October 6, 2005


Twin Pillars of Populism: The Kaczynski Twins Are Taking Poland by Storm:
The two vocal populists are almost impossible to tell apart, but Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski are rocketing to the top of Poland's political establishment. Soon, both the prime minister's office as well as the presidency may be in their hands. And they have a plan for what to do with their power. (Susanne Amann, Der Spiegel)

Their successes are being viewed with some trepidation by their neighbors.

Recently, for example, the two of them attacked a planned natural gas pipeline agreed to by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Putin by comparing it with the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact, which resulted in the partition of Poland. Lech, who is currently the mayor of Warsaw, also made headlines early this year by banning the gay and lesbian parade in Poland's capital. He said the event was damaging to Polish youth.

Mostly, though, the brothers' are characterized by a deep mistrust of Russia and Germany. They were born in 1949 in the rubble of an almost completely destroyed Warsaw. They grew up with the results of the Nazi occupation and under the subsequent hegemony of the Soviet Union. Even now, they are still warning of the danger of allowing Germany too great an influence in the European Union. They are also deeply mistrustful of that group of Germans expelled from Poland following World War II, suspecting them of wanting to someday retake parts of western Poland. Indeed, the two have already threatened that Germany should be made to pay reparations to Poland for World War II damage. For Warsaw alone, Lech has calculated a sum between $30 and 40 billion.

Here's Jaroslaw, who led his Law and Order Party to victors in Sept. parliamentary elections.
The brothers, both trained in law, have been politically active since they went to university together. They were part of the underground and belonged to the Workers' Defense Committee (KOR), a group of academics where many of the Solidarity intellectuals got their start. In 1980, in fact, they were in Gdansk for the founding of Solidarity. That only Lech Kaczynski did a stint in prison in 1981 was pure luck: The police thought that the existence of a second Kaczynski with the same birth date as the first was a typo.

It didn't take long for the two -- known as the "ducks" for a last name that recalls the Polish word for "duck", if not for their physical stature -- to become part of Lech Walesa's inner circle. Following the fall of the communist government in 1989, they both took high positions in the new government, but they quickly butted heads with Walesa. He refused their demand to rigorously cleanse the secret service and military of left-over cadres. [...]

They want to see a more Catholic and more traditional Poland protected by increased presidential authority and restrictions on former communists holding public office. Lech even wants to see much of his political crusade -- including laws infringing on the rights of homosexuals and other minorities -- written into the country's constitution. The twins want to see an unconditional national Catholicism.

It is a development that many analysts connect with the recent death of the Polish Pope John Paul II. The long, painful decline of the pope was accompanied by a new wave of spirituality and a reawakened interest in Catholicism -- especially among younger Poles. And the guidelines being followed by the Kaczynski brothers are also those of the deceased pope: anti-abortion, a traditional role for women and a strong emphasis on community. Of course, such a platform hasn't hindered Lech -- as mayor of Warsaw -- to call for all the homeless in the Polish capital to be resettled in container slums on the edge of the city so they no longer clutter up the center. Hardly a charitable position.

The two want nothing less than a "Fourth Republic," a new Poland -- a vision reflected in the name of their Law and Order Party. With its mixture of nationalism, populism and Euro-skepticism, the party was already wildly successful in the 2002 local elections. Lech Kaczynski was voted in to the Warsaw city hall with a large majority and -- on Sept. 25 -- the party came out tops in the parliamentary elections with 27 percent of the vote. Coalition negotiations with the liberal Civic Platform (PO) -- which took 24 percent of the vote -- are ongoing.

It's probably best to consider Poland a part of the Anglosphere rather than of Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 6, 2005 10:11 AM


So how do we explain your post of a few days ago?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 6, 2005 11:25 AM


Poland requires a massive reaction to fifty years of Communist rule. I fear it's too early for them to adopt the Third Way though it would eventually make sense. It was easy for us because the Second Way had such limited success here.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2005 11:33 AM

Maybe I missed one, but I can't think of another country within the Anglosphere that hasn't been run/occupied by Britain or the US. Is this a fluke, or a potential new trend?

Posted by: Jay at October 6, 2005 11:57 AM


Of course, Poles, unlike the people of most any other nation, both fought for American independence and defended Britain against the Nazis. They're original members.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2005 12:02 PM

Excellent. That opens up my understanding of potential members. Thanks for the enlightenment.

Posted by: Jay at October 6, 2005 12:17 PM


You can't beat this guy on the topic:


Posted by: oj at October 6, 2005 12:32 PM

Thanks for the link. That was an excellent read.

Posted by: Jay at October 6, 2005 3:13 PM

OJ: Did you watch Foyle's War on Sunday and, if so, did you enjoy the Brit who complained about going to war for Poland, to whom Britain owed nothing?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 6, 2005 4:24 PM


It was exquisite. Of course, the whole show is just so myth-shattering I lap it up.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2005 5:30 PM

If people want to understand Poland and democracy, they should study the history of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, especially the Partition era when they created modern Europe's first constitutional government.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 6, 2005 6:29 PM

My only worry is that Foyle is getting a little too good to be true. Horowitz seems to be falling into the classic trap of historical fiction: having his hero be in effect the author's contemporary, reacting with contemporary mores to the fictionalized past. In the first series, when Foyle obstinantly refused to obey his superior, he was presented as kind of a crank. Now he's threatening to become a tolerant tower of rectitude.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 6, 2005 6:43 PM

Folks generally don't want too much historical truth.

Posted by: oj at October 6, 2005 6:55 PM

Tell me about it.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 6, 2005 7:39 PM

Folks generally don't want too much contemporary truth.

Posted by: Mike Earl at October 6, 2005 11:47 PM
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