Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What do the destruction of old Poland and today’s USA have in common?

What do the destruction of old Poland and today’s USA  have in common?

In 1772, 1791 and 1795,  Russia, Prussia and Austria dismantled and absorbed what had been at one time the dominant power in Eastern Europe: Poland.  To understand how such a great nation could be erased from the map into an enforced absence of 123 years we need to look  at what could have caused them to be wiped out with barely a whimper. And when we study this, we will see some eerie similarities to what is going on in the USA today which could also conceivably erase the USA from the map, something, even 15 years ago would have seemed inconceivable to most people.

Poland rose to great power status with the marriage of Grand Duke Jagiello of Lithuania with “King” Jadwiga of Poland. (She was crowned King when she was brought in from Hungary to take the throne at age 5. The Magnate class who really ran things in Poland could not conceive of having a Queen) . This marriage united the two large but relatively weak kingdoms into one confederation, and made it strong enough to take down the Teutonic knights, and became the leading power in Eastern Europe.

The reason Poland could not maintain this status was because of the feudal system of government that existed. There were the previously mentioned Magnates, who were a dozen or so  moneyed and powerful land owning families who controlled everything that went on in Poland. There were the petty gentry who administered estates and villages and enjoyed some privilege, but were essentially what we would call “middle management”. They did the bidding of the magnates.  Then there were the peasants who worked the land, fought in the front lines in the wars, and were essentially the property of the magnates and their gentry.

Poland elected its kings. It was not universal suffrage, but essentially the choice of the magnates. This would have been survivable if the magnates were patriots who put Poland first, instead of their own petty interests. The trouble was that these families believed that they were Poland.  They would almost always elect a foreigner as King, since none of them wanted one of their own to get an upper hand on the others. The King was essentially powerless, and could only raise armies or do almost anything only if the magnates would back him.  But the real problem was that foreign powers would put the magnates into their pay so as to promote their interests and vote for their candidates for King.  Some of these magnates were taking payments from more than one other foreign power!

Eventually though a middle class, or perhaps better put , a merchant class which grew up in the cities, and some changes began to come, and a parliament, known as the Sejm was instituted.  The trouble was that the members of the Sejm were all petty gentry appointed by the magnates. Nevertheless some of these men came up with spe great ideas that would have helped secure Poland as a functioning country that could properly govern itself.  What prevented any of that from actually happening was something called the “Liberum Veto” . The Liberum Veto was a mechanism that allowed for one member of the Sejm to negate all the work of a particular Sejm, simply by rising and declaring “I object!” .  Thus when Russia, Prussia, France Sweden and Austria caught wind of legislation that would strengthen Poland, they would slip some money to a magnate in their pay, and he would order one of his lieges in the Sejm to rise, and say “I object!”,  thus Poland  became subject to the wishes of whichever foreign power or powers could get the most magnates into their pay.


Eventually , Poland was partitioned 3 times in 1771, 1791 and 1795, by Russia, Prussia and Austria with the help of magnates who were in their pay. In the new order, the magnates fared well, but not so much the people who fell under some of the worst tyrannies that  had existed to that point in Europe.

Fast forward to our present day.  We are now hearing of  someone who aspires to the presidency who is part of a “foundation”  that has been accepting funds from foreign powers.  She has enriched herself  to the tune of almost 200 million dollars through this foundation.  It may even be that while she served as secretary of state, that policy changes took place that benefitted some of the interests of these foreign powers, and corporations.

We also see other candidates receiving donations from corporations and unions quite openly and legally. 

Does anyone really believe that these donations have all been made for altruistic reasons?   Do corporations, unions and foreign powers make millions of dollars of donations if they don’t expect something in return?

So we watch helplessly as the United States is rotted out from the inside as the interests of the people are sold out for the wishes of foreigners, corporations, unions and special interest groups.

It is seriously time for some campaign finance Reform.  I suggest  that if we start with the premise that in a free society, election time should be a dialogue between the voters themselves, and those who wish to represent them, then it follows that it is time that all donations from any third parties, ie: corporations, Unions, Special interest lobby groups and the like do not get a say in the process.
Therefore I propose a solution such as has been brought in in the province of Quebec in Canada, which permits only individuals to donate to political parties and candidates, and only up to a maximum of $5400.00.   Third parties may not advertise either.    When we hear of candidates boasting they will raise and spend over 2.5 billion dollars to get elected, it should be obvious that there is a problem .  First, it leaves the Presidency or almost any elected office to the wealthy and those who have wealthy corporate, union or special interest backers, and second, those who seek political office are often laden with political debt that must be paid.

Campaign finance reform is an idea whose time has come as long as it is done in a way that is fair to all.   But we also need to look carefully at who is financing which candidates, and whether there is any connection between how they vote with their donors. Anyone receiving money from foreign donors must be disqualified from holding office.

If America fails to act to put a stop to foreign influence, or third party special interest funding,  then it may well be that one day political debts may be collected by foreign powers who will sit around a table and divide the United States as they did to Poland 200 plus years ago.