The interview with Mr. Stanislaw Michalkiewicz (SR, XIII/1) was interesting on two counts: because it offered a conservative perspective on the situation in Poland and because it may help explain why the conservatives play no significant role on the Polish political scene.

Reading the interview from this second angle, let us begin with Mr. Michalkiewicz's repeated references to the Round Table agreements. He seems to treat those agreements as an integral part of the Polish legal order, a part which now must be annulled as an impediment to the reform process.

Such a view borders on political surrealism, since there is nothing of the Round Table agreements left to annul. They were a one-time deal in which the then-ruling communist party agreed to a power sharing scheme with the opposition. As a result, Solidarity obtained 35% of the seats in the Sejm, the freely elected Senate was created, and Mr. Jaruzelski became president. However, due to a rapidly changing situation, the negotiated order soon began to crumble. The communist party was forced into dissolution in early 1990 and was no longer capable of enforcing any agreement. Then, Mr. Jaruzelski stepped down as president and, after a free election, was replaced by Mr. Walesa. Finally, in October of 1991, all 460 deputies were seated in a new, democratic parliament. All Round Table provisos had thus been removed.

Mr. Michalkiewicz certainly realizes all of this, and therefore, his demand for annulling the Round Table agreements should perhaps not be taken literally. I read it as an unfortunately worded demand for decommunization, i.e., for removing the communist appointees from the administration and the regulated industries. Let us note, however, that by phrasing his demand in this way, Mr. Michalkiewicz has set up a trap for himself, and apparently, fallen into it.

First, talking about decommunization in terms of the Round Table, one assumes that the continuing presence of the communists in the government is a result of the past. To think so is a grave mistake. The communists stay in power because they still have wide popular support, they managed to ally themselves with the socialist-minded majority of the Solidarity elite, and finally, they have no obvious replacements. All three are important factors acting in the present. What happened in the past does not affect them very much.

Second, if decommunization is conceived of in terms of annulling an agreement, then it sounds quite easy: One stroke of the proper pen is all it takes. Again, a bad mistake. It is thinking along those lines that led Prime Minister Olszewski to his spectacular political suicide. In reality, because of the factors just mentioned, removing the communists from their positions is prohibitively costly at this stage. Mr. Michalkiewicz, it seems, should spend more time thinking about cost-effectiveness: if only we could keep our cavalry from charging against tanks, we may be able to wipe out a good number of enemy infantry.

Moving on to the main part of the interview, Mr. Michalkiewicz expressed his dismay and disappointment with the ruthlessness and greed for power displayed by practically all of his political opponents. I wonder if Mr. Michalkiewicz really needs to be reminded that this is precisely the kind of people who become politicians. Those who avoid the spotlight, and want only to humbly serve their neighbor join religious orders instead. According to Mr. Michalkiewicz, Poland's only hope seems to be that Messrs. Geremek, Walesa, Cimoszewicz and Michnik wake up one day as Mother Theresas.

The same part of the interview has another odd aspect. Mr. Michalkiewicz seems to be living in the Orwellian world, populated by the members of the inner party who have all the power and by the proles who can only revolt if desperate. Thus, he has spent about two thirds of the time speaking about ten leading politicians. The voting public got only several lines and were described as "disillusioned and politically unstable". Amazing.

I am not trying to preach about democracy. I simply see another indication of Mr. Michalkiewicz's loose grip on reality. Considering the power structure in Poland only in terms of personal likes and dislikes within a narrow group of top players may work for the short run. For the long run, one needs to think in terms of the elections: the previous one, which Mr. Geremek won and Mr. Michalkiewicz lost, and the next, in which one might prefer the opposite outcome.

Mr. Michalkiewicz seems completely unaware of this. However cunning his opponents are, and however they manipulated the voting law to skew the odds in their own favor, they still have large and devoted constituencies, or at least, they were more successful in convincing people to vote for them. Again, the only democratic way of continuing the reform process is to change this situation. For now, we do not even know if Mr. Michalkiewicz's party has any constituents. If they exist, he forgot to mention them. If not, perhaps he should do something about it.

The final part of the interview contains a list of complaints about the situation in Poland. This situation is bad because farmers talk with Lyndon LaRouche, the government talks with the trade unions, the trade unions talk with the communists and nobody talks with Mr. Michalkiewicz. From an American perspective, this part is quite unexpected, because here, there are no whining conservatives. If one believes in the free market, one either thrives or goes bankrupt and disappears, but never gets a chance to whine. Mr. Michalkiewicz has apparently found a road in between. But does it lead anywhere?

Martin Lawera, Rice University

I am honored by your invitation to write for The Sarmatian Review a commentary on the interview with Mr. Stanislaw Michalkiewicz. I must, however, admit that I do not feel quite competent to undertaken this task.

Mr. Michalkiewicz is a politician, I am a scholar. What he says in his interview is a mixture - not so atypical, for a representative of his profession - of facts, subjective interpretations, and distortions of truth (I would prefer to avoid the term "outright lies"). It is of course his privilege - again as a politician - to present his partisan views, but for me to comment on his statements would mean to join political debate and therefore abandon academic objectivity. I have no such intentions, and it has nothing to do with the content of Mr. Michalkiewicz's enunciations. I strongly believe that the interview in question would be best commented on by another politician, of a different from Mr. Michalkiewicz's political orientation and affiliation. Also, Mr. Michalkiewicz perceives politics in the way best reflected by the famous Russian expression kto kavo?, which makes a truly academic comment on his views practically impossible.

Nevertheless, in lieu of an academic commentary I may point ouf for you a few errors of fact, which I have noticed in both Mr. Michalkiewicz's answers and Mr. Koronacki's questions. For instance, Mr. Michalkiewicz says (p. 152):

"In any case, when Mr. Mazowiecki became Prime Minister, he and his party made an attempt to marginalize the President. He was assigned the role of a respected grandfather who is made fun of behind his back. President Walesa was supposed to step aside, while at the same time confirming the legitimacy of UD and the circles form which it developed."

Does Mr. Michalkiewicz really mean "President Walesa?" If so, he is wrong, because "when Mr. Mazowiecki became Prime Minister" the office of the President of Poland was occupied by one Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, not by Lech Walesa. When Walesa was elected President, Mazowiecki - the looser in this election - resigned as Prime Minister, and only after that established his party - UD (Unia Demokratyczna).

Mr. Koronacki on his part claims that according to the Round Table agreements 67% of the seats in the Sejm were "reserved for communists" (p. 152). In fact, it was not 67% for communists, but 65% for communists and their then-allies (precisely: 37.6% PZPR, 16.5% ZSL, 5.9% SD, 2.2% PAX, 1.7% UChS, 1.1% PZKS).

Incidentally, I have detected similar errors of fact in the Mr. Jacek Koronacki's article "The State of the Commonwealth in 1992" and in an interview with Dr. Jan Parys in the same issue of The Sarmatian Review.

As far as the specific issue - indicated in your letter - of the deficit figures is concerned, let me again admit my lack of competence. I am not an economist, but as far as I know (and Mr. Michalkiewicz points it out as well) the economists also disagree in their evaluations of the projected deficit. Whether Mr. Michalkiewicz is right on this score only time will show, I suspect.

Should you, despite my reservations, choose to publish this letter in The Sarmatian Review, I will greatly appreciate your publishing it in its entirety.

Krzysztof Jasiewicz, Visiting Associate Professor, Washington and Lee University

We honor Professor Jasiewicz's request and publish his letter without changes. Apart from matters of grammar and spelling, however, it has to be pointed out that a portion of his argument is based on an inadequate knowledge of the American idiom. One says "When President Bush was a Navy pilot..." without implying that George Bush was president at that time. Similarly, "When Mr. Mazowiecki...made an attempt to marginalize... President [Walesa]..." does not imply that Lech Walesa was actually president at that time. Ed.

Thank you for the informative January 1993 issue of the SR. Mr. Stanislaw Michalkiewicz's statement that the increasingly disillusioned Polish society can either congeal into a banana republic or undertake real liberal reforms is well founded. In fact, all nations liberated by the "velvet revolutions" and still dominated by communists or ex-communists face the same danger. The threat of protracted corruption and poverty looms on their horizon.

Unlike many others, however, Poland is unique in that it has remained quite well unified and seriously Catholic. Although battered by devastating onslaughts resulting from cultural AIDS - Soviet atheism, imperialism, dictatorship, socialism, Western arrogance and ignorance, drugs and sex - Poland remains relatively sound and should outlive the "politically correct" multiculturalism and paganism, and remain a beacon in a confused and troubled era.

Libor Brom, Professor Emeritus, University of Denver

Just to let you know that we continue to exist..... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and thank you for your help.

Professor Romuald Brazis, President
The Rev. Dariusz Stanczyk, Chaplain
Waldemar Bohdanowicz, President, PUL Student Association
Uniwersytet Polski w Wilnie przy Stowarzyszeniu Naukowcow Polakow Litwy, Vilnius 2055
P. O. Box A.D. 829, Lietuva - Lithuania

The issue on "Polish Politics in the 1990s" (SR, XIII/1) was most interesting and excellently edited, a pleasure to read. You are succeeding! May all the 1993 issues be equally good.

Stanley Garstka, Riverside, CA

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