Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 6 No. 1

B. Drobner, W. Kielecki & H. Swoboda

Draft Programme of the Polish Socialist Party

The rigidity of the Stalinist parties during the ‘Third Period’ and their failure to react to the coming to power of Hitler obliged the more active sections of the working class in the early 1930s to seek expression elsewhere. The example of the armed resistance of the Viennese and Asturian workers put new life into Social Democracy in Spain, France, Britain and even the USA, producing centrist currents within it or sizeable splits outside, such as the Independent Labour Party and the Norwegian OSP (Independent Socialist Party). The Trotskyist movement took a decision to enter the Social Democratic organisations as an international strategy to make contact with and influence this development. In Poland this took the form of entry into the Bund and the Polish Socialist Party.

The Twenty-Third Congress of the Polish Socialist Party in 1934 decided to convene a special conference with the task of changing the party programme. The ferment inside it is reflected in this document, which was submitted as a draft on behalf of the left to the Party Programme Commission, and it provides a necessary background to the entrist activity of the Trotskyists at the time. It was translated by Ian Birchall from the Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 16, December 1983, pp. 120–5, and we tender our thanks both to Comrade Birchall and to Professor Broué for his permission to include it here.

THE TWENTY-THIRD Congress of the Polish Socialist Party in 1934 agreed to convene a special congress with the task of changing the party programme.

On this occasion comrades B. Drobner, W. Kielicki and H. Swoboda submitted to the Party Programme Commission a draft on behalf of the party left wing, drawn up by a group of comrades.

Draft Programme of the Polish Socialist Party

The Polish Socialist Party, being the mouthpiece of the needs and aspirations of the urban and rural proletariat, takes as its aim the emancipation by means of class struggle of the whole working population from the yoke of capitalist society. To this end, the Polish Socialist Party, closely linked to the working class movement of the whole world, is carrying on the struggle for the total transformation of the social order. The Polish Socialist Party aims for the creation of a Polish Socialist Republic bound by ties of close cooperation with other Socialist republics.

The Socialist Republic will take possession of the means of production (land, mines, factories, means of communication), which in the hands of the capitalists are the means of exploiting and oppressing the working masses, and will make them into social property. By suppressing the division of society into classes, the Socialist Republic will put an end to the exploitation of man by man, and will make it possible for all men to enjoy the fruits of their own labour. The Socialist Republic will be the expression of the will and the interpreter of the interests of the working population in town and country.

The Polish Socialist Party, basing itself on the evolution of social relations, justifies its aspirations and makes concrete its methods of struggle in the programme set out below.

The Struggle for Power

1. The economic bankruptcy of capitalist society confronts the working class with the necessity of the immediate struggle for Socialism.

Despite the progressive disintegration of the capitalist economy, capitalist society will not collapse spontaneously. This is because it is supported by the apparatus of the capitalist state which preserves the bourgeoisie’s class rule, by using means of material force (army, police, administration, courts) and means of moral power (school, press, church). The overthrow of capitalist society is possible only in a situation where the capitalist state is broken up and smashed.

It is therefore the conquest of power by the proletariat and the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government, which is the fundamental condition for the achievement of Socialism. As the bourgeoisie will not abandon its class rule voluntarily, the workers’ and peasants’ government can be established only as the outcome of a determined revolutionary struggle.

The struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ government requires the unity of the whole proletariat on a revolutionary class platform, and the gathering round the working class of the broadest masses of the working population: intellectuals, petit-bourgeoisie and peasants.

The working class movement aims to extend its influence over the whole working class. The division of the working class movement is the factor which can make the effectiveness of its action difficult and on occasion impossible. It is therefore essential to overcome the internal division which exists at the present time. But, in Poland, there exists alongside this split the division of the Socialist movement itself into a number of national parties. It is necessary for all the Socialist parties to be united by the bonds of the closest possible cooperation.

The proletariat constitutes a revolutionary vanguard. It allies itself in its struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ government with the peasants, and it draws along with it the undecided elements of the middle classes. Under the slogan of the struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ revolutionary government, the Polish Socialist Party mobilises all the oppressed and exploited layers of capitalist society.

2. The continuing disintegration of the capitalist economy, growing poverty, and the ever harsher oppression exercised by big capital, are provoking the discontent of the broadest masses.

The task of the party is to exploit these feelings, giving them a clearly anti-capitalist character, channelling the spontaneous expressions of discontent and revolt into a united, conscious and resolute class struggle.

A consistent and revolutionary policy on the part of the party, showing the masses a concrete objective in the form of the workers’ and peasants’ government, will raise the level of activity of the proletarian and peasant masses, and will enable the party to become their authentic leader.

Since the utopian programmes of Fascism cannot in any way be put into practice, the masses of petit-bourgeois and intellectuals who have been under Fascist influence will move closer to the working class movement. Conflicts are ripening within the Fascist movements, as a result of the contradiction between, on the one hand, the aspirations of the Fascist masses who had been lured by the pseudo-radical and allegedly anti-capitalist phraseology, and, on the other, the actual policies of the Fascist dictatorship. These conflicts will inevitably lead to the growing disillusion and demoralisation of the masses in the face of Fascism. In this situation, the Socialist Party, by revealing the true class face of the Fascist dictatorship, will accelerate the process of moving the intermediate strata away from Fascism and bringing them closer to the working class movement. The masses of petit-bourgeois and intellectuals oppressed by poverty and disappointed in their social and political hopes by Fascism will turn to the working class movement as the only truly anti-capitalist movement, while the last links with capitalist society and the capitalist state are broken in their minds.

The revolutionising of ever broader sections of the working masses will produce a shrinking of the social base of capitalist society and the capitalist state. As the military and police apparatus of the state is formed, in the overwhelming majority, of working class, peasant and petit-bourgeois elements, the revolutionising of these will lead to the break-up of the apparatus of oppression which maintains capitalist society.

3. At the present time the fundamental task of the party consists in the struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ government. But the party, while subordinating all its policies to this primary aim, defends the remnants of democratic freedom which survive in capitalist society; at the same time it encourages any action aiming to extend them. The struggle for democratic freedoms for the working masses is for the party a struggle to create more favourable conditions for political activity. Political democracy within the framework of capitalist society cannot in any way be considered as a purpose for proletarian action for its own sake, but solely as an arena in which the masses organise and prepare for proletarian struggle. The party leads all expressions of anti-Fascist feeling by the masses in an anti-capitalist direction and transforms them into a revolutionary struggle against the present social order.

4. The Fascist dictatorship intensifies the oppression of national minorities. This oppression takes particularly harsh forms in states comprised of several nationalities. Separatist movements are formed among the oppressed peoples, which more or less violently break up the states formed of several nationalities.

The working class movement, adopting the principle of the self-determination of peoples, and observing that national conflicts have a revolutionising influence on the masses, supports movements for the liberation of the oppressed peoples. The working class movement aims to link these movements to the social programme of Socialism, directed simultaneously against the possessing classes and against the reactionary and chauvinistic tendencies within the national minorities.

5. In the epoch of imperialism there is a permanent danger of armed conflict. The growth of militarist and nationalist tendencies within the Fascist states increases the danger of war. The international institutions created by the capitalist states with the intention of preventing wars and settling international conflicts in a peaceful fashion, have revealed a total inability actually to eliminate the danger of war. They are simply a means of masking by their diplomacy the true imperialist tendencies of the states.

The working class movement must react by all available means against the outbreak of war. It leads to the mass slaughter of workers, it means an intensification of oppression, and produces the worst levels of poverty among the working masses.

In conformity with the interests of the working class and of all working people, the party is resolutely opposed to overt or covert imperialist policies, to militarism, and to armaments. The party realises that the only effective way to struggle against war is the threat of proletarian revolution. If war were nonetheless to break out, the workers’ movement would attempt to transform the imperialist war into proletarian revolution.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Socialist Construction

1. The revolution achieved by the working masses under the leadership of the proletariat and its party, overthrowing the bourgeoisie’s class rule, will put power into the hands of the revolutionary workers’ and peasants’ government, as the expression of the dictatorship of the urban and rural proletariat. But the revolution is not complete at the moment of the seizure of power. The seizure of power is only the means which makes it possible for the working class, and the working masses allied with it, to achieve Socialism. The period of the dictatorship of the proletariat will be that of the revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into Socialist society.

From the social point of view, the dictatorship of the proletariat will be based on the working class and on the peasant masses, as well as on the sections of the petit-bourgeoisie and of the intelligentsia which support the revolution.

From the territorial point of view, the dictatorship of the proletariat will cover the whole of the territory on which the revolution has been carried out. But the working masses belonging to territorial national minorities will have the right to determine for themselves the form of their political existence and their relations with the Polish Socialist Republic.

The first task of the workers’ and peasants’ government will be to deprive the possessing classes of the economic basis of their rule. To this end the workers’ and peasants’ government will immediately and without compensation expropriate the banks, mines, factories, workshops, means of communication, principal commercial firms, insurance companies, rented houses and large estates. At the same time, this will be an introduction to the organisation of the economy on the basis of Socialist principles.

2. The dictatorship of the proletariat will have the character of proletarian democracy. The workers’ and peasants’ revolutionary government will exercise its power in conformity with the will and under the supervision of elected representatives of the workers and peasants. Persons compromised in the Fascist period, and all those who act against the interests of the Socialist revolution, will be deprived of political rights.

The workers’ and peasants’ government will have, in the period of the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, special powers which are indispensable in order to crush entirely all attempts at counter-revolution and sabotage, and in order to ensure the stability of the power that has been won, so as to lay the bases of the revolutionary state machine and to get the productive apparatus functioning again. As the dictatorship of the proletariat is stabilised, and the dangers of counter-revolution and of foreign intervention are suppressed, the special powers of the revolutionary government will be progressively relaxed.

3. The Socialist Republic will be a free society of all workers. All power will belong to elected representatives of the workers and peasants.

The Socialist Republic will guarantee to all its citizens (except those persons deprived of rights):

  1. The right to vote and be elected, based on the following principles: universality (above the age of 18), equality, secret ballot, the right to recall delegates;
  2. Freedom of the press, of assembly and of organisation;
  3. Freedom of conscience;
  4. Freedom to develop national languages and civilisations; full cultural autonomy will be granted to national minorities remaining within the frontiers of the Polish Socialist Republic.

The Socialist Republic will abolish the death penalty and repressive measures which degrade human dignity. The Socialist Republic will carry through the separation of church and state, and will abolish the privileges of religious bodies.

The Socialist Republic, by overthrowing the social rule of the bourgeoisie, will abolish the privileges of the possessing classes in the sphere of education and culture. The Socialist Republic will guarantee to its citizens free secular education at all levels. The urban and rural proletariat will be raised to the highest level of culture, free education being made available, and maintenance provided for workers and peasants during their studies.

The Socialist Republic will guarantee the freedom and independence of scholarly research; it will support the development of science, and sponsor artistic production.

The Socialist Republic will make available to everyone the products of past culture and civilisation.

4. The Socialist Republic, whilst suppressing the exploitation of human labour, will consider work as a civic duty. The Socialist Republic will provide work for all its citizens.

The Socialist Republic, raising labour to the level of a civic duty, will guarantee decent working conditions to all workers. In particular, the Socialist Republic will introduce:

  1. The reduction of working hours to the necessary minimum required by social needs and the demands of productive techniques;
  2. A minimum wage allowing the satisfaction of normal human needs;
  3. Care in the event of sickness, or accident at work, or total or partial disablement making work impossible, and old age insurance;
  4. Protection for women workers;
  5. A ban on work for minors; and it will strive to ensure the highest standards of safety and hygiene at work.

5. The proletarian revolution and the changes introduced by it have as their aim the transformation of the capitalist system of production and distribution into a planned Socialist economy.

The banks, the mines, the factories, the workshops, the means of communication, the main commercial firms, the insurance companies – all expropriated immediately after the revolution – will be recognised as social property.

The organising and setting in motion of the socialised economy will be the fundamental tasks of the workers’ and peasants’ power.

The general management of the socialised economy will be in the hands of the Central Economic Council.

In the sphere of finance and credit all banking establishments will be socialised. Bank accounts, apart from small savings, will be confiscated. The socialised credit apparatus will be directly under the authority of the Central Council of the Economy.

Socialisation will not include the tools of self-employed workers who do not employ wage-labourers. All categories of artisan production and home-based production will retain their freedom of economic activity. The state will support voluntary organisations of artisans and of home-based producers set up on the basis of the principles of cooperation. Industrial establishments of smaller size which are not ready for socialisation will be placed under social supervision.

The large commercial firms which have been expropriated will be replaced by the organisation of a national distribution mechanism. The existing cooperative apparatus will enjoy the same rights as the national distribution mechanism.

Arable land expropriated together with buildings and livestock, grazing land and meadows, will be divided among the agricultural proletariat and peasants owning little or no land. The state will guarantee to peasants the resources necessary to improve the cultivation of the land. Some of the expropriated lands will be taken over directly by the state for experimental and scientific purposes, as model agricultural economies. Larger stretches of forest-land, lakes and waterways, being of general concern, will be managed by the state.

In the sphere of international economic policy, the Socialist Republic will establish close cooperation with other Socialist republics, in order to include them in the same economic plan. The monopoly of foreign trade will be introduced in relations with capitalist states. The Socialist Republic will not recognise any commitment entered into by governments of the former capitalist state with regard to other capitalist states.

The act of expropriation and socialisation, carried out consistently and vigorously according to an established plan, will become the basis for the development of the new Socialist economy, erected on the fullest and freest satisfaction of the needs of the broad masses of society.


The victory of the working class, the destruction of the economic and social bases of the possessing classes, the putting into practice of the principles of the planned Socialist economy – all these will lead to the creation of the classless society, where there will be no exploited or exploiters, nor class struggles, and all the efforts of society will be deployed to the common good.

From the moment of the internationalisation of the revolution and the establishment of the classless society, external and internal dangers will cease to threaten the Socialist Republic; this will make possible the complete achievement of Socialist democracy and the abolition of all the political restrictions which were necessary in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of Socialist construction. Society will then determine for itself the forms of its confederations and its organisational structure.

The victory of Socialism means the emancipation of all humanity. Socialism will create not only the new economic and social order, but also the higher civilisation and morality of free mankind.

Updated by ETOL: 3.11.2011