Gazeta Wyborcza

Let’s Not Fall For This Trick

Photo: Tomasz Wiech / Agencja Gazeta This is the main issue today. As we mark the 24th anniversary of Gazeta Wyborcza we ask the question that keeps cropping up in Polish debates.  Right from the start, our paper has aimed to serve a democratic, tolerant and European Poland. So where does this question come from? The answer seems simple. Fascism of the 1930s no longer exists because the context has changed: there is no Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Stalin’s Soviet Russia, no civil war in Spain, no ONR[1] that tried to impose a numerus clausus on universities. What does fascism […]

Dear Misha

Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / AP   Dear Mikhail Borisovich, dear Misha, I have made several attempts to write this letter but each new version landed in the bin. It is difficult to write an open letter to someone who is under lock and key. I have asked many Russians – politicians and journalists, writers and scholars, businessmen and artists – about your trials, and they’’ve all said the same thing: these are political trials, an act of revenge against Khodorkovsky. Only one Russian gave a different answer – Putin. I have written about it in Novaya Gazeta. Putin […]

Exposing Poland to Ridicule

Is Jarosław Kaczyński an agent of Russia’’s secret services? – a distinguished British commentator asked sarcastically. It took me quite a while to explain that he’’s not an agent, merely an obstinate man fixated on his fantasies. Nowadays people talk of the “‘Smolensk lie”’, claiming the truth about the perpetrators of the disaster, in which Polish President Lech Kaczyński lost his life, has been covered up. [Prime Minister] Donald Tusk put it very well in the Sejm the other day. As for me, what I can’t get out of my head is the “‘Katyn lie”’, the Soviet regime’s cover-up of […]

A Hand with Marvellous Wings

In the 1960s, as I was embarking on the career of a poet, I brought my poetry to [the Krakow weekly] “Życie Literackie” (what an emotional moment!). Wisława Szymborska was in charge of the poetry section. Following a second visit she accepted one of my poems for print. Later, when we got to know each other well and I reminded her of this story, she’’d say: Adam, I don’’t remember it. In the 1970s I was already a regular at her famous dinners. The conversation was never “literary”’. Poetry was discussed least of all but that came in a later […]

An Emerging Europe of Fear and Anger

Fear is spreading around Europe. It is gripping those who live by their own labour, the young as well as the old, the middle classes as well as those who are less well off. From Madrid and London, through Rome and Paris, to Berlin and Warsaw labourers, students, businessmen and intellectuals are scared. A Europe of peace is turning into a Europe of fear. And into a Europe of anger. It is mainly the fear of a global crisis, indeed of disaster, that is destroying the life of societies, pushing them into shortages, chaos and violence, accompanied by growing anger […]

More Truth, More Kaczyński?

The Poles Deserve More. Chairman Kaczyński’’s has come up with an intriguing election slogan. More of what, one might ask? More flats? Roads? Churches? Holidays? No, Chairman Kaczyński was quick to clarify it wasn’’t material goods he had in mind (he had promised plenty of those before) but rather values, i.e. something that can be promised endlessly. So what specific values does he have in mind? In the Chairman’’s view the Poles deserve more “‘honesty’ and truth”’. I understand that it is possible to wish there were more honest and truthful people in society. But what impact can the Law […]

22 rokov / Stĺpček

Roku 1989 komunisti prehrali voľby v Poľsku. Volebný zákon zaručil vládnemu táboru väčšinu v Sejme, a tak skutočnou skúškou spoločenskej podpory boli voľby do Senátu. Tu boli výsledky jednoznačné: 99 percent kresiel pripadlo kandidátom Solidarity. V týchto voľbách spoločnosť ukázala, že chce slobodu a zmenu systému. Komunistická moc sa nesnažila zneplatniť výsledok volieb. Tým sa rozhodlo o pokojnom charaktere demokratickej transformácie v Poľsku. Prvý raz v dejinách sa vládnuci komunisti rozhodli skoncovať s doktrínou, ktorá hlásala, „nikdy sa nevzdáme moci“. Tieto úžasné udalosti sa však nedostali na titulné stránky novín na celom svete. Poľskú senzáciu vytlačili hrôzostrašné informácie o masakre mládeže, ktorá sa už niekoľko […]

Auschwitz and Mozart. 27 January

January 27. Hard frost, snow. All the vulgar, predictable tricks winter has in store are on display: city life has slowed down and pedestrians get stuck in bothersome snowdrifts. The mind also moves at a slower pace. Winter is a provincial illusionist, who has never mastered more than a single trick: that of turning water into ice and snow and back again, turning snow into dirty water. For a while now – ever since realizing what powerful symbols share this date – I have been intrigued by a day that manages to encapsulate two key dimensions of a historical moment. […]

Perohryz / Stĺpček

Knihy Maria Vargasa Llosu, ako Pantaleón a jeho ženská rota – nádherný, ironický príbeh o absurdite militarizmu našich čias, alebo Mesto a psy – obraz ponurej reality peruánskeho mesta, a nakoniec román o diktatúre Trujilla a jej dramatickom konci, mi navždy utkveli v pamäti. Je to autor mnohých vynikajúcich knižiek, ktorými si dobyl srdcia čitateľov a literárnej kritiky. Mario Vargas Llosa prešiel cestu, podobnú mnohým intelektuálom zo Strednej a Východnej Európy – ako som sa mal možnosť presvedčiť v osobných rozhovoroch s ním – počínajúc škandálom, ktorý vyvolal roku 1990 v Mexiku, keď na veľkej medzinárodnej konferencii nazval systém tamojšej vlády […]