From the Editor

Of all the eastern European countries, Poland is the most stable and least involved in disputes with neighbors. But, like other eastern European countries, it faces serious economic and political problems. The first three articles show that Poles share with Americans a dismal view of their legislators.

Professor Jacek Koronacki paints a troubled picture of the Commonwealth in 1992. His interview with Stanislaw Michalkiewicz, Secretary of the National Council of Unia Polityki Realnej, deputy editor of Nowy Swiat and a leading political commentator, does not mince words. UPR is a small party and is not a part of the governing coalition. This fact is not irrelevant to Mr. Michalkiewicz's comments on what to many of us here in the United States appears to be politics as usual: arm-twisting to vote this or that way, a lack of a clear-cut distinction between the powers, labor unionists as lobbyists, and the fact that the rich all too often tend to get richer.

Unlike Americans, however, Poles are surrounded by the neighbors who, historically speaking, have practised the law of the jungle in regard to their neighbors. Thus Mr. Michalkiewicz's and Mr. Parys' warnings that what may merely weaken America may be deadly to Poland should be taken seriously. The former Polish minister of Defense, Jan Parys, points out that there exist forces and interests which would like for Poland to remain in the Soviet/Russian sphere of influence.

Some former members of the Olszewski cabinet, including Mr. Parys, have recently formed their own party. The Poles have not apparently learned the art of power jousting within a party, and they feel a need for a new party each time a disagreement arises.

The Rev. Charles Robertson's article is written in a much more optimistic vein. He points out that it was the generation of the Walesas and the Michniks that managed to break the Soviet stranglehold on Poland. Robertson stresses the bottom line, namely, that things have improved with the waning of communism.

Professor Janusz Wrobel's syllabi reflect the changes which the teachers of Slavic and Soviet subjects were obliged to make in their courses after the fall of communism. The texts used in the old courses became outdated, as did the textbooks of geography written in the 1950s.

Professor Rett Ludwikowski's book introduces Polish conservative writers to English readers. The review stresses the necessity of translating into English such writers as Bobrzynski, szujski, Kalinka, Korzon and others. Without the presence in English of these and other historians of Poland and east central Europe, it will hardly be possible to change the American perception of that part of the world.

The sensitive nature of the topic discussed in LETTERS necessitated the withholding of name and address of the writer who is a university professor and a prominent Polish spokesman in the English-speaking world. The letter opens for discussion an issue on which Americans of eastern and central European origin have long been divided: should one try to build ghetto institutions in which the culture of one's origin is celebrated without intrusion from the outside world, or instead try to integrate that culture into that of the majority? While proponents of the first strategy point out that in order to integrate one has to have something first, others counter that self-absorption leads to ghettoization and to the lowering of standards. While the author of the letter writes about a Polish university in Lithuania, his words are not unrelated to such activities as ethnic dancing and singing ensembles, parties at which ethnic foods are served and "ethnic" languages spoken etc.

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The Sarmatian Review
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