Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The ghost of the grand Plot

From: Warsaw Business Journal
In Pity the Nation, Robert Fisk's personal account of 25 years of conflict in Lebanon, the veteran foreign correspondent comes across a frequent argument from differing sides of the conflict to explain their latest defeats - The Plot.

Fisk defines it as "the mo'amera, the complot, undefinable and ubiquitous, a conspiracy of treachery in which a foreign hand ... was always involved." Rather than give a rational explanation for why their armies are being defeated in battle, differing factions fall back on the same conspiracy theory. When asked about children killed during Palestinian attacks, the then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat dismissed the accurate reports as rumor and innuendo, part of the Israeli Plot against his organization. Political opposition to the leadership of Hafez al-Hassad in Syria was not a sign of democracy in action, but part of an anti-Syrian Plot, which had its roots in the US. When Israeli officials were questioned about the army shelling civilian areas, they claimed the media was biased and had been paid off by the PLO - the Plot is effective rhetoric for all sides in a conflict.

Poland's Law and Justice does a good line in the Plot, and is determined to root it out. The party's leaders claim that a secret network of former communists holds sway in the business, political and media worlds, and they hope to eradicate it from its covert position of power. To this end, the Kaczyński twins recently wheeled out the bulk of the apparatus designed to cleanse the state once and for all.

The Central Anti-corruption Bureau is limbering up for action; the lustration process has reluctantly begun to handle the case of Zyta Gilowska, and the merry-go-round of accusation and resignations centered around the former Finance Minister does not bode well for the future effectiveness of the vetting court.

The media, as with most international Plots, is the biggest corrupter of all. Jarosław Kaczyński believes there is no such thing as the free media in Poland, and last week he told journalists: "During the short period I have been Prime Minister I've learned that after getting acquainted with the media, one has to get acquainted with the truth." PiS has already taken steps to clear out the cozy cabal. All supervisory board members for local radios stations are now LPR, PiS and SO deputies - so much for diversity of opinion.

Tangible evidence for the existence of this all-powerful cabal is almost non-existent, and to date the public has little other than the words of the Kaczyński twins to go on. Corruption is obviously a problem in Poland, but it is largely the product of individual greed; the creation of a far-reaching conspiracy taking in different strands of media, business and politics seems beyond the powers of even the most gifted entrepreneur, politician or journalist. The economy is doing well, though not as well as it could, giving PiS political capital to play with. But if it begins to falter, will it be the fault of the ruling coalition or more evidence of the Plot in action?