PiS wants to fight Putin, but save its own Putinism
PiS claims there are fewer attacks on the EU and Brussels, but this is only ostensible peace. The propaganda of the authorities targeted at the EU is sending the message: since there is a war, let us rule without restrictions.
by Marek Beylin
Putin’s aggression against Ukraine has dampened the political war that PiS has been waging for years in Poland. And supporters of both the opposition parties and PiS can be found in the spontaneous mass solidarity of the Poles with the Ukrainian refugees, which somewhat reduces the differences between them. So there is a kind of ad hoc national consensus being built against Putin.
However, PiS still wants to monopolistically define and impose the conditions of this consensus. This is visible in this party’s propaganda.
Since PiS’s anti-European policy is in ruins, the ruling party is looking for a way of positioning itself anew in the EU, but without abandoning its authoritarian doctrine of power. There are therefore fewer attacks on the EU and Brussels in PiS’s statements, while stories about how the EU and the West want to destroy the Polish nation with a new totalitarian revolution, or in other words, in fact, the assertion of the rights of discriminated social groups, have (for the time being?) been silenced. And the crackdown on women asserting their rights and on LGBT+ has also calmed down.
However, this is ostensible peace, because PiS propaganda today is focusing on three matters.
Firstly, it is presenting Prime Minister Morawiecki as the new de facto leader of the EU. It is he who is supposed to convince the EU to be assertive with respect to Russia. According to these statements, Morawiecki is responsible for the introduction of the harsh EU sanctions and the aid to Ukraine, including military hardware. So it is only because of the prime minister that we have a strong EU united against Putin’s aggression. Suddenly, the friendship with the extreme European anti-EU and pro-Putin right wing, which PiS was boasting until recently, has evaporated from the content of this propaganda. There was never any such thing.
Secondly, the PiS propagandists are attacking the opposition, presenting them as Putin’s military accomplices. The attack is especially targeted at Donald Tusk the most important figure in the opposition. This is because, in this version, all people and all formations that still support the rule of law in Poland and do not want to persuade Europe to allow PiS to continue its authoritarian consolidation of power are Putinists. Of course, this is about the Reconstruction Fund and the ‘money for the rule of law’ mechanism. According to PiS, Putin’s war gives Jarosław Kaczyński the right to rule Poland as he pleases.
As one of the party’s leading propagandists, Michał Karnowski, put it, these actions by the EU in defence of the rule of law ‘have always been a victory of egoism over the common good. Today they are becoming a crime.’ A crime ‘against our common security, against our stability, against our ability to help an attacked neighbour’. Therefore, opposition, ‘if you are really concerned about the fate of Ukraine, then release the blockades you have established’.
Of course, neither this nor numerous similar texts contain a word about the fact that PiS could agree to make any concessions regarding its power. After all, this is about defiling the opposition by including it in Putin’s camp, and contrasting it against PiS, which in these terms is becoming the leading pro-European force, to which Morawiecki’s role is supposed to testify.
Thirdly, according to the party’s statements, the Polish opposition is marching as Putin’s recruits together with Germany. ‘It is clear today that it was Berlin – perhaps in consultation with Moscow – that attacked Poland with the aid of the EU institutions it controlled. The point was to weaken the most important country in the region, to build a grey area in which the two superpowers freely share their influence,’ wrote Jacek Karnowski, also a top representative of PiS’s ideology. This is how the map of national treason looks.
These arguments are not only about erasing PiS’s alliance with the European Putinists from public memory. Of greater importance is the looming proposition to the EU: since there is a war, leave PiS in peace, let us rule without restrictions.
There is no way of establishing today to what extent the EU will be willing to accept such a deal. I hope it rejects it. After all, it should know how dangerous Putinism as a doctrine of internal authority is for the EU and Europe. Meanwhile, PiS has been professing this doctrine for years, although it has only partially implemented it. The destruction of the judiciary and laws, the repression of opponents, illegal wiretapping, including the Pegasus scandal – these are the achievements of authority in the spirit of Putinism. As can be seen from party propaganda, PiS does not want to withdraw from this doctrine of power. The ruling party’s and Kaczyński’s ambition is to fight off Putin, to save its own Putinism.
Transleted by Roman Wojtasz
Published in Polish at Gazeta Wyborcza, 7 March 2022.