Poland A, Poland B
Poland A, Poland B
written by A. L. Hart Havens on February 1, 2022
Poland’s precarious geographical location — sandwiched between Germany and Russia on land featuring virtually zero natural hindrances — has repeatedly made the country an easy target for its more powerful expansionist neighbors throughout modern history, and a prime example of this can be seen in the outbreak of World War 2 in Europe.
In August 1939, a mere 21 years after regaining its independence for the first time in over a century, Poland was facing a renewed existential threat from both east and west, as Germany and the Soviet Union had just agreed on the joint conquest and dissolution of the Polish state by way of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact (Poland’s original MRNA mandate).
And only a week later, with the ink hardly dry on what is colloquially known as the Hitler-Stalin alliance, the German blitzkrieg began sweeping across the extremely flat and easily navigable Polish terrain, facing little resistance from the valiant but hopelessly outmatched Polish army, much of which was fighting on horseback using antiquated weaponry.
Two weeks later marked the start of the westward Soviet offensive into Poland, which encountered similarly little resistance from Polish forces. And after only a month of combat, the German and Soviet victors had divided up the spoils and Poland was again erased from the world map.
The subsequent reprisals, particularly the mass executions of the Polish officer corps carried out by the Soviet Union, in addition to the US, Britain, and France repeatedly making false promises and leaving Poland hanging out to dry, have left deep scars on the collective Polish memory. It has also instilled a strong sense of national unity in the Polish population, which may very well act as a saving grace in light of the prevalence of destructive forces at play in today’s culturally degenerate age.
In view of the country’s tumultuous history, this essay will provide some fascinating insight into Poland’s current internal tensions and new external threats as well as illuminate the major perks and drawbacks of life in Poland, a Catholic nation of 38 million with a land area roughly the size of the US state of New Mexico.
A Sharp Political Divide
A quick look at a map of election results in Poland will quickly reveal a geographical boundary between the westward-looking liberal party and the traditional-values conservative party. This sharply defined political divide, which approximates a concave diagonal line separating Poland into northwest and southeast political spheres, interesting follows the exact border of the former German empire.
It is important to note here that no Polish state existed from 1795 and 1918, during which time ethnic Poles were separated across German, Prussian, Austrian, and Russian empires and kingdoms.
The southeastern areas of today’s Poland that were outside of the German empire’s borders are markedly poorer with less developed infrastructure than the northwestern areas of the country that were inside the empire’s borders. As a result of this divide, the northwest of the country has come to be known as Poland A and the southeast as Poland B.
Many of the Poles now living in Poland A are descendants of Polish settlers to the region who were uprooted and forcibly resettled there by the Soviet Union to replace the German population that was expelled following World War 2. Poland A borders Germany and the Czech Republic and Poland B borders Slovakia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia (Kaliningrad), and Lithuania.
While relations with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania are decent despite some minor conflicts, Poland is not on good terms with Russia, Belarus, the Ukraine, or Germany. Of particular note here are the Polish-Ukrainian hostilities stemming in part from a disputed border region surrounding the city of Lviv, which currently belongs to the Ukraine. This is compounded by the presence of a sizeable community of Ukrainian immigrants in Poland who primarily work as unskilled laborers in low-paid jobs and are generally held in low regard.
The animosity between Poland A and Poland B is similar to the bad blood in America between red states in the southeast and blue states in the northwest. For example, while many of the socialist policies pursued by Western European governments have earned the praise of liberals in Poland A, Poland B has embraced traditional family values in a way that has seen a number of regions of the country’s devoutly Catholic far-southeast symbolically declaring themselves LGBT-free zones.
It should be emphasized that even the large cities in Poland A known for their liberalism like Wrocław, Szczecin, and Gdańsk are currently nowhere near qualifying as leftist by Western European or North American standards. However, it appears that the liberal party would indeed seek to slowly take the country in this direction if given the opportunity to do so — with the wholehearted backing of the EU, NATO, and western NGOs, of course.
Although the Polish conservative party has held the presidency for a number of years now, it certainly has not been winning elections by a very wide margin, especially compared to the clear and resounding victories repeatedly scored by Hungary’s ruling conservative party.
For example, in 2020 Polish president Andrzej Duda defeated his liberal opponent in a two-man run-off election by a margin of only 51% to 49%. By contrast, Viktor Orbán won 49.3% of the vote in the 2018 Hungarian election in a contest featuring dozens of candidates, nearly tripling the number of votes received by the second-place finisher.
In light of this, there is some degree of uncertainty surrounding the future continuity of the Polish government’s current policies and the country’s ability to maintain an ethnically cohesive and culturally conservative society. This holds true particularly in view of the heavy pressure placed on the EU’s Eastern European member countries to take in large numbers of non-European immigrants and to begin promoting non-traditional ideas of gender and sexuality.
High Taxes and the Awful Polish Language
The current Polish government’s conservative policies primarily pertain to social issues and not to economic issues, as the voting base is largely working class and supportive of labor unions and economic protectionism. As a result, Poland is not a great jurisdiction for libertarian-minded entrepreneurs or remote contractors seeking low taxes and minimal red tape.
Without getting into the specifics of the Polish tax code, Poland applies a 23% standard sales tax (VAT) and a 32% personal income tax on annual income exceeding the equivalent of roughly $21,000 USD. While there are plenty of European countries with much higher rates, Poland certainly cannot be considered a low-tax jurisdiction.
Furthermore, the Polish language undoubtedly ranks among the most difficult European languages for a native English speaker to learn to any level of proficiency. In fact, Polish is considered to be a fair amount more difficult than the other Slavic languages, including Czech, Bulgarian, and even Russian — despite Russian’s use of the Cyrillic alphabet. The European languages that rival Polish in terms of difficulty are Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian.
Polish features a consonant-rich vocabulary with extremely challenging pronunciation (pszczoła [bee], chrząszcz [beetle], świerszcz [cricket]) and an incredibly complex set of grammatical rules. For example, the combination of the Polish language’s five noun genders and seven grammatical cases gives rise to a bewildering 35 different possibilities for expressing the word THE.
Mark Twain would have probably reconsidered adding the essay entitled The Awful German Language to his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad if he had been concurrently studying the Polish language, as there is no question that Polish is infinitely more difficult than German.
Given that even experienced language learners often struggle immensely with Polish and that the language is practically useless outside of Poland, western expats rarely strive to advance beyond the basics of everyday conversation. Fortunately, knowledge of only English is typically sufficient to live conveniently in Poland, particularly in the larger cities of Poland A. Along the far-western border, knowledge of German is often more helpful than English.
Winter Air Pollution
Possibly the most serious drawback of life in Poland is the wintertime air pollution, a nuisance that will quickly catch the attention of any visitor to the country, including those who are not otherwise health-conscious or sensitive to fluctuations in air quality. The problem is caused by the extremely widespread household practice of burning low-quality coal, chemically-treated wood, and other refuse, and in certain regions also by the prevalence of large industrial coal-fired power plants.
Although the Polish government has responded to the criticism by requiring eventual fireplace upgrades, it has been accused of dragging its feet on the enforcement of any restrictions in order to appease Poland’s powerful coal-mining industry.
In fact, the high rate of respiratory illnesses has prompted a number of Polish municipalities to issue breathing masks to children playing in outside schoolyards in an effort to protect against the ill-effects of the suffocating smog (which started well before the onset of the coronavirus hysteria). For what it’s worth, the European Environmental Agency found that Poland’s poor air quality causes 50,000 premature deaths annually.
Poland consistently ranks dead last in the European Union by a clear margin when it comes to air quality. And while this is a problem throughout the country, the severity is particularly pronounced in southern Poland with the cities of Kraków and Katowice scoring among the very worst.
Strangely, the cleanest winter air in inhabited areas of Poland can be found in the interiors of big cities where the vast majority of residents live in apartment buildings equipped with district heating and no fireplaces.
Although a government certainly should not have the authority to prevent a man from heating his own home, an argument can be made that there is naturally some threshold beyond which a person’s actions can be considered to unreasonably infringe upon another person’s health and wellbeing.
Refreshing Attitudes and Low Cost of Living
Given that Poland does not get along well with its neighbors, it is interesting that Poles tend to genuinely admire Americans and the positive aspects of American culture. This may come as quite a shock to experienced American travelers of Europe who have grown accustomed to the patronizing attitudes of smug Western Europeans and their insistence on providing an unsolicited run-down of America’s faults (which usually includes a critique of the First and Second Amendments).
Also refreshing is the degree of de facto freedom of speech prevailing in Poland, which is especially appreciated by conservative Anglosphere citizens who face increasing harassment, cancelation, termination, and even legal repercussions in their home countries for daring to engage in political wrongthink. A social justice warrior from the US, Canada, or Australia would likely be very displeased with Poland’s lack of restrictions on free speech.
And this lack of political correctness is inextricably linked to Polish men generally embodying traditional masculine attributes, which can be seen in the conservative style of dress favoring the colors black and gray combined with a preference for buzz cut, flat top, and other short hairstyles. This is further reinforced by the nationwide prevalence of weight-lifting equipment stationed in outdoor public parks as well as punching bags at children’s playgrounds.
And despite the physical toughness and more aggressive edge often exhibited by Polish men, violent crime in Poland is very low compared to Western European countries like Sweden, France, and the Netherlands.
Additionally, Poland B has proven itself to be an appealing region for Catholic men from western countries looking to find a church-going wife with traditional, time-honored family values. The mid-sized towns surrounding the southeastern city of Rzeszów are often said to be the prime location for Catholic men with this idea in mind.
Furthermore, the cost of living in Poland is unbelievably low for European standards, and also a significant amount lower than some other former communist countries, particularly the Czech Republic. The cost of eating out at restaurants, staying in hotels, and riding in taxies in the center of Warsaw is a small fraction of what a person would pay in any Western European city large or small. Additionally, customer service in Polish restaurants and stores typically exceeds Western Europe’s disappointingly low standards.
Paying the Price of NATO Membership
In view of Donald Trump’s fiery statements in 2017 calling on NATO countries to pay their fair share, it can certainly be said that Poland is now undoubtedly paying the full price of NATO membership, although not in a financial sense as Trump had meant. Poland’s shared borders with adversaries Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad have placed the country right in the middle of any potential escalation of hostilities between the US and Russian governments.
In fact, Poland’s willing participation in NATO’s relentless antagonization campaigns by way of military drills near the Belarussian and Russian borders and its eager support for economic sanctions against the two countries have made Poland a prime target for retaliation. And this is precisely what is happening right now on the Polish-Belarussian border.
The Belarussian military has marshalled large numbers of third-world immigrants to the Polish border and is accused of aiming to deliberately release armed criminals, drug smugglers, and human traffickers from the Middle East and Africa onto Polish territory. This precarious border standoff could easily deteriorate into a disastrous situation that would see Poland serving as a battleground for a proxy war of superpowers as well as a dumping ground for hundreds of thousands of armed and violent criminals. Poland is not only paying its fair share for NATO membership. It is paying dearly.
When it comes to an alignment with a geopolitical sphere of influence, Poland is definitely in a very difficult position. This is because any cooperation with Russia would seem to be completely out of the question given the Polish animosity toward Russia as a historical bringer of communism and oppression. This is not least due to the USSR’s 1918 invasion of Poland and the horrific 1940 Katyn massacre of the Polish officer corps.
However, it is also the result of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising betrayal (not to be confused with the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising), which saw the rapidly advancing Red Army encouraging the Polish underground resistance to rise up against Warsaw’s German occupation but then reneging on its promise to provide assistance once the uprising began. The Red Army patiently waited for the Germans to crush the uprising and carry out executions (of the would-be Polish resistance to the coming Soviet occupation) before launching its assault on the city.
Despite the many redeeming qualities of the domestic and foreign policies pursued by Russia today, the Russian government’s petty insistence on Poland acknowledging the Red Army as a liberating force certainly does little to improve the prospect of any future Polish-Russian reconciliation.
And as Poland clearly lacks the military and economic clout to exercise a genuinely independent foreign policy, it will necessarily fall under the wing of one of the world’s superpowers. With Russia clearly out of the picture, the choice has fallen squarely on NATO, an alliance that jeopardizes Poland’s long-term ability to maintain an ethnically cohesive and socially conservative society.
This naturally raises the question of a possible arrangement with China, the world’s other superpower. While the idea may strike many as ludicrous, and it is admittedly certainly not without risk, the establishment of closer ties with the Chinese government by way of the Belt and Road Initiative may be the best of the meager set of geopolitical alignment options available to Poland.
And it appears that Hungary, a fellow Central European country in a similar geopolitical situation despite its better relations with Russia, has indeed begun forging ties with China in spite of its EU and NATO and memberships. In fact, the entire Hungarian cabinet has reportedly received the Chinese-made Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, a move that was highly frowned upon by both the European Union and NATO.
Hungary offers both the Chinese-made and Russian-made vaccines and is currently the only EU country to offer either of them after Slovakia was strong-armed into discontinuing Sputnik V in July 2021, although Croatia and Greece honor Sputnik V for non-resident tourists. Poland, by contrast, administers only the coronavirus vaccines developed by US and Western European pharmaceutical companies.
In closing, while Poland is undoubtedly among the most attractive countries within the European Union in spite of its aforementioned faults, it is the Hungarian government’s sensible foreign relations, relatively low taxes, and firm commitment to combatting left-wing cultural subversion that has allowed Hungary to establish itself as the preferred country of refuge for conservative-minded Western Europeans.