Romuald Mieczkowski in a few continuous editions of quarterly “Znad Willi” presented his theory about two extremities and three Vilnius Regions, with which I would like to polemize: “Some representatives of Poland are doing everything in order not to cause any discussion with Lithuania. Problems are of course existing, and they are rather big, but this is an entirely different story.
However, flirts with “Russian colleagues” are becoming more and more visible and hard to hide (…). This is one of the extremities. The second one is so called “European one”, and sure it is confronting it to the first one. Well, actually it should be called the “Couch one”. Poles mainly obtaining good jobs in Lithuanian administration are part of this extremity, although, not everyone, representative from the outside. Typical for the Europeans. In between those two extremities there is a rest of Poles- taking part in protests and political patriotic manifestations. Hardworking and voting for “their people”, but in reality, they do not have a big choice whatsoever”. “For a reader from outside of Lithuania I will clarify more or less what are those extremities. One of them- party-reliant, does not know whether it is fair to call it national; the second one- “the liberal one” and as if “European one”. “Europeans” tend to be rather unstable and are able to arise in pretty much every situation. Both extremities have short memory, making up legends about themselves and the desire to discharge souls”- writes Romuald Mieczkowski. I will not be polemizing with the two extremities’ theory because they actually exist.
I will not be polemizing also with the “eternal” thesis about paid by the Lithuanian administration “Couch Europeans”. I can assure you that Poles obtaining good job in Lithuanian administrative (except of maybe a few people) are not engaged in any activity and sadly are more Lithuanians than Poles. By the way, Vilnius Region is I think the only place on Earth where a person who made a career in state structures of his/her country has to… account for himself/herself! Especially when at the same time it is possible for that person to be an active citizen. Such person has to not only account for him-/herself to the pseudo-nationalists for whom the loyalty towards their homeland seems to be an ambiguous issue, but also to the people who claim themselves as Lithuanian patriots. I want to polemize with a myth about the existence of so called middle class that has its place aside from or in between those two extremities.
There is no non-engaged in an eternal argument between Messianists and Slavophils, national and liberal orientation, Russophiles and Europeans, Borderlands’ Arcadia. Two extremities divide Polish community in half, not in three parts. Of course, arguments and discussions are conducted by the elite members (politicians, publicists, literates; also Romuald Mieczkowski who might not agree with that, but if it comes to his world view- he also is a part of the “European liberals”), that tries to rule in order to be the “government of souls” (it is a function and purpose of EACH elite), but their postulates are (directly or indirectly) to every house in Vilnius Region and make people to determine everyone who feels any bound with a local Polish society. The results of that self-determining we can see during each election. In 1990 Poles living in Lithuania chose 10 MPs of Polish origins to the Supreme Council, 4 of them were voting for the independence of Lithuania, 6- abstained from voting. Where in all of that can one see that mythical “middle class”, neutral, not engaged in the argument about the future of the country? Currently the situation is similar- 60-65% of Lithuanian Poles in each elections votes for LLRA, 35-40% for different parties.
Not all from those voters are philosophers, political scientists, or experts, but everyone made their choice. Their chose the option that was the closest to their views. Someone chose the “national” option (by the way, divided into many smaller platforms: pro-Russian, anti-Russian, pro-Lithuanian, anti-Lithuanian, liberal, socialistic, Christian Democratic, conservative, communising), someone else chose the “liberal” option (not “liberal” in the ideological sense because classic liberals- what public research shows have about 3% of votes from Lithuanian Poles, but liberal in a sense of more general respecting of rights and freedom of other people, openness, tolerance, innovation). The “national” option is a dominant one because of creating fake unity (because the differences in views in that party option are possible only on a private level), minimizing the number of people expressing their opinions on its behalf. The “liberal” option is more ambiguous, because the differences of opinions are public, but it does not actually mean that this is a “couch” option. It cannot be the “couch” option that is supported by 1/3200 thousand of community. The “couch ones” might be (and in fact are) some organisations- that are representatives of “national” option, but more frequently “liberal” one.
The faith of Romuald Mieczkowski in existence of the third Vilnius Region, some “middle class”, neutral, rational, “doing what is has to”, reminds me of faith of XIX c. Russian populists in the Russian Farmer. Populists believed that the Russian community is like tabula rasa, on which one can write whatever one wants, form a new human, bring on revolutions and change Russia. That is why for a few years they were proclaiming and putting into practice the idea of “going to the people”- thousands of young democrats from Moscow and St. Petersburg were trying to blend into masses of Russian peasantry and teach them. Their “going to the people” sometimes actually caused riots but much more it ended up by “clean peasants” who were delivered young revolutionists to the police. Just like the Russian people in the XIX c., Vilnius people in XXI c. are not “tabula rasa”, they have their own ideological preferences and makes more or less rational choices. Some of its representatives prefer revolution, the majority believes in a Good Tsar. Still believes.
This comment appeared on Tuesday (29th of November) on the “Audycja Polska” programme in Lithuanian public radio LRT Klasika.
Tłumaczenie by Agnieszka Bladowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Agnieszka Bladowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.