Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Labor Action, 3 February 1947


Bess S.

World Politics

A Letter from a Reader on Poland


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 5, 3 February 1947, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


To the Editor:

In his article in the January 20 issue of Labor Action, Irving Howe proposes that critical support be given to the Opposition group in Poland. Such a position, although understandable, raises a number of questions.

Precisely because the Polish situation is so complicated; one wonders if it should or even can, be approached on a simple either-or basis. The Workers Party did not give even critical support to World War II because it knew that the Allied powers were not really concerned with the defeat of fascism or with the removal of its causes. Thus the position on the war was. determined not by the desirability of Allied objectives (defeat of Hitler) but by an appraisal and understanding of the Allied powers themselves, their real intentions, what they represent, etc. More important than the question of whom they were fighting was the question, of WHY they were fighting. Since similar questions arise in an examination of the Polish situation, why can’t the same method of analysis be applied? The Polish situation is described as a NEW situation but the nature of this newness is not clearly defined. Does the situation merely present a new facade or does it contain really new basic elements? If so, what are they?

Howe states that those who do not accept his position must answer the question: When GPU men come to arrest a Peasant Party leader, do you aid them in the arrest or try to prevent it? But can the Polish situation be reduced to such an over-simplification? If so, then one can compose a number of variations, equally superficial, on the same question: thus, if Polish fascists, assuming they were in power, came to arrest a Stalinist leader, do you aid them in the arrest or try to prevent it?

Since the Mikolajczyk-led opposition is, as Howe recognizes, an agent of imperialism favoring restoration of property and providing leadership for the fascists and anti-Semites, then why is it assumed that this group represents the lesser of two evils? Further, since the strength, numerically as well as ideologically, of the fascist elements is not known, one must question the soundness of supporting such a movement, even critically. The importance of struggling against Stalinism is unquestioned, but does this call for the support of a movement which, while opposing the present Stalinist regime, may have as its primary goal the establishment of its own brand of totalitarianism?

I do not quite understand why a Socialist opposition necessarily could not maintain complete independence of the Mikolajczyk group. But even if such an alternative were not available, I fail to see how selecting an undesirable and potentially dangerous alternative represents a superior choice. Meanwhile, Socialists within the Mikolajczyk opposition give the group added numbers, strength and prestige. Howe states that the major need in Poland today is to drive out the Russian oppressors, once again to give the Polish people a chance to determine their own destinies. The need to drive out the Russian oppressors is obvious but there still remains the danger that the Mikolajczyk group could establish a fascist rule BEFORE the Polish people would have such a chance.

What is needed at this point is further clarification, for the problem involves. more than an approach to the current Polish dilemma; it involves an approach to be taken to similar future dilemmas that are bound to arise in Stalinist-dominated countries.


Bess S.

by Irving Howe

Top of page

Main LA Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 28 November 2020