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Poland, officially the Polish People's Republic,[1] is a country located in East-Central Europe[2] and is mentioned in the Cyberpunk universe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions called voivodeships, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, and has a largely temperate seasonal climate.

Overview[]

Since the mid-17th century, Poland has been a corridor for its powerful neighbors Russia, Germany and Sweden. Even though Poland was partitioned several times, the Polish people have always kept their culture alive. This is what makes this country interesting to cyberpunks from all over Europe. Polish ingenuity is a talent Westerners are in awe of.

This is especially true in these troubled times. The Stock Market Crash of '94 killed the foreign investment that moved in after the fall of the Eastern Bloc. Some investors returned two years later, but by then, the economy had gone the way of the Dollar. The nation was wrecked; people fled to the open countryside, working farms in exchange for food.

But by 1999, Poland had somehow regained its feet. The economy was not much; most large facilities were owned by foreigners, but the majority fared better than fifteen years before. Maybe it was unshakable belief in God, maybe it was "only" shrewd business sense.[3]

Government[]

In the last century, Poland has lived longer under foreign or military rule, than under a civilian government. Thus, it came as no surprise when President Wałęsa declared martial law in 1994. Not that things changed much. Poles were accustomed to using connections and barter to get what they wanted. Whatever the Government outlawed, or was in short supply, could always be found on the black market.

There was never a real crackdown on the black market. The reason for this was that government officials were a prime supplier of the shadow economy! They were not subject to customs, were allowed to hoard foreign currencies, and with the proper government backing, could get away with almost anything. The situation is as true today as it was for Poland under the authoritarian regime of the Polish People's Republic.

There have been changes, though. With the inception of the Harbingers (Wałęsa's anti-corruption unit), most government officials think twice before dealing with organized crime. That does not always stop them from doing business on the side, however.

President Arek Sculc was born in 1970. Like most Poles, he has lived through three different types of government. As a result, he prefers a more Machiavellian policy approach. "If a thousand people gain by what you do, it's alright to lose one innocent bystander". This is reputed to be a favorite saying - though no one would confirm this. Sculc really sees himself as the first servant of the state: occupied with his people's welfare, not his own bank accounts. This is a notable exception among the regional "Presidents", and the Poles know this. Though they don't like him, Poles have been disproportionately quiet under his rule.[3]

Economy[]

Officially poor, Poland lives more by its shadow economy than by sanctioned work After the Crash of '94, Poland's state- owned businesses and industries went down the tubes. After the fall of the state capitalist regime, Polish officials published accounting numbers for state-controlled facilities for the first time - they were abysmal. Too many people worked at machines that dated back to WWII. This was compounded by a bureaucracy numbering one fifth of all workers!

Thus 20% of Poles were without work within a year. Many died of hunger or cold, because there were no social services. But many more found survival in one of Poland's shadow businesses. There they mixed amphetamines for the European market, operated black clinics and traded items from further east. Today, these businesses have extended to illegal software, illegal cyberware, mainframe rental, and many other things.[3]

Organizations[]

The Harbingers[]

Of course, the shadow economy became prime ground for organized crime of all kinds. But Sculc's rigorous use of the Harbingers shifted the balance towards the uncorrupted government. The stiff penalties (i.e. life-long Braindance, on up to execution) deterred many officials from becoming entangled.

The Harbingers are quite secretive, and their orders come directly from the presidential office, and they are ready and willing to do anything against crime. Many suspected criminals vanish, only to return bearing signs of severe torture as a reminder of what happens when you overstep your limits.

All this should make Poland a very controlled place. Reality proves to be different. On one side, the Harbingers are too few to be everywhere. On the other side, Poland's shadow economy brings millions into Polish purses every year. Since there are not enough legal jobs around, President Sculc cannot afford to imprison 25% of the total population. As long as criminals don't get too unruly, the status quo satisfies most Poles.[3]

Organitskaya[]

The Russian Mafia established itself throughout Europe with the flow of Russian immigrants. Even before the Nights of Fire, several large syndicates operated in Poland, becoming a definitive factor in the government.

But the greatest deal the Mob ever struck were the food exports during the Crash. With control of one fifth of all farms and processing enterprises, the mafia had a market share that promised enormous profits if sold to the highest bidder. Accounts in Swiss and Scandinavian banks can tell tales of fabulous rises only to be liquidated when key Organitskaya personnel took flight at the advent of the Harbingers.

Various syndicates only cover 40% of all crime activities. They are riddled with undercover agents from both the Harbingers and Interpol, ready to break up organizations at any time.[3]

The Church[]

Cardinal Konrad Lewandowski had always been a power-conscious man. He rationalized this with a famous quote publicized in 2016: "I know what's best for my herd and since they obviously don't, it is my obligation to lead them."

Long before the 2014 Reforms, there was talk in the Church that certain things would have to be changed if the Catholic Church wanted to stay one of the leading religious institutions. Many people had abandoned a church that was not up-to-date with the worldwide societal changes. After the death of John Paul II, the way seemed open to a revitalization of Catholic Christianity.

Cardinal Lewandowski viewed these talks with suspicion, and quietly he sought out trustworthy followers and allies. Along with Polish Church hardliners, he gained the support of President Sculc. The exact deal is unknown, but rumours say that the Cardinal promised to suppress public strikes.

Thus, two weeks after the Pope had declared his reforms, Cardinal Lewandowski made his move. In a famous speech, transmitted by state radio, he declared the Pope insane; his reforms, machinations of evil, and any follower of the Pope, doomed to serve in Hell. He further demanded that Catholics loyal to the church and spirit of Poland should raise a Polish flag the following morning. This was to commemorate the founding of the new Church of Poland.

The Poles, being very religious (at least 50% of the population practices regularly), were thunderstruck. Thousands argued and debated in the streets. The next morning, 67% of Polish Catholics declared their loyalty to Cardinal Lewandowski.

Today, the Church of Poland is a dominant power in the country. The Cardinal never hesitates to voice political opinions. For some reason, the hardline Church policies seem to strike the right chord in the troubled masses. The Church of Poland represents eternal order in an ever-changing world, something techno-shocked citizens were missing.

The original Catholic Church lost much of its power. Due to state interference, they get only a fraction of their revenues, and are hindered by bureaucracy. Of course, the Vatican is not happy about its lost brother. Aside from starting a huge agit-prop campaign, they also sent "situation control teams" to speak to the Cardinal. Their success was limited. Lately, the Pope began talks with the European Ministry for Foreign Politics in order to pressure President Sculc. Results remain to be seen...[3]

Cities[]

Polish cities are centers of underground culture. Suppressed by church and state, Polish cyberpunks found a niche in the expanding slums of the big cities. Cyberpunks from all European nations regularly visit Warsaw and Łódź to sample the chaotic counter-culture. The tech is not up to date and the government regularly make sweeps, but some eurodollars in the right palms can get you anything here. And that means anything. From anti-tank weapons to live snuff shows, Warsaw is the place to come.[3]

Notes[]

Trivia[]

  • The game development studio CD Projekt Red, the people behind the new Cyberpunk 2077, is based in Poland; more specifically in Warsaw - the capital city.
  • Arek Sculc is an odd choice for a name. Arek is a diminuitive version of the name Arkadiusz, while Sculc is not an actual Polish last name, the closest equivalent would be Szulc. As such, the full name would actually be President Arkadiusz Szulc.

Gallery[]

References[]

  1. CD Projekt RED. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. Video Game, Multi-Platform. Poland, CD Projekt S.A., 2023. (Good Old Dogtown netpage)
  2. Traditionally, Poland is categorised as Eastern Europe. Over time it has also been defined as Central and Eastern Europe, Central Europe, or East-Central Europe (the latter is often used as a compromise between all the different options). In the Cyberpunk 2020 Eurosource and Eurosource Plus books, it is described as "former Eastern Europe" and grouped under the "New Central Europe" region of primarily Slavic countries that used to be part of the Soviet sphere of influence.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 RAMOS, J. Eurosource Plus. 1st ed., Berkeley, CA, R. Talsorian Games, 1995. (pp.65–6)
  4. Where is My Mind?
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