We Made Him Dangerous

The Man with Bow Tie is not a new phenomenon on the Polish political scene. I remember him very well from the old time when I was finishing high school. Few of my friends, looking for a way to earn extra money to academic scholarship, decided to get involved in politics. In Poland, it was a time when we were just started to develop policies at local level. We did not really know what this local politics is, who will be competent manager of a city or neighborhood. Many people were not even certain of the newly regained freedom and opportunities to participate in democratic elections. Democracy was something new, and civic education practically did not exist.

In such a circumstances, young people who barely a year earlier received active and passive electoral rights decided to have some fun in politics. Most of today's political parties, including the main actors so the Civic Platform and Law and Justice, did not exist jet. But – among other small and sometimes strange groups – there was Real Politic Union (Unia Polityki Realnej, UPR) with it charismatic leader Janus Korwin-Mikke, the Man with a Bow Tie. At the beginning it was a conservative-liberal party, so the offer for youth seemed to be quite an interesting. The other thing is that the most of them didn't even read the programme. Leader was good enough to somehow seduce them by showing things that – from his point of view – limit our personal freedom. The most spectacular action was probably his protest against the compulsory wearing of seat belts. This encouraged the young. In this way UPR looked for their support. And indeed, in the local elections in 1998 and 2002, from the UPR list started the whole mass young people. Recruitment process was efficient and fast. In fact the views did not count. The important was... being a relative, a friend or a friend of the child, one of the members of the party. In this way on the list of the UPR hit a whole bunch of my friends, who later appeared on the advice of their districts just to sign the attendance list (of course for proper diet). The party did not take care about their political education, perspectives, goals etc. Or a group of youth that “politics” was mostly just for fun.

Today, after a years, some of those youth are still present in politics. But most of them started careers in companies or at the universities and they simply forgot about their past. It was easier no to engage and not to remember, at least until the last elections to the European Parliament. During the election campaign returned Man with a Bow Tie, this time on a slightly different version. New idea of Korwin-Mikke - The Congress of the New Right (Kongres Nowej Prawicy, KNP) - perfectly matched to the European trend of skepticism towards the EU, but also to the internal device their own country. Another thing that Mikke (since I can remember) was skeptical of anything out of play bridge and chess. However, his current ideas on the state terrify even those who once were enrolled in to the UPR. The combination of neo-liberalism, euroscepticism and quite extreme social conservatism seems to be unbearable, and in the long run simply untenable. In the end - repeat (behind their backs boss) members of KNP – we will need to be politically bend, to get closer (even in the potential of the parliamentary coalition) to this or that party, and then a monopoly on skepticism may be untenable.

Not taking care of your democracy we have made Man with a Bow Tie dangerous. We gave him the tools built not only of disappointment the current state policy (and even desire to "punish" those in power), but also of our fears, prejudices, educational neglect and ignorance. So what would happen? Knowing the history of parties formed by Janusz Korwin-Mikke one can hope that also this time his house of cards will fall apart. Since years voting for Korwin for many people means voting against everybody else, against the style of politics and governing, but at the same time for someone who “have no chance to win” or... voting “just to be present” and to “make a joke”. Very sad one. In the other hand many of his voters are not aware that also means voting for consent to racism, homophobia, chauvinism, xenophobia and very narrow definition of national identity, in which, according to applicable standards of his party, does not fit quite a big group of citizens.

Whole hope is that his idea for a selection of collaborators - from the a round-up-has not changed. And if so, sooner or later Korwin pass again, windblown subsequent political changes, ideas, fashions. Irrespective of the fact that his political success is part of a larger trends we must know that the guy is a loser type, and on the Polish political scene, we already had a few (even stronger) stars of one season. But now, whoever created the face of Man with a Bow Tie, will pay for it. The price will be definitely a deep sense of shame, but also further decline in the quality of our democracy. In the other hand it might be understand as the effect of full European integration, understood also as sharing similar shame and having similar problems.

Magdalena Baran