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Andrzej Rudzienski

Bureaucracy Launches an Economic Offensive

Cracks Appear in the
Polish Stalinist Party

(13 September 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 37, 13 September 1948, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The aggressive course in Russian foreign policy represented by Zhdanov has been imposed on all Eastern Europe.

After the liquidation of the peasant opposition in Poland, the Polish Stalinist bureaucracy considered that the incorporation of the pseudo-Socialist Party into the Stalinist party was the most urgent task. At the conference of the pseudo-Socialist Party “activists,” the present puppet premier of Poland, Cyrankiewicz, proclaimed that “the workers’ party, whether it be Left Socialist or Communist, cannot bring its development to a halt; similarly, popular democracy is a transitory creation, a stop on the road.” (Polish Worker in Great Britain, No. 8, August)

The unfortunate Oscar Lange, known to the American public as the puppet ambassador of Poland, has also declared that “We Socialists consider popular democracy as only a point of departure on the road toward socialism and not a definitive and final regime.” (Ibid.)

“Left to its own. fate,” he said, “popular democracy can slide back toward capitalism, which is why it requires the leadership of the working class, the most politically conscious class of the nation [??], which consciously tends toward the realization of socialism.” Lange repeats all the inspiration and wisdom of Stalinism.

As Adam Ciolkosz (leading theoretician of the genuine Socialist Party-in-Exile) quite correctly points out, these declarations signify the “end of a phase begun in 1944 at Lublin,” and the liquidation of the fake Socialist Party in order to create a monolithic Stalinist party.

How do the puppet leaders think they are going to realize their “socialism” via the path of Stalinism? It is better to seek the answer in the statements of the leaders of the Polish Workers Party (Stalinist party) than in the declarations of their followers.

Economic Offensive

At the meeting of the Stalinist activists, Zambrowski, member of the political bureau, declared that today in Poland there exist three elements, three economic formations: socialist, capitalist and petty-bourgeois. The socialist sector consists of the nationalized industries, banks and means of transportation, penetrating wholesale commerce and in part retail commerce, but without influence in the rural economy.

The capitalist sector consists of 18,000 private enterprises, private wholesale commercial enterprises, retail commercial establishments, artisan enterprises in part, and capitalist farms. The petty-bourgeois sector rests on the 140,000 artisan shops, retail commercial establishments and 90 per cent of the rural production and economy.

Zambrowski declares war on the capitalist and petty-bourgeois sector, recalling that small-scale individual production “gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie, daily, hourly, spontaneously.” In order to arrest this tendency, the bureaucratic state must increase its control over the capitalist enterprises which from now on are to receive their raw materials from the state and deliver their products to the state as well.

As for the artisan sector, Zambrowski proclaims the need for a cooperative system which will completely control the artisan shops, reducing their owners to the role of wage earners who work at home. The capitalist enterprises are to be subordinated to the state by means of contracts and completely isolated from the market. In addition, private wholesale commerce is to be liquidated and incorporated into state-owned commercial enterprises.

The most difficult task consists in eliminating the petty-bourgeois system in the countryside. It appears that the offensive is to begin against those farms having more than about 50 acres of land, of which there are less than 10 per cent in Poland. The Stalinist rural paper, Chlopska Droga (Peasants’ Road), proclaims the tendency toward “socialism, that is, communal economy in the countryside and the city.” And “the peasants will achieve well-being only through the collective farm system,” declares this organ.

To Greater Exploitation

It would therefore seem that the Polish Stalinists intend to proceed against the peasants in the same barbarous and reactionary manner that was followed in Russia and the Ukraine. They are going to collectivize the peasants’ poverty and misery in order to increase their inhuman and more-than-capitalist exploitation in favor of the bureaucracy.

In contemporary Poland, the greatest rural proprietor is the bureaucratic state and the Russian army. The state employs 160,000 day laborers on about 6,000 big farms with an area of almost five million acres that in no way differs from the capitalist-landlord system, and goes far beyond it in the cynical exploitation of the rural proletariat, The state industries also administer their own farms, the sugar industry controlling 104 large farms, the coal industry 60 farms, etc. The Russian army administers 200 large estates with an area of almost two and a half million acres. Finally, there are the cooperatives monopolized by the Stalinist bureaucracy, which dispose of 130 large farms and about 3,000 “remains” of the old estates which have not been parceled out.

The so-called agrarian reform has been realized under the totalitarian-bureaucratic sign, a thesis which has been presented in my work on the agrarian question. “The collective system” in agriculture signifies the expropriation and spoliation of the peasant masses in favor of the bureaucracy. The “socialist offensive” in the urban economy signifies the spoliation of the poor artisans in favor of the bureaucracy.

In order to justify this bureaucratic-totalitarian policy, the Stalinists draw from the archives the forgotten and dust-covered theories which Lenin elaborated in the period of the New Economic Policy when the problem of liquidating capitalism in favor of socialism was at issue. Lenin’s theories were directed toward the abolition of the exploitation of the proletarian and semi-proletarian classes by capitalism; Stalin’s theory serves to increase this exploitation by the bureaucratic monopoly of the means of production.

This economic offensive finds its main source in the expansionism and greed of bureaucratic imperialism, and its preparations for the Third World War. The exhausted Russian economy, having reached the ultimate limit of exploitation of the impoverished worker and peasant masses, no longer offers major possibilities for increasing the primitive accumulation of capital by the bureaucracy. Consequently Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania and Germany constitute a field of colonial exploitation for the Stalinist imperialists.

The prior condition for exhausting these resources and of liquidating the higher standard of living of the proletariat in these countries is the complete economic and political incorporation of these countries into the USSR. Only from this point of view can we really understand the events in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary and Poland.

Only by thoroughly analyzing the Stalinist economy can we comprehend the rebellion of the impoverished and exploited masses against Russian Stalinism and the rifts in the bureaucratic Stalinist camp. That is why the economic offensive in Poland, whose imperialist and colonial character is undeniable, has its Tito-like consequences within the Polish Stalinist party.

No one less than Gomulka – secretary general of the Stalinist party, leader of the “popular democracy,” the vice-premier and the real leader of the government until 1948 – is the representative of this tendency and now appears to be a victim less fortunate than Tito.

At the last meeting of the party Central Committee, Gomulka was “absent” due to “reasons of health.” This meeting condemned Tito and the “Yugoslavian nationalist deviation. But it was not so long ago that the Polish press was praising Tito to the skies.

Gomulka represented the tendency of “introducing communism in Poland under the white and red banner” (Poland’s national colors). It is an open secret that two factions existed inside the Polish Stalinist party: that of Gomulka and that of Berman-Minc-Zambrowski, who argued for the immediate incorporation of the country into the USSR. When faced with the underground resistance and peasant movement in 1943, Stalin chose Gomulka as the realizer of his imperialist and colonial policies in Poland.

But times have changed: “Communism under the white and red flag” represents a danger for Russia. The Polish Tito-Gomulka has bad luck. Poland is too near Russia, is too firmly held in the grasp of the Russian army.

Resistance Grows

The rifts in the Stalinist regime constitute a new phenomenon. The more the totalitarian offensive increases and the more its reactionary character, directed against the proletarian and semi-proletarian masses, that is, against socialism, becomes evident – so much the more does the rebellion of the oppressed and exploited masses increase. This social antagonism, this war of the classes, finds its expression in the rifts within the regime, in Tito’s rebellion, in the rebellion of the Czech Social-Democracy and of the Polish Stalinists. The police regime, the regime of the prison and the concentration camp, does not permit any other manifestation of this permanent social war of the masses against the exploiting bureaucracy.

The resistance; of the working-class masses, the artisans and peasants against the Stalinist economic offensive has a progressive, democratic character in the new meaning of this word, a socialist meaning, because it defends human labor against the exploiters, because it defends human liberty against the oppressors. The transformation of this spontaneous rebellion of the exploited and resisting masses into a broad and popular political tendency, headed by the Marxists, leads over the corpse of Stalinism toward real socialism.

But if, in the absence of Marxist leadership, the spontaneous struggle of the masses is utilized by the reactionary and bourgeois political tendencies, it can lead backward toward capitalist restoration. So much the greater, therefore, is our historic and political responsibility before the proletariat. We are witnessing a new phenomenon in the Stalinist, regimes, which are incapable of completely dominating popular resistance. We are witnessing the first signs of the decomposition of the Stalinist regime in Europe, outside of Russia.

The mysterious death of Andrei Zhdanov, considered the boss of the Stalinist offensive in Europe and of the “left turn,” of the war, against Tito and Benes, is very significant for the process of decomposition which is also beginning in Russia itself.

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