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A. Rudzienski

Fear of Titoism Holds Back Russian Tyranny
in Polish Satellite – Up to Now

(14 November 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 46, 14 November 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Foreign observers have been struck by the silence and absence of highly dramatic events in Poland, while in Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia a planned Stalinist offensive is unfolding against Titoism, Catholicism and the remnants of whatever opposition exists.

Whoever is familiar with the modern history of Central and Eastern Europe and revolutionary socialism knows that for more than a century the struggle of the Polish people against czarist oppression was the inspiration of all the Slav and non-Slav peoples in their struggle for democratic emancipation. How explain, then, the present “armistice” in Poland, that traditional focal point of anti-Russian rebellion?

Are events following a course like that which occurred after the last national revolution of 1863–64? At that time the bourgeoisie raised the slogan of “organic work,” repudiating the revolution and the struggle for national independence. The period of “positivism” began, the period of feverish economic construction after a crushing political defeat. The bourgeoisie and Polish capitalism accommodated themselves to the absolutist rule of the czar, their hope of reconquering a democratic national state lost.

Emerging from Under

It might seem that events are taking a similar course now in Poland. The war left the country exhausted, half of the pre-war national territory lost; production in some industries fell to 30 per cent; the country’s capital was completely destroyed, The defeat of the Warsaw insurrection and of the entire underground movement, handed over to the Russians by the Anglo-Americans, was so crushing that no one could think of resuming a new underground struggle against Russia with the expectation of any success.

Betrayed in its aspirations by the three imperialisms, the Polish people first and foremost accused the Anglo-Americans for its defeat, knowing that it has no probability of continuing the clandestine resistance to Stalin. The only hope that remained after so many years of struggle against the Nazi occupation is the economic reconstruction of the country, the salvation of the national patrimony for the future generation.

The defeat in 1944 as in 1864 has created a “neo-positivism,” a fury of economic reconstruction. All foreign observers declare that no country has been reconstructed so rapidly as Poland. Today it can be said that the period of reconstruction has ended. Almost all of the industries have again reached the pre-war level of production; agriculture, in spite of the loss of the best land in Eastern Poland, is approaching the 1939 level. The Poles are proud of having reconstructed their national patrimony in spite of, and at times against, the policy of exploitation and oppression pursued by Russia.

The social struggle has shifted, from the political and national terrain to the economic terrain, to the plane of reconstruction. Undeniably, the nationalization of the means of production and state planification have facilitated this reconstruction, whose success, however, is primarily due to the enthusiasm and vitality of the proletariat and the population generally. The Poles pay colonial tribute to Russia in the form of coal (something like 30 million tons yearly at 10 cents a ton), in manufactured products, in forced labor deported to Siberia, etc.; but gritting their teeth they reconstruct and build in preparation for the coming struggles. Hence the “neo-positivism,” the new period of “organic work” in Poland. The technical and political bureaucracy, like the bourgeoisie 80 years ago, accommodate themselves to the artificial political structure, striving to draw all possible benefits at the expense of the proletariat and peasantry. The Polish regime is the totalitarian rule of the bureaucracy, of the “intelligentsia,”adapted to Stalinist czarism.

Russians Taking It Easy

But this is not the only cause of political silence. There is also a certain policy of condescension and even “tolerance” on the part of the “autocrat of all the Russias” in the modern edition. Stalin knows very well that to provoke a resistance, an armed uprising, in Poland in the present circumstances would mean to provoke a conflagration in all of Europe that is controlled by the GPU.

Stalin knows full well that Poland was a country of national revolutions against the czarist autocracy. Faced with Tito’s rebellion, Stalin strives at all costs to “appease” the resistance in Poland, or to delay its outburst until the circumstances are .more favorable for the Kremlin. Tito’s rebellion is the wall behind which the Polish people enjoy a period of respite during which they can dedicate themselves to economic reconstruction.

Tito knows this very well, and according to the Polish press, foments Polish resistance, praising Gomulka for his expressions of sympathy for Yugoslavia. A Yugoslavian diplomat, Petrovich, has been arrested in Kato-vice under the accusation of having created a network of Yugoslav spies and of distributing leaflets containing “hostile intentions” toward the Polish regime and the friendship between Poland and Russia.

The sensation caused by these clandestine leaflets was such in Poland that Gomulka, praised by the Yugoslav leaflets, had to publish declarations in the official organs of the regime protesting against the abuse of his name and recalling his capitulation of a year ago when he condemned the “traitorous Tito clique.” In spite of such declarations, there exists in the ranks of the United Polish Workers Party, the PZPR (the Stalinist party), an expectant attitude regarding Gomulka, who continues to be a symbol of resistance against the impositions and abuses of the Russian GPU. Consequently, the ruling circles are disturbed and uneasy over the possible revival of the crisis that was stifled by police measures last year.

Behind the Wall of Titoism

It is our opinion that while the Tito government continues to exist in Yugoslavia together with the latent pro-Titoist opposition in Rumania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Eastern Germany as well, the period of respite for Poland will be prolonged. The Stalinist autocracy cannot afford to provoke the Poles and thereby broaden the anti-Stalin-ist front in Russia’s Europe.

On the other hand, the Poles, the opposition as well as the Stalinist leaders themselves, are trying to prolong the period of calm, the former in order to rebuild and strengthen the country, the latter to strengthen their privileged positions, taking advantage of Russia’s difficulties elsewhere. Naturally, should Stalin succeed in overthrowing the Tito regime, not only in Yugoslavia and the other countries but in Poland as well there will be a period of purges much bloodier than that of 1934–38 in Russia. There will come a period not only of forced collectivization, with the expropriation of the peasantry and their deportation en masse to Siberia, but a general slaughter among the leading circles themselves of all those suspected of opposition or coolness toward the Kremlin’s imperialist policy in Poland.

But meanwhile the exhausted, hungry and work-burdened Poles, uncertain of the future, enjoy Stain’s “grace.” The struggle against Catholicism, the Stalinist “Kulturkampf,” is limited to relative skirmishes in comparison with the open offensive in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Although there are many political trials with death sentences against the AK (underground army) and other organizations, there is no general offensive as in Czechoslovakia of Hungary.

Because of his difficulties with the satellite countries, Stalin prefers to leave Poland for another and more opportune occasion. And the Poles, who have learned from their defeats, hardly want to be cannon fodder for the Americans as in 1939 and 1944.

No Eyes to the West

Undeniably, the inter-imperialist struggle between Russia and the United States has not reached the stage where Poland may be forced to make a new sacrifice. The United States has offered nothing to the Polish bourgeois opposition, which has therefore not undertaken any decided activity or armed resistance against Russia.

The popular feeling in Poland, despite the hatred for the invader, is one of distrust for the Anglo-Americans; nor is a new “alliance” with them desired, since it is well understood that this would mean a catastrophe for the country as in the 1939–44 period.

Certain writers of the Polish emigration speak of the “Czechization” of Poland, referring to the Czechoslovakian attitude toward the German invasion and occupation in 1939-44. But in Czechoslovakia today we observe a “Polonization” of the Czechs, who are engaged in an open struggle of industrial sabotage and political and cultural resistance against Russia.

I believe that the “Czechization” of Poland, like the “Polonization” of Czechoslovakia, are healthy phenomena in the struggle of the European peoples against the Stalinist autocracy. In Poland there was an excessive cult of heroism that degenerated at times into adventurism, while in Bohemia there reigned the excessive political “realism” of Benes and Masaryk, which at times degenerated into petty-bourgeois opportunism and capitulation. But peoples, like individuals, learn from experience.

The relative “calm” in Poland will not last long; neither the contradiction between the interests of the Polish people and the Stalinist autocracy nor the international situation, which grows more tense each day, will permit it.

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