Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bolshevik League of the United States

The Polish Workers’ Movement and “Red” Imperialism


First Published: Workers’ Tribune, No. 2, April-May 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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In March, the Independent Self-Ruling Trade Union for Private Farmers – Solidarity, widely known as “Rural Solidarity” was officially founded, despite its non-recognition by the Polish government. It is estimated that Rural Solidarity represents 1.8 million of the 3.5 million private farmers. The majority of the 3.5 million farmers are small and middle farmers whom are being severely oppressed, neglected, and crushed by the “Red” bourgeois government of Poland, revealing their total abandonment of the Leninist and Stalinist policy of winning the poor and middle peasants to the side of socialism.

On March 19, 200 police forcibly evicted and attacked Solidarity members who attended a meeting in support of the legal existence of Rural Solidarity. Twenty-six members of Solidarity were beaten by the police, and three were hospitalized.

This incident sparked another strike wave of the Polish workers against the real anti-socialist “red” bourgeois government. Under the pressure of the rank-and-file workers, the reformist and collaborator Lech Walesa was forced to present a set of democratic demands to the government. Demands included the punishment of officials who attacked the unionists, the right for farmers to organize unions, the guarantee of union leaders to talk openly in an uncensored press, abolish limits on strike pay, and to drop legal proceedings against past dissidents. Mass sentiment for an immediate general strike was contained by Walesa with his alternate proposal of a four hour warning strike, followed by negotiations and threat of a general strike if the demands were not met.

On March 27th, 13 million workers went on strike – perhaps the largest ever in the Russian imperialist bloc, since the restoration of capitalism. (For more on this, see Workers Tribune, No. 1, “The Polish Workers Fight Against the “Red” Bourgeoisie”).

This warning strike of 13 million workers has sent a shiver down the spine of not only the Polish government, but the Russian imperialists. Poland, faced with a disastrous economic crisis which exposes the fallacies that it is a socialist government, is facing a severe political crisis that has divided its bourgeoisie and is presently dividing the reformist leadership of Solidarity.

Lech Walesa has proclaimed that 70 percent of Solidarity’s demands were met in the negotiations which followed the 4-hour warning strike, thus calling off the general strike. Kania, the leader of the Polish United Workers Party, was able to rally the majority of central committee against the more staunch anti-Solidarity, pro-Russian members of the central committee led by Stefan Olszowski. This section of the “red” bourgeoisie sought to implement the Russian line of openly crushing the workers movement now rather than follow the “carrot” policy of concessions and buying-off the reformist leadership of Solidarity as the way to crush the workers movement. It was rumoured that the more pro-Russian section of the PUWP leadership attempted to resign, but were refused by the majority, knowing that such an action would enhance further the imminence of direct Russian intervention.

In Solidarity, too, Walesa carried the majority of the leadership in squashing the militant sections of Solidarity which has accused Walesa of selling out the workers demands and becoming ever more suspicious of some behind the scene deals between Walesa and Kania. Anna Walentynowicz and other key leaders of Solidarity and supporters of KOR (the Self-Defense Committee) – a dissident group of intellectuals, legal marxists, pro-Western imperialists and social-democrats – who sought an immediate general strike, were ousted from their posts in Solidarity.

Pro-Western imperialist groups like KOR seek to call for immediate general strike, but not necessarily to secure the genuine interests of the Polish workers and poor farmers, but more so to provoke the “Red” bourgeoisie’s crushing the movement thereby giving the U.S. and Western imperialists a legitimate excuse to move against the Russian imperialists. One must distinguish between the KOR dissidents and the genuine class conscious workers who are awakening to Walesa’s reformism and class collaboration. These events in Poland have been taking place with the existence of Russian and Warsaw Pact troops occupying parts of Poland “practicing” military maneuvers. These war “games” were supposed to end in late March, but instead were continued longer and expanded with no real justification.

As soon as Kania’s line of concession won out over the line of Olszowski, that of immediately crushing the workers movement, the Russian press openly criticized the line that PUWP adopted. Tass, the Russian official press agency, was quoted as saying: “The situation in Poland, despite the calm that has begun, has not improved but even worsened. A struggle for power is going on in the country.” (New York Times, April 5, 1981, pg. 5) Hence, the Russians extended their stay in Poland. Twenty Russian military divisions have been concentrated in western Russia, the Baltic Republics, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. The Russians have also organized a communications network inside of Poland that is not available to other Warsaw pact troops that are not involved. And atop of all this, Brezhnev used the occasion of the congress of the Czechoslovakia “Communist” Party to call an emergency Warsaw Pact meeting to discuss the Polish crisis.

Too many, the steps of events on the part of the Russians brings back memories of the Russian imperialist invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Then too, the Warsaw Pact was conducting military “maneuvers.” And when it was obvious to the Russians that the revisionist Dubcek’s reformist regime conflicted with the Russian views, the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia supposedly to “save socialism.”

Some Consequences of Russian Invasion Of Poland for World Imperialism

Poland is a capitalist dependency, a source of raw materials and markets, a sphere of influence for the Russian imperialists. Poland is one of the world’s largest coal producing nation – a raw material of extreme importance not only for the Russians, but for world capitalism. Its geographic position – between Russia and Germany – is of extreme importance for the maintenance of the Russian imperialist bloc. If Poland were to break from the strangle-hold of the Russians, it would jeopardize the whole Warsaw Pact and its ability to confront the Western imperialist bloc as a unified whole. This is extremely dangerous for the Russian bloc, at a time when they are in preparation for a war to re-divide the world. And also just as dangerous, if not more so, the heroic gains of the Polish workers movement is a threat to all the “red” bourgeois governments that go under the masquerade of socialism. Russia, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Albania, Cuba, etc., all face the capitalist world economic crisis that has been so acute in Poland. Any continued successes of the Polish workers movement is bound to set an example to the workers in the rest of the so-called “socialist” countries. This is a horrible prospect that the “red” bourgeoisie cannot afford. So it comes as no surprise that governments like Albania, Cuba, East Germany, etc., condemn the Polish workers movement as counter-revolutionary.

Thus the securing of Poland is a must for the Russian imperialist bloc, either by an invasion, or by the Polish government eventually crushing the workers movement. Recent events in Poland have pushed the Russian imperialists to seek the path of intervention.

The U.S., despite its sham support of the Polish workers movement and its condemnation of the threat of Russian invasion in Poland, will most probably really welcome a Russian invasion. Aside from the probability that a Russian invasion would “stabilize” the Polish economy, thereby ensuring the repayment of the $27 billion debt owed to the Western imperialists by Poland, an invasion will shatter Russia’s “detente” with Western Europe. Russia has sought this “detente” line with Western Europe as a way of destabilizing the NATO bloc. France and West Germany, for example, have many investments in the Russian bloc, and thus, have opposed many of the U.S. policies of rearming NATO and preparing for an imperialist war against the Russian bloc. So, whereas the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was not able to fully rally France, West Germany, and other Western imperialists to break with the Russians, a Russian invasion of Poland – much closer to home – will bring the NATO bloc closer in opposition to the Russian bloc. During the recent crisis in Poland, both West Germany and France communicated with each other, and then with the U.S. and, in case of a Russian invasion of Poland, reached agreements of imposing total economic sanctions against Russia, halting industrial projects, stopping loans and banning Russian ships from Western ports; calling off talks with Moscow on arms control and pulling out of the Madrid conference on European security; withdrawing ambassadors from Moscow and ending cultural exchanges. The U.S. planned to use the invasion as an excuse of rejecting Brezhnev’s recent proposed sham “disarmament” discussion and a justification to begin reprisals against Cuba, who has been meddling in Latin America – the U.S. “backyard.”

For the U.S., it could also more freely use the period of Russian intervention in Poland to intervene more openly in FJ Salvador and build-up its military network in the Persian Gulf without any real Russian obstruction. It will also be a proper excuse to go ahead with the arming of China thereby strengthening a U.S.-China military alliance. It is no wonder why Brezhnev, at the recent 26th Congress of their revisionist party, did not openly support El Salvador and why the U.S. News and World Report, March 2, 1981 recently reported that Moscow was willing to offer the U.S. any “guarantee” it wants for uninterrupted flow of oil from the Middle East. Russia wished to deal with Poland knowing that the U.S. would not militarily interfere, and the U.S. seems to greet this temporary situation with the view of consolidating its allies in its backyard. The Polish crisis once again reveals the preparations that the imperialists of all colors are making in their quest to re-divide the world.

For the U.S. workers, the Polish workers, the workers and peasant masses of El Salvador, etc., this means more exploitation and savage repression from the various bourgeois governments. We must begin to follow the heroic examples of the Polish workers and the toilers of El Salvador. But we must break from the reformist and sell-out leadership that presently exist. Revolutionary workers, farmers, peasants, must draw lessons from the Bolsheviks of Lenin’s days and how they prepared the Russian workers and peasants in breaking from the influence of the Russian reformists, menshevik; etc., and proceeded to turn the imperialist war into a civil war against their own bourgeois government, installing a genuine revolutionary government of the workers and peasants. This will be the only true path of genuine emancipation.