Saturday, December 17, 2005

Potholes in a cul-de-sac

There have been a few emails flying around of late by p3 members about the ‘future direction’ of the blog, etc. So I thought I would put my response, and start the debate, right here on the p3 blog, where it should be.

For instance there has been a suggestion that we blog about “identifying common areas of concern among ideologically diverse people. For example, even if a straight Pole has a moral issue with gay Poles -- well, they both have to use the same roads, bridges, parks, administrative services, trams, etc,” This is, apparently, an attempt at forming a ‘pothole politics’ and “identifying common areas of concern among ideologically diverse people.”

Excluding the bit about e-democracy – whatever that means – this sounds a bit like the manifesto of my dear friend Lech Kaczynski when he was running for mayor of Warsaw. Perhaps we should rename p3, PiS3?

I’m sorry, but I am just not interested in making common cause with bigots, nationalists and religious cranks. In a country where gays don’t even have the same rights as skinheads to march in protest down the same potholed streets of Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow, winging about the state of the roads seems rather petty to me.

I can tell you from first hand experience of being on these marches that when you are having eggs, bottles and rocks thrown at you by these trogs, the last thing on your mind is the lamentable state of Polish highways.

If you are bothered about the state of the roads in Poland then I highly recommend that you engage politically with real and basic human rights struggles in Poland. And I promise that if you do, then you won’t even notice the potholes under your feet, or the colour of the rubbish bins that the skins are throwing at you.

But it is true that all the good blogs have a quite narrow and well defined area. And I am into making that area on p3 more clearly defined.

But I must remind everyone where this blog is coming from. The story of how p3 was born has been dealt with by Kinuk and Gus elsewhere. I’ll just say that the idea came over a few drinks after Gus and I met the first time, when we were talking about our common passion of blogging. So the meeting of the bloggers came before the idea of the blog. P3, therefore, is really just a continuation of the conversations that we have at these gatherings.

At the moment p3 is about whatever the members want it to be about. If you would like to make the thing more focused then I would like to be part of that discussion.

But as far as ‘pohole politics’ is concerned, you can count me out.

ps. Big respect to Dezso for nominating p3 in the “New Blogs’ category in the Fistful of Euros ‘Satin Pajamas’ blog awards.


At 12/17/2005 04:11:00 PM, Blogger Gustav said...


I'm not sure that when JS says "a straight Pole [who] has a moral issue with gay Poles" he's talking about the neo-Nazis who are throwing bottles at you during marches. There are some very non-violent Poles who nonetheless have "moral issues" with homosexuality, and that they disagree with you and I on one particular issue doesn't mean they should be excluded on every issue.

I don't believe the 'focus' of this blog should change. I like the randomness that comes from letting the blog grow organically.

But I don't necessarily object to part of that growth being in the direction of local politics. Why the hell not? By this I don't mean that we all must or even should get involved in any local politics on this blog. I think those of us that want to however, should be able to.

Hence, if JS would like to keep posting ideas for local projects and community involvement, then I think that adds a really interesting facet to the blog. Your posts on some of the 'bigger' issues also add something very original, Aaron's life-in-Poland tidbits add yet another. Kinuk adds the Polish view. Hell, we've got a recipe for Lebkuchen!

And we're only just over a month old!

No wonder we've been nominated for best new blog. Our diversity is what makes this blog interesting. (I promise I'll be adding MY contribution soon.)

So here's what I'll do. I'll get going on finding us a home where we can index our posts by subject and by author, so that visitors can easily find what they're most interested in. None of us will be obligated to do anything - well, except index our posts.

We are breaking the mold here at p3, you can't pigeonhole us.

And that's the way I, for one, like it.

At 12/17/2005 05:07:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

If someone has 'moral issues with homosexuality' then they are entitled to their primitive little views. And if someone ha a problem with homosexuality, but agrees that someone, anyone, has the right to full democratic rights, then I have no problem with that either. But I am not interested in getting politically involved with anyone in this country who wants restrictions on behaviour, just so that we can fill in the holes in the roads.

The kind of localised politics that is being suggested sounds to me like NIMBY consumerism.

At a time when people here do not even have full human rights, I think that is putting the cart before the horse.

At 12/17/2005 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Gustav said...

Putting the cart before the horse?

Beatroot, we're talking about lebkuchen and amazing barmen. How is that helping homosexuals in their struggle against oppression?

I believe it was only two or three weeks ago that homosexuals were allowed civil unions in Britain. Prior to that the political debate in Britain seemed to manage to follow other paths. Homosexuals can't marry in my state, but I still vote for my local school board. Are you suggesting that the only politics we can talk about on this blog is homosexual rights in Poland?

It seems to me (and forgive me JS if I'm getting this wrong...) that JS'- "identifying common areas of concern among ideologically diverse people" - paragraph was purely rhetorical. P3 already does that.

If JS had simply said: "I'm up for blogging about local politics - any takers?" - what would you have said? I'll wager you wouldn't have said that it was putting the cart before the horse.

There's no reason to exclude local politics. I think everybody's ideas ought to be welcome.

At 12/17/2005 06:23:00 PM, Blogger Michael Farris said...

I tend to be in favor of incremental change and think that when the cameras aren't running most Polish people don't have a problem with indivicual gay people. In other words I think on their own that attitudes are moving in the right direction. It's not as fast as I'd like but then what is?

The new wild card is the hard demogoguic (is that a word) and populist turn that PiS took after the parliamentary elections. But the latest march issues actually ended up as a net gain I think, though it was a painful process.

In the meantime, I'm also concerned about social issues, especially the more basic ideas of civil society (not a terribly strong concept in Poland and what is there mostly dates from the communist period which doesn't do it much good now).

At 12/17/2005 07:15:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

Hang on. I was talking about politics in general, not what should be in p3. I'm not interested in doing politics on p3...all I was saying was that getting all worked up about potholes when there are slightly more basic things to sort out is a waste of time.

And don't get me started about 'civil unions' of whatever they are called in the UK. The 'love that dare not speak its name' has turned into the marriage that dare not speak its name! Either they call it marriage, or they just leave the poor gays alone. It's just another contract to make sure that Bob doesn't run off with Tom's savings and best china.

At 12/17/2005 07:18:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

And if demogoguic isn't a word then it damn well should be!

At 12/18/2005 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Becca said...

Wow, now I'm even sorrier I couldn't make p3 last night.

I agree with Gus that the focus shouldn't change too radically. I like it being driven by what different people are experiencing at different moments. The only thing I would say we should specify is that you should not just reproduce posts from your personal blog on p3. I see that as a bit of a cop-out.

If you want to talk about local politics, go ahead, I thought we started this blog to give english speakers a better idea about Poland - sure, a bit wide and vague but that gives us the freedom to take it in any direction we decide.

Oh, and it was supposed to be fun...

At 12/19/2005 02:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morning from Melbourne. Who would have thought? You’ve an actual reader! (And from even before the New Blogs fame.) Were I to be asked, I’d say that I like to break up my sunshine with some snow (man, it’s going to be 32C here tomorrow) and I read p3 to get a window on a different world. I’m interested in daily life in Poland and the things about Poles that strike you as being different (though, given you’re all non-Australian filthy foreigners I have to recalibrate anyway) and my only complaint is that there isn’t enough posting (I’m seriously abusing my employer’s time and electronic resources and have soooo much time to kill). Maybe not so many things about Poland are striking you as novel anymore. Maybe you’ve become more acclimatised than you figure. Maybe I was reading some Norman Davies on the weekend and am thinking this current discussion about p3’s direction is a quintessentially Polish activity. I look forward to imminent relocation of faction leaders to Paris.

At 12/19/2005 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Gustav said...

Well anonymous, thanks very much for your input. It's exactly what we need. Don't be afraid of telling us your name, though, even if it's just a handle, like mine.

As far as the rarity of posting goes, that's as much my fault as anyone elses. I set up this blame thing and have only posted once. Bad form, I dknow, butin my defense, I am trying to pre-furbish an apartment, arrange a wedding, and obtain residence and work visa renewals all at the same time. Hopefully I'll have some interesting stuff up soon - I'm taking to heart what you say about many things in Poland not striking me as novel anymore. You're probably right.

am thinking this current discussion about p3's direction is a quintessentially Polish activity

I demand citizenship immediately!

Norman Davies rocks.

At 12/19/2005 08:35:00 PM, Blogger The Wendy Lady said...

My students recently asked me what I find strange about Poland, and I had a hard time coming up with anything. I can't remember what I used to find unusual, it's all just normal to me now. Except the post office, I don't think I'll ever get over my fear of that place!

At 12/20/2005 03:52:00 PM, Blogger ~JS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/20/2005 10:18:00 PM, Blogger ~JS said...

I have posted some thoughts (called "Politics of Pole-rization") about this thread at the PolBlog forum. BTW, I thought we were going to use the forum for 'in house' discussion...

Sorry, you need to copy and paste in IE...

At 12/21/2005 02:30:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

If the post is about p3 then surly the right place to post is on p3.

At 12/21/2005 05:38:00 PM, Blogger Aaron Fowles said...

I wish Bloglines would deliver the darn comments...

It is hard to define what we should care about, isn't it? I often feel guilty because I'm not behind the current cause.

Just for a bit of perspective, let me propose something. What this has to do with my idea of the "direction" of this blog, I'll say afterwards. For now, indulge me.

It is true that homosexuals do not have the same rights (eg, the right to marry the person they love) as heterosexuals. But they do have access to health care, to schools, to dentists, to internet cafes, to porn cinemas, and to language teachers; just like everyone else.

What about children in the third world? What about their "basic human rights"? The right to clean water and food, perhaps? It's great that we are a bunch of foreigners living in Poland and that we're talking about what is important to us, right here, but does that mean we should lose sight of what's important to others?

Of course not.

But what about what is important to other people? Even people with (I use this quote sarcastically, because I find it to be very intellectually dishonest) primitive little views. Can we forget about what THEY care about?

I think we are best left without direction. I fully support indexing.

Merry Christmas

At 12/21/2005 09:28:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

Hi Aaron. And a Merry Christmas to you, too.

But you know, some cultures are more progressive than others. If we don't think that then Victorian England, with children being sent down the mines, Oscar Wilde thrown in jail because of the 'love that dare not speak its name'...etc, is no less, or more, a primitive a society than Britain today. And if anyone tried to argue that then that would be intellectually dishonest.

At 12/21/2005 09:57:00 PM, Blogger beatroot said...

I just saw the reply at

I am really sorry that I offended you, I never meant to, and you are right that I took parts out of an email without your consent.

But I never said who that email was from, so the only people who knew who I was talking about were those that had seen the email.

And ss for 'taking the gloves off' - it isn't a fight, it's just a blog.


At 12/22/2005 08:14:00 PM, Blogger Aaron Fowles said...

But there are people who think that a culture where men can marry other men is less developed and more primitive than ours. And we can't just call these views little and primitve because we don't agree with them. Name-calling helps no one.

I agree that Victorian England was less developed than the current society. But, out of curiosity, how do the murder rates for the two times compare?

Off to Krynica tomorrow!

At 12/23/2005 10:52:00 AM, Blogger beatroot said...

Vitorian London was a dangerous, nasty place. The middle class got so fed up with all the crime that they got the government to set up the Metropolitan Police force. London was a much more dangerous city than it is today.

And there are cultures that think that women should not be allowed to drive motor cars - or even go out in public unaccomoanied by a male member of the family. But if someone said that Saudi Arabia was more developed than a western society I would find it hard to take them seriously. and just because a Saudi Prince thinks that does not make it true.


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