Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page


World Politics

(30 September 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 39, 30 September 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

POLAND, under the domination of the Stalinist army but with great masses of workers and peasants obviously in active revolt against the Russian-buttressed puppet government, is one of the key spots on the European political map. The current crisis is coming to a head over the insistent drive which the puppet government has been making to force Mikolajczyk, leader of the Peasant Party opposition, to agree to a “single slate” in the coming elections.

For all evidence points to the fact that the Stalinist rulers of Poland are seriously worried about the outcome of these elections. They suffered a rude shock from the result of the recent plebiscite which they announced as favorable to the government, but which, it is now commonly accepted, was manipulated by them to avoid showing the actual anti-government majority.

In the September 2 issue of Labor Action, our foreign correspondent, A. Rudzienski, who specializes in Polish affairs, gave a detailed analysis proving that the government actually falsified the results of the plebiscite in its favor. Now we learn the additional bit of news from the London Tribune that:

“The recent plebiscite on government policy took place under extraordinary conditions. A ‘No’ after the three questions had to be marked by a dash (minus), a ‘Yes’ by a cross (plus). As most electoral commissions contained no opposition representatives, it was child’s play to turn dashes into crosses.”

Child’s play is putting it mildly.

Yet the plebiscite gave the Stalinists a scare. Proof of that is in two facts. About a month ago, the so-called “Socialist” Premier, Osubka-Morawski, signed a series of three articles in the Polish press which some literate GPU agent undoubtedly wrote for him, urging once again that Mikolajczyk – whom the government had only yesterday denounced as a traitor! – come to an agreement with the government parties for a “joint slate” in the coming elections. In this way there would be no means by which the voters could express their opposition to the Stalinist government; the number of seats in the Parliament would be apportioned in advance and the election would be a mere formality.

Latest Stalinist Flirtations

Even more significant than the Stalinists’ renewed overtures to Mikolajczyk – the virulent attacks on him in the pro-government press have been muted to a few hoarse mutters – is the basis on which they appeal to him. Osubka-Morawski, and behind him the GPU man who guides his pen, is no longer threatening Mikolajczyk; he is plainly imploring him to be reasonable. He tells Mikolajczyk that an electoral victory gained by the opposition over the government would bring about Russian intervention of a kind which would reduce Poland to a virtual colony. It is a plea ... and a warning.

Another indication of the uneasy status of the Polish Stalinists is their recent flirtation with sections of the Catholic Church. The infamous Cardinal Hlond, fascist and anti-Semite, is frankly in opposition to the Stalinist government from the point of view of the old landowners, who would like a return to a Pilsudski-like dictatorship; but there is another tendency in the Catholic hierarchy which is flirting, however sedately, with the Stalinists. Cardinal Sapieha of Cracow has written in his weekly Tygodnik Poweszechny, that he would like to participate in the “constructive work” of the Stalinist government but that certain difficulties stand in the way. The Stalinists have greeted this declaration with careful interest; the weakness of their base among the Polish masses has become so obvious that they are looking in all directions for buttresses.

In the meantime, the economic crisis in the country becomes sharper. The London Tribune reports that:

“... free market food prices in the towns ... are four times higher than formerly. The sudden rise in the basic cost of living has produced a series of unofficial strikes in the textile and mining industries ... State factories have been compelled to buy food at market prices and sell it in their canteens at highly subsidized prices; industrial costs, which are high because production is still so slow, have since increased. Shortages and high prices of industrial goods in turn have increased the peasants’ tendency to hoard.”

Increasing Instability of Regime

Together with economic disorganization goes political instability. We have already mentioned several indications that the Stalinists are jittery about the forthcoming elections. There are still others. In early August the government initiated a drive to destroy the armed bands of the illegal opposition. The clashes have in some areas reached the proportions of a small-scale civil war, but the opposition has not been crushed.

Having failed thus far in the use of armed force, the government tried cajolery toward another section of the opposition. When, in early August, the Catholic “Labor Party” applied for permission to hold a party congress, the government consented if ... the Catholic group would agree in advance to participate in a single ticket electoral bloc. Rather than agree, the Catholic party refused to hold its congress.

These developments are the latest in a long series which indicate that the present Polish government would collapse in a week if Russian army bayonets were withdrawn. There is no space here to analyze in detail the political situation in Poland; that has been excellently done in the September issue of The New International. The facts reported in this column, however, give additional evidence to the assertion that a first-rate political crisis is brewing in Poland in which large sections of the masses are stirring to rid themselves of the tyrannical puppets whom the Stalinist army has placed over them.

Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 April 2020