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Why I stood in elections to the Senate

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Nomenklatura vs the opposition
Jan Józef Lipski Social activist
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I'm not sure if at that time there was any good will. All I'm saying is that I don't know. I don't want to be jumping to conclusions in matters about which I know little, just like the rest of us. But I have no doubt that this was the underlying factor. On the other hand, a big part was played by the fact that the nomenklatura was feeling increasingly threatened which led to a two-fold reaction. This has always been the case throughout history. Once the elite felt threatened, some of them would start claiming they could only save themselves by following a path of concessions or even of terror. In this respect, history repeats itself. We rarely ever assess the huge role of the interests that bind the proponents of authority and the fact that the groups in whose interest it is to maintain the status quo are far more numerous than an ordinary person who doesn't give this much thought would imagine. They are so numerous and I don't like to use the word society, it's sometimes used too lightly as a shortcut when it refers to people who weren't on the side of the nomenklatura, but basically, it is an abuse of the word. Vast and very broad groups of people are engaged in maintaining what is already there. Now we'll see who wins, but not who'll win the elections since the elections can be lost. I'm convinced that not only will the opposition not use 100% of what in theory it could use, but that it won't use more than 80% of it, in the Sejm as well as in the Senate. Of this 35%, I think that around 80% can be put to good use. However, it would be a disaster if only 60% were used.

[Q] Why do you think that that only 80% will be used?

First of all, in my opinion, that is the way the power is ranged. I judge that about 20% of people are interested in maintaining the status quo. That's a very big percentage. In addition, even with significant organisational and improvisational skills, the opposition will be dealing with an opponent who will be better organised and that will play a part.

[Q] Will they really be better prepared?

Yes, they will. In short, if you have an administrative body which will be fairly obedient in these issues, you have a completely different situation than when committees are being cobbled together in vast areas of Poland where there are still big blank spaces as far as an organised opposition and Solidarity are concerned.

Ja nie jestem pewny, czy tam wówczas rzeczywiście była dobra wola. Ja mówię, że nie wiem. Nie chcę wydawać pochopnych sądów w sprawach o których mało wiem, tak jak my wszyscy. Ale dla mnie nie ulega wątpliwości, że to jest element podstawowy. Natomiast dużą rolę odgrywa to... ale ta... że nomenklatura czuje się coraz bardziej zagrożona, z tego wynika dwojakie reakcje. I zawsze tak było w historii, że w momencie, gdy elita była zagrożona to pojawiało się tam skrzydło, które głosiło hasło ratowania się na drodze ustępstw i ratowania się na drodze choćby terroru. I tutaj pod tym względem nie inaczej się dzieje niż za każdym razem w historii bywało. U nas rzadko… rzadko się docenia tę ogromną rolę interesów, którymi są związani zwolennicy władzy i tego, że grupy zainteresowane w utrzymaniu status quo są nieporównanie liczniejsze niż na ogół się normalnie człowiekowi – mało się nad tym zastanawiającemu – wydaje. Są tak liczne, że ja nie lubię używania słowa „społeczeństwo” zbyt lekkomyślnie, czasami dla skrótu się używa, mając na myśli ludzi, którzy właśnie nie są po stronie nomenklatury zaangażowani, ale w gruncie rzeczy jest to pewne nadużycie słowne. Ogromne, bardzo szerokie grupy są zaangażowane w utrzymaniu tego co jest. No i teraz zobaczymy kto wygra, ale nie kto wygra wybory, bo... To znaczy, wybory owszem można przegrać. Jestem przekonany, że opozycja nie tylko 100% nie zagospodaruje tego, co teoretycznie ma możność zagospodarowania, ale że... że nie zagospodaruje więcej niż 80% tego – zarówno w Sejmie jak i w Senacie. Z tych 35% myślę, że jakie 80% tu da się zagospodarować. Natomiast klęską byłoby, gdyby się okazało, że zagospodarowała tylko 60%.

[Q] Dlaczego Pan sądzi, że, że zagospodaruje tylko 80%?

Po pierwsze dlatego, że taki jest stosunek sił, moim zdaniem. Ja oceniam te grupy ludności zainteresowane utrzymaniem status quo na około 20%. Bardzo duży procent. To po pierwsze, ale tu jeszcze będzie grało to, że przy największej sprawności improwizacyjno-organizacyjnej jaką opozycja uzyska, będzie miała do czynienia z przeciwnikiem organizacyjnie lepiej przygotowanym i to odegra... i to odegra swoją rolę.

[Q] Czyli lepiej przygotwane do wyborów?

Tak, lepiej przygotowane. No, krótko mówiąc, jeżeli ma się aparat administracyjny, który w tych sprawach będzie dosyć posłuszny, to ma się zupełnie inną sytuację niż wówczas, kiedy się na gwałt kleci komitety na... w dużych obszarach Polski, tam gdzie jest ciągle... jest jeszcze wielka biała plama z punktu widzenia zorganizowania się opozycji i „Solidarności”.

Jan Józef Lipski (1926-1991) was one of Poland's best known political activists. He was also a writer and a literary critic. As a soldier in the Home Army (Armia Krajowa), he fought in the Warsaw Uprising. In 1976, following worker protests, he co-founded the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR). His active opposition to Poland's communist authorities led to his arrest and imprisonment on several occasions. In 1987, he re-established and headed the Polish Socialist Party. Two years later, he was elected to the Polish Senate. He died in 1991 while still in office. For his significant work, Lipski was honoured with the Cross of the Valorous (Krzyż Walecznych), posthumously with the Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1991) and with the highest Polish decoration, the Order of the White Eagle (2006).

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: Round Table, Solidarity, Sejm, Senate, Poland

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1989

Date story went live: 14 March 2011