Jacek Kuroń – The ‘reform’ of totalitarianism (135/150)

Jacek Kuroń – The ‘reform’ of totalitarianism (135/150)


I’ve written about this several times, I’ve given a written reply to this several times, I speak about it two, three times a day at my election meetings. I think this is how it is: the totalitarian system, meaning a system where social life is guided centrally, showed itself to be completely ineffective in every way a long time ago. There appear to be two areas that kept the system alive, two issues. The first was that it turned out to be an incredibly effective way of maintaining power and, what is directly connected to this, it was fairly successful in fulfilling its one and only simple objective. This means, for example, getting the means to obtain armaments. There’s a lot we could say about what this depended on but there’s one thing I have to say because I think it’s important. Namely, one of the essential elements in all of this was a kind of sick social collusion because the totalitarian system made everyone a partner in crime, the whole of society participated and the whole of society was responsible for it. Everyone works for the state, in the state, in that vast totalitarian entity, and everyone somehow is involved. The outcome of a series of other factors – everyone marching in the parades, applauding, shouting. Over the last 10-15 years it has gradually, and now suddenly, become apparent that even in these last two areas this system is ineffective, has become ineffective, too. This was best illustrated in the case of Solidarność because it was totalitarianism which generated Solidarność, a 10-million strong movement which had the support of almost the entire land throughout 16 months. And this clearly showed the government that this is the fate, that this isn’t just specific to Poland but that the same thing has to happen sooner or later in every country. Of course, the only people who saw this and drew conclusions from it were those with the greatest foresight. But they did and they understood that the totalitarian system has to be reformed. They tried squaring the circle for a very long time, meaning they tried to reform in a way which wouldn’t depart from totalitarianism. That’s the same as boiling snowballs. But I have to give credit to those several hundred people in that whole block because they, too, realised that it can’t be helped and that things must be moving in the direction of the democracy of the market economy, that these two factors are closely tied to one another. In this situation, then, they had to look for allies on the side of the opposition, on the side of the forces fighting for democracy against totalitarianism. They wouldn’t be able to find allies anywhere else.

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