Pope John Paul II and the cult of personality in Poland

Dear Comrades,

I’m writing this letter to inform you about the ongoing paranoia in Poland which is related to the death of John Paul II. It is absolutely incredible and probably most of you will find it difficult to believe.

The mass media is engaged not in a massive campaign but in a 24/7 campaign of praising the Pope and his sanctity. It would seem that there is literally nothing at all happening in the whole wide world except for large numbers of state officials saying or doing something to commemorate this “great Pole”. Even the weather forecasts appear only sporadically. All this propaganda works according to the tested and tried mechanisms of the capitalist system. First the media uses the pro-Pope sentiment amongst Poles and then exaggerates it to such an extent that growing demand is created and at the same time fulfilled.

Everything is in black and mourning has been declared everywhere, on the Radio, TV, the press, in supermarkets, even on the websites of all the public institutions, libraries, universities, even the mobile phone networks... Massive marches are being organised all around the country. On Sunday no shops were open. National mourning until the day of the funeral has been declared by the President of the Republic. And this Friday will be a holiday for students (this is an official commendation of the Ministry of Education) and also for the majority of workers. This is so that they can comfortably watch the funeral on TV and take part in the public mass.

And this is where the real business begins. Literally thousands of people (some media even talk about 2 million!) are going to Rome by any means of transportation they can find. There are special trips organised by the Church for the funeral. On Tuesday there was a national mass of mourning in Warsaw at which probably more than 200,000 people were present. All the universities and schools and most of the workplaces had been closed few hours prior to that to facilitate the attendance of students and workers at the masses. In many schools pupils are forced to wear suits and attend commemoration events or at least watch the TV during class-time.

All this required the spending of millions of zlotys, the same millions that are taken from workers, pensioners and the impoverished layers of society. This is all happening in a country in which 5 million people have to struggle to survive on less than 2 euros per day. Of course the Church does not finance this great spectacle with any of its own huge resources. Thus the myth of the secular Polish state has been abolished.

Immediately after the death of the Pope on the state radio a listener made the following comment: “we have lost our greatest Pole so there is nobody now who can tell us how to vote on the most crucial issues concerning Poland: the EU constitution, elections, referendums...” And this indeed is based on the experience of the last few years, since the Pope had always consistently and publicly supported right-wing, conservative parties in all the Polish elections since 1989.

In the present conditions it is not an exaggeration to talk of the development and spread of the cult of personality. If in Western Europe they have created the conditions in which it becomes difficult to express any objections against the Pope, here it is almost impossible. Such an extreme scenario has been created that people look at you strangely if you dare to listen to rock music at the moment.

But that is not all. Poland is covered with black flags flying next to that of the Vatican. This can be seen not only on the official buildings but absolutely everywhere, even hanging from windows and balconies of private apartments. Police vehicles (as well as ambulances) have a black ribbon tied around their antenna. Some private cars also have this with the Polish national flag waving from the window. It is also difficult to drive around Warsaw and in the bigger cities as large areas have been closed off to traffic to make it easier for the people to get to the masses and churches and so on.

Since Saturday the atmosphere in Warsaw has reminded some people of the War. The warning sirens are turned on every day at 21.37 (this is when Wojtyla died) and at noon. The speakers on the TV are dressed in black and come on the air crying (sic!). On the radio they are constantly broadcasting a mixture of the Pope’s homilies and other speeches.

Things people are told on the media are so terribly grotesque that the only thing that would enable a tourist to figure out whether he has landed in Poland or in North Korea would be the alphabet. The TV, the radio and the newspapers now describe in detail what kind of food Wojtyla used to eat when he was 30, how he liked to dress when he was at primary school, what his favourite colour was, what was his favourite holiday, in which bar in Poland he had a tomato-soup in when he was studying and so on.

A huge debate has been launched on whether Wojtyla’s heart should be transferred to Poland – his motherland. The media do not want people to actually know what Pope really did or said. Instead they fill their brains with rubbish of this sort. It’s a madhouse! And let us not forget that this is happening in the biggest city in Poland. Imagine what kind of nightmare the inhabitants the little villages are going through – the bastion of Catholicism in Poland.

When one dares to say anything that even slightly departs from the official line (which is of course set by the Church and the media) one is called mad or an idiot or even Satan’s agent! By the way – we have to inform you that the reporters of the biggest Polish daily “Fakt” (“Fact” – local version of the popular German rag “Bild”) a few weeks ago managed to find where Satan himself was hiding out. They found him in the Bory-Tucholskie-Forest in the north of Poland and even published photo of him in the paper. And this is no joke...

That is why it is so important that the truth about the Pope and his political inclinations be published and promoted in Poland also. The comrades of the international Marxist tendency are doing a great job in writing openly that this Pope was neither a saint nor a champion of “the civilisation of love” he has proclaimed.

Warmest socialist regards.