The War with Poland

In a State of Intoxication

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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The initial victories of the Polish troops have finally turned the heads of Poland’s ruling classes. Even among the Polish bourgeoisie there were until not long ago quite a few people who viewed Pilsudski’s Ukrainian adventure mistrustfully. But since the capture of Kiev the chauvinist fever has evidently taken final possession of the gentry-bourgeois and pettybourgeois circles in Poland. Pilsudski has become a national hero. Doubts have been cast aside. Kiev is now already behind them, and new targets loom up – obviously, Kharkov and Moscow. The heads of the Warsaw rulers are swimming with the intoxication of chauvinism.

Hardly anything is now to be heard of Petlyura. Instead, the figure of Skoropadsky has appeared on the horizon. The German wireless brings the news that a gathering of Tsarist crows has begun in Berlin. One of the first to arrive was Wilhelm’s Hetman Skoropadsky, and he was followed by a number of former dignitaries, Ukrainian landlords and owners of sugarworks. They are all awaiting impatiently further victories by the Polish troops, so as to return to their old familiar haunts.

Petlyura’s representatives in Berlin are already mournfully lamenting. ‘The Ukraine will be freed from the Soviet power,’ they say, ‘only if the Poles really do confine themselves to liberating the country and then handing it over to ... Petlyura. But if the Poles want to take the Ukraine for themselves,’ Petlyura’s envoy moans, ‘there cannot fail to be a fresh Soviet revolt in the Ukraine.’

They have not yet killed the bear, yet they are already quarrelling over its skin.

Meanwhile, the Polish command rushes ahead, without thought for the morrow. At the end of April Pilsudski announced that the Polish forces would confine themselves to Right-Bank Ukraine. But after their initial easy victories this cautious plan was cast aside. The Polish forces crossed the Dnieper below Kiev. The petty local bandits whom the Soviet power had not yet succeeded in stamping out facilitated and hastened the advance of the Polish units, the right wing of the Polish forces penetrated deeper and deeper into the Ukrainian steppes, the Polish front became thinner and thinner, and their distance from base grew longer and longer.

Meanwhile, a steady concentration of forces was taking place on our front against Poland. The whole country had roused itself and was sending to the West its best sons and everything it possessed that could help the Red fighters and ease their warlike task.

Wrapped in the drunken fumes of chauvinism the Polish gentry hurtled into this savage, criminal war. We honestly worked for peace down to the last moment, and went to war with a clear and sober head. A drunkard is capable of making a reckless raid. But it is the sober man who wins, because he takes account of all dangers, foresees all possibilities, assembles the necessary forces and, combining clear thought with a firm will, strikes a crushing blow.

Let bourgeois Warsaw still rejoice today with criminal exultation over the blood that has been senselessly shed. The time will soon come when the Red Army will show that it knows how to win victory in the West just as it won victory in the North, the East and the South. The intoxication of Poland’s cheap victories will soon be followed by a frightful hangover. Pilsudski’s military clique will drag down into the abyss, when it falls, the ruling classes of Poland. The Polish working class will take over the helm of the state. May victory over the Polish counterrevolution be crowned with a fraternal alliance with Soviet Poland!

May 13, 1920
En Route, No.115

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006