I am taking a deep interest in the Polish question and I think the reader should too.
It is quite true that for many religious, historical, ethnic, and geographical reasons Poland of itself merits special respect and affection from all Catholics. Consequently, current events there should attract everyone’s attention. But at the present we are led to that conclusion by reasons of an even greater import. For the world, the events in Poland are constituted as a sign of the future. If the unique relationship, which a newspaper has called “the Polish triangle,” between the Warsaw government, the episcopate, and the coalition of workers’ organizations labeled “Solidarity” is successful, then something in communism has changed. Or something has changed in the Church, and therefore, in the world. Something, indeed, that until a while ago was steadfastly deemed immutable. How can I affirm this?
Perhaps a metaphor would be appropriate. Imagine that a man announced that he had found a way to pour water (yes, real water) on fire (yes, real fire) with no effect on either one. Imagine, furthermore, that he decides to do it in public. The city opens its principal stadium for the experiment. The bleachers and the whole field are crowded with curious onlookers. The experiment is carried out in what seems to be an undisputably authentic manner. In fact, large quantities of water poured over the fire disconcertingly drench the coals of the huge bonfire without extinguishing it. The water runs over the ground wetting the feet of the nearby spectators, who are entertained, enchanted, and enthused.
Some of them, however, are silent. They make no comments. They do not smile. They do not applaud. They do something much more lucid: They become suspicious.
Yes, they become suspicious; for if water really no longer puts out fire, everything in physics has to change. And therefore everything in the life of men and the whole universe has to be changed. Either this is true, or water still extinguishes fire — but if it does the art of deceit has reached an unimaginable height. And today deceiving whole multitudes would be just as feasible as it formerly was to trick a handful of rubes with the shell game. Again, if the art of deception has reached such a point, it is necessary to change everything.
Poland is, in our days, like an immense stadium where, by the arts and magic of international communism, the facts appear to tell the world that water no longer extinguishes fire. Communism is no longer an enemy of Religion. They may collaborate without destroying each other. There is more. From the water and the fire, mixed as in synthesis, are born beautiful flowers that settle over the people: Convergence, peace, the society of tomorrow, and still other utopias.
I can see all over the world many people who smile, dance, and sing at the sight of this. For my part, I am one of those who are silent and suspicious. Has everything changed?
In what She is authentic and infallible, the Holy Catholic Church has never changed, does not change, and will never change. What, then, has changed? Out on the experimentation field, that is, in Poland, or more precisely, at the vertex of that “Polish triangle” — since the vertex is the natural position of a government — is the Warsaw government. Now this is an officially communist government which one must suspect very much — to say the least — of being a puppet of the Kremlin.
Yes, of the Kremlin, the den where for decades they have been studying, planning, directing and carrying to victory the most unimaginable of wars with the most fabulous of successes. I am talking about revolutionary psychological warfare. It is wholly made of snares, frauds, and ingenious theatrical ploys by which Russia has been overthrowing many nations and trampling them underfoot, nations that were themselves masters of vast expanses of land. And it has been forcing government officials, politicians, and executives of the most powerful nations to squat or kneel.
In brief, revolutionary psychological warfare is a fabulous psychoprestidigitation. Poor Ali Baba, poor Alladin, poor magic lantern, how little they are in comparison with it.
Now, I see the mysterious power that wages this war precisely at the vertex of the “Polish triangle.” It seems to me that in Poland it is directing events sometimes with the magic sleight-of-hand of a convergent utopianism and sometimes with panic of war.
In such circumstances, how can I not suspect that by taking the Polish experiment as an argument, communism is preparing to cry out to the men of the Twentieth Century: “Look, don’t fear me. Everything has changed. I am water but I no longer put out the flame with my negations. I can keep myself in power without harming your affirmations in the least. My darkness can spread without prejudice to your light.”
I see in a wide variety of countries and the most diverse occupations learned, illustrious, and experienced men who have rendered important services — about whose intentions I cannot here raise the least doubt. They applaud the words of the prestidigitator. They shake his hand. And so they participate in the festival of naive pacifism the Polish experiment is stirring up.
Now for the moral of the story. According to the news in general, the Warsaw government, the Polish episcopate and the Solidarity movement have opposing goals. However, they cannot attempt to overthrow each other because that would give rise to a revolution which in turn would bring about a Russian invasion. If it were not for Russia, the three would be free to fight. But since Russia is there, they are obliged to coexist, that is, to collaborate. Yes, for such coexistence entails collaboration. In a communist regime, with communist laws and communist police, the communist cat at the vertex of the triangle permits the mice to carry on a bit. He also bats them around a bit. He lets them have a bit of cheese, a very little bit! And this may go on indefinitely until the mice faint… or worse.
Russia is the great factor foreign to the Polish collaboration. Is it possible, then, to admit that it is not interested in this demonstration that water and fire are compatible? Is it not interested in seeing a beautiful flower blossom there, a flower which propaganda shows the whole world, and whose seed it scatters to the four winds?
Oh, the flower… The Polish model… Oh! ooh!
The preceding article was originally published in the Folha de S.Paulo, on February 23rd, 1981. It has been translated and adapted for publication without the author’s revision. –Ed.