Karl Radek


Poland’s Foreign Policy

(23 August 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 57 [35], 23 August 1923, p. 607.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2022). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

When Sikorski’s and Pilsudsky’s government gave place to the Witos government, the Soviet press considered the change to be favorable from the standpoint of Russo-Polish relations. The Pilsudsky-Sikorsky government was a government of the petty bourgeoisie; the Witos government is a government of the big bourgeoisie. From the point of view of Polish internal politics, it signifies increased reaction, increased capitalist tendencies.

Whilst the petty bourgeois government pursued a candidly adventurous policy with respect to foreign affairs, it might have been expected that a government of the Polish bourgeoisie would be better capable of calculating, and would thus adopt a quieter and more business-like policy in relation to Soviet Russia. We welcomed the possibility of such a change in the interests alike of the masses of the Polish people and of Soviet Russia. Soviet Russia assumes that the Polish masses will themselves take up the struggle against the reactionary tendencies of the national democratic gentlemen and the big fanners party. Soviet Russia it of the opinion that the first prerequisite for the economic and political develops test of both the Russian and Polish peoples is, above all peace.

A few days ago the Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Witos, made a speech at Tarnov, of such a nature that our conviction, that the Polish government had abandoned its adventurous policy, was considerably shaken. Mr. Witos declared that his government renounces all idea of extending the Polish frontiers towards the West, but does not renounce the intention of such expansion towards the East. This sort of talk is very unusual, and it is no wonder that the Polish press does not know what to say regarding it, and resorts to the childish method of publishing assurances that the exact wording of Mr. Witos’ speech will soon be published, without his “slips of the tongue.” We are fully convinced that these “slips” will then no longer exist, for when anything is crossed out on paper, it is invariably regarded as having ceased to exist in reality.

Unfortunately it is only in government offices that the opinion prevails that what does not exist on paper does not exist at all. Such miracles do not happen in politics. An ever-increasing degree of esteem is being won, in European science, by the teachings of the Viennese professor Freud on psycho-analysis, according to which even our dreams, and our accidental slips and errors are only a bringing to light of something which already existed in the realm of the unconscious. Professor Freud’s thesis is destined to play an important role. Its application to ethnology, to folk songs, to religion, to the history of literature, signifies a much greater turning point in our knowledge of human beings than Professor Freud’s adherents are themselves aware. But however it may be with the Freud thesis (some comrades are mistakenly combatting it as an idealist science), nobody will want to assert that Prime Ministers appear on public platforms for the purpose of narrating their accidental dreams, or of damaging their own states by the commission of errors. As the German writer Fritz Reuter says: “What has been said has been said.” Mr. Witos’ words cannot be erased by a stroke of the pen on the part of the Polish censor, but only by clear and unequivocal action on the part of the Polish government.

And the Polish government has weighty reasons for showing that, even if Mr. Witos permits himself to dream in public, it has nothing in common with these dreams. The international and internal position of Poland does not permit Poland the luxury of embittering her relations with Russia. What is Poland’s position with respect to the West? She is the puppet of French imperialism. French imperialism demands from Poland that she hold herself in readiness to take part against Germany should events in the Ruhr become more acute. But although French imperialism demands that Poland constantly increase her armaments, it gives Poland no money, being itself in the greatest pecuniary embarrassment. Poland’s financial bankruptcy becomes more and more apparent under Witos’ government. It may be retarded if Poland is successful in exercising such an heroic pressure on France that she manages to extract a few hundred million francs. This would, however, form no final solution. The main cause of Poland’s financial crisis is the fact that the large landowners, capitalists, and big farmers, do not want to pay any taxes. And they have not taken over power with the idea of shearing themselves. Relations between Poland and Czecho-Slovakia are exceedingly strained. It would be ridiculous to assume that this is merely a question of a struggle for Javoshina, a quarrel not worth a pfennig. The real object of the struggle is to gain influence over the area of the one-time Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Czecho-Slovakia is smaller than Poland, but economically stronger, and does not want to bind herself to Poland, the more so that she fears the Francophile policy of Poland. The interests of Czecho-Slovakia do not oppose these of Germany; but it is a contradiction of the Polish situation that Poland, although 70% of her export is to Germany, a fact binding German and Polish economics, is chained to France, and forced to adapt herself to French wishes. The game being played by Poland and Hungary not only strains the relations between Poland and Czechoslovakia, but also between Poland and Roumania and Yugoslavia. Despite all the endeavors made by Marshall Foch, and the solemn reception accorded the king of Roumania in Warsaw, Poland did not take part in the conference of the Little Entente at Sinaia.

And Poland’s position in the East? The Baltic agrarian countries have never felt much affection for landowning Poland. They have only been bound to Poland in proportion to their fear of Soviet Russia. But with every day they understand more clearly that Soviet Russia has no thought of exterminating them. They are important to Soviet Russia as a transit country on the road to the West. But this does not mean that Russia has to destroy their independence; were this the case, then all the other states connected with the world’s economics would have to try and swallow one another. Many decades ago, Antwerp was one of the most important ports for German export; but even imperialist Germany did not strive to seize upon it. If the recognition of this fact has led the Baltic states to cool off towards Poland, the danger of a war with Soviet Russia on account of Mr. Witos’ public reveries is even less calculated to re-establish the shaken Polish-Baltic relations. Under these circumstances, the slightest indication of an intention, on the part of Witos’ government, of continuing Pilsudsky’s old policy, would nip in the bud any wish felt by the Soviet government to establish firm and friendly relations with Poland – even at the cost of economic sacrifices – for the Soviet government possesses sufficient common sense not to go hunting chimeras. If Poland does not repudiate Pilsudsky’s policy, then Russo-Polish relations will be fighting relations. Soviet Russia is anxious to avoid this. But if peaceful relations are to be realized, then both sides must strive earnestly for peace.

We hope that the Polish government will be really able to prove that Mr. Witos is only suffering from the after-pains of the Pilsudsky epoch. If there are not sufficient mineral waters in Poland to cure Mr. Witos’ indigestion, the Soviet government will be pleased to forward a waggon-load in the name of peace, as Mr. Witos is obviously in need of some such course of treatment.

Last updated on 3 September 2022