It’s the (Global) Economy, Stupid: Poland, the NBA, and the 2020 Election.
On the surface, three widely divergent stories which featured prominently in the news this week — the NBA’s agonizingly slippery response as to how to respond to a generic tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong’s protests, President Trump’s increasingly brazen appeal to racial divisions as an electoral strategy during a Minneapolis speech, and the success of Law and Justice, Poland’s authoritarian populist party in Poland’s parliamentary elections- are wholly unconnected, spanning three different continents and political systems. Under the surface, however, these stories are directly connected and reveal a far deeper truth about the world created by the flow of global capital.
First, Poland. During the Communist era, Poles had a saying: Our is a like a radish- red on the outside only. The West long believed in a romantic notion of an underlying Polish spirit of liberal democratic values, united with the Atlantic community in heart if not in government, straining at the leash of its Soviet masters. After the Solidarity-led fall of Communism in Poland thirty years ago, Western hopes appeared vindicated: the new Polish republic emerged as a successful democracy, building a system of government which appeared to adopt the best of Western style liberalism, separation of powers, and the rule of law.
Yet in 2015, Law and Justice (PiS), a right wing populist movement, achieved power in Poland and moved with incredible speed in dismantling some of the key architecture of post-Communist Poland. Led by the erratic, conspiratorial minded Jaroslaw Kaczyński, PiS has co-opted state television into a personal propaganda network, launched a massive assault on the independence on the Company’s judiciary, weakened the electoral commission’s independence, and restricted free speech. PiS also has chillingly utilized politically motivated prosecutions against political opponents. Lech Walesa, post-Communist Poland’s founding father, was sued for slander and ordered to apologize, an eerie throwback to the Communist Poland’s prosecution of him for the same offense in 1986. PiS’s assault on ordered liberty has led to significant pushback in Poland, but PiS has shown itself adept at advancing proposals, pulling back in some details upon pushback, and then pushing forward…