Andrzej Rudzienski Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Andrzej Rudzienski

Harold Laski, Stalin’s Traveling Salesman, Says:

Poland: “Not Yet
Ready For ... Democracy”

(13 January 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 2, 13 January 1947, p. 5.
Translated by Mary Bell.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

HAROLD LASKI, the traveling salesman and lawyer for Stalin, advises the Polish “socialists” to maintain their union with the Communists because “if they separate from the Communists they will be victims of the peasants.” – (Ona – Overseas News Agency). This same Laski writes:

“My opinion is that it would be more intelligent on the part of London and Washington to recognize that the opportunity has not yet arrived for the return of ‘classic’ democracy in this country. They are a sick people and health must be restored to them by degrees.” (The Danger of Civil War, H. Laski. – Ona.)

Who does not recognize in this petty-bourgeois charlatanism the echo of the conversations which the “great Marxist,” Laski, held with the “great Stalin”? Laski’s mission to Moscow was not merely to bring about an understanding between British and Russian imperialism at the expense of the international proletariat, but also to avoid a rupture between the pro-Stalinist reformists and the Stalinists in Poland at the expense of the Polish proletariat. The cynical declarations of Laski, which differ in no respect from those of the ancient feudal seigneurs who justified their opposition to universal suffrage by the “lack of maturity” of the masses, are a traitorous stab in the back of the Polish proletariat and the revolutionary anti-Stalinist opposition which tries to defend it against Stalinist reaction and oppression.

Let us speak the facts to this insolent trafficker in socialism. Laski must know that in 1937 the CPP of Poland [Communist Party – tr.] was dissolved by Stalin because of the whispered opposition to the popular fronts. The leaders of this party, among them various Communist deputies and collaborators and disciples of Rosa Luxemburg, were assassinated without any kind of judicial hearing, accused of being spies of Pilsudski. If perchance Laski was pleased by the extermination of the Communists, let us give him the facts of the cruel and furious persecution of the reformist socialists, Laski’s comrades: Alter and Ehrlich, leaders of the Bund, the Jewish socialist party of Poland, criminally assassinated without trial by Stalin; K. Puzak, general secretary of the PPS (Polish Socialist Party – tr.) underground (the underground movement of the working masses of Poland between 1939–1945), tried in Moscow and now once more imprisoned by the puppets of Stalin. According to eye-witness testimonies, the underground PPS was persecuted more severely by the Russians during their occupation between 1939–41 than by the Nazis themselves.

How the Stalinists Won

When the imperialist armies of Stalin entered Poland in 1944, the agents of Stalin, Russian citizens like Osubka and Szwalbe, ex-collaborators of the colonels, organized on September 11–12, 1944 in Lublin a "national reunion" of their creatures, calling it the twenty-fifth congress of the PPS. In the same manner they began to print a newspaper under the old name Robotnik (Worker). All this occurred when the Warsaw proletariat was bleeding In the insurrection, having been handed over to the Nazis by Stalin, while in Warsaw the authentic Robotnik, organ of the PPS underground, was being printed.

The Lublin committee entered Poland and destroyed Warsaw on the bayonets of Stalin’s victorious army over the dead body of the Polish underground, which was led by the workers. Lublin was imposed on Poland by the imperialist decree of Yalta. All this does not in the least impress the “socialist” Laski. But he ought to be impressed by the fate of his comrades. On June 29 and 30, 1945, over the ruins of heroic Warsaw, there met another usurping “congress of the PPS,” called the twenty-sixth, in which none of the old recognized socialist leaders took part but only the Stalinist quislings, ex-fascists, obscure figures without a past like Osubka-Morawski and M. Szwalbe, to whom Stanczyk, the old traitor and sell-out artist of the Polish miners, bowed. Thus outfitted, the PPS received six ministerial posts, including the presidency of the cabinet which was occupied by Osubka, the Soviet citizen.

The president of the “underground movement of the working masses of Poland,” Zygmunt Zulawski, ex-president of the executive committee of the Polish unions and considered the leader of the left wing of thie PPS, addressed himself to Bierut and Osubka in 1945 (September) “revealing” the names of the leaders of the authentic Polish Socialist Party and asking for its legalization under the name of PPSD (Polish Social Democratic Party). In a memorandum addressed to Bierut, Zulawski says:

“I did not conceal for a moment that the Polish Socialist Party which I have represented for years is an entirely different organization from the one represented by Comrade Stanislaw Szwalbe and Comrade Premier Osubka-Morawski ... Therefore, in view of the time limit, I notify you for formal reasons of the existence of our organization and I declare that if intends to avail itself to the full of political rights which have been guaranteed it at Yalta as one of the ‘anti-Nazi’ parties ...”

Bierut passed the responsibility to his agent, Osubka, and of course the Central Committee of the compromising PPS turned down the request of Zulawski to legalize the PPSD, the independent socialist party. Then a delegation of the PPSD, composed of Bien, Garlicki and Zdanowski, presented itself to Osubka to deal with the legalization of the party. Osubka categorically refused. to do it, declaring to the delegation that he considered them representatives of the WRN (Liberty, Equality and Independence) group and that he was going to treat them the same as the NSZ (nationalist armed forces – military organization of the right). The delegation insisted that it represented only the Polish Social Democratic Party, not the WRN; nevertheless Osubka denied the concession of political rights to the old social democrats. In November 1945, the National Council (puppet parliament) denied also the admission of the social democrats into legal political life, their motivation being, “by the existence of six political parties a further differentiation of political opinion may cause an unusually dangerous pre-eminence of party discord in regard to the national joint aims.”

Smashing the Opposition

Fearing the creation of an illegal workers’ party, on December 23, 1945, the Stalinists invited the members of the authentic PPS by radio to unite with the official PPS, in order thereby to control the movements of the opposition. The party of Zulawski had to accept this to avoid extermination. In his declaration, which was not published in the central organs, Zulawski underlined the necessity for democracy in Poland for which he had fought in the times of the Czar and Pilsudski and is also going to fight for now. The Stalinists of the PPS answered with violent attacks against the pre-war Socialist Party and that of the underground, accusing it of a hostile attitude toward Russia and toward unity of the working class. Nevertheless, they did not dare to take immediate reprisals on account of the opposition of the working masses.

In the factory elections to the workers’ committees, an old working class institution in Poland, out of 928 seats, the PPS won 556 (64%); the official Stalinist PPR, 193 (21%); the democratic party, 14; the Christian party, 10. Gomulka himself, secretary of the Stalinist Poland Workers Party, was so impressed with this defeat that he declared the PPR has scarcely 250 persons in the Cracow factories.

The regional congress of the industrial districts of Cracow and Katowice was unanimously opposed to the electoral bloc of the PPS with the PPR against the PPL (Mikolajczyk). The central committee of Osubka replied with an abrogation of these resolutions, suspending all the functionaries of this region and naming new ones servile to Stalinism. Furthermore, Gomulka and his adherents of the PPR reproached Osubka with a lack of energy and began the campaign against him through Matuszewski, ex-minister of propaganda. The masses of the Polish Socialist Party, the regional congresses demanded a break with the Stalinists and support to Mikolajczyk. This strong pressure opened up a conflict between Osubka and Szwalbe and their patrons of the PPR for the reapportionment of positions in the government and seats in parliament.

According to PAT (Polish London telegraph agency) the conflict was solved by a compromise between Osubka and the PPR. Both parties agreed to fight “against reaction and the PSL, which was transformed into an instrument of the reactionary underground.” The PPS receives a ministry without portfolio for Cyrankiewicz (a puppet of no importance) and vice ministers in security and foreign relations. For one of the vice ministries they named Leszcycki, completely unknown before the war (he was not a member of the PPS), whose merit was that of participating in the commission which delimited the new frontier between Poland and Russia. The PPS will also obtain posts in diplomacy, industry, etc., where up to now the official Stalinists held the monopoly. The key to the reapportionment of seats in the future parliament has been defined on the basis of the complete exclusion of the PSL (peasants). The distribution of seats in the government has also been defined without taking into account the populist ministers. This is the “democracy by degrees” prescribed by Moscow and confirmed and defended by the servant, Laski.

Neither we nor the workers of America are interested in the bureaucratic arrangements between the Stalinists of first and second rank. We are interested in the struggle of the Polish workers against Stalinist reaction.

The Movement Fights On

The conflicts between the pro-Stalinist reformists and the Stalinists demonstrate one hundred per cent the weakness and the vacillation of the social base of the Stalinist regime in Poland, likewise being a reflection of the cruel class struggle between the working masses and the Stalinist bureaucracy. This battle is attested to not only by the regional congresses of the official PPS, where the worker-delegates vote in favor of opposition to Stalinism and in favor of support to Mikolajczyk in their struggle against totalitarian oppression. It is demonstrated by the mass votings against the government in the industrial districts and cities in the referendum; it is demonstrated by the strikes in Silesia, Pomerania and Lodz, the sentences of the strikers, etc.

The workers of Poland know by their experience and their class instinct where the main enemy of the working class, the main reaction, is, and they proceed in an entirely different way from that which the “Marxist” Laski wishes, by fighting openly with every means against Stalinism and by assisting the democratic-peasants.

For this reason we support the elemental working class opposition against Stalinism and its aid to the petty bourgeois peasants. Thanks to the populist opposition the workers can also form centers of opposition to the pressure of the regime.

Stalinist totalitarianism suffers misfortunes for the first time in history and is forced to maneuver and permit working class opposition. The concessions of the GPU to the pro-Stalinist reformists try to broaden the social base of the regime, thereby demonstrating its weakness and unstable equilibrium.

The international proletariat must increase its pressure against Stalinism by assisting the working class opposition, even though the latter is led by the reformists and centrists, for in the unfolding of the struggle the working masses will find their own road, that of the inevitable and cruel struggle against Russian imperialism and Stalinist reaction, the road of the socialist revolution.

(Quotations are from The Expropriation of a Socialist Party by A. Ciolkosz.)

Andrzej Rudzienski Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 28 November 2020