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A. Rudzienski

The Traditions of Polish Socialism

The Influence of Rosa Luxemburg

(February 1947)

From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 2, February 1947, pp. 37–40.
Translated by Abe Stein.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


Since 1905, Poland and the Baltic countries have been the firmest and most powerful centers of the revolution. In them the Socialist proletariat has played an outstanding role. – Rosa Luxemburg

The Polish Socialist movement is the oldest in all of Central Europe, including Russia. Born in the shadow of the great Reform of May 1791, it grew, developed and matured within the framework of the bourgeois revolution. whose main phases were the national revolutions of 1831 and 1863 and whose principal object remained-the reconquest of national independence.

After the defeat of 1831, it was among the Polish émigrés in. France and Great Britain that the first Socialist groups took shape. The exiled soldier-peasants filled the ranks, while the utopian-socialist intellectuals provided the leadership. In 1836 these nuclei formed the organization Polish People, which had a marked utopian-socialist character, and which combatted with fervor the feudal-bourgeois Right. Leaving aside the various revolutionary forays into Poland that were directed by this group and the different peasant uprisings, 1846 marks the outbreak of the democratic revolution proper, led by the utopian socialist, Dembowski. As we have said before, Marx considered this revolution the historic turning point with which the history of revolutionary “agrarian democracy” in Poland begins. The leaders of the 1863 revolution were also under the influence of Marx and Western Socialism. It is a well-known fact that the generals of this revolution later directed the defense of the Paris Commune. Walery Wroblewski, a general of the Commune, was a member of the Executive Committee of the First International as a representative of the Polish Socialists.

The first workers’ party among the masses, Proletariat (1878–86), based itself on Marxist doctrine and differed from the Russian Narodnik movement, with which it was contemporary, in that it used the tactic of mass action, leading the workers in Warsaw’s first strikes that frightened the Czarist authorities so much. Although Proletariat fell under the influence of Narodnaya Volia after the death of the party’s theoretician, Lukwik Warynski, the workers’ movement turned in a “Western” and Marxist direction once more with the birth of the Social Democracy of Kingdom Poland and Lithuania (SDKPL), which came closer to Austrian and German Socialism, then in full tide of development. This tendency found its personification in no less a person than Rosa Luxemburg, founder and leader of the SDKPL.

Native Characteristics and Contrast with Bolsheviks

As we have seen, Polish Socialism was much older than Russian Socialism. It had its own roots and received its Marxist traditions at first hand, since its leaders developed under the direct and personal influence of Marx and Engels, who gave so much importance to the Polish question. Surely, these are the reasons why Polish Socialism always maintained its own independent personality expressed through its independent organizations, the SDKPL and the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), in spite of the fact that Poland constituted part of the Czarist Empire. So too, despite the intransigent internationalism of Rosa Luxemburg, the Lithuanian Social-Democracy, led by Tyszka J ogiches, did not incorporate itself into the Russian Social-Democracy but entered the SDKP, forming the SDKPL. Although the SDKPL considered itself a part of the Russian Social-Democracy by virtue of its internationalist principles, it submitted neither to the leadership of the latter nor to its program, maintaining always its own doctrine, which differed from that of the Bolsheviks. At the Second Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Party, the SDKPL delegation voted against the program of national self-determination and abandoned the congress, without thereby signifying any intention of breaking with the Bolsheviks.

The political doctrine of the SDKPL was Luxemburgism, not Leninism. Its fundamental theories were set forth in Rosa Luxemburg’s Development of Capitalism in Poland, written in German and published in Switzerland at the end of the last century, and in her Accumulation of Capital.

“From the historical point of view. the accumulation of capital constitutes the process of an exchange of values between capitalist and pre-capitalist systems of production.” (R. Luxemburg, Die Akkumulation des Kapitals, page 297)

It was on this premise that she based her opinion that the pre-capitalist market of Czarist Russia was indispensable for the capitalist industry of Poland. Hence Rosa”s classical phrase, “Poland is bound to Russia with chains of gold.” From that same premise was also derived the repudiation of the struggle for national independence. For Rosa Luxemburg:

“The national state is only an abstraction ... which does not correspond to the reality.” (Przeglad socjaldemokatyczny, theoretical organ of the SDKPL, 1908; page 499)

“Not the national state, but the state of rapine, corresponds to capitalist development.” (Op. Cit., No. 6, 1908.)

It was for this reason that Rosa Luxemburg rejected the program of national self-determination, arguing that “it does not provide any practical guide for the daily political struggle of the proletariat, nor any practical solutions to the national problem.” As a consequence, Luxemburg counterposed to the slogan of the independent Polish republic put forth by the PPS, the idea of the common struggle of the Russian and Polish proletariat for a Russian democratic republic, in which Poland would have national autonomy.

Lenin skillfully explained the SDKPL point of view by setting it against the proper historical background and traditions. Polish Socialism developed in the shadow of the bourgeois revolution and national uprisings which ended in defeat. In order to break with this past. and at the same time break with the dominant classes of its own nation, the Polish proletariat put the main emphasis on the international struggle. It was not only Rosa Luxemburg, but Warynski before her who declared, “Our country is the entire world,” considering the old struggle for independence as outlived. Lenin considered Rosa”s point of view narrow and “Cracowvianu (at that time the political émigrés of 1905 were gathered in Cracow, among them the Russians). He explained it as a reaction to the petty-bourgeois nationalism of the Fraki (PPS revolutionary fraction, led by Pilsudski.) With biting irony, Lenin wrote, “They say that for the mouse the most terrible of wild beasts is the cat. For Rosa Luxemburg there is no wild beast so enormous as the Fraki.” In reality these divergencies reflected the differences between the completed democratic revolution in the West and the actuality of this revolution in Russia, as posed in the “in-between” territory of Poland, which through its industrial development and its past belonged to Western Europe but which was politically incorporated into Russia.

The second fundamental question which differentiated the Polish Social-Democrats from the Bolsheviks was the agrarian question. The capitalist development of agriculture was more advanced in Poland than in Russia. After the reform of Alexander II, the peasants had been despoiled of their land and had been compelled to transform themselves into a factory and agricultural proletariat. In this fashion a strong layer of agricultural day-laborers was formed, landless proletariat of the countryside, contracted by the landlords for a year at a time, who received most of their wages in the shape of natural products. This layer of agricultural proletariat was unimportant in Russia, where almost every peasant was a petty proprietor, including the landless ones.

Among this agricultural proletariat, as extensive in numbers as the factory proletariat, the SDKPL had considerable influence and led its daily struggles against the bosses. This too was the basis for the agrarian program of the SDKPL, which established as its central point the problem of the day laborers, the proletariat of the countryside. It also corresponded to the classic scheme which Kautsky developed in his Agrarian Question. The latter was based on the capitalist development of German agriculture. Lenin, on the other hand, found himself confronted by a reality that was distinctly Russian in its entirety, and was compelled to compromise with the Populist program of the Social-Revolutionaries, due to the feudal and petty-bourgeois reality of Russian agriculture, so different from that prevailing in the West. This was also the reason why Rosa Luxemburg opposed the slogan of “land to the peasants,” and proposed the direct nationalization of the land, and its administration by the state or other organs of Socialist self-government.

The seizure of the landed estates by the peasants according to the short and precise slogan of Lenin – “Go and take the land for yourselves” – simply led to the sudden, chaotic conversion of large landownership into peasant landownership ... Through this mass seizure and the chaotic and purely arbitrary manner of their execution, differentiation in landed property, far from being eliminated was even further sharpened. – The Russian Revolution

Analyzing the anarchic partitioning of the land in the Russian Revolution and the growth of the power and influence of the rich peasant, the kulak, Rosa Luxemburg correctly wrote: “The shift of power took place to the disadvantage of the interests of the proletariat and of socialism.” (Op. Cit., pages 23–24) In the agrarian program, so differently viewed by the Bolsheviks and the Polish Social-Democrats, we see reflected the real contradiction between the completed democratic revolution in the West and the actuality of this revolution in Russia. Poland constituted the real theater of these contradictions.

Differences on “Spontaneity” and “Party Direction”

The third very important question that divided the Polish and Russian Marxists was the “spontaneity” concept of the former versus the “party directive” concept of the latter. The Bolshevik Party was subjected to an iron discipline, centralized under the leadership of a Central Committee that was all-powerful in the periods that elapsed between congresses of the party. Against the Bolsheviks’ theory on the preponderant role of the will of the party in the preparation of the social revolution, Rosa Luxemburg expounded the free and spontaneous initiative of the masses in the revolution and the workers’ state, insisting that the class control the initiative and leadership of the party. Rejecting the criticisms hurled against the Bolsheviks by Kautsky, Rosa showed the dangers that threatened the Russian Revolution from the side of the dictatorship of the party, which she called “a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the Jacobin power.” Criticizing the Bolsheviks, Rosa wrote:

“The socialist society can and should be the product of history born out of its own experience, in the hour of historic realization of the process itself, of living history ... Socialism cannot be decreed or enforced by ukase.”

Underlining the spontaneity of the historic process in this fashion, Luxemburg attributed the decisive role to the free initiative of the masses.

“All this shows that the cumbersome mechanism of democratic institutions’ possesses a powerful corrective – namely, the living movement of the masses, their unending pressure. And the more democratic, the livelier and stronger the pulse-beat of the political life of the masses, the more direct and complete is their influence – despite rigid party banners, outgrown tickets (electoral lists), etc.”

Luxemburg’s criticism was severe, despite her ardent support of the Bolsheviks, and history has shown the inspired Rosa to have been right in many respects. Here, also, two concepts clashed, reflecting the real contradictions between the activity of the proletarian masses in Poland, educated as they were in the school of politics, and the need for constant direction by party workers in Russia, faced with the lethargy and passivity of the masses at the end of the last century.

Structure and Internal Democracy in SDKPL

The structure of the SDKPL was different from that of the Bolsheviks. The latter, as we know, based itself on the secret cells of active and disciplined militants who submitted to the leadership of the Central Committee. The Polish party based itself directly on the proletarian mass, resting on the illegal organizations of the unions and the factory groups. Thus the SDKPL grew organically from below, from the proletarian mass itself. Although it possessed a well defined doctrine and an excellent nucleus of theoreticians, the latter democratically submitted their concepts to democratic control by the workers. The theoretical work harmonized well with the forces in the party, and through these with the workers movement in general. The SDKPL was, like the Bolshevik Party, illegal, but given the education and political schooling of the Polish proletariat, it could support itself on much broader groups than the closed Bolshevik cells. The illegal unions provided the foundation for the SDKPL and through them the party directed the mass movements. Its structure approached closer to the structure of the German Social-Democratic Party, while at the same time retaining fully its revolutionary and clearly working-class character. In the SDKPL the role of the proletarian base, the direct intervention of the proletarian mass, had the decisive weight.

In addition, the Polish Social-Democracy understood and practiced internal democracy and democratic centralism differently from the Russians. The ideological struggle developed freely within the party, with both groups having official recognition. The majority of the Central Committee was led by Rosa and Warsky; the minority the so-called “secessionists,” by Radek, Lensky, etc. Fundamental questions were not involved, as was the case between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, but merely shades of interpretation of the national program and the question of Polish independence.

Struggle Between Leninism and Luxemburgism in the CCP

From the union of the SDKPL and the PPS~Left (not to be confused with the Fraki) in 1918 was born the Communist Party of Poland. But the merger was not organic, and did not proceed from a firm acceptance of the principles of the SDKPL by many militants of the PPS, who still retained many remnants of opportunism. On the other hand, the “Luxemburgists” stubbornly refused to revise the program of the SDKPL on the national, agrarian, and organizational questions, and fought against Lenin’s compromise with the Left Social-Revolutionaries. The history of the CPP constitutes a struggle between “Luxemburgism,” Leninism, PPS-Leftism and Stalinism. This struggle can be divided into three principal periods: (1) 1919–24, supremacy of the “Luxemburgists” of the SDKPL. (2) 1925–29, supremacy of the PPS-Leftists of the “Majority.” (3) 1930–36, the victory of the Stalinists and the degeneration and dissolution of the party.

In the first phase; after a period in which the leadership was shared jointly by both fractions (SDKPL and PPS-Left), the SDKPL group, headed by Domski (Henry Kamienski) and Sofia Unschlicht, daughter of the old SDKPL fighter J. Unschlicht, was victorious. Its principal strategy was based on the rejection of the democratic revolution as the goal of the Polish proletariat, in sustaining firmly the program of a workers-socialist government, and in organizing the workers councils (rady robotnicze) which sought to take power. For this reason the first elections were boycotted by the CPP, given the strong socialist feeling among the workers. In the second elections, the strategy of the CPP was “the union of the urban proletariat and the day-laborers of the country-side” (Zwiazek proletariatu miast i wsi), that is to say, the proletariat of town and country, without considering the peasantry. This, of course, corresponded to the CPP’s opposition to Lenin’s program: “land to the peasants.” It was because of this opposition on the part of the CPP that the Bolsheviks did not partition the land in occupied Poland in 1920. The “Luxemburgists” resisted recognizing the independence of the country, faithful to the fundamental conception of Rosa Luxemburg. They opposed any Bolshevik intervention in party matters, and also protested against “the revolution brought on the point of the bayonet” (referring to the Russ~Polish war of 1920). Since they held fast to the perspective of socialist revolution and the workers government, the Luxemburgists divorced themselves from the Polish reality, where the bourgeoisie had made its power secure, thanks to the support of the reformists and the peasants. Their previously correct tactic left them hanging in mid-air and degenerated into ultra-leftist actions, and culminated in the uprising of Cracow in 1923, which the bourgeoisie crushed. Clearly, this deviation was due in large part to the intervention of Zinoviev, and was analogous to the “strategy” adopted in Germany. There are no documents at hand to confirm this thesis, nevertheless the development of the Domski group toward “Trotskyism,” its support of Trotsky, and its seizure in Russia support this thesis. Domski and Sophia Unschlicht, ousted from the central committee of the CPP, were never able to return to Poland and from 1924 on lived in Russian prisons and Siberian exile. They disappeared in the great purges of later years.

The second period is characterized by the victory of the PPS-Left opposition, led by Koszutska, Walecki, Wroblewski and Warski. The latter was an ex-member of the SDKPL, one of its founders and a loyal friend of Rosa Luxemburg. This phase corresponded to the period of the Bucharin-Stalin coalition against Trotskyism and Luxemburgism. Its principal advance was the definitive recognition of the Bolshevik program on the national and agrarian questions. The old controversy had ended in the defeat of the Luxemburgists. The content of this revision) however, deviated from the classic Leninist content of 1918, adapting itself to the new reality and approached the Right Wing Bucharinist concept. Hence there was introduced the famous theory of “two stages” of the revolution, a theory long outgrown by the Polish reality. This theory served as the theoretical basis for the support of Pilsudski in 1926, describing the Pilsudski coup d’etat as a “petty-bourgeois” revolution, a “Polish Kerenskiad.” It was, however, not a “Polish Kerenskiad” but a reactionary Bonapartism. The party's strategy tended to support the reformists and populists, expressing itself in the slogan of a “Workers-Peasants Bloc” (not a union of the urban and country proletariat as before), whose object was to achieve a “democratic” worker-peasant government – that is to say – to realize the bourgeois-democratic revolution. In spite of these errors, the CPP made much progress among the workers, the peasants, and the national minorities.

Stalinist Intervention

This group supported the Bucharin-Stalin coalition against Trotsky, and shared the fate of this coalition. The Russians took advantage of the defeat of the Luxemburgists in order to strengthen their intervention in the CPP and little by little introduced “Bolshevik monolithism.” The existence of the “Minorityites” headed by Lenski, Rying, Spis, Rval, old members of the SDKPL, who criticized the theory of the “two stages” was used to disorganize the CPP. The struggle between the two fractions was “balanced” by a Russian representative on the CC, who at times voted in favor of one, and at times in favor of the other fraction in accordance with instructions. On crushing Bucharin, Stalin decided to crush his Polish allies and installed the Lenski group in power.

With this begins the era of Stalinist domination in the CPP. The return of the “Luxemburgists” was no return to the old Marxist tradition, but a frightful caricature which took a Stalinist form. Although the criticism of the “two stages” was correct, it took the grotesque and degenerated form of the theory of “Social-Fascism.” The CPP fought the “Centrolev” (concentration of PPS and peasants against Pilsudski), supporting in this fashion the growth of dictatorship in Poland, just as Thaelman supported Hitler against the Social-Democrats in Germany. In separating itself categorically from Trotskyism and lending itself to servile support of Stalin, the group lost all ideological independence and succumbed completely to Stalinism. The leaders of the “Minority” entered into a servile competition for Stalin’s favor, proclaiming the theory of a Polish “imperialism” which “threatened” Russia, and proclaiming the Poles of Silesia and Pomerania “independent nationalities.” Hitler’s rise to power in 1938 did not awaken any reaction on the part of the “Minority” leadership. Henrykowski and the others praised Thaelman and Neuman, affirming that, Hitler’s conquest of power brought nearer the victory of the proletariat. The party had speedily and completely decayed at the top.

But at the bottom there was a strong critical reaction. The Trotskyist opposition grew from these foundations, forming notable groups in Warsaw, Lodz and Dombrowa, old fortresses of the SDKPL. Its weakness lay in the fact that it did not divorce itself decisively from the degenerated CPP and did not declare itself in favor of an open and frank struggle. The old “Majorityites” were also in opposition. Although the leaders had handed the party over to the Comintern, the rank and file were opposed to Stalinism. Some sectors of this opposition came close to the Trotskyists. But the oppositionists were ruthlessly expelled. Denounced and isolated, they had no great influence on the course of the official policy and could not save the CPP. Since the entire apparatus was illegal and dependent for funds on Moscow, the Stalinists were victorious all along the line.

The Annihilation of the CPP

The party died gradually, degenerating like a useless organ that is inherited from the past and is quite outlived by the present reality. Under the pretext of “police connections,” entire organizations and militants of proven worth and great merit were isolated. The militants who came from the prisons were isolated and spied upon by the party’s GPU. In these same prisons, under the pretext of Communist organization, the thinking of the political prisoners was controlled by the party whips. Those who resisted were subjected to a boycott and were denied aid in the way of food, money, and reading matter, which was provided by the “communal” organization in the jail.

In addition to the official delegates of the Comintem, officials of the GPU were introduced into the Central Committee of the Party. These GPU officials were at times Poles who had long ago lost contact with the country, and with the workers movement in both Poland and Russia. It was at this time that Bierut, now President of Poland by grace of Stalin, began his career. Bierut was sent into the CPP by the Polish section of the GPU to purge all those suspected of opposition. Also employed for this purpose was Gomulka-Wieslaw, a relatively young militant of inferior status, without any theoretical ability, who had played no role in the previous struggles. His sole virtue was his absolute loyalty to Stalin and Bienkowski (Bierut). The GPU prepared “provocations,” complete frameups, in order to demoralize not only the CPP but also the PPS. Denounced by the GPU were old and well-known militants: Wroblewski, editor of the party organ; Winiarski, leader of the KPZU (Party of the Western Ukraine, autonomous section of the CPP); Dombal, famous leader and founder of the Red Peasant International and former deputy in the Polish Diet, who enjoyed a considerable reputation throughout the country; Wojewodzki, former deputy in the diet for White Russia; Tarski, former deputy for Warsaw, and many others. The other leaders were deported to Siberia where they were islated and watched so that they could not transmit any messages to Poland. The prominent leaders of the PPS were also accused of serving as agents of the Polish Police, as was, for instance, Zaremba, leader of the left wing of the PPS. But the PPS knew how to resist these barefaced slanders. The CPP, however, caught between two fires, persecuted by the Polish Police and the GPU, was unable to defend itself. To use a phrase of Rosa Luxemburg’s, it was a “rotting corpse.”

The last murderous blow came in 1937 with the turn toward the right that prepared for open collaboration with the bourgeoisie through the Popular Fronts. In the abused, degenerated, GPU-controlled CPP, faint echoes of old traditions were heard in the whispered opposition to the Popular Front. Since the party was isolated from the masses, and its leaders were paid employees of Stalin living in Russia, the final blow was easy. It was simply a matter of officially proclaiming the death of a party that for some time now had been a corpse. The burial was accompanied by the sound of the assassin’s gun in the dungeons of the GPU. The principal victim was the secretary-general, Lenski, Stalin’s man of confidence in 1930, “purger” of the party, now accused of being a spy for Pilsudski during the entire period of his militancy. Many of his collaborators followed him.

With the dissolution of the CPP, the GPU officially took over the leadership of the Communist part of the Polish workers movement, preparing adequate cadres for new infamies and betrayals. The loyal Stalinists were sent into the unions, the PPS, the legal workers’ organizations, in order to penetrate and demoralize the entire workers and peasants movement as well as the Marxist intellectuals. The GPU operated now in the peripheries of the PPS, the unions, the Socialist workers youth, the university groups; penetrated the peasant organizations, the middle-class, the intellectual circles, the literary periodicals, forming everywhere nuclei of decomposition and demoralization. It succeeded in creating a pro-Stalinist wing in the PPS, headed by Szczyrek; it succeeded in grouping the leftish intellectuals who had no political traditions around the literary congress of Lvov, headed by Wasilewska and Jedrychowski, who from morning until night wallowed in self-anointed glory as the “workers leaders.” The GPU strove at all costs to create a Popular Front, flattering even Pilsudski and Rydz-Smigly, forming “democratic clubs,” deceiving the innocent and naive old professors. The new reformist tactic attracted many opportunists, job-seekers, careerists and downright scoundrels to Stalinism, forming a vast Fifth Column that was later to play an infamous role in the service of the Kremlin against the interests of the workers and the country as a whole. Thus Stalin prepared years in advance the annihilation of the CPP in order to forestall any protest from the proletariat and have a free hand for his infamous imperialist policy.

Annihilation of the PPS, the Unions and the Underground

With the dissolution of the CPP, that section of the Comintern most dangerous to Stalin had been wiped out and the way lay open for his imperialist program in Poland. But there still remained the PPS, the unions, and the peasant left, all of which represented a danger. When the Russian troops, together with the Nazis, ravaged Poland in 1939, they proceeded to deport Poles, Ukrainians, White-Russians, Jews, and Lithuanians; the total number of victims reaching between a million and a half and two million. The GPU, which had been securely established in Poland long before this, jailed and deported above all the Communist and Socialist workers and intellectuals and their sympathizers. Only those elements the GPU trusted remained free in the annexed territories, to consolidate the occupation and serve as deputies to the Soviets in the new territories. The PPS, the Jewish Bund, and ex-Communists were persecuted savagely. It is sufficient to record the declarations of Lucian Blit, a Bundist militant, according to which political prisoners for months on end could not go into the prison yard for a breath of fresh air; were subjected to hermetic isolation without books and letters from their families; were unable to receive any relief in the way of clothing or food; and were punished cruelly with tortures that utilized water and electric lights; were mistreated physically without mercy, and finally condemned by the GPU to forced labor or death. (see Koestler – Yogi and the Commissar.) Lucien Blit was saved thanks to the agreement between Stalin and Sikorski, but this was not the case with the prominent leaders of Bund, Erlich and Alter, assassinated by the GPU without any explanation despite the insistent requests for the latter by the Polish government. Those leaders of the PPS discovered by the GPU were jailed and deported. C. Puzak and Kwapinski, old prisoners of the Czar, visited Siberia once more and had to be rescued by the Polish government in 1941. (Puzak was put on trial again in Moscow in 1945 and is now again a prisoner after having completed his first sentence.)

The GPU which compelled the Communists to support the Nazi occupiers in 1939–41, began to infiltrate the workers and peasants underground in 1941 in order to demoralize it. Unlike the tactic in Western Europe, where the Stalinists supported the Resistance, they never became part of the “National Unity” in Poland, and fought the government and the leadership of the underground with all the means at their disposal. It is enough to record the fact that after the death of Sikorski, the leadership of the Resistance passed to the Populists and Socialists. The Communists hardly participated in the AK (home army), but formed their own unimportant groupings which attempted to provoke premature uprisings in order to unleash the Nazi terror, and thus annihilate the powerful underground. The Moscow radio continually called for the uprising of Warsaw, Stalin having personally promised all aid to Mikolajczyk in Moscow. But when the insurrection of Warsaw broke out, Stalin decided to settle his accounts with the underground by permitting its liquidation by the Nazis. The AK (home army) was dissolved in the Russian occupied territories, its members seized en masse, and the most “dangerous” ones assassinated, in spite of the fact that the AK had valiantly aided the Russians by engaging the Nazis in rearguard actions. The bulk of the underground was annihilated at Warsaw, with the “Red” army collaborating tacitly with the Nazis in exterminating the resisting Poles. Enough to record the fact that the PPS, the unions, Trotskyists and rank and file Communists had constituted the backbone of the Warsaw insurrection. When Warsaw had been crushed by the Nazis, the Russians continued to strike out mercilessly at the Polish underground.

With the Red armies came the GPU detachments of “bloodhounds” to seek out and seize the workers, peasants and intellectuals of the Resistance, first of all, fastening on the Leftists of all shades. Those put on trial in Moscow were headed by the Socialists (Puzak) and Populists (Baginski), but the GPU gave major importance to the military figures of minor rank (Okulicki) in order to confuse the masses.

With the Lublin committee entered the hangmen of the GPU, specialists in purges and liquidations en masse. To meet the problem of ruling a conquered country, the Polish Workers Party (PPR) was created, absolutely subject to Moscow, without tested leaders, and ruled by the agents of the GPU (Bierut). The Polish “Underground Labor Movement” in which the Socialists and opposition communists were grouped, was exterminated. With elements who had succeeded in infiltrating, a new pro-Stalinist PPS was formed, led by Stalin’s creatures (Osobka, Matuszewski, Szwalbe). Not one of them had played any previous role in the PPS. Some, like Szwalbe, had been adherents of Pilsudski and had never belonged to the PPS. The old leaders of the PPS had been assassinated in part by the Nazis (Niedzialkowski, Czapinski, Barlicki), while others (like Kwapinski, Prager, Ciolkosz) emigrated to London; the rest formed an opposition inside the PPS in Poland. The GPU roundly rejected Zulawski’s request to form an independent Socialist party. Thus the GPU annihilated all the old workers’ parties in Poland, first the CPP, then the PPS and the Bund.

The unions which existed illegally under the Nazi occupation were now in the name of legalization transformed into state organizations after the Soviet fashion, organizations designed to exploit and oppress the working class. The old union leaders (Zulawski, Puzak, Stanczyk) were pushed aside, and Stalinist agents named by Moscow put in their place. GPU detachments were used against these Polish workers who had no desire to renounce the right to strike. The tribunals condemned striking workers to decades in jail. Yet in spite of all their totalitarian power, the Polish Stalinists did not succeed until the very end in defeating the Polish workers’ movement in the Russian manner. This is explained by the independent traditions of Socialism in Poland, and the enormous capacity of resistance inherent in the workers movement, demonstrated so many times against the Czar, against the Polish “Colonels,” and against the Nazis. The Peasant party of Mikolajczky also constitutes a barricade against Stalinist totalitarianism. Behind it, the workers opposition is regrouping itself once again, led by Zulawski, Drobner and others. True, it is a vacillating opposition, in part reformist, in part centrist, but its existence demonstrates the evident resistance of the Polish workers at the present time.

Some Conclusions

The native traditions of the Polish labor movement, as much in the sphere of theory as in that of organization, constitute a permanent threat to Stalin. The role of the CPP in the life of the Comintern in Lenin’s day was very important. By virtue of personal ties and revolutionary orientation, the Polish Marxists belonged to the intimate circle of Lenin’s co-workers and old Bolsheviks. It suffices to mention the role of Dzierzynski, Unschlicht, Radek, Kohn, Marchlewski, Mienzynki, in order to confirm this assertion. Outside of the Russian Bolshevik party, the KPD (Communist party of Germany) and the CPP were considered the most important in the Comintern: the first being called the “biggest,” the latter being called the “best.” (Die Deutsche, die Groesste, die Polnische, die Beste.) Stalin always feared a renewed opposition within the CPP. That is why the annihilation of the CPP was the first to take place in the Comintern, paralleling the annihilation of the old Bolsheviks. For this reason, too, the dissolution of the CPP presaged the dissolution of the cadaverous Comintern.

Despite all this, in Poland more than in any other country occupied by the Russians, we note a spontaneous workers opposition. There too, we see the attempts to organize this opposition politically. Although it is the reformists and vacillating centrists who are engaged in these attempts at the moment, it is our task to support them, to give a greater programmatic consistency and revolutionary firmness to this opposition. The theoretical study of the heritage of Polish Marxism can aid greatly in reviving the Polish revolutionary and international movement. The Stalinists popularize vulgar notions on the differences between Leninism and Luxemburgism and reduce this problem, so highly important for Marxism, to a mechanical and vulgar negation of “Luxemburgism” as an Ultra-leftist “deviation.”

In reality, these differences reflected the very real contradictions between the tasks of Western and Russian Socialism. They constituted, also, a reflection of the different stages in the development of world socialism, since the “Western” Socialists were intent on realizing the Socialist revolution, the Russians on realizing the democratic revolution. Only by taking into account these differences in their process of historic development can we understand them. The tragic fate of the Russian Revolution, its degeneration into a hateful totalitarian tyranny confirms the prophetic criticism of that inspired Socialist Cassandra, Rosa Luxemburg. The only answer of contemporary Marxism to the vulgar fables of the Stalinist “theoreticians” is to restore Rosa Luxemburg to her rightful place in the traditions of the movement.

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