Between Hope and Decline

When he invited me to address you, Mr Marek Svoboda said: We would like you to assess the state of democracy in the world; you have a full fifteen minutes. So keep it short and sweet. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that over the past year we have witnessed the awakening of grass roots democracy in various parts of the world. Democracy is awakening in many unexpected contexts, such as the Arab Spring or the protests in Russia. The bad news is that, on the other hand, in places where we thought democracy […]

Bathory, cube and magic hair tonic

23 March is the Day of Polish-Hungarian Friendship. The relevant resolution was adopted by the Hungarian parliament on 12 March 2007 by 324 votes. There were no abstentions. On 16 March of the same year the Sejm of the Polish Republic unanimously adopted a similar resolution. This touching unanimity of the two parliaments begs for a reworking of the well-known Polish adage. Instead of the Hungarian and the Pole, always friendly / jointly riding, jointly drinking. Boisterous and joyous both / may God bless their souls, it should read: the Hungarian and the Pole / always friendly/ jointly voting, jointly […]

Gangsters and scribblers

It’’s weird being a grown-up. I should have got used to it by now but it still feels a bit weird. It’’s not just that one has to work and earn money and meet deadlines. Being the co-owner a piece of real estate is also quite a strange business. You’’ve got to pay land tax, a piece of paper demanded, visibly unhappy with us being in arrears, suddenly and resolutely demanding payment after two years. Or take a committee. A piece of real estate has to be managed. In the past there used to be special companies that did that […]

Paní Agnieszko, nic se nestalo / Stĺpček

Agnieszka Holland nedostala Oscara. V Polsku se tím nikdo moc netrápil, protože nikdo nevěřil, že ho dostane. “Doufáme v zázrak,” řekla dokonce i novinářka, která komentovala televizní přenos. Zázrak se nestal. Filmoví akademici za světový mír Oscara dostal iránský film Rozchod. Musel by být hodně špatný, kdyby ho nedostal zrovna teď, když média už měsíc vytrubují do světa zprávy o zvyšující se pravděpodobnosti izraelského útoku na Írán. Samozřejmě, že žádný útok nebude, ale samotný strach z další války na Blízkém východě – a především z íránského nukleárního programu – způsobil, že se členové Americké filmové akademie rozhodli vložit se do […]

Putin is Getting Married

As of today at least half of Russia is worthy of Vladimir Putin and he is worthy of that half. Our presidential election resembles a wedding. Putin has made all the preparations, including lending his face a youthful appearance, writing or having ghostwritten seven articles promising his bride – Russia – to be her defender, protector, commander-in-chief and brother. He has invited his freeloading fans from all around the country for a feast of free food and drink. But there’s a problem: the bride is split into two halves. One part of her – basically the lower half, the workers, […]