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Century of cognitive neglect

Comment on the editorial article Belarusians look to the West in vain for support in The Telegraph, 24 May 2021.


Lech S Borkowski comment in The Telegraph 25 May 2021
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Telegraph 25 May 2021

The Belarussian ‘opposition’ tv channel Nexta uses the Telegram app provided by a group of Russians from Sankt Petersburg/Leningrad. Telegram is advertised as a safer, encrypted method of communication. They operate their company from Dubai now. Russia is gradually expanding their control of the Internet. Those signing up to use Telegram voluntarily submit their personal details and their communications to the Russian state.

@Nexta_tv’s last post on Twitter was in January 2021. Nexta’s Twitter accounts direct users to their Telegram accounts instead. You need to sign up to Telegram to view Nexta. This kind of members-only strictly controlled environment is typical of the Communist modus operandi, in which control of content and access to it is key. In other words, it is a strict surveillance.

Nexta’s founder, Stsiapan Putsila is a member of the Belarussian privileged class and is a son of a tv sports presenter. I couldn’t find Putsila’s Twitter account. He probably doesn’t have one.

The material posted by Belarus ‘opposition’ on freely available media is mostly of theatrical nature. I don’t see any substance in it. I am coming from a family of prisoners of Communist concentration camps and I know a few things about state terror and how to distinguish authentic repression from a fake one.

Western media and analysts go hysterical about a bit of shouting and pushing. This is a result of a century of cognitive neglect. Bits of reality which do not fit their preferred mode of thinking are thrown out the window.

Yesterday, I posted a similar comment under The Times article but it was later removed by the paper. You can read it here:

The Internet and the Russian state

@LechSBorkowski

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The Internet and the Russian state

Comment on the article Anger after Ryanair flight ‘hijacked’ by Lukashenko to arrest dissident by Marc Bennetts, The Times, May 24 2021.


Lech S Borkowski comment in The Times 24 May 2021
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Times 24 May 2021

The Nexta channel is run on Telegram, service operated by a Russian team from Dubai, as the company’s website explains:

“The Telegram development team is based in Dubai. Most of the developers behind Telegram originally come from St. Petersburg”, i.e. Leningrad.

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s chief, has an account on Twitter but remains mostly silent since January 2021. Similarly, Nexta stopped posting on Twitter in January 2021.

This story has Russian and Belarussian state written all over it. The so-called ‘opposition’ is fake. Gullible westerners will believe anything and will not ask any questions.

Nexta’s founder Stsiapan Putsila was born into Belarussian privileged class, Financial Times February 25 2021:

“[Putsila’s] father had been a sports presenter since the 1990s who was the only one who broadcast in the Belarusian language”

Putsila doesn’t seem to have a Twitter account.

Looking at the material posted by the Belarussian ‘opposition’ I haven’t noticed anything significant. Plenty of theatricals but no substance.

The Russian state is gradually wresting control over large portions of the Internet from western companies and governments. If you believe that Telegram has nothing to do with the Russian state, you are a complete fool. Those signing up for Telegram should be aware that they are giving their personal data and the contents of their communication to the Russian state.

@LechSBorkowski

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Polish Wikipedia and Communist intelligence

Comment on the article Wikipedia has transformed knowledge – so why is it still looked down on? by Simon Ings in The Telegraph, 10 January 2021. English version: Polska Wikipedia i wywiad komunistyczny.


Lech S Borkowski comment The Telegraph 10 January 2021
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Telegraph 10 January 2021

Lech Borkowski
10 Jan 2021 7:01PM

The article’s author represents an enthusiastic approach to Wikipedia.

Quote from the article:

Dariusz Jemielniak (author of the first ethnography of Wikipedia, Common Knowledge?, in 2014) stresses the playfulness of the whole enterprise. Why else, he asks, would academics avoid it? “When you are a soldier, you do not necessarily spend your free time playing paintball with friends.”

On his webpage, Jemielniak proudly quotes words of praise he received from Zygmunt Bauman, the late sociologist, former political officer (politruk) in the Communist army and member of the Polish Communist party and Communist military intelligence. Bauman himself used Wikipedia texts without providing attribution, see “Problematic elements…” by PW Walsh and D Lehmann (2015). In this context, the comparison of academics to soldiers does not seem out of place.

One day in 2015, someone I didn’t know sent me an email with information that a Wikipedia page in Polish with my name was just created. I replied with an objection. The page was created despite my disapproval. It was 28 October 2015. I was a faculty member at the Department of Physics of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. The next day, I received letter terminating my employment.

As it turned out, Wikipedia pages of all the faculty in the Department of Physics were created at the same time. This was most unusual for at least couple of reasons. The information on those pages was of the most trivial type and mostly reproduced information bits usually appearing on academic departmental pages. It was also clear that some of the sentences used in personal descriptions were selected not as a way of describing each person but rather as a way as emphasizing the person as ‘one of many’.

I verified that other University departments and physics departments of other universities in Poland have not received this kind of treatment. So, something significant happened that day in the Polish Wikipedia. When I let someone from the Wikipedia board know about it in 2019, he shrugged it off.

My person and the fact that I was being fired from the faculty of the Department of Physics of the Adam Mickiewicz University were the only reasons for creating the nearly hundred personal Wikipedia pages.

Shortly afterwards, my pianist wife was fired from her job of a piano teacher in the State School of Music in Zielona Góra in Poland, on the basis of a fake document fabricated by the state service of occupational medicine. The authorities have been carrying out an intense bullying and harassment campaign against our family for years. Now they decided to eliminate us from our jobs.

One needs to keep in mind that Wikipedia pages come near the top of Internet searches. If someone somewhere was looking for Lech Borkowski the physicist, it would certainly be picked up by the snippets of code serving the search engines. And indeed, some time later, I could observe how the viewing numbers of the Wikipedia containing my name page rose, whenever I was more active in contacting other people. Wikipedia simply serves as a giant listening device. The information it collects enables identification of people and places looking for certain keywords.

The Polish Wikipedia has nothing to do with its English language counterpart, despite sharing the name. It is used for purposes contrary to those officially proclaimed. It is a social medium and a perfect tool for the exercise of power. Control of information and story telling (in general sense) are among the most basic instruments of power. The individuals controlling Polish Wikipedia are well organised. There is a great degree of similarity with actions of Communist intelligence, both inside and outside the country.

It is no accident that the military Communist political and intelligence officer Bauman praised Jemielniak’s enthusiastic book on Wikipedia. It is also no accident that (1) I was fired from the University (2) Wikipedia page was created to control my narrative. After WWII, my parents were in Communist concentration camps, where they were sent by the likes of Bauman.

And let me emphasize once again that I strongly oppose having a Wikipedia page with my name on it.

@LechSBorkowski

PhD, shop assistant at a west London greengrocer’s

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False dichotomy

My comment on the article George Blake and the meaning of treachery by David Aaronovitch in The Times, 30 December 2020.


Lech S Borkowski comment in The Times 31 December 2020
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Times, 31 December 2020

The author based his article on a false dichotomy.

“Was the greatest crime of the Soviet spy, who died last week, betraying his country? Or believing in an inhuman creed?”

Conjuction ‘or’ in English is explained as allowing for only one of the presented possibilities. If so, it is different from the logical ‘or’, which makes sentence logically true if one, the other, or both parts of the sentence are true. This being a regular text, I presume we are supposed to read it in the sense of ‘either… or…’.

However,

(a) This is the wrong conjuction. The proper one is ‘and’.
(b) Entirely spurious question, which tries to reframe the issue and is more worthy of a defense lawyer than a writer fully concious of the enormity of totalitarian genocides.

Blake served the genocidal Communist regime of the Soviet Union fully voluntarily, enthusiastically, with great dedication. That is his primary guilt. The rest is the consequence.

The Nazi at the Numerberg trials were not accused of ‘believing in an inhuman creed’. They were accused of specific crimes. The author knows perfectly well that people believe lots of different things, some sensible, some rotten, but that beliefs themselves are not exactly punishable. It is the deeds that matter.

So, this Times writer tries to act as Blake’s defense lawyer in a court of history. Sad.

Note also the absence of victims in his text. My family and I are some of those victims.

@LechSBorkowski

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15 October 2004

My comment on the article […] abuse scandal tarnishes John Paul II’s sainthood by Philip Willan in The Times, 16 November 2020. I posted the text around 1 am. It was held until late morning when it was finally allowed to appear. Top picture, full text of the comment.


Lech S Borkowski comment in The Times 16 November 2020
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Times 16 November 2020
LS Borkowski comment in The Times 16 November 2020
Lech S Borkowski’s comment was held by The Times from around 1 am to at least late morning, 16 November 2020

There are also other problems with John Paul II, which are outside the scope of this article and which have never received any scrutiny.

The article mentions George Weigel, the hagiographer of John Paul II. In the article Pope John Paul II’s Soviet Spy in the Wall Street Journal on 14 May 2020 he claimed:

“Students of the Cold War’s dark arts know that Communist intelligence services deeply penetrated the Vatican in the 1970s. Yet few know that Pope John Paul II, whose centenary will be marked on May 18, had his own secret agent in the Soviet Union during the 1980s.”

John Paul II celebrated the 26th anniversary of his pontificate in 2004. There was only one event devoted to this celebration: the Red Army Choir’s concert in the Vatican on 15 October 2004, broadcast on Russian and Italian tv. The last song of the evening was “Oka”, the anthem of the First Division of the future Polish Communist army, formed in the Soviet Union in 1943. Curiously enough, no one in the media commented on the “Oka” song.

Red Army Choir performing in the Vatican on 15 October 2004
Red Army Choir performing in the Vatican on 15 October 2004

The keywords of that article’s title: “pope John Paul II” and “Soviet spy” indeed seem to be accurate, but not in the way most people would expect.

The speed with which JPII was canonised was more likely due to an intervention of quite an earthly force and the problems described in the article, while very bad indeed, are not the only ones.

@LechSBorkowski

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Polishing images of totalitarian agents in The Telegraph

The untold story of Edith Tudor-Hart: ‘grandmother’ of the Cambridge spies by Charlotte Philby in The Telegraph, 3 October 2020. Wersja polska: Ocieplanie wizerunku agentów totalitaryzmu.


Lech S Borkowski comment The Telegraph 4 October 2020
Lech Borkowski, comment in The Telegraph 4 October 2020

When thinking about woman’s bravery, I prefer my mother, who was imprisoned by the Communist henchmen in eastern Poland occupied by the Soviet Russia after WWII. She was ‘tried’ by a local Soviet military tribunal in 1949, together with her father and a younger brother. She tried to protect both of them in her responses during interrogations. She was subsequently imprisoned in a concentration camp in northern Russia in the Arkhangelsk area. She was released in 1956. The war, which was started by joint invasion of Nazi and Communist forces on Poland, has never ended for her. Communist thugs harassed her even when she went shopping when I was little. She suffered enormously and never received justice.

The Soviet security system was centered around terror and torture. She was a very brave woman. She did what was right. More recently, I witnessed the bravery of my pianist wife, who refused to yield to Communist methods of thugs running the state apparatus in Poland. This is also a very interesting story.

The current article is part of a totalitarian narrative. Both Communists and Nazis offered important roles to women dedicated to their cause. I would recommend publishing a collection of stories of female emancipation in the service of both of these genocidal regimes.

I would like to correct those optimists who claim that Communism collapsed. It didn’t. The publishing of this and similar articles in top British papers is a testimony to Communism being pushed into the mainstream. This is the next stage. Memory of Communist villains is preserved, while their victims are eliminated again, this time from memory.

@LechSBorkowski

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Vatican in the Shadow of the Red Star

My comment on the article Pope Francis ‘naive’ in deal with China to name bishops by Tom Kington and Didi Tang in The Times, 19 September 2020. Polish translation: Czerwona gwiazda nad Watykanem.


This is nothing new in the Vatican. Earlier popes appeased Communists in Eastern Europe in a similar way. It was done under the banner of ‘normalization’. It is worth reading “Memoirs” of Jozsef Mindszenty, the Hungarian cardinal who never bowed to the Communists. He described how the Communist regime was taking over the control over the Catholic Church in Hungary after WWII. Something very similar was done in other Communist countries.

Mindszenty was eventually stripped of his cardinal dignity for his resistance to Communist rule by pope Paul VI himself. Shocking and disgusting, if you ask me. Cardinal Casaroli was then making rounds between Rome and Communist capitals in Eastern Europe and making deals with them, sealing the Communist control of the church affairs.

The election of Karol Wojtyła from Poland as pope John Paul II in 1978 extended direct Communist control to the Vatican. Wojtyła was not opposing Communists. He was working with them and for them. Otherwise he would be eliminated early on.

Later, the legend of Wojtyła’s opposition to Communism was fabricated. Utter nonsense. John Paul II celebrated the 26th anniversary of his pontificate with a Red Army Choir’s concert in the Paul VI auditorium in the Vatican on October 15, 2004. The last song performed that evening was “Oka”, the anthem of the Communist First Division formed in the Soviet Union in 1943. The concert was broadcast on tv to Italy and Russia. BBC and some other media reported on the concert, but nobody expressed any surprise or feelings of unease over the concert. The “Oka” song was not mentioned publicly as well. The Italian announcer introduced it simply as a ‘Polish song’.

The subsequent turbo-propelled extra quick canonization of John Paul II is not a result of divine interventions. It was his Communist comrades who did the job. A posthumous life achievement award for his services.

Polish émigré writer Józef Mackiewicz wrote a book entitled “Vatican Under the Shadow of the Red Star”, Watykan w Cieniu Czerwonej Gwiazdy, in the 1970s. I don’t think there is an English translation of it though.

@LechSBorkowski

  • József Cardinal Mindszenty, Memoirs, New York: Macmillan (1974)
  • Józef Mackiewicz, Watykan w Cieniu Czerwonej Gwiazdy.
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Contempt for victims

My comment on the article My great aunt, the spy Ursula Kuczynski by Rosa Ellis in The Times, 11 September 2020.


Lech S Borkowski comment The Times  12 September 2020
Lech S Borkowski, comment in The Times 12 September 2020

Here are my reflections.

We are served a story of a family of intellectuals who worked for the genocidal Communist regime and who don’t care about responsibility for their actions. It seems they are very happy with what they did.

Victims of Communism are simply eliminated from the narrative. I read this as an expression of contempt for the victims.

I also have a family and three generations of my family suffered terribly under the Communist terror.

More recently, my pianist wife and I, a physics PhD, were fired from state institutions in Poland. The authorities ran an extremely vicious campaign against us. They employed typical Communist methods. Do our lives matter?

Also, I would like to correct the view expressed in some earlier comments that the Soviet Union was a British ally during part of WWII. That’s not true.

It is true that the British government and the British people viewed the Soviet Union as an ally, but this view was based on deception and self-deception. Soviet Union never ceased to be the enemy of western democracies.

@LechSBorkowski

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Moscow’s unlikely admirer

My comment on the article The Pope is Beijing’s unlikely admirer by Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times, 26 July 2020.


4 August 2020

I would like to take issue with a couple of items in this article.

the pre-eminent Catholic commentator George Weigel

On May 14, 2020 The Wall Street Journal published a false story by George Weigel. In the article Pope John Paul II’s Soviet Spy, he claimed that Irina Ilovayskaya Alberti, a widow of an Italian diplomat, was his agent in the 1980s Soviet Union.

Weigel does not provide the basis of his revelation. This pre-eminent commentator participates in fabricating a fantasy. Irina Alberti, who had an unrestricted access to JPII, was able to travel to the Soviet Union several times a year and meet with the so-called ‘dissidents’. If anything, this indicates the Soviets’ approval of her persona and her contacts with the pope. In summer 1984, when I applied for a permit to visit my relatives living in eastern Poland occupied by the Soviet Union since 1944, the Soviets refused. I was neither a pope’s acquaintance, nor a political or social activist.

Back to the current article:

This is part of the Holy See’s long campaign to achieve full mutual diplomatic relations with Beijing, which Vatican diplomats imagine will give them leverage with a leading world power. But it was a concession Francis’s predecessors would not have made — especially not the fiercely anti-communist John Paul II.

The legend of JPII being ‘fiercely anti-communist’ does not survive closer scrutiny. In fact, the opposite is true. JPII closely collaborated with the Communist authorities and was strongly supported by them. He was employed continuously at the Catholic University in Lublin from 1954 to 1978, when he was elected pope. His employment at the Catholic University occurred at the time when the authorities reduced the number of faculties from five to two.

Also, JPII was not keen to pray for the souls of Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD in Katyn and other sites in 1940.

JPII celebrated the 26th anniversary of his pontificate in the Vatican on 15 October 2004 with a special performance of the Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble. The concert was broadcast to both Italy and Russia. The last song performed that evening as an encore was “Oka”, the anthem of the Polish Communist Army formed in the Soviet Union in 1943. This army was the main force behind the dictatorship in Poland. You can view the concert’s video on Youtube. This was both the celebration of Karol Wojtyla’s highly successful service as well as an admission of his subordination to Moscow, although western media correspondents failed to grasp the spectacle’s message.

The turbo-charged process of JPII’s canonization a mere few years after his death in 2005 is also very telling. It was not the divine hand that steered the process of making him saint. The devil’s advocate must have been asleep at the wheel as well.

Finally, let me quote from the closing paragraph of the article The Catholic Church in Communist Poland by Elizabeth Valkenier in The Review of Politics, Vol. 18, No. 3, 305-326 (July 1956):

This self-assumed task of convincing Catholics both inside and outside Poland that the Church’s mission is quite compatible with socialism, as well as the care taken not to break with the Holy See, seems to indicate that the pro-regime Catholics have a much more ambitious aim than the establishment of a national church. Their hope seems to be to have Catholicism serve not only the Polish regime but also world revolution.

@LechSBorkowski

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The Times presents GDR Communist Party member as victim

My comment on Heart of darkness: classified tapes offer a glimpse into inner workings of the Stasi by Oliver Moody and Sabine Schu in The Times, 15 July 2020.


So the woman on tape was an East German Communist Party member and she was teaching the Freie Deutsche Jugend, the youth wing of the SED, Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, i.e. the party she was member of?

Being in that position she did not have to be recruited to inform. She had a highly ideological and important position. Informing was part and parcel of her social position and party membership. The description in the article does not strike as particularly realistic.

There is also a reference to Poland. In Poland, the Communists organised fake opposition groups. Some members of these fake opposition groups were members of elite Communist families and otherwise well privileged people.

You need to take a broader view and examine other evidence. Polish transformation of 1989-90 was fake.

@LechSBorkowski


The second short remark is a response to another reader’s comment, who wrote:

“However I did visit the museum of ‘The Russo-German War 1941-45″ on Unter den Linden and was surprised by the absence of Soviet propaganda. The portrayal of events, at least to my Western eyes, were accurate.”

“The portrayal of events […] was accurate”.

I am sorry, but your eyes are not the right benchmark, especially if you accept the museum’s exhibition title as adequate description of WWII.

There was nothing in the museum about imprisoning, deporting and killing Polish citizens under the Soviet occupation? About the killing of Polish resistance members?

@LechSBorkowski

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