November 4, 2015 -
By J. Arnoldski
Mateusz Piskorski is best known as the leader of the new Polish political party Zmiana ("Change"), deputy editor in chief at the European Center for Geopolitical Analysis, board member of the International Institute for Newly Established States, and as an ex-member of the Polish parliament (Sejm). His views on geopolitics, international relations, social movements, and anti-liberal ideologies are renowned in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, and other Eurasian states. He has participated in a number of observatory missions, including ones to Crimea and Donbass, and has been a featured guest at various conferences in Novorossiya.
Fort Russ' J. Arnoldski had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Piskorski covering a number of controversial topics ranging from Poland's geopolitical situation to Zmiana, the information war, European and Eurasian integration, and more.
The program and platform of Zmiana, published for the first time in English, can be found below.
Many of our Western readers express significant pessimism or even hostility when they read about the geopolitical situation and loyalty of Poland as a state in the context of the global confrontation between the US and Russia. As is obvious in our comment section, many people think that all Poles are hopeless Russophobes and pawns of the Atlanticists. What would you like to say or explain to such people with such views? Is there really a difference between the policies of the Polish state and the attitudes of ordinary Poles?
According to recent public opinion polls, only 33% of Poles believe that NATO is a guarantor of military security for Poland. The rest either have no opinion on this issue or are convinced that the alliance is an unreliable organization. Over the past two years, opposition among various social groups to the media manipulation employed in Poland as part of the information war against Russia has grown. Entrepreneurs want to do business with Russia, farmers want to sell their goods there, and ordinary people do not see the slightest threat in the Russian Federation. It is sufficient to analyze the comments on Polish foreign policy under articles across the Polish-language internet. The majority of them are so sharp that we won’t quote them here. The political class in Poland is clearly divorced from the opinions of the majority of Poles on foreign policy matters. This class is guided by the formula once put forth by the leader of Polish National Democracy, Roman Dmowski: “They hate Russia more than they love Poland.” Politicians senselessly repeat the opinions of their guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, forgetting that he expresses the interests of the United States and that he is an American, not a Polish citizen.
One could rightly pose the question: why does the Atlanticist option consistently win Polish elections? The answer is simple: in the order of problems which are most important for the ordinary citizen, foreign policy is somewhere far behind. They value internal political, economic, and social issues more. It’s sufficient to look how much space in the mainstream media these questions occupy in Poland, and how much they do in Germany, France, or other European countries. In Poland, they don’t arouse emotions. This, of course, does not in any way mean that there is better political consciousness in Polish society, and here years of retardation brought about by the Polish educational system after 1989 plays its role.
You are the leader of the new political party Zmiana (Change), which calls itself the “only true opposition” and the “first non-American party in Poland.” Mainstream media call it the “party of the Russian Fifth Column in Poland.” Could you describe the origins, mission, and main activities of Zmiana? Where does Zmiana see its role on the Polish political scene?
Zmiana is a project of people from anti-system opposition groups which have joined together in opposing the economic (neo-liberal and monetary), social (avoiding responsibility for a citizen’s fate, privatization of public services), and foreign (Atlanticist and neo-conservative) policies [of the Polish state]. At this stage, our activities involve raising the issues silenced by the establishment: poverty, the liquidation of the Polish economy, and subordination to international capital and American occupation.
The origins of the party and the idea for its founding appeared in 2014 after my return from an observatory mission to the referendum on the Crimean peninsula. Then, I had dozens of meetings and lectures in various regions of the country. We held discussions with very different people and everyone insisted that expert and journalistic activities should come around to politics. In this sense, Zmiana is an entirely grassroots movement.
It is not my personal project, but a response to the specific needs of Polish society. I became the party’s face only because of the recognition and controversy which I aroused many years ago as a parliamentarian. The place of the party on the political scene is currently the role of the anti-system opposition, not only criticizing the current reality (as protest movements do), but also proposing a completely new system in the economic sphere, social policy, ownership structures and international relations.
What troubles and obstacles has Zmiana encountered since its founding?
We will not complain, because it is obvious that the establishment reacts to us as a virus which could potentially lead to illness and death. We were aware of this from the very beginning. They thwarted our participation in this year’s parliamentary elections, but this is nothing terrifying - there will be more elections and we will certainly not let them forget about us.
In your article which was recently translated and published on Fort Russ, you described the necessity of Poland leaving NATO. In what way does Zmiana plan to promote such an initiative?
We are considering a referendum initiative on this issue. In July, 2016, the NATO summit will be hosted in Warsaw. This will be a great opportunity not only for protests, but also for attempting to hold substantive debates. Why NATO? We will try to initiate such a debate. Exiting NATO is the sine qua non condition of the sovereignty of the Polish state. We want this point of view brought to as many Poles as possible. And in the right circumstances, we want to initiate the procedure for Poland exiting this international organization in agreement with the procedure laid down in the North Atlantic Treaty. We will also protest against the presence of American troops on Polish territory in the context of the planned creation of US Army bases in five places on our territory. We are the only political force to have organized this type of protest in August in Lask near Lodz, and it was met with unexpected support from local residents. We want to introduce an absolute prohibition on the stationing of any units of foreign armed forces on Polish territory.
If Poland was liberated from its current Atlanticist geopolitical orientation, how do you envision a Poland freed from American colonization? Would Poland have closer relations with Russia? Would Poland continue to be part of the European Union? Is the integration of Central and Eastern European states between the European and Eurasian Unions a realistic or ideal possible alternative?
Poland should maintain good relations with all countries with whom cooperation is profitable for us from an economic point of view. We intend to bring an “economization” to Polish foreign policy. If an alliance with a given country strengthens the Polish economy and promotes the creation of new jobs, then this means that it is beneficial for us. Economic cooperation not only with Russia, but with the entire Eurasian Union, is something perfectly natural.
Another multi-vectored, rational policy would be setting up cooperation with China and other BRICS countries. The European Union requires deep reforms and transformation from a neo-liberal club for the rich politically subordinated to Washington into an independent, integrated bloc closely cooperating with the Eurasian Union. Beside this, the EU should return to a European social model which offers every citizen of each of the member states a defined sense of social and economic security.
We will run in elections for the European Parliament with the slogan “For an independent and social Europe.”
Some say that Poland can’t exist independently of both the Eurasian Union and European Union at the same time, regardless of whether we’re dealing with the conditions of a unipolar or multipolar world. When I first met with supporters of Zmiana in Wroclaw, this was an important question up for discussion. What do you have to say on this subject?
A condition for approaching deliberations on this subject is achieving at least relative sovereignty from American hegemony. At the moment, Poland doesn’t have the opportunity to pursue an independent economic policy outside of the European Union. I think that we should try to change this union in the direction desired by us, and only then is it possible to think about the further participation of Poland in this integration bloc.
I’d like to recall that Poland finds itself in the Grossraumwirtchaft zone (the large economic area) of Germany and it is dependent on ties with the German economy. The process of gaining independence and economic re-orientation would take many years. Therefore, the most favorable option for us is to remain in the European Union under the condition that it will seek closer cooperation with the emerging Eurasian Union. Poland would be a part of this large space from Vladivostok to Lisbon.
In the founding documents of Zmiana, it’s written that when Poland was a member of the Eastern Bloc, it was under the rule of Moscow, but now that Poland is a part of the “Western Bloc,” it is under Washington’s rule. It’s written there that Poland was more “independent” then than now. Can you expand on this thought?
More than 5,000 enterprises employing more than 1,000 people each were built out of the rubble of war between 1945 and 1989. After 1989, most of them were liquidated, and in their place appeared 500 new ones which violated workers’ rights and were owned by foreign capital. People’s Poland had an industrial policy. It also had limited sovereignty on the international arena, especially after 1956, which was connected not only with the process of de-Stalinization but also with the character and achievements of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party between 1956 and 1970, Wladyslaw Gomulka. Polish troops did not participate in the Soviet Union’s operations in Afghanistan or Angola. Yet they were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq by NATO. During the Stalinist period, NKVD torture sites existed on our territory, but later they went away. At the beginning of the 21st century, torture sites operated by foreign intelligence, the CIA, appeared in Poland. Comparing these two periods, whether we like it or not, it turns out that things are in favor of People’s Poland.
You have written much about the fact that we are now witnessing a global confrontation between the Atlanticists, who want to maintain a unipolar world under American domination, and those countries and forces which are fighting for a multipolar world. Some say that a sort of “hybrid war” is ongoing. In your opinion, which front in this war is the most important? Is it the war in Ukraine? Syria? Is it the information war? Is it diplomacy on the international level, such as at the UN? Is it economic competition?
All of these fronts have great significance. Ukraine is an attempt at stabbing the heart of the Eurasian Bloc. The attempt to take over the [Ukrainian] state by the Atlanticists is a declaration of war against Eurasia. In Syria, there is a clash between the bloc of secular Arab nationalism and the Wahhabi bloc, which is a project of the USA in the framework of the idea of the so-called Greater Middle East. On the doctrinal level, these conflicts are a reflection of a clash between the concept of a multipolar world and the hegemonic order usurped and dominated by Washington.
For us, for Poland, as for other medium-sized countries, a multipolar order will always offer more opportunities than a unipolar world. The Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts are reflected on the level of the UN (whose significance as a regulator of international order, and whose basic rules such as the right of nations to self-determination, respect for sovereignty, and non-interference in countries’ internal affairs, are broken and compromised by the US), as well as in the information war, where we observe attempts to impose a hegemonic discourse on the whole world, the conviction behind which is that the interests of the ruling elites (let’s recall that, according to the classical dissertation of Charles Wright Mills, this is not the American people, but a small group of around 500 oligarchical families governing the United States) are identical with the interests of all the nations, cultures, and civilizations of the world.
The next scene of the conflict which Carl Schmitt described in terms of the war between land and sea is unfolding before our very eyes.
Which front is most important in Poland for those fighting for a multipolar world?
Given the fact that Poland is not a subject, but rather an object in diplomatic competition and military operations, the information front is certainly the most essential. The information space of Poland is today entirely dominated by the Atlanticist narrative. On the one hand, this is supported by media connected with the state, and on the other hand, media which belongs to international capital. For example, the television channel TVN was recently taken over by the American Scripps Networks Interactive. The alternative to this vast propaganda machine is extremely modest: a few dozen internet portals and a few publications. In terms of the information war, we can say that Poland today is a territory completely dominated by the Atlanticist option.
Can you briefly describe your personal political ideology for those from the West who know almost nothing about you?
I am in favor of a strong state active in social and economic affairs and a sovereign state, which I recognize as a condition for pursuing any impactful, directed policies. I avoid any pigeonholing of my views. I believe the division between left and right in current circumstances to be fuzzy and illusory. The basic division in modern times, as the German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies famously described years ago, is the division between supporters of community (Gemeinschaft) and supporters of the marketed open society (Gesselschaft). Without a doubt, in contrast to treating society as a bazaar, the concepts of communitarianism are close to me.
Do you have any last words for our English-language viewers and sympathizers?
I invite everyone to Poland. Your support for our initiatives really means a lot to us. Every voice coming from the West is treated here as having more weight than Polish voices criticizing the present order. I also guarantee that conversations with Poles will convince you that this is a nation with very different views on international affairs which are often quite far from the stereotype of a Pole as a Russophobe fascinated with everything that is American.
“Declaration of program”
CHANGE - WE ALL WANT IT!
The massive departure of Polish youth to the West in search of a better life, 14% of citizens of working age without work, furious attacks by capital on labor rights, the degradation of Polish agriculture, the impoverishment of pensioners, a lack of prospects for young people in the country - all of this makes putting an end to anti-human capitalism necessary as quickly as possible!
The aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan, servitude to slowly-decaying American hegemony, the “check-ins” of “Polish” rulers at the US embassy, the setting of Ukraine on fire by pseudo-elites, the betrayal of Polish interests for lucrative jobs in international institutions - these are sufficient reasons to demand a sovereign Poland!
In response to the lack of existing alternatives on the Polish political scene, we have resolved to declare the founding of ZMIANA. This is not another “political party” in the service of capital, not a narrow interest group, and not a corporation managing the emotions of Poles.
Our goal is a CHANGE of politics, not a cosmetic surgery, but a deep uprooting of the disgraced structures of the anti-social system. CHANGE means replacing this system with a new regime, built for the people and by the people. Citizens must once again have control over their destiny and have the final say in public affairs. This is CHANGE.
ZMIANA demands, among other things:
- Poland’s immediate departure from NATO structures in order to rebuild our defense forces and defense industry, properly take care of our own interests, and peacefully coexist with our neighbors
- the nationalization and socialization of strategic industries, as without state ownership of the banks, raw materials, and production, we are deprived of social security and real sovereignty
- the creation of conditions for a dignified life for every citizen, the introduction of an equitable taxation system, the creation of a safety-net for the most vulnerable, and eliminating unemployment through the reindustrialization of the country
- taking care of Polish agriculture in order to guarantee healthy Polish food before GMO imports, and ensuring the profitability of agricultural production
- the introduction of a clear system of governance which clarifies the responsibilities and competence of authorities, since only with efficient state organs complemented by real instruments of direct democracy can there be an emanation of the will of citizens
ZMIANA is the response of Polish society to the ignorance and arrogance of the current authorities and “elite” of the Republic of Poland. It is a movement for a genuine alternative to the direction in which Poland is currently heading. It is a force which restores the people’s right to work, to the co-management of the state and its assets, and tearing away from the policies of the disgraced minions of capital.
ZMIANA will pursue its demands through participation in all decision-making processes, self-organization, as well as active social work, not excluding radical forms of resistance.
ZMIANA is all of us, except for the small group of thieves abounding in luxury and privileges!
ZMIANA is the only opposition!
- ZMIANA bases its system of values on the traditions of different political trends appealing to the ideas of social justice and concern for human dignity.
- ZMIANA represents the interests of working people, the unemployed, youth, and pensioners.
- ZMIANA is a democratic force which strives for social liberation and the empowerment of society through the self-organization of citizens and the participation of the representatives of working people in all decision-making processes at the state, local, community, and workplace levels.
- ZMIANA is an anti-capitalist force, because capitalism is a system which enslaves the individual and leads to the impoverishment of the vast majority of the population as a result of the exploitation of working people hired in the interests of a small group of the rich and the neo-colonial exploitation of weaker countries by imperialist powers.
- ZMIANA is a patriotic force, because only by regaining Poland’s sovereignty and liberating the country from the domination of the structures of big capital and the imperialist powers is it possible to improve the material well-being of wide circles of Polish society.
- ZMIANA is an internationalist force, because only through the common struggle of working people of different nationalities is it possible to equally distribute the material goods created by working people, and not the holders of capital, and overcome the enslavement of all of mankind by the capitalist system.
- ZMIANA is a party of identity because it supports the rights of nations, peoples, ethnic, religious, and social groups to develop and maintain their own unique identities, including the right to defend themselves from being destroyed by globalization and neo-liberalism.
- ZMIANA is a party of peace, because only in the conditions of cooperation and friendship with neighbors and all the peoples of Europe “from the Atlantic to Vladivostok” is it possible to build a secure future for our country.
- ZMIANA is a progressive force, because it favors the emancipation of the individual in the context of modern society and the unhindered development of science, technology, culture, and art.
- ZMIANA is committed to realizing the constitutional principles of social justice and the guarantee of a stable, dignified, and peaceful material existence for all citizens of the Republic of Poland by building a social state which assumes the priority of collective forms of ownership of the means of production (cooperative, state, and municipal) while guaranteeing the rights of small private property.
- ZMIANA considers human rights a priority, including the right to work, decent wages, housing, free health care and education, decent insurance for old age, procreation, a clean environment, and access to drinking water and healthy food.
- ZMIANA is movement for a better future while respecting the achievements of our parents and grandparents’ generations who, in difficult post-war conditions, rebuilt and developed the country, transforming Poland into an industrial state. Our industry is the basis of social welfare, and therefore ZMIANA opposes the policy of liquidating Polish manufacturing and the privatization and re-privatization of social assets.
If you share these values and demand SOCIAL CHANGE, join us!
“Who are we?”
We are people who come from very different social and political groups. We are people who have joined together to oppose the transformation of our state into a semi-colonial market for Western production and reservoir of cheap labor for Western corporations. The comprador elites who took back power in our country after 1989 have for 25 years plundered what once belonged to all of us and hypocritically named this “freedom”, when in reality we are dealing only with the freedom of the fox in the henhouse.
We are people who care about the future of our country and its citizens. Therefore, despite the many differences that divide us, we have resolved to create a party and work together for the common good. At a time when Polish youth are unable to find decent work and are leaving Poland en masse, and according to statistics 16 people commit suicide daily for economic reasons, we don’t have time for less important disputes and divisions which the authorities, using the rule “divide and conquer”, initiate and use against us so that we are divided, weak, and incapable of resisting their next anti-social moves.
What are we about and where are we going?
Our goal is to regain the sovereignty of our Fatherland.
Anti-human capitalism, in its worst, neo-liberal form, has deprived us working people not only of dignity but also of the material foundations for the existence of the state, the assets of which the elites of the Third Polish Republic looted, sold off, or simply destroyed so that our country wouldn’t pose any competition to the developed economies of the West. Without the re-nationalization and socialization of key industries and banks of our economy, there can be no talk of real sovereignty. Without regaining lost sovereignty, economic development, the development of science and culture, and our own economic and social policies consistent with the public interest are not possible.
Our goal is the actual Polish raison d’etat, and not the interests of the comprador elites and their overseas patrons.
We are the first non-American party in Poland. All governing groups in power since the so-called “changes” today go to Washington for instructions. Only the direction has changed, because previously these instructions were received in Moscow.
However, there is much less sovereignty today, because in the times of the Polish People’s Republic, Polish industry actually belonged to Poland, and thanks to this our country could run its own social and economic policies. We do not agree to the role of Poland as a watchdog of America, which, contrary to its own, vital interests, and in accordance with the interests of the empire, is not and does not want to maintain good relations with all our neighbors, especially with Russia and Belarus, which is very near to us. The Polish economy, Polish society, and our security as a country at a crossroads lose with this adventurism which is responsible for many of today’s wars of NATO and Russia.
We are a party of peace
Unlike the other remaining parties, which more or less use war rhetoric instead of dialogue, we are a party of peace. We want to reorient Polish foreign policy in accordance with the Polish raison d’etat, which means good and friendly economic, cultural, and interpersonal relations with all our neighbors. For obvious reasons, with Russia as well, whose markets have been very restricted for us by the policies of the Polish elite, and especially with Belarus, which is particularly close to us historically and culturally. In order to change this, people such as us and you have to take an interest in politics. We cannot escape from politics. When we, society, are silent, politics takes an interest in us and our lives, and we are only its subject. Change our country with us! We invite you to Zmiana!