Be it through a matter of F16 fighter aircrafts that Poland once preferred purchasing rather than European counterparts, be it through the massive migratory links between both country, making Chicago the second largest polish city (first foreign one) or latest official positions of the polish government during the Ukrainian crisis… no doubt that between America and Poland, there’s a long tradition of friendship! And business too, of course!
Hard to tell when and how it all started. It is obvious that Poles were part of the many Europeans that flew their country for economic, religious or political reasons and helped build up the United States of America. At that time, Poland was extremely poor and the USA looked so promising. Moving forward, came a very special historical moment for Poland, post World War II. An iron curtain seemingly added a distance between Poland and America. However, the so-called communist period, a Staline’s forced punishment, turned out to look resemble an unauthorized love affair. Indeed, jazz music was « zakazany » and the same went for Coca-Cola. Although the american culture was officially forbidden, the Poles kept dreaming and sometimes secretly enjoying these western symbols. Black music and Martin-Luther King still had a special place in Poland, as they would be a propaganda tool anti-US system. See the evil Americans!
Regarding the media, The Financial Times or The Guardian would be forbidden too during that troubled era. Morning Star and The Socialist Worker, however, would be accepted as foreign press. Later on, in the 1970’s Poland was split into two regions: the Coca-Cola to the North and Pepsi-Cola to the South. America-Polska was officially warming up. It’s a fact that at people’s level, Poland loved the USA. Probably half the Poles, those against the Communism, all kinds of rebels were especially impatient.
In the early 1980’s, these rebels (Solidarnosc) went to public knowledge while risking to be considered as traitors. The USA could be heard directly on the radio (Voice of America) without censorship. Poland definitely turned the page with their last communist president. Ever since that time, the left wing almost died on the political arena. But from the 2000’s the mainstream political movements, directly inspired by the US style, saw a new kind of opposition. Nationalists and anarchists are trying to show a third political way. And in the meantime, there is a permanent flow of people between the US and Poland. Some could expect the « brain drain » to slow down some day, but as a matter of fact the American Dream, and the Western Dream generally speaking, are still in many Poles wishlist.
In Poland, as in many developing countries, shopping malls are growing like mushrooms. The automotive sector, mobile phone sector and plenty others showed skyrocketing figures for the past decades. Unlike America, Poland doesn’t have any oil reserves. However there is a large stock of coal that makes this country look more « american » than « european » from that point of view. And knowing the deep fear and hate in Poland toward their eastern slavic cousin, the US administration accompanied by the big oil industry found an easy prey for its shale gas business venture. No matter if big promises did not come true. The dream is alive…
Economically speaking, Poland has been EU’s ‘best student’ for the past decades. Not only did it hold a continental record in terms of GDP growth, but Poland was also a careful listener to the real capitalist view of what a state should look like. Sometimes a pupil can beat his own tutor, and somehow Warsaw may have done « even better » than Washington D.C. Poland made deep and rapid reforms that other countries just would not do, be it in Germany or in France. Unlike their western neighbors, Poles aren’t stuck in generous welfare systems built up during the XXth century. Nor has it gone as far, socially speaking, as the Scandinavian neighbors across the Baltic sea. And unlike the USA, France, Germany and many others big names, Poland’s public debt remains reasonable. The side of the coin is that « emerytury » – pensions – are hardly sustainable, as cost of living keeps raising (and inflation figures don’t tell the truth, as in many countries). Another dark side is growing inequalities (another US standard), already higher than other European big nations, plus a quite high unemployment rate. Maybe Poland still has some statistical tricks to learn, in order to look sexier.
Like it or hate it, a fatal attraction is under way and apparently Poland cannot wait for the slow motion UE to gain power and grow bigger. That’s sometimes the hardest part for a European Union with new members that formerly lived in the shady communist block. How challenging, if not frustrating, for Brussel to channel the overwhelming energy of a country that looks so deeply into the future, while western neighbors (from Berlin to Paris and London) seem to hesitate between the past, the present time and an uncertain future!!
Une réflexion sur “America-Polska: fatal attraction?”
Another paradoxical evidence of Poland’s fatal attraction, on energy matters…
Recent article (03 December 2014) in Nature magazine depicting how America oversold the shale gas boom to Poland (pretending poles were sitting on Europe’s largest reserves…) Still, after double checking, it turned out that actual reserved were only ten times lower, causing investors not to dig further.