25 years ago, when I was still pretty young, Poland joined “international family of democratic nations”, officially quitting “real socialism” aka “communism”.
The world looked simple these days. Our enemies were those, who tried to stop us from making this transition; our friends — those who were supporting it. While we all expected to become free, beautiful and wealthy in no time at all, frankly, almost ANY change would be a change for better.
Besides, from our friends (see definition above) we have heard so many words of appreciation, so many oaths of friendship and so many promises, that no one in his wits would doubt it was the greatest idea of the century.
25 years later we are not quite sure about it. Nice words are still sometimes spoken, especially when big friends want something from us. More often we are reminded of obligations — financial and other. And always a mantra is repeated: “there is no alternative” — which, by the way, also seems to be less and less true (watch Greece).
One thing I learned about politics during these 25 years is: if you look for friends, look among real people. No state, no government, no international organization CAN be one’s friend. They simply are not “wired” for it. Ordinary people, unless they pretend to speak for the whole nation, may be friends, and a good ones. But then, their power is highly limited (yes, we are working on that).
States, governments and international bodies MAY be allies, but it is always temporary and conditional. The permanent goal of every state is to survive and to keep their population under control. Everything else is secondary. 25 years ago, bringing Poland and other countries into the sphere of influence of the West was vital for the global powers. Today, priorities are somewhere else — perhaps more related to China.
Now, to my Kurdish friends who — like I was 25 years ago — are so full of hope and so ready to accept nice words at their face value, I dedicate two very important movies, directed by Adam Curtis, that I saw recently. Both movies are available online, with English subtitles for better understanding.
“The Century of the Self” (available on torrents) is a story about the science of “engineered democratic consensus” aka “social engineering”, aka public relation. How and why it emerged, how it is used by the business and how by the state. If you want to learn more, you just look on YouTube for anything by Noam Chomsky.
Specifically on the history of relationship between USA and Saudi Arabia, including history of the project “to transform Afghanistan into a democratic, Western style state” — and of the origins of ISIS, tells us another movie, “Bitter Lake“, also available online.
Seeing these two pieces will bring you more understanding of Western societies, their past and present and of certain things that sometimes seem like they make no sense…