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Democratisation is a process of continual advancement


Totalitarianism can no longer exist
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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[Q] Jacek, porównując z '81, czy ty jesteś teraz naprawdę optymistą?

To jest zawsze tak... to znaczy ja myślę, że kategoria optymizm–pesymizm jest kategorią poza racjonalną i ona jak człowiek myśli oznacza tyle. Ja wtedy mówiłem, my musimy przejść po nitce nad przepaścią. To jest ocena sytuacji, która brzmi pesymistycznie. Ale ja wierzę, że my po niej przejdziemy i to jest mój optymizm. Więc i ja wtedy z tego punktu widzenia byłem optymistą i teraz. Wtedy myśmy mieli 5% szans, 2% szans teraz mamy 30% moim zdaniem. I ja znowu wierzę, że my te 30 wykorzystamy i to jest optymizm, to że ja wierzę. To jest irracjonalne niejako. Natomiast to, że mamy 30% szans, to są już szanse, które realnie można rozpatrywać jako szansę do wygrania tej historii. Przy czym ja mówię 30% szans, że w tym podejściu, w tym procesie to się dokona. Bo, że się w ogóle dokona, to jestem pewny. Totalitaryzm nie może już istnieć, to jest jasne. Już go właściwie nie ma, już można tylko przejściowo robić takie operacje jak stan wojenny. Widzieliśmy, że to musi być przejściowe. Bo trzeba sobie zdawać sprawę, że stan wojenny nie był powrotem totalitaryzmu – on był w pewnym względzie jego zaprzeczeniem. Bo właśnie totalitaryzm, ja o tym tu mówiłem, opiera się na współuczestnictwie i na kłamstwie. Tymczasem tu nie było ani współuczestnictwa, ani kłamstwa. Tu nam powiedziano jasno i wyraźnie, "my mamy siłę i Was, naród cały weźmiemy pod buty, a Wy nas będziecie słuchać". To w niczym nie przypomina totalitaryzmu, tylko po prostu zamach wojskowy i dyktatura wojskowa, które z istoty rzeczy są bardzo nietrwałe.

[Q] Jacek, compared with '81, are you now really an optimist?

What does that mean... I think that the category of optimism-pessimism are beyond rationalism and means only as much as the person who is thinking in this way means. At that time I used to say, we need to walk on a thread to cross a precipice. This appraisal of the situation sounds pessimistic. But I believe that we will succeed and this is my optimism. So I was an optimist then and I am one now. Then, we had a 5% chance, 2% but now I'd say we have a 30% chance. I believe that we'll make the most of that 30% and so the fact that I believe this is a sign of optimism. It's somewhat irrational. However, the fact that we have a 30% chance can already be seen as a realistic chance of winning in this case. I'm saying that there is a 30% chance of it working in this way, by these means because I'm absolutely certain that it will work eventually. Totalitarianism can no longer exist, that's obvious. In effect, it doesn't exist any more, and operations like martial law can only be a one-off venture. We need to realise that the imposition of martial law wasn't a return to totalitarianism but was in a sense its contradiction because, as I've said here, totalitarianism relies on co-operation and on lies. In this case, there was neither co-operation nor were there lies. This time they told us clearly: we have the power, and we will take you, the entire nation, and we will crush you while you will listen to us. In no way does this resemble totalitarianism, it was simply a military coup and a military dictatorship which by their very nature are extremely short-lived.

The late Polish activist, Jacek Kuroń (1934-2004), had an influential but turbulent political career, helping transform the political landscape of Poland. He was expelled from the communist party, arrested and incarcerated. He was also instrumental in setting up the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and later became a Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

Listeners: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Tags: totalitarianism, optimism, pessimism, martial law, co-operation, military coup, military dictatorship, nationalism

Duration: 1 minute, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008