Wednesday, 21 July 2010

My 2010 Green manifesto

I have decided to join the Green movement. It took me 13 years to take this decision. Decision to join a political party. If you are born in a Communist party lead country party does not necessarily mean something good. Now I am ready.

Back in 1997 I have joined the young movement called 'Young democrats' (Mlodzi Democraci) which was a kind of youth assaciation affiliated to one of the key Polish political parties - Union of Freedom (Unia Wolnosci). I went for seminars, discussions, took part in electoral campaigns. But I was too cautious to make a step further and join the party itself. I was afraid of becoming manipulated and wanted to leave the options open. The Polish landscape of 1997 was still very fragile. I remember the discussions about the new Polish constitution and a clever, passionate speech of one of its opponents from the Kaczynski's camp: Ludwik Dorn. I remember the discussions about local government and the meeting with first Polish ambassador to the Czech Republic (...) forgot the name. I remember when I saw the name of Jerzy Buzek on the party list to the Polish Diet. I remember being invited for his expose in Sejm (Polish Diet) on the 10th November of 1997.
And now, 13 years later I decided to join the Belgian Green Francophone Party (ECOLO). These are my reasons:
1. I do believe that despite all their deficiencies political parties have a life in the post-national era of XXI century.
2. I learnt that being an official or diplomat you never enjoy the same freedom as the politicians do.
3. I believe that parties and internal elections are the best testing ground for young leaders and statesmen. I am now ready to take up this challenge. I am no longer afraid of being outmanouvered or ridiculed.
4. I believe the world we know is changing completely which creates a big challenge for the existing social systems in Europe and outside.
5. My generation 30-40 year old needs to get involved to represent a modern way of looking at the world.
6. The Christian Democrats have become part of the European establishment (EPP, Barroso, Juncker) and it will take time before a generation change occurs. Let me be silent on the links with the Catholic church now.
7. The Socialists never really made a right difference between equality and equality of rights. They should go back to the university and read about the incentive structure and engines of growth.
8. The Liberals - individualism is an important part of the European heritage but it will never solve the tragedy of commons. Liberals have been too close to the private business. And the 2008 financial crisis exposed to me the limits of liberal thinking.

Why Belgian ECOLO?
1. This is the only Belgian party which keeps close links (same parliamentary club) with the Flemish counterpart (GROEN).
2. I got fed up with the cars in Brussels and the limited space for bicycles.
3. The noise levels in Brussels are not acceptable. We need a green revolution, electric cars, responsible consumers and not highways bringing egoist navetteurs from the outskirts.
4. I believe in rights for sexual minorities and minorities altogether.
5. Ecolo brings new elements of discussions to the political system.
6. The European Greens are the openly pro-European party which remains critical of the current political establishment.
7. Greens being the new party are not yet overly dependant on the existing balance of interest. They are fresh in politics.
8. I believe within the next 20 years Greens can become a force in Europe of around 20% which will be necessary to govern the countries.
9. They have couple of charismatic leaders: Cohn-Bendit, Joschka Fischer, Trittin, Eva Joly.

Couple of information about the ecological movement in Europe:
1. In 2010 regional elections in France they scored above 16% (almost becoming the second party by vote).
2. They already had 1 Commissioner (German Michele Schreyer - Prodi Commission - 1999-2004)
3. If I remember well, in 2010 elections in UK they managed to secured the first MP seat.
4. In Poland - Zieloni 2004 - problems with emerging on the media scene.

my history as a Polish

Having spent 4 years in Brussels I begin to look at Poland with a mix of nostalgia and criticism. Nostalgia is self-explanatory. I spent the first 30 years of my life predominantly in this country; I come from a family where both parents spoke Polish; I was attending schools and universities in Gliwice and Krakow. So what I am right now is predominantly made in Poland.

On the other hand since the high school times I grew more and more interested in the outside world. Foreign news was the part of newspaper that I started reading at the age of 14. I was always excelling in history and political science: I remember still that Khmer Rouge was a bit like the story of Karol May (Winnetou) or conquistadores. The world back then was really far away.

I was born in a semi-independant state where friendship with Soviet Union was an undisputed principle yet everybody knew that Russia has been the biggest danger for the nation throughout the last 3 hundred years. Poland in the 80ies was a curious mixture of declining economy, strong church and a deligitimes nomenclature regime.

And then, 1988-89-90 history accelerated. I was still too young to really witness these years. In 1991 I joined the highschool. My rebellion against the adults had another layer: the generation of my parents was not ready for the new system... they seemed backwards, not ready to understand the new credo of capitalism. They adapted the best way they could but still for me they seemed not as good as me. Time has shown that I was not right.

Now I think my parents went through something that I would not like to repeat myself. Within one year Poland change the direction of its interest from East to West. Of course the west was always a synonyme of money, cars, success. But this is only thanks to my parents that I started learning English one year before Russian. And English was taken seriously while Russian was rather an obligation. West was always present in our thinking. Parts of my family were scattered in USA, France and Germany. But the graves of my family were located in Lviv (aUkrainian town only since 1945).

What meant Poland for me during the high school years? For this I should look at my diaries. I wanted to outperform my parents: engineers who spent their career in a big heavy industry company. In the 90ies being an engineer was no prove of success: we had thousands of them. The introduction of capitalism meant that the only serious career you could make in economy, banking or law. So having realised that law would mean learning by heart a lot of text I opted for economy studies: it was a good compromise between my mathematic skills, languages and history.

Today, looking backwards, I think I am part of a unique generation. A generation of those who still remember Poland before the Balcerowicz reforms and democratic transformation. I know it is difficult to understand now but Macronomy was a key subject for me because I wanted to understand what inflation really means... I believe with the current economic crisis new generations will flock the economic faculties to try to understand and build a better world system.

I am from a generation of Poles that left their country looking for better life perspectives. But I am also from a generation which learnt that you can be also proud for your 'heimat'. I think that for a long time I was trying to go further than my nationality; go beyond the notion of being a Pole. It was not easy to build your own identity. The Polish messianism, catholicism, shared tragic historical events is a very strong amalgam. It took me years to understand myself, my family, my home town, my country, a bit of Europe, a bit of the world evolving face.

I was lucky to grown in the optimism of the nineties. For my part of Europe the period between 1989 and 2009 will be depicted as golden years. This was a time of economic, mental and political opening. I still hope that the world will move forward and push the opening even further. But the current crisis will also show that human nature has many bleak sides. I hope that Europa will become a synonyme of post-national polity which respects the identities of the people that form it. And I hope that Poles will learn the lesson from the last 3 centuries which was a period of political decline and dependance. And I hope that our bet on political Europe will show that it was a wise, forward looking choice.