Profesor Mirosław Matyja: Utopia or Chance? Part 3

2. The Responsibility of Polish Politicians

One of the main reasons behind the existence of the Polish semi-democracy is the fact that our politicians evade the responsibility for the country’s affairs and development. Unfortunately, the concept of political responsibility lacks an objective meaning, and thus it is interpreted in numerous ways. Nevertheless, politicians’ actions have real political and economic, as well as moral, consequences. In socio-political terms, very often actions that benefit politicians are at the same time harmful to citizens. This stems from the fact that politicians’ actions are not guided by Christian ethics, or they simply lack the awareness of being responsible for the fate of the nation that they represent.

This problem becomes especially visible when it comes to amending the Constitution or the introduction of new electoral regulations. People in power know very well that any amendments to the Constitution or electoral laws should benefit society and the state. Instead, they usually shun the responsibility and prepare changes that serve solely their vested interests. While leaving Christian ethics aside, they follow only their party’s moral code and, thus, are biased in evaluating their own actions.

Is it then possible to assess actions that are not based on an objective moral responsibility? Moreover, is it necessary for politicians to come up with their own moral codes that often serve as a protection from real responsibility?

Politicians distinguish between objective and subjective morality. Usually, they follow a subjective moral code that suits their current political situation and reflects positions taken on various issues by the major Polish parties (which are generally managed in an authoritarian manner).

It is precisely this cunning that prevents them from amending the Constitution, introducing new electoral laws or elements of direct-democracy that would grant the power to the true sovereign. This stems from the fact that the major parties, as well as interest groups that accompany them, follow their own tribal moral codes. If the political circumstances change, politicians instantly come up with new “moral values” in order to open new ways for their political or material profits. They do not consider this to be immoral or destabilising, they view it simply as beneficial or disadvantageous in a given situation. All beneficiaries of the system automatically adapt to the changing circumstances and thus create a new, stable foundation for their further activity. Political parties follow their own rules, which they call “moral,” as long as all of their members agree on them. In reality, however, this “morality” has nothing to do with objective or Christian ethics and responsibility. The major parties define their own systems of values in a way that rarely, or never, corresponds to the country’s social and economic reality.

This disparity in understating of ethics by politicians on the one hand and citizens on the other confirms the semi-democratic nature of the Polish political system with its fundamental division of the society into two groups: those in power and those who are governed by them.

That is why it is so important for the people to be able to express their voice, for example, in a nationwide referendum. Decisions made in this way are not subjective but are based on general ethics and social consent.

Naturally, it is the task of the government’s agencies to define and execute the rules of systemic harmony between the economic and the socio-political side of a country’s life. Only in this way efficient solutions of a political life of a nation can be found. But what kind of agencies do we have in mind, and how should they be elected? Certainly, not in the system of party-determined list of candidates, which compels citizens to run for office in a collective manner. Today, as a result of parties following their subjective moral codes, the representatives are de facto elected by those parties’ leaders.

According to the objective idea of Christian ethics and democracy, “the representatives of a nation” should be elected by the people. Although it seems plain and simple, it is so only for those who follow their innately held principles of Christian morality.

The quality of people’s lives should be assessed on the basis of how a given system is beneficial for them and for the state in general. Citizens, politicians included, should be aware of their joint responsibility for the optimal and moral functioning of the triangle “society – state – economy.”

The standard of value for moral behaviour can be based on Christian ethics, which can serve also as a foundation for objective political responsibility. It is time for Poland to overcome the phenomenon of parallel society in which the government follows the aforementioned “we vs. you” principle in its actions toward citizens. First, however, it is necessary to take a closer look at the shape of the political system, which our politicians seem to be incapable of doing. They are so entangled in their political quarrels that they simply lack the time to take a proper care of the economic and social policies of the state.

If that is the situation, then why Polish citizens, i.e., the sovereign, cannot take matters in their own hands and start making decisions on issues that concern them directly?

The answer is simple: despite the fact that according to Article 4 of the Constitution of Poland, the power is exercised by the Nation directly or through their representatives,[1] the direct form of governance has been completely abandoned in the Polish decision-making process. Therefore, the people can only rely on their representatives, namely, the government and the parliament, with the Sejm in the forefront.

In Poland, the Sejm is the main decision-making agency. It is supposed to be composed of the country’s elite, i.e., the best and the most independent individuals, capable of understanding the most important problems, and acting on the social teachings of the Church and the Nation’s interest.

Let us then take a look at the current reality of the Sejm.

Our representatives do not feel responsible for the country’s fate because, above all, they represent the interests of their parties. They do not work for the good of the country, but rather adapt their actions to the will of their party’s leaders.

Why? Because they depend on them; it is the leaders who put them in the position of power, not genuine electoral laws.

The methods of “appointing” the representatives are the same in all parties and electoral committees. The leader appoints candidates who later become “the representatives of the Nation,” given that the party crosses the electoral threshold.

That is how the governing elite is chosen in Poland. And it governs in the same way it is chosen: irresponsibly, with the party’s interest as an end, short-sightedly, based on personal sympathies and antipathies. Instead of making decisions based on national interest, the Sejm occupies itself with issues such as Smolensk crash, shady past of parties’ members, inspection of their personal files, and shaming opponents or promoting bootlickers.

The Nation’s “chosen ones” also lack the sense of guilt for socio-economic crises, which is an another example of them evading the responsibility. They focus only on party quarrels and obedience to their leaders, while seeking the opportunities to maximise their own gains (in terms of money and re-election). All of this leads the country into unnecessary conflict and gradual demise.

As a result of this way of governance, millions of Poles have emigrated abroad, families became divided, many absurd laws have been enacted, the country’s assets are sold off, making it poorer. Do the people in power feel responsible for this situation? Do they feel ashamed of their egoistic actions? Has any of the cabinets of the last 30 years apologised for its errors? Sadly, these are only rhetorical questions. The only answer we hear is: “It is not our fault, it is theirs.”

The Polish Sejm is a caricature of democracy and one of the main reasons for the disfunction of the Polish political system. It mocks society by making citizens elect unwanted candidates determined by parties’ leaders. In this way, any remains of the true democratic elements in our system are undermined, and the politically dependent media not only applaud this infringement but also support the actions of the Sejm elected through a de facto illegitimate electoral system.

Confused by the media and politicians, the Poles vote without even realising that regardless of whom they elect, it will not change anything in the state’s socio-economic policies that have been continued for years now. So far, none of the parties has presented any complex plan for socio-economic reforms or for improving the political system.


[1] All citations from the Constitution of Poland are from an official translation available at: https://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/konst/angielski/kon1.htm (translator’s note).

To be continued…

© Mirosław Matyja

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