Now there’s a title that promises happy thoughts! Never fear, my faith in Polandian readers is great; I know you’re not just here to read about the charms of Polish girls or the spectacular rudeness of the mohair beret brigade. You can handle some searching socio-political comment, right? Hello… hello…
The other day I came across that rare thing, an English-language blog about a Pole living in the UK. It’s called the Happy Fieldhand (great title, great graphic) and it’s written by a very angry man who likes to say f*ck a lot. Living in a foreign country will do that to you anyway, but the thing that seems to really ring his bell is what he perceives as anti-Polish racism. I’m sure he’s got a point, although I think perhaps he’s a little hypersensitive about it. I’m not going to argue for one second that anti-Polish feeling doesn’t exist in the UK, of course it does. Move a million people from any one country to any other in a short space of time and the locals are going to be up in arms; it’s just human nature. Pretty much all the arguments about immigration are bogus. Are they sponging off our welfare system? Are they taking our jobs? Are they eating our swans? All completely irrelevant. Even if one million Poles arrived in the UK each carrying a brick of gold as a gift for their British neighbors people would still be resentful after a week or two. People are just made that way – tribal and suspicious of big groups of strangers.
Wonderful things mobs
What really interests me is the situation in Poland. Here are some statistics I stole from a much less lazy person who could be bothered to work them out:
Non-Polish nationals living in Poland
Government estimate 0.1% or 50,000 people
NGO estimate 5.2% or 2,000,000 people
Quite a gap between the, obviously, ludicrously low government estimate and the NGO International Migration Report estimate. I’d be willing to bet there are at least 50,000 Westerners (European and US) alone. And that doesn’t even begin to address the question of how many Russians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, and Vietnamese there are. The weird thing is that most Polish people are convinced they live in a homogenous nation with almost no immigrants. I suggest there are two reasons for this. Firstly the Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians etc. who make up the largest group are culturally very close to the Poles anyway, and many of them may have Polish roots or associations. Secondly the Westerners who live here also go largely unnoticed because they don’t cause any significant social problems (ie they’re ‘rich’) and because they are usually assumed to be tourists. I once pointed out that the most common question that a Pole will ask a foreigner is “Why did you come to Poland?” The question that almost always follows is “When are you going home?” The idea that somebody might deliberately come to live here is astonishing enough for the average Pole, the idea that somebody might be intending to stay here is utterly inconceivable.
Why am I banging on about this nonsense you ask? Because I wonder about two things:
1. When will Poles realize that large numbers of Westerners (not just Germans) are moving here for a better life, and what will they do about it when they do?
2. What will be the long-term effect on Poland of this influx?
I will search for answers with the utmost rigor and report back.
Other fun things written by me can be found on Wyspianski Unwinding