negation, of antipathy and of hate. Rydzyk has perfected this to an art (to the benefit of PiS). Now PO, with all their talk of a politics of love, of positivity and cooperation, are doing the same with Palikot. Is he, as so many supporters of PiS believe, a  harbinger of moral decay, or is he a sobering force in Poland’s emotional-driven political battleground?


Devilish Joke

March 20, 2008

RydzykOh he’s really done it now. Janusz Palikot, PO (Civic Platform) politician known for his outspokenness has likened Tadeusz Rydzyk to Beelzebub and the Devil.

The Lowdown

Beelzebub or more accurately Ba‘al Zebûb was worshipped in the ancient city of Ekron and was later taken up by Judaism and Christianity to refer to the original big bad baddie Satan aka ‘the Adversary’, ‘the Accuser’, Lucifer. More commonly known in English as the Devil.

Palikot Speaks

Not only did Palikot call Rydzyk “a/the Beelzebub from Toruń” (the city where he and his Radio Maryja is based), but also called him “a/the devil” the very next day wishing to confirm his opinion of this pseudo-priest. This was most obviously not a mistake and he meant to say what he said.

PiS Power

It is common knowledge that Rydzyk is the driving force behind the hard-right, nationalist, intolerant, racist wing of PiS. When he so much as sneezes, Jarosław Kaczyński jumps. And by the rhetoric and style of Lech Kaczyński’s recent speech (see news article) it seems that the President is also at the beck and call of the Polish Richelieu.

Polish Schism

In fact, Rydzyk’s power within the Polish Catholic Church is so powerful that many claim (for example, see here) that the Toruń-based Radio Maryja crowd may actually force a schism in the Polish Church taking a large number of followers with them. Commentators, politicians and popular clergymen alike are all befuddled as to why the Catholic Church has not excommunicated Rydzyk and his merry band of racists.

Devil or Not?

Palikot maintains that Rydzyk fulfils all the necessary requirements to actually be termed “a devil” implying of course that Rydzyk’s work is unecumenical and far from Christian, rather anti-Christian (if we follow his ‘devil’ line of argumentation). However, Rydzyk is not a devil and is very much human. The question that really needs to be posited here is not whether he is a devil, or if Palikot should have said what he said but what on earth is the Catholic Church doing letting a person like Rydzyk run loose.

Is Poland a Secular Society?

January 13, 2008

RydzThe answer to the question may be obvious to many people, but things are not always as obvious as they might seem. Is the Pope Catholic? Is the average Pole religious? These questions do not always give us the same answer.

The Godfather
Radio Maryja Godfather Tadeusz Rydzyk is fighting an ongoing campaign with ruling Civic Platform (PO). He is well known for his racist, nationalist and anti-liberal sentiments and Donald Tusk seems to make for ideal target practice. Tusk recently mentioned that the College/University of Higher Education set up my Rydzyk will be treated like any other private educational institution and the preferential treatment afforded the school by Law and Justice (PiS) has come to an end. Rydzyk replied with some lacklustre comment.

Rydzyk on the Run
Rydzyk’s days could be numbered. If PO implements its pre-election promises, the racist exploits of Radio Maryja and insulting talks of Rydzyk during his lectures at the Toruń school could come to an end. That is, of course, if Donald Tusk has the balls to push his ideas through and realise them.

Feeble Platform
However, PO does not look up to the task – a party of um-ing and ah-ing, a party of indecision that appears to be more fractured than it first seemed. The recent in vitro scandal showed the public that Tusk & co are not prepared to grit their teeth to push through social (and cultural) reform but are scared witless of the church.

Church of Power
So, is Poland a secular society? A difficult question to answer. The Polish Catholic Church is an extremely powerful institution bloated by decades of far-reaching influence thanks to the Polish Pope JPII. The Polish Church was (and is) in effect untouchable, which explains the nature of the ‘Rydzyk problem’.

Church of Indifference
Even though millions confess to being ardent Catholics, Polish society cannot be described as the most forgiving and loving nation on the Earth. There is no direct correlation between ‘being a good person’ and ‘calling oneself religious’ (regardless of religion).

Polish Paradox
On the one hand, the Polish Church is an amazingly influential institution, but on the other hand, there is an increasingly large number of young Polish people walking away from the Catholic Church and organised religion. What we are witnessing is a splintering of society with the older (communist-filled, grey, dull) generation idealising the Church as their only saviour. We have to remember, the genuinely huge role the Church played in the destruction of communism. The young generation have never needed this kind of support and therefore, in pratical terms, the Church for them is redundant.

Polish Society
So is Poland a secular society? Which part of Poland? the cities? The villages? Western Poland? Eastern Poland? Today’s Poland is a divided society and it is difficult to make generalisations and adapt theories to a country which is still feeling the effects of the culturally crippling partitions which came to an end little over ninety years ago.

Elections or Bust

September 1, 2007

Hammer of DoomIt seems more than likely that the moral burden of early elections will fall upon us like Thor’s Hammer come late Autumn. Poland is facing its most important vote since the fall of communism and 1989. I believe that there are two possible scenarios which we have to be prepared for.

Civic Platform Wins
The first possibility is that Law and Justice (PiS) becomes so utterly disgraced, arrogant and stubborn in its ways that it fails to see its house tumbling down around its feet and fails to win the next elections leaving Civic Platform (PO) to reap the winnings and become right-wing party number one. The responsibility on PO to win the next elections and be successful is therefore huge. Many (intelligent, educated and generally nice) people who I have spoken to have already said that if PO wins and fails to bring success, tolerance and moderate economic stability to Poland then they will never go to the elections again. This is in a country which already struggles to get a fifty percent turn-out in most general elections. And who’s to blame them with the failings of Solidarity and the constant splintering of the right-wing which was supposed to bring freedom and wealth after the torment of the communist years?

Law and Justice Wins
There is a dark part of my mind that believes indifference and apathy have become so ingrained in the Polish psyche that not even this amount of arrogance, scandal or treachery will do anything to make the Poles stand up and be counted and do something to change the way their country is being run. This second scenario will see the election turn-out to be around forty percent with the dark emissaries of anti-Semitic Tadeusz Rydzyk (see previous post) and his unholy followers turning out in vast hardcore numbers against the witless few representing Poland’s embryonic middle-class who make up the largest proportion of the disenchanted and apathetic masses. A PiS victory would bring about an end to economic growth, an end to enlightened European tolerance and an end to a once proud country. Poland would quite literally be on its knees.

European Perspective
Whatever the outcome, whoever the winner, the repercussions of these elections will be widespread not just for Polish history, society and culture but for Europe also. Like it or not, Poland is one of the larger EU member states and with a very large population; a large population who have a penchant for travelling, moving and working in other countries which means that political decisions taken in Warsaw could well influence what goes on in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

Who’s in Control?

July 13, 2007

Who’s in control?

The more we all think about it, the more difficult it is to decide who is actually in control here – President Lech Kaczyński or Father Taduesz Rydzyk, Holy Godfather of the much-maligned, dirt-spreading, anti-semitic Radio Maryja (read previous post for more details).

After besmirching his good lady wife (calling her a witch) and throwing enough mud at the President to see that it not only sticks but forms a nice even coat, Rydzyk has not even bothered to apologise but has gone on the offensive yet again.

To add oil to the flames, several members of the outlandishly extremist League of Polish Families (LPR) wrote a letter to the President telling him to be thankful for all that Rydzyk has done for him and to remember that it was thanks to Rydzyk and Radio Maryja that he became President.

Rydzyk, captain of an army of over-zealous old biddies, then mysteriously announced that his comments about the President and his wife have most obviously “annoyed the devil, much like stepping on his tail”. Hmm… well that’s clear, then.

Kaczyński together with his twin brother mumbled and sniffed their way through several press conferences saying little about the volcanic diatribe made by the Commander of the Mohair Berets. Both Kaczyńskis have been quoted as saying that they will not comment until they are given concrete evidence that the scurrilous Lord Vader Rydzyk recordings are genuine. In other words, say what you like General Rydzyk because we’re not going to do anything anyway.

So where does that leave the President? And what is the true relationship between the Church and the State?

Interesting Times

July 10, 2007

There is a wonderful Chinese saying: “May you never live in interesting times”. How true…

Happy Family
Uber-priest Rydzyk Before we discuss today’s scandal, let us move back a few days. On Sunday, in an audacious bid to garner more support among the catholic masses, all the high-ranking members of the government including Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński, Deputy PM Andrzej Lepper and Deputy PM Roman Giertych decided to take part in the Radio Maryja pilgrimage to the Jasna Góra Monastery. For the first time ever in the history of Jasna Góra pilgrimages, the Prime Minister of Poland was invited to speak from the altar by the uber-chief of Radio Maryja Tadeusz Rydzyk. Kaczyński with Andrzej Lepper sitting close behind sang the praises of Rydzyk and his great work and also told the masses how they are the real Poland (hinting that anyone who is not catholic or part of the ‘Radio Maryja’ family is not).

Media Family
The scandal is in the fact that the government has become embroiled in a poisonous relationship with Rydzyk’s Radio Maryja and his TV station Trwam leading to a situation where many political decisions seem to be taken at the behest of or with the blessing of Rydzyk. TV Trwam was given exclusive rights to broadcast the pilgrimage with all other stations being banned from the gathering. Much to the media’s surprise, Rydzyk hired heavies to stop any other (as he called them “liberalising, foreign-backed and anti-Polish”) cameramen and reporters from appearing at the pilgrimage.

Religious Family
The whole political-religious gathering was watched by (some say) 150,000 pilgrims. At one stage Rydzyk ironically asked the PM whether the PiSSelf-DefenceLPR coalition would survive. The PM retorted that the altar was not a place for politics. Yeah right…

Family Surprise
Kaczyńska called ‘a witch’On Monday, the day after the pilgirmage, the last thing anybody expected was an attack on the Kaczyńskis from… Taduesz Rydzyk. However, out of nowhere, the weekly Wprost published an article giving a verbatim account of Rydzyk speaking to students of the Higher School of Social Culture and Media (a Toruń university set up by Rydzyk himself). In his lecture he charged headlong into an attack on President Kaczyński (the PM’s twin brother) calling him a cheat and weakling. He then added that his wife Maria Kaczyńska is a witch for supporting euthanasia and if she is so keen on euthanasia should be the first to go and kill herself. He also added his usual anti-semitic spiel.

Family Break-up
Andrzej Lepper…the fights overAnd then, this morning, we hear that Andrzej Lepper has been thrown out of the government by PM Kaczyński. The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA) is said to have found evidence of massive corruption by the head of Self-Defence amounting to millions upon millions of złoty. This follows months of to-ing and fro-ing from both Kaczyński and Lepper in which the coalition has been constantly in doubt because of the excesses of members of the Self-Defence party. Straws and camel backs, straws and camel backs…

Family Issues
It now seems likely that the coalition will come to a final and crashing end. Self-Defence is currently in discussion and are deciding whether or not to continue in government without Lepper. Whatever the decision, the repercussions for Poland will be seismic with political instability damaging both the economy, exacerbating social unrest and destabilising the work that has already been done.