Adam Borowski

Is Poland turning into a regime?

The Great Synagogue of Warsaw, the biggest in the world until it was blown up on 16 May 1943.

Concern grows around the world that Poland is turning into a regime. Is this concern justified?

I was at the Wailing Wall when I was ten. Israel has an important place in the Polish psyche.

It’s safe to say Polish-Jewish relations are a perfect example of love mixed with hate. Jews are seen as smart and wealthy, while they are also called scheming and stingy. These stereotypes are absurd, as one can’t lump millions of people into one category. Then again, the mind needs its little maps to navigate the world and these maps, these stereotypes, are rarely accurate. Most of the time, they are deliberately distorted and comical.

A thousand years of shared Polish-Jewish history can’t simply be erased, no matter how much some people would want it to happen. In some cases, Jewish history was brutally erased from what is the territory of Poland today. The biggest synagogue in the world at the time, the Great Synagogue of Warsaw, was blown up on 16 May 1943. A blue skyscraper was built in its place. A legend has it that a rabbi cursed the skyscraper as punishment for not honoring the Synagogue. People thought the building was haunted and couldn’t work there.

Only after a plaque commemorating the Synagogue was put up at the front of the skyscraper, did the hauntings stop. Or so the legend goes. I don’t know if curses are real but I do wonder if Poland has been cursed for her past misdeeds, whatever these misdeeds were. Cursed with glorifying defeats and, ultimately meaningless, martyrdom. Don’t get me wrong, remembering and celebrating the past is vital but celebrating humiliations and defeats is tragicomical.

The question arises: is this mentality the cause of Polish misfortune or, rather, is this romantic martyr mentality a defense mechanism against humiliations, thereby justifying them as noble and messianic? I sincerely hope this terrible mindset is going to be a thing ot the past in Poland at some point.

Warsaw was one-third Jewish before the Second World War. Wealthy Jews vacationed in suburban Warsaw, staying in wooden villas.

I’ve never understood why some Poles find it so hard to accept they might have Jewish ancestors. For some strange reason, it’s still a taboo topic to many, hopefully not most, Poles. It’s obvious that, after a thousand years of shared history, many Poles have Jewish ancestors, including those proclaiming to be pure Poles, whatever the heck that even means.

We look enviously at Israeli citizens protesting for democracy and women’s rights. While there are protests in Poland, including an upcoming March of a Million Hearts on October 1, they aren’t as organized and determined as Israeli protests.

Will Law and Justice, the ruling party in Poland, care enough about the March of a Million Hearts to constructively react to the protests? I doubt it…

The geopolitical context isn’t rosy, either. Poland has been helping Jewish refugees from Ukraine and will continue to help for as long as it takes. While it’s a strain on Polish resources, there really is no alternative given we’re next to Ukraine, a nation at war. Russians cynically call the tragedy in Ukraine a special military operation but it’s no secret that Russians live in their own world of the long-lost imperial glory.

Poles like to think of themselves as the good guys. Challenging this deeply-entrenched mindset can lead to unpleasant consequences. Poles must look in the mirror and acknowledge they aren’t as saintly as they’d like to believe. No one is, for that matter. We all have flaws.

I understand that the Polish misguided sense of honor and victimhood can be annoying. A Jewish woman I talked to in New York City about ten years ago said she’d gladly wave her magic wand and turn Poland into a nation of Girl Scouts. She was mad at meeting so many holier-than-thou Poles.

Some physicists say there’s an endless number of parallel universes, so she just might have waved her magic wand somewhere. Back to this dimension. In spite of all the propaganda and angry talk, the Polish-Jewish relations seem to be thriving. Still, the situation in Poland mirrors what’s happening in the world. And it ain’t pretty.

If Poland is turning into a regime, it’s vital to look at how regimes work. It doesn’t matter what kind of a regime we’re talking about, all regimes follow the same strategy of total control.

What I’m interested in is how these regimes can turn seemingly smart people into puppets capable of killing fellow citizens on command.

How can constant bombardment with phrases, mantras, slogans and labels cause people to commit genocide? We all know the Z-sign, and maybe some of you support the Russian invasion of Ukraine for whatever warped reason, but where did this Z-sign even come from? I doubt it was Putin’s idea. No one is really asking that. We should.

Imagine seeing the regime, any regime, structure from the inside. In any regime, what the population of a regime-controlled country hears is often dramatically different from what the citizens of other nations are told about what’s happening in the regime-controlled country.

Elites of the regime have access to, and often interact with, the outside world to construct a narrative convenient for keeping themselves in power by ensuring no external force will intervene, thereby jeopardizing their lavish lifestyles.

The elites control the entire state apparatus. People in charge of coming up with slogans, phrases and all sorts of population brainwashing methods operate in what I call the liminal state; they interact with the elites but they are also a part of the population controlled by the regime they work for.

Given their function, they have privileges to ensure their loyalty to the regime. They can buy more food, they can talk to family abroad, even travel abroad, and so on. But they know these privileges can be taken away at any moment. All it takes is a tiny trace of disloyalty.

Journalists, better known as propagandists if they work for the regime, are in charge of the verbal charm and harm offensive. They target their own population as much as the outside world, tailoring their narrative to whatever the powers that be want them to say and how they want them to say it.

In exchange for being the regime’s media clowns, these propgandists are extremely well-paid. These propagandists know full well what they’re doing, although you are going to find true believers in whatever cause a particular regime is obsessively promoting.

On an even greater scale, you might say civilizational level, three forces shape humanity.

Geniuses come up with a social structure blueprint for the masses while psychopaths and their minions make sure that whatever social structure the geniuses want, materializes.The masses must adjust to whatever reality is imposed on them.

A similar model applies to defeated nations, such as Germany in 1945, where it wasn’t genius, but the Allies (World War 2 Victor Nations) that made the Germans change in accordance with the demands of the Victors.

Geniuses and psychopaths have shaped and controlled societies for eons. Random events that change societies, the so-called black swan events, are a big factor here as well.

Then, we can ask: do some people feel comfortable belonging to the masses, or are they brainwashed to think of themselves as part of the masses by being denied education and access to higher levels of society? Can a member of the masses truly become a member of the control structure? Of the elite class? Seemingly, yes. But will that person ever truly be accepted as one of the elite boys’ club? That’s another story.

Based on how regimes work, it’s likely Poland is indeed turning into some kind of a regime. The propaganda-control structure is in place (minus the geniuses), dividing and stirring up hatred.

Will Poland continue to shine on the world stage, as it has during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or will she descend into chaos, maybe even a civil war, from which some kind of a totalitarian society is going to emerge? We’ll find out soon enough.

I hope it isn’t going to involve closed borders and other pleasantries, but no option can be ruled out in these twisted times.

Whatever happens, the Jewish voice can help greatly in supporting Poland’s democratic aspirations.

About the Author
Adam Borowski is a technical Polish-English translator with a background in international relations and a keen interest in understanding how regime propaganda brainwashes people so effectively. He's working on a novel the plot of which is set across multiple realities. In the novel, he explores the themes of God, identity, regimes, parallel universes, genocide and brainwashing. His Kyiv Post articles covering a wide range of issues can be found at