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Polish feminist leader tells Russian refugees to “get the fuck out”. What now? Will it be ’Get the fuck out’ or ’You’ll never walk alone’?

Anti-Russian chauvinism in Poland: Radicalism in the grip of opportunism

Friday 4 November 2022, by siawi3


Polish feminist leader tells Russian refugees to “get the fuck out”. What now? Will it be ’Get the fuck out’ or ’You’ll never walk alone’?

An open letter to Marta Lempart

Friday 14 October 2022,

by Anastasiia SERGEEVA

A Russian anti-war activist and refugee in Poland reacts to feminist leader Marta Lempart, who has begun calling for Russian refugees to “get the fuck out” of Western Europe.

Dear Ms Marta.

While speaking at Monday’s rally in front of the Russian Embassy, you addressed Russians/Russian women living in Europe, accusing them of not coming out to protest. When, in response, several participants/participants reported that they had come out as Russians/Russian women to protest with others, the lady told them: “Get the fuck out!”. One participant with a white/blue/white flag of the Russian anti-war movement was detained and written down by the police. For wanting to clarify that he did not support Putin. For wanting to answer your question about where the Russians are. For the fact that you directed your emotions at him from the stage.

You, as well as Myroslava Keryk standing next to you and Natalia Panchenko, with whom I have known for years, had the opportunity to see that there are Russians who oppose the war. The answer to your question came straight to the front of the stage. How you reacted in this situation only confirms how difficult it is for us to demonstrate our views.

Because if it turns out that we don’t agree with being ripped off from our anti-Putin, pro-Ukrainian position, you tell us: “Get the fuck out!”.

Where do you get your information that the Russians do not oppose the war and do not support the Ukrainians? Sasha Skoczylenko - an LGBTQIA person whose only fault is that she wrote the truth about the war on supermarket price tags - has been in custody in St Petersburg since spring. She suffers from bipolar disorder and torture has been arranged for her in detention for this reason. Do you have no sympathy for her either? Will she walk alone?

One of the few political groups that remain active in Russia to this day and which rallies people to action is the Feminist Anti-War Movement. They often do this underground so that their networks are not destroyed by the government’s repressive apparatus. Not only do they organise actions, but they also help Ukrainian women and Ukrainians get out of refugee camps, get their documents back and leave.

They constitute an ’unseen battalion’ also because Russia is a patriarchal country. Do you also not see these people close to you ideologically? Are they supposed to go alone?

These are examples of the most courageous. There are thousands like Skoczylenko, they have criminal cases. They write letters to them, support them financially and morally by hundreds of thousands of Russian women and men, whom we don’t always see because the Kremlin has deliberately built a wall around them. And yet, despite all this, despite criminal cases for posts and even social network likes, 20 million Russian men and women declare their opposition to the war and Putin in polls. Yes, it’s not the majority, and we are aware of the huge work ahead. Nevertheless, by deleting them, we are playing Putin’s game. They cannot go it alone.

Also, thousands of Russian women and men in Poland are supporting Ukraine. They organise actions and protests (to which anyone and everyone is welcome), aid for Ukrainian refugees, collections for humanitarian aid, medicines and equipment. Including for military equipment, such as the Polish Bayraktar. There is not a single (not a single!) person who has come to Poland from Russia through our Association who would not get involved in this aid. Hundreds of Russian men and women from all over the world have worked and are working at the aid post on the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka, in Krakow, in Warsaw continuously since the first days of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine. This point operates under the white-blue-white flag, and tens of thousands of people support them financially. Should they go it alone?

Such groups exist in various countries around the world, from Canada to Kyrgyzstan to New Zealand. And in various countries, Russians and Russian women actively go out to protest against the war, including in front of Russian diplomatic missions. Or they are joining protests by other groups. These are already tens of thousands of people.

One can, of course, accuse the Russians/Russian women of doing little or badly, of not doing something earlier or not dealing with Putin now. But wouldn’t it be more productive to support them, to help them organise resistance to Putin, instead of getting into a rather Putinist argument: that they were born with the wrong passport?

The boy written down on Monday was at most 25 years old. Did he and his peers have enough opportunity to beat Putin and his coterie?

Poland’s support for Russian civil society is also of great importance and appreciated by Russian civil society. Poland is one of the leaders in the EU that has started to issue humanitarian visas for Russian dissidents/dissidents (over 1,000 visas since February this year) and has enabled many of them to continue their work despite the destruction of their organisations and communities in Russia. And it was these people, known to me by name, surname and biography, who came to the demonstration at which you spoke on Monday. Where, by the way, do you get your information about the one million who fled to Western Europe before mobilisation? Most have left for Kazakhstan and Georgia in recent weeks.

It seems that in today’s situation, public leaders and women leaders, including you and me, should feel a special responsibility for every word and action. We should pay more attention to each other and see each other as partners, not enemies. Because the greatest gift to Putin is the rejection of universal values and a return to the rhetoric of a dark past dominated by nationalisms, toxic hostility and discrimination. It is up to you and me to decide whether reason and humanism will prevail in society, or uncontrolled emotions that lead to chaos.

Therefore, I invite you to a discussion. Let’s meet in a public forum and talk about how Russians and Russian women can defeat Putin. We are really open/open-minded and curious about your proposal. How the solidarity and support of Europeans, Europeans, Ukrainians and Ukrainians, including you, can help us in this.

I am counting on “You will never walk alone” and not “Get the fuck out”.

Anastasiia Sergeeva President of the Association ’For a Free Russia’

Free Russia
Original source:

Translated from Polish by machine and proofread by AN



Anti-Russian chauvinism in Poland: Radicalism in the grip of opportunism

Monday 17 October 2022,

by Tomasz Kozak

Flirting with national rhetoric is harmful. Also for the reason that the war against Russian imperialism will not be won by Ukrainian or Polish women alone. Only an international coalition of many societies, classes and identities has a chance of victory. We must therefore repeat: nationalism should be avoided as much as possible. What is needed is progressive universalism.

Marta Lempart [Founder of the All-Poland Women’s Strike movement - ESSF] has ordered the Russians fleeing Putin’s mobilization to “get the fuck out” of the European Union. She made a mistake because she succumbed to emotions which have a right-wing essence.

Criticism of this error, however, cannot lead to the complete dismissal of the leader of the Polish Women’s Strike. Rather, we should continue to provide critical, left-wing support to the radicalism [of Poland’s feminist and abortion rights movements - ESSF]. The movement must be protected from an opportunistic right turn and, at the same time, inspired towards a revolutionary offensive. These days, the fate of liberal progressivism is inextricably linked with the fate of the left. Both formations must help each other in the fight against fascist despotism.

In this context, the jump of the All-Poland Women’s Strike leader is a wake-up call. It testifies to the ideological and emotional impasse in which Polish liberal-leftist identity politics finds itself. The stalemate cries out for a solution. But what and how?

A trident aimed at opportunism

Firstly, we need to recognise the main threat today, which is the growing pressure from the extreme right. Poland is not only ruled by its emotions, but also by its political and repressive institutions As a result, even hardline radicals like Lempart are beginning to be tempted by opportunism. Giving in to conditioned reflexes - such as nationalist reflexes - in an incrasingly ’brown’ social atmosphere.

However, it must be stressed that right-wing reflexes also play an important role for liberal and left-wing critics of progressive radicalism. Our liberals have been trained to react to every demand from their left with cries of “Escalation! Revolution! Communism!”. What tought them to act like this? Internal conservatism on the one hand, and external pressure from right-wing obsessions (e.g. hostility to any hint of economic and political “communism”) on the other. Leftists, in turn, also succumb to opportunism in their own way - especially the conservatives on the left who reduce social life to economic matters. They dislike Lempart, who wages a ’culture war’ that supposedly distracts attention from what they see as the overriding issue of the misery of working people.

This antipathy reveals a similarity between some leftists and the liberals they hate. The liberals also regards conflict between worldviews as a “substitute problem” - because the fundamental thing for liberals is also “the economy”. For the left and for the liberasl, this is a suicidal attitude. It leads us to abandon the cultural battlefield. And consequently to lose our socio-political agency.

How can this be avoided? I suggest that it is worth reaching back to Engels, who regarded opportunism as one of the most important challenges that has always faced and still faces every revolutionary formation. And today, not only leftists but also liberals must be progressive revolutionaries. Without this, Western democracy will lose to external and internal Putinism.

Let us not succumb to nationalism

On 11 October, Igor Isayev published a short video report on Facebook of an anti-Putin protest outside the Russian Federation’s embassy in Warsaw. At first, we are watching another ’endoscopy’ showing the random emotions that usually boil over inside political demonstrations. But after a moment, the essence emerges. These are reactionary moods, accumulated in the guts of progressive identity - and threatening to burst it from within.

Marta Lempart attacks the Russians who ’fucked off [into Western Europe] before they were drafted’. She asks why they are absent from protests outside embassies. She tells them to “Get the fuck out!”.

According to Isayev, in response to this shouting, a “20-year-old with a white-blue-white flag” - the symbol of Russian oppositionists - approached the stage. “He wanted to answer Marta’s question: here I am and I am protesting with you. Marta noticed him and directed her aggression at him.”

The camera clearly shows a man holding a flag. The crowd can also be heard chanting “Fuck off! Get the fuck out!”. Is this addressed at a Russian present at the rally? The footage does not make it clear. But another issue seems more important. Lempart is blowing the identity trumpet: anti-Russian and nationalist.

“The ’million Russians’ residing in Europe are summed up by her with a sneer. They are”heroes“who”hauled their asses to Germany, France and Spain“, instead of fighting Putin. Out of the”million“she conjures a uniform conglomeration of cowardice and hypocrisy. Such a person has no right to participate in democratic debate. He is not allowed even to reply, to say ’But not all Russians are Putinists and cowards’. When a Polish or Ukrainian woman speaks to him about Russia - he is supposed to remain silent or”get the fuck out". She is brave and honest, he is weak and weird.

The explosion of such emotions from a progressive heart may surprise us. But it shouldn’t. Especially when we recall Renata Lis’s diagnosis, formulated in Gazeta Wyborcza. “Nowadays, everyone in Poland has gone completely russophobic, they lash out. For me, this is monstrous and ridiculous at the same time, because it looks as if all of Poland, including liberal and sometimes even left-wing Poland, has suddenly become one big ’Gazeta Polska’.[right wing media - ESSF]”

Lis believes that the reason is the Polish fondness for traumas. We have a tendency, encoded in our genes, to remember wrongs passionately. And the history of relations with Russia is buzzing with pretexts that can be reheated at will - especially now that Putin has attacked Ukraine rather than Poland. We aren’t threatened directly. Rather, we are fighting an emotionally comfortable proxy war with him.

According to Lis, we have stepped into these emotions like old slippers. Smells bad, but fits us like a glove. Perfectly glued together with our collective narcissism, the default form of which most often turns out to be nationalism. We hold up a mirror to ourselves, saying that we love freedom and therefore hate Russian despotism. But the truth is different. What we have come to love most about ourselves is a sense of superiority. The conviction that we are a morally and civilisationally superior nation to the Russians. “The war in Ukraine, the horrific images and stories coming from there, has activated an old script in us and reinforced it. We welcome the results of opinion polls from Russia whenever they confirm our opinion that Russians are savages.”

In such a perverse set-up, nationalist slippers can also fit progressive identity politics. This too can be narcissistic, indulging in constant enumeration of the wrongs we have suffered and emphasising our moral superiority. Decolonisingly tuned in, we need not stop at a vignette reconstruction of anti-imperialist nationalisms from South America or Africa. We can flirt with Ukrainian, Baltic and finally Polish nationalism. Putin’s imperialism provides a great opportunity for this.

Some identity activists are taking advantage of this. LGBT activists from Ukraine are increasingly nationalist in their discourse. Such opportunism is sometimes understandable. It is nourished by a rationally calculated hope (let’s hope it is unfounded) that, after the war, non-heteronormative citizens will successfully achieve equality within the nation for which they fought with arms in their hands.

Unfortunately, this struggle has had discriminatory episodes. Lets not forget the last [LGBT+] Equality Parade in Warsaw, held under the banner of solidarity with Ukraine. The organisers - as a result of pressure from their Ukrainian partners - excluded the Free Russia association from the Parade. One of the justifications was striking: Ukrainians today have the right to hate all Russians without exception. Even those who are fighting Putinism.

I fear that this was no accident at work. The decision to exclude Russians jumped from the very core of contemporary identity politics. Its mentality today forms a cocktail of idealism and narcissism. Intoxicated by it, the faithful claim that victims are never wrong. Their desires and judgements, even irrational and unjust ones, must be conclusive.

In Lempart’s case, the flirtation with anti-Russian nationalism has less idealism in it. It is more opportunistic. After the protests against the total outlawing of abortion died down, the All-Poland Women’s Strike found itself at an mobilisation impasse. And then war broke out in Ukraine. Testimonies of Russian war crimes emerged, documenting the rape of Ukrainian women. In this situation, Polish feminism saw an opportunity to reconnect with an aggregate of social emotions - this time anti-Russian.

As in the case of Ukrainian LGBT activists, this is an understandable calculation. However, one has to ask about the price. And in my opinion, the leaders of the Women’s Strike did not include a key factor in the costing. It escaped them that our Russophobia will always be nationalistic, i.e. prone to a rightward turn. And poisonous, because Polish nationalism is mainly right-wing and therefore extremely toxic.

This is why flirting with nationalist rhetoric is harmful. Also because the war against Russian imperialism will not be won by Ukrainian or Polish women alone. Only an international coalition of many societies, classes, identities has a chance of victory. It must therefore be repeated: nationalism should be avoided as much as possible. What is needed is progressive universalism.

Attention to libs and leftists disciplining progressivism

In this situation, however, Lempart’s error is only half a misery. A section of liberal and leftist public opinion immediately recognised it. It was aptly pointed out that all Russians must not be lumped together and drowned in the sewage of primitive demagoguery. Such an operation will be cognitively bemusing - because, after all, they are not all Putinists, collaborators or miserable cowards. Immoral - because it is immoral to promote collective responsibility. Politically counterproductive - because it is more difficult to fight an enemy treated as a monolith.

But the deserved criticism was accompanied by another. Lempart’s demagoguery began to be answered with mirror demagoguery. Immediately, voices were raised that the leader of the OSK was only fit for an all-out deletion. She has the same ’hay’ in her head, she discredits the whole movement, all in all she is the ’incarnation of evil’. And it is to her that an outright “Get the fuck out!” is due.

The sentences were seconded by a symptomatic affectation. Anger that she “hasn’t apologised yet”, that she’s not going to “apologise” at all. And it is this anger that completes what becomes all the misery. Poverty, in turn, is that the public forces its representatives to be opportunistic.

The professional opportunist skilfully takes advantage of the many opportunities to accumulate the capital of public acceptance. And when he commits a ’sin’, he reflexively stages a public expiation. In this way, he avoids being condemned. Politicians and activists are thus conformists, constantly revising their messages as dictated by the changing moods of the communicative community. One of the dominant social expectations today concerns the readiness for such revision. An expression of this expectation is the constant pressure for ritual ’apologies’.

This, of course, applies not only to Poland. The transnational populist regime generally operates in this way. Polish poverty, on the other hand, is formatted by our local deformation of the communication frame.

In the Third Republic this was always a conservative frame, which after 2015 transformed into an extreme right-wing dynasty. This frame is dominated by right-wing ideas and rhetoric - these are also the criteria for ’sin’. Importantly, these criteria are not only used by declared right-wingers. Since dykes effectively format most of us, so a not inconsiderable proportion of libs and leftists also use - albeit unconsciously - reactionary criteria of evaluation. To supervise and punish non-conformists.

In such an atmosphere, the assertive activist (anti-clerical, feminist), especially when she snouts and refuses to ’apologise’ - will still be on censure. Constantly being vetted under the magnifying glass obstalled not only by obvious enemies, but also by many supposed allies. The latter, too, will seldom miss an opportunity to put a “woman” down under any pretext - for her radicalism, for the quietest fart on television.

Examples from life could be multiplied. At this point, let us be amused and horrified by two.

In the Pisowska Poland, the entire opposition admits that public television has become a Goebbelsian gossip. However, when Elżbieta Podleśna and a group of activists blocked Magdalena Ogórek’s car outside the TVP building in 2019 - the liberal media picked up the ’victim’ narrative. Wojciech Czuchnowski and Dominika Wielowieyska sympathised with her. But the liberals were outdone by Adrian Zandberg. “Abasement” was how the flagship social democrat summed up the blockade. Of course, none of the sanctimoniously indignant later commented on the fact that the court acquitted Podlesna, declaring the action an acceptable act of social criticism.

Even more absurd reactions accompanied a happening by Marta Lempart, who poured red paint outside the PiS headquarters in Nowogrodzka Street in 2021. It was a protest against another project to outlaw abortion altogether. The pouring of the paint was accompanied by the slogan ’Murderers of women’. And a cleaning lady shouting to an activist “I fucking clean here!”. The camera also captured a brief “No!” - thrown by Lempart to the cleaner in response to a question about whether the protesters would clean the stairs. “I’m fighting for your children too”. - the OSK leader added.

The demonstration outraged some on the left. “The working woman versus the face of women’s protests. There is no fight for women without respecting the work of working women,” Maja Staśko realised. “No cleaner deserves arrogant treatment from a woman higher up in society,” tweeted the Young Left. “I, at the end of such an action, would set off to help clean up,” Anna Maria Żukowska concluded.

In a word, it is to be clean. However, if someone had told the spokeswomen for ’working women’ that the black American woman who doused the Republican headquarters during the BLM protest should wash up after herself - they would probably have knocked themselves on the forehead. Well, but we are not Americans. And we discipline each other in Polish. Today that means: in the spirit of right-wing populism.

Will Engels save us?

The opportunists disciplining the radicals are carcasses equipped with hoovers. They suck out the oxygen necessary for real anti-system protests. They make sure the revolution doesn’t syphon up the steps of Odessa.

The left supporting the writer’s cleaners against the OSK leader thus turns out to be counter-revolutionary. It accuses Lempart of bourgeois arrogance, but is itself hopelessly bourgeois. A left of this type was mocked by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. According to them, purely economic socialism does not serve the workers at all. On the contrary, it turns them into pseudo-bourgeois deluding themselves that an improvement in existence can be achieved without a sharp political struggle. In fact, it is a conservatism that discourages working people from the revolutionary movement. It feeds them the illusion that only the improvement of material living conditions (at any cost) and not progressive political change - will bring them class advantage.

Today, the spectre of such socialism haunts again. Serving the brown populists, it is complicit in creating a vacuum lethal to truly progressive politics. It is no wonder that in these anaerobic realities someone like Lempart begins to suffocate, lose her mind and make mistakes. Nor is it surprising to hear her desperate cry of “Give us space, give us a voice!”.

At a rally outside the Russian embassy, Lempart demanded the right to speak about Russia with an identity voice. From the partisan perspective of a Polish woman, a Ukrainian woman, a Belarusian woman, a Latvian woman. This was a misguided demand, because in the current situation it was inevitably nationalistic.

But let us remember that the call for the right to self-expression unchecked by oppression, exploitation and rape - also fulfils another function. According to Engels and Marx, revolutionary activism is based on a fundamental recognition. The dominant discourses are the discourses of the ruling classes (German Ideology). From this perspective, identity politics has been doing titanic Marxist work for fifty years. Its aim is to reverse the balance of power.

Until now, uncontrolled self-expression has been the privilege of those who ruled. And it should be the right of the oppressed. Importantly, it is not just about ’pure’ expression - always clear, uncluttered by gibberish, sussed out of errors, 100 per cent rational. For just as the flies in the nose of the exploiters have hitherto been privileged - so now those who have been oppressed must have the right to their fum. To articulate a persistent, irritatingly demanding demand. Not just to the satisfaction of ’necessary’ or ’rational’ needs - also to whims.

This is important insofar as the brazenly demanding subject - slave, worker, woman, gay, immigrant, atheist and communist - becomes more resistant to the temptation to compromise with oppressive power. If he or she is less opportunistic (’humble’, ’reasonable’), there will be an opportunity for revolutionary appetite and momentum.

The acceptance or rejection of opportunism becomes crucial in this connection. Engels warned the social democrats against it. In Bismarckian Germany, nationalist, militarised, clerical and authoritarian - the pressure to collaborate with the regime was growing. The regime was fundamentally hostile to socialism, but laws forbidding socialists from being politically active had just been abolished. As a result, the SPD was formed.

At the same time, Bismarck was building the foundations of a social welfare state. Part of the Social Democrats therefore felt it necessary to invest in compromise reformism. At the same time, the hopes for reform were accompanied by the fear that an overly assertive stance by the SPD could provoke a repressive reaction. As a result, social democratic policy began to be undermined by the ideology of ’peaceful opportunism’ (Engels letter to Kautsky, 29 June 1891).

Our democratic opposition finds itself in an analogous position today. Poland is ruled by a nationalist and clerical regime, often beating the drum of militarism. It also pursues ’welfare’ social policies that appeal to some leftists, social democrats and even liberals. The conciliatory factions - in the ’centre’ and to the left of it - are strong.

Recently, Mariusz Janicki compiled in Politika the demands made by liberal opportunists. “Get rid of the radicals and give way to the Law and Justice Party, because they won’t give way, and someone has to, because we will kill each other. Don’t get into moral issues, especially abortion, because here PiS and the Church are in charge. And don’t overdo it with the rule of law” (Insincere Suffragists).

Right-wing leftists, although in their own mind they are fighting liberalism - think alike. According to Rafał Woś, it is necessary to get along with the Law and Justice party and delete the “radical culture war activists” (Law and Justice Left - two pals). One should also recognise the value of ’popular Catholicism’, hug its ’social achievements’ (Left, don’t push the liberals into the frying pan).

From a Marxist perspective, this is obviously unacceptable. ’Stickler socialism’ (The Communist Manifesto) is excluded. We say the same to opportunism - out! In his critique of the programme of the Erfurt SPD (1891), Engels hinted that the politics of small steps, parliamentary and cabinet deals with the reactionary regime - should not come into play. Because they weaken and compromise socialism and strengthen the regime. They hand it fig leaves on a platter. They bamboozle the masses by building screens masking rape.

In this context, the question of identity politics returns. Here and now it could help us to destroy these screens. Because it is divisive, it pumps the claims of the raped into a counter-revolutionary vacuum. And we must pump them into every crevice of the system.

But we must not stop at the mere expression of partisan claims. To fulfil even one of them, it is necessary to collectively demand the fulfilment of all of them. Only then will revolutionary pressure arise.

Pumping up the pressure should be an investment in the ’dictatorship’ of the new proletariat. From Engels’s point of view, however, dictatorship could not be class-mordialism. On the contrary, it signified the causality that forms the ’democratic republic’. With the vanguard support of the workers, but not under their despotic dictates. Within such a republic, one of the tasks of the working class was to overcome its own particularism - to build a classless republic.

Today, this project can be revitalised. The new proletariat is not only the workers, but all those exploited and oppressed by capitalist neo-fascism. If they want to fight for themselves, they must form alliances across divisions. Trans identity, trans class, trans international. So there will be room in the new international not only for Marta Lempart, but also for Russian dissidents and deserters. Anyone who wants to undermine brown imperialism should be included in the planned division of labour and struggle.

Tomasz Kozak

Krytyka Polityczna

Original source:

Translated from Polish by machine and proofread by AN