Free Market Can Kill, With Fire And Sword

The title of the post refers to a novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, a part of the trilogy every Pole knows by heart.

I was looking for some pictures of impaling, torching, delimbing, mutilating I remember from the movies that followed the books, but in vain. Maybe they are not there in the Web because they are in some collective Polish memory already.

As you can judge from the mood, I still feel goaded tempted to deal with the painful clichés concerning the economy in Poland (*). When I get out of my down (it is Brahms’s or Tchaikovsky’s birthday today and I hate it), I will write more. Or, about the impending III World War, perhaps. Well. For now, I am simply giving away a link to a text about economy in our death [instead of that in our life]. It goes in Polish, so either you learn some or you add more links in your native languages. (Please do.)

When you look for “CENNIK OPŁAT ZA TORTURY” PRICE LIST FOR TORTURER’S SERVICES the archbishoprics of Cologne set up in 1757 – you will find that the price for quartering (no. 2), for burning alive (no. 9) and for breaking on the wheel (no. 11) was the same. And they called it justice!

Animals were valued. Quartering by four horses was some 30% more expensive than quartering without horses. In addition, in the towns of Melaten and Deutz, the torturer was entitled to some extra hay / fodder allowance.

Talk about psychology? Those people knew the power of marketing / PR / psychowarfare / preemptive strike / call it what you will. The XVIII century’s hangman was paid 2 gulden 24 kreuzer for heavy work of flogging, and as much as half of it (1 gulden 12 kreuzer) for just showing up and his utensils.

Not to be mistaken for a set of tools of torture?

The German torturer, similarly, was paid 1 talar equally for:
(41) inspiring fear by displaying tools of torture
(42) first degree torture

Stakes were not what we usually see in movies. Fire was only to inflict pain, not to devour flesh. Flames were not to be high as they could get along with the buildings around. For economic purposes, not much wood was used. For yet more economy, the victim would be strangled first. Then, 439 years [and 1 day ago] a man was buried alive (for having murdered and chopped his wife and his maid) [it’s not obvious whether it was double or single murder]. The punishment was rare for such a case, but someone wanted to economise on the hangman.

Well. Free market, wasn’t it?

(*) such as “Leszek Balcerowicz showed us the only way”, “Polish transformation has been a huge success, moaners excepted”, “we need the West pump us (with capital)”, “private is better”, “taxes should be low” etc.

PS Oh wait, I just found the 1757 tariff for torture in English, too.




If you want some less definite pain, come.

Tagged , ,

10 thoughts on “Free Market Can Kill, With Fire And Sword

  1. Warszawa78 says:

    Greetings from Warsaw! :)
    —– – My photoblog about Warsaw

  2. island1 says:

    Reading between the lines, behind the curtains, and down the back of the sofa I came to conclusion that you were saying the free market is bad for Poland, or am I wide of the mark?

    If so, I’d probably have to agree with you. Global capital will sweep away Polish culture in exactly the same way it has swept away every other culture. To misquote Churchill “It’s the worst system in the world, apart from all the others.”

  3. darthsida says:

    Originally, the post was supposed to be about torturing habits only, but then it came to me it would not be too Polishward that way. So, I added the ‘free market a la polonaise’ scent.

    Free market is not bad. It is bad here and now. It was bad under Balcerowicz. To every reason there must be a season.

    And it is not any Polish culture (what would that be, anyway?) I’m worried / anxious about – but the Polish wallet in the Polish pocket. Of course, by that I mean every-Polish wallet in every-Polish pocket, for if it were individually me, then no sweat, I’m living in the lower middle-class that neighbours the land of the promised plenty.

  4. island1 says:

    Torturing habits… ok, perhaps we’ll just have to wait for that one.

    So what’s your suggestion?

  5. michael farris says:

    Sort of off topic:

    Am I the only one who thinks the translation “with fire and sword” is kind of lame?

    I think “By fire and sword” sounds better both semantically and stylistically.

  6. darthsida says:

    => Island
    What’s my suggestion for Pol-ecopolitical happiness or for tortures? :)

    => Michael
    Interestingly, only the Basic English version asks to differ.

    O/T, Akismet scored 666 today, I snaphot that.

  7. island1 says:

    Akismet 666; posts 100; comments 1000…

    Spooky, constellations are aligning as we speak.

    I’m too scared to hear your torture proposals.

  8. Jolanta says:

    Michael, I do agree with you. I have never liked that “with fire” version and I am sure that yours is much better. Unfortunately, the “with ..” seems to be the widely accepted one.


  9. […] Born in tzarist Poland into a family of Tartar Lithuanians, died in Switzerland. The man who wanted to lift up Polish hearts, basically by means of heart-chilling stories about cruel non-Poles suffering defeats from not less cruel foes. One of his novels, Quo vadis, is about non-Poles suffering in Rome. A Nobel prize winner. Without him, Poland would be different, including some titles. […]

  10. […] memes and money Tags: curiosities, Polish economics, Sienkiewicz, torture Free Market Can Kill, With Fire And Sword One of our subtler ways to eliminate large-group […]

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