«The Power of the Power less Re vis ited T h e Powe r of th e Powe r l e s s Re v is ite d The Power o f the Power less Re visit ed Kraków 2014 © ...»
of the Power less
Re vis ited
T h e Powe r
of th e Powe r l e s s
Re v is ite d
o f the Power less
Re visit ed
© Copyright by Villa Decius Association 2014
Danuta Glondys, Ph.D.
Design and composition:
Piotr Hrehorowicz, Małgorzata Punzet, Inter Line SC
Drukarnia Leyko sp. z o.o.
The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or the official position of the organisers.
ISBN 978-83-61600-01-5 “ At t he beginning o f e ver y t hing, there is t he word.
It is a mir ac le to whi c h we owe t he fac t that we are human.
At the same t ime i t is a war ning an d an at t empt and a t est.
Vac l av Havel Welcome and opening of conference Danuta Glondy s Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Villa Decius to our annual conference devoted to the idea of freedom. This year, the conference will be a reflection on the powerless – thus, on those people who are able to peacefully change political systems.
Before we proceed with the conference, let me first welcome our special guests: Minister Jan Lityński of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland and HE Staffan Herrström, the Ambassador of Sweden to Poland. We also have the pleasure of having with us a secretary of Bulgarian Embassy to Poland, Ivan Kitov, and a counsellor of the Polish Embassy in Bulgaria, Jarosław Dziedzic. Especially warmly I welcome Magda Vašáryová, a former Ambassador and Secretary of the State in Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Enrique ter Horst, a former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. I welcome the authorities of the city of Kraków who are with us today and who always support us. The authorities are represented by Deputy Mayor of Kraków, Anna Okońska-Walkowicz, and Andrzej Hawranek, the President of the Budgetary Committee of the Kraków City Council.
I welcome the consular corps: the Dean of the Corps and the Consul General of Ukraine in Kraków, Vitaliy Maksymenko; the Consul General of Slovakia in Kraków, Ivan Škorupa; the economic and political counsellor of the US Embassy, Andrew Caruso, and Andrzej Tombiński, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Austria in Kraków. It is a great pleasure to also host the representatives of our partners: Joanna Stępińska and Mariusz Lewicki from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Jan Baster, the Director General of the Polish National Remembrance Institute. Thank you for being here with us.
Let me now welcome our magnificent guests and experts who decided to join us making this conference possible: László and Judit Rajk from Hungary, Rüstem Ablâtif from Crimea, Krzysztof Bobiński from Warsaw, Wolfgang Eichwede from Germany, Tamara Sujú and Enrique ter Horst from Venezuela, Samuel Abrahám and Michal Vašečka from Slovakia, Lavon Barshcheuski from Belarus, Atakhan Abilov from Azerbaijan, Kareem Amer from Egypt, Teodora Krumova from Bulgaria, Wojciech Przybylski from Poland, Taras Voznyak from Ukraine and Adam Reichardt from Poland. I also welcome the members of Villa Decius Association: Bogusław Sonik, Zbigniew Jamka, and among our friends, Ewa Bielecka.
Today’s conference would not be possible without the financial support of the many public and private institutions. The biggest words of gratitude go to the Municipality of Kraków and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland for supporting our work and co-financing today’s event.
I also thank the authorities of the Małopolska Region for their support. My very special “thank you” goes to the commercial sponsors of our project: PZU, Kraków Airport, SPL, Villa Decius Restaurant and ZUE Group.
I would also like to thank our project partners who have collaborated with us for many months:
the Prague Foundation 2000 set up by Václav Havel, the PAUCI foundation from Warsaw-Kiev, the Consulate General of the United States and all the media patrons.
Before I ask the Mayor to welcome you on behalf of the city, please let me address the students of the Jagiellonian University, the University of Science and Technology and the Pedagogical University in Kraków: Thank you very much for joining our events and being here with us.
Now the floor is yours, Mayor.
A nna O końska -Wa lko wicz
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of Professor Jacek Majchrowski, the Mayor of the city, and to welcome especially warmly those who are not from Kraków but who arrived from far away. It is a great honour for the city to host people for whom the love for freedom has become both the inspiration and the goal of life. Thank you for your readiness to be here to debate on important matters concerning the future, and to reflect on the idea of freedom – a value that has been cherished by people for many centuries. I would like to thank Villa Decius Association for initiating and implementing this important project concerned with human rights, which have always played important role in our city.
Danuta Glondy s
Before we start with panels and debates, let me pay a special tribute to Vaclav Havel. In his famous collection of essays The Power of the Powerless, published in 1978, Václav Havel wrote: “In the beginning of everything is the word. It is a miracle to which we owe the fact that we are human. But at the same time it is a pitfall and a test, a snare and a trial”. The Czech philosopher understood the imperative to defend freedom as absolute necessity – something that has been emphasized throughout history. At the time of writing the essay, he forecasted that freedom would triumph over totalitarianism in his part of the continent. He saw power in the citizens’ powerlessness.
Nearly thirty-five years later, these famous words of Havel acquire new meaning. They strengthen our faith; they brace our hearts. Today, it is relevant to reconsider the idea of solidarity and
Magda Vášár yo v á and Andr z ej Tomb ińs ki responsibility just as much as to reflect on the transformation’s balance sheet of gains and losses.
This conference is an attempt to look at the Powerless AD 2014 – and to discuss whether they have the similar power that those living in Central and Eastern Europe once had. With this question I open the conference.
Bogusł a w S onik
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen.
I will start with so-called “times of innocence” – that is, with the pre-1989 opposition. Jacek Kuroń once used a similar phrase in a book that described the times of the opposition – he called that period “the time of the stars”. In those days, many dissidents were sure that all they did must have been done on moral foundations. Václav Havel remained faithful to such principle: in whatever he said and wrote after 1989, he practically always emphasised that every policy must be grounded in moral values. I will close my speech with what I believe to be the most important matter, i.e. building one united Europe.
In 1989, like a house of cards, the power of the Soviet Union fell into pieces. The Soviet empire was built on murder of millions of their own people and the enthralled Europe. The spring of nations in 1989, which started in 1980 at the gates of Gdańsk shipyards, enabled us to rebuild the new independent and democratic state whose existence was interrupted in 1945 by Stalin (with the consent of the Western powers).
One could probably analyse the reasons behind that joyful event of 1989 in order to increase the importance of the economic and ideological bankruptcy of the communist system that, just like a boxer who throws his towel to the ring, was finally forced to give up. But today we are speaking of the power of the powerless and their role in the process.
The year 1989 brought the victory of the spirit of resistance and the victory of power of those who – like the Polish Solidarity – knew how to unite. This was also the victory of those who in many other countries continued their lonely fight against the powerful enemies who had the whole gamut of repressions at their disposal. The Polish opposition movement looked with admiration at the lonely and heroic struggle of Russian, Ukrainian and Baltic dissidents. Andrei Sakharov, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Bukovsky and the famous poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya (who went out to the Red Square to protest against the invasion of Warsaw Pact on Czechoslovakia in 1968), became the rays of light in those dark days. They really showed us the way. Here, I should also mention the dramatic and tragic death of the Ukrainian dissident Marchenko. In fact, his death became the turning point in the policy of the Soviet Union and the reason why Gorbachev decided to free Sakharov from his exile. At the same time, in 1988, the European Parliament established the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The first double prize was posthumously given to Mandela and Marchenko.
At the time, we were in our twenties. We had already known that we did not want to participate in the lies of the official propaganda. We read Solzhenitsyn’s “Live Not By Lies” and his simple appeal made us to take a stand against totalitarian deceptions. At the same time, this appeal proved to be radical as it led to confrontations with authorities. The communists, who had the monopoly on governments in this part of Europe, based their power on absolute subjugation and dependence of every citizen and on control of all social ties between people.
The breaking of the system started in the 70s when Charter 77 was set up in Czechoslovakia, and when the Workers’ Defence Committee together with other movements such as the Students’ Committee of Solidarity and the Confederation of Independent Poland appeared. The powerless discovered the power of being together, of being solidary. As Bulat Okudzhava sang at the time: “Brothers let’s hold our hand so that we don’t die alone”. The election of a Kraków cardinal to the Chair of Saint Peter catalysed more events; even the coup of the military junta on 13th of December 1981 in Poland, when general Jaruzelski waged war against his own citizens, could not stop the changes. Communism in Poland was finally defeated on the 4th of June, 1989 and its fall opened the way to democracy and freedom in Poland, and consequently, in all other countries of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union itself.
Václav Havel once wrote that a dissident is like a Sisyphus, pushing the stone upwards although the chance of reaching the top is practically none. He pushes it because he finds no other opportunity to reach the truth; this way he can understand the sense of his life and possibly discover a new horizon of hope. Another eminent figure of Charter 77, Jan Patočka, a few days before his death caused by interrogation by the Czech security services, said: “Many ask me if the Charter 77 deteriorate the position of our society.” We too – operating in the 1970s – were asked the same question. Patočka answered: “No thralldom has ever improved the position of any society. It could only be damaged. The greater servility and fear, the bigger authorities’ liberty to do whatever they please. They have done so and they will continue to do so”. Havel in the quoted The Power of the Powerless wrote that such state of affairs is rooted in the very nature of the authority, which is capable of repression. Havel confessed that he understood the bitterness of people; the bitterness that was made of human fragility, loneliness and defenceless. And yet, he added he was convinced that in that valley of tears, there was nothing that would in itself be capable of taking away human faith and people’s will to live. We lose them only when we fail. The faith and free will were precious to those whom Havel called the Powerless.
After 1989, Havel, already as the President of Czechoslovakia, focused his public activity on persistent reminding of the importance of moral foundations for every true policy. He emphasised the moral criteria and values in all realms of social life. In Summer Mediations he wrote: “if a handful of friends and I were able to bang our heads against the wall for years by speaking the truth about Communist totalitarianism while surrounded by an ocean of apathy, there is no reason why I shouldn’t go on banging my head against the wall by speaking ad nauseam, despite the condescending smiles, about responsibility and morality in the face of our present social marasmus”. After the fall of communism, the yesterday’s Powerless had to face the brutal reality of the times when politics were based on accusing one another, on dark past and untrue intentions.
Now demagogy and populism take its toll on societes by moving them away from political engagement. Interestingly enough, a similar diagnosis was stated on another continent. Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, once said: “freedom and democracy destroy intelligentsia”; he pointed to the fact that the lack of censorship destroyed social involvement and solidarity. In one of his essays Llosa also noted: “culture is getting more and more banal and carefree”; everything turns into amusement and art loses its critical eye.
So the question is whether the powerless turned into the helpless. When the walls collapsed and the free nations started to be self-governed, it turned out that many of the yesterday’s heroes could not meet the expectations of a new society. They did not know how to participate in the struggle for power. Generally, in this type of game, the one who is more efficient and demagogic towards the voters – wins. Politics is no longer a debate on the solutions of social problems. Mario Vargas Llosa much like Václav Havel appeals: “politics cannot be reduced to pure pragmatic actions”. When it turns into so called “current practice” going beyond the values, the institutions wither and people stop being interested in politics. Nationalism and populism continue to appear even in Europe.