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A. Rudzienski

The Third Front of Socialism in Poland

(31 March 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 18, 5 May 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

IN its issue of February 13, 1947, Labor Action published a discussion on the dangers of revolutionary strategy in, Poland. Bess S. faced this problem with courage, indicating the dangers of “critical support” to the peasant opposition against Stalinism, taking the bull, so to speak, by the horns.

Comrade Irving Howe answered Bess S. indicating that what is new and distinctive in the Polish situation is Stalinist imperialism which oppresses the Polish people in the same form as German imperialism did previously. Taking as its premise the existence of Russian, Stalinist imperialism, the Marxist party is compelled forthwith to lend its "critical support” to the democratic, petty-bourgeois resistance movement, for even though this movement is not Socialist and is sufficiently confused, it contains revolutionary elements,

But this is only the premise. Even more important is the consequence, which presents itself in the powerful phenomenon of the formation of a third front, the third front of the proletariat and the oppressed nations and colonial peoples against both imperialist blocs. This new situation, bearing the seed of the socialist revolution, presents itself in Poland today.

And not only today. Already in 1939, the Polish people were caught between the two fires of Russian and German imperialism. The international proletariat, weak and disoriented, could not lend aid to the Polish people and its proletariat who shed their blood in an unequal and hopeless struggle against Nazism and Stalinism. This same phenomenon was repeated afterward in the Polish resistance, which was different from the resistance in France and Western Europe. The Polish resistance movement had to struggle simultaneously against both Stalinism and Nazism. This new phenomenon was crystallized with clarity in the Warsaw insurrection where the insurgents fought the Nazis but at the same time desired to maintain their independence of Stalinism. The council of the resistance movement in the country in its final stage led by the illegal PPS, defined the situation surrounding the insurrection in the following form: “Militarily we struggle against the Nazis, but politically also against the Russians.” Given the weakness of the revolutionary workers movement, this attempt was transformed into a defeat, and a capitulation to, Stalinism. The Polish insurrection was sacrificed by the Western imperialists to Stalin, and by Stalin to Hitler; Mikolajczyk went to Moscow in order to accept the dictates of the Kremlin, but with the hope of being able to form an opposition with the support of the Anglo-Americans.

A Polish Populist Revolt

The main body of the illegal PPS, however, remained in opposition to the gtalinist government, an opposition much more pronounced and with more clearly defined principles, than Mikolajczyk. This opposition, represented today by the Independent Socialists, and which is led in the puppet parliament of Warsaw by Zygmunt Zulawski, old leader of the Polish unions and the left wing of his party (PPS), is organizing its ranks for combat in the protecting shadow of the peasant opposition and in understanding with the latter. We consider the tactic of Zulawski correct, for were he to struggle against the government and Mikolajczyk at the same time, he would weaken the democratic opposition and give aid to the totalitarian regime. On the other hand, Zulawski and his friends go much further than Mikolajczyk. In the last session of the puppet parliament of Warsaw, Zulawski was the only one who voted against granting “plenipotentiary powers” to the government, while Mikolajczyk’s fraction abstained from the vote.

In order to clarify the problem still further, we must define the social and economic character of the peasantry and Populism in Poland. Aside from the numerous agricultural proletariat who work for wages, more than 70 per cent of the peasantry own less than five hectares of land, almost 35 per cent less than two hectares. This means that 70 per cent of the peasantry are semiproletarian or proletarian, and bear no resemblance to either the rich German and Czech peasants, or to the conservative and reactionary French peasants. The condition of the Polish peasant, always bad, is even worse today: he has neither horses nor cows, neither equipment nor seeds, and in many regions the peasant has no roof over his head. Furthermore, the peasant must yield a “share” (in the form of agricultural produce) to the government, which is larger than the tax which was paid to the capitalist government. The agrarian reform affects not more than 400,000 families and involves only 1,300,000 hectares of arable land. Because of its economic condition, the Polish peasantry is poor, and rebels against whatever government oppresses it. The Polish “colonels” had to use planes against the peasants when they declared a strike. At that time, no one, least of all Moscow, accused the peasants of being “fascists.” The peasant movement was plainly anti-totalitarian and democratic. It is even more so now, when the economic oppression is augmented by imperialist and national oppression and the foreign occupation of Poland.

Polish Populism which has nothing in common with fascism, is a democratic, petty-bourgeois movement, and resembles the “Russian Essars” (Social-Revolutionaries). The Polish Stalinist press stigmatizes the Populists as “Essars” (for purposes of internal consumption only, however). The Russian Bolsheviks, it will be remembered, made a bloc with the left-Essars in order to absorb them.

Some Historical Lessons

The position of the Polish Populists differs from that of the Russian Essars in 1918-20 in that, the former do not face a Socialist revolution, but are confronted by an imperialist counter-revolution. For this reason,we, the Marxists, ought to give critical support to the democratic, peasant movement against Stalinism. “Critical support” does not signify that we accept the program of a petty-bourgeois Poland, a Poland of peasant parcels, established for allieternity between the modern industry of Germany and that of Stalin.

We support the peasantry in order to breach the Stalinist obstacle that confronts us, in order to be able to form an anti-Stalinist and Marxist workers movement, in order to be able to form a third front against both imperialist blocs, who in spite of struggling against each other, impede our march toward world socialism. Supporting the struggle of the Populists we widen at the same time the breach between the imperialisms, the breach that must be filled by us.

Now we must touch upon the “thorniest” point of all, the political position of Mikolajczyk with regard to Anglo-Saxon imperialism. Undoubtedly, Mikolajczyk went to Poland under the pressure of the United States and Great Britain. But subjected to the direct fire of the Kremlin, Mikolajczyk wished toplay the role of the intermediary

between the two blocs, making of Poland a bridge between both imperialisms. Stalin does not wish to permit this bridge, nor Mikolajczyk’s government or petty-bourgeois democracy in Poland. Stalin cannot permit it, because he knows that the era of the bourgeois revolution in Europe, in Poland is already finished, and therefore he cannot permit the smallest breach in his political system.

Mikolajczyk also learned something, seeing that the Anglo-American declarations had a platonic character and that in a concrete instance they would afford no salvation from the GPU; Mikolajczyk is maneuvering as best he can. He does not issue statements, engage in electoral abstentions, nor encourage peasant strikes that would bring direct armed Russian intervention and a general slaughter. With each turn in events, the reality reveals itself as more complicated than our slogans and formulas. (“Theory is grey, but green is the eternal tree of life.” – Goethe)

Confronted by the two imperialist blocs, confronted by Stalinist totalitarianism and American imperialism, the democratic, populist movement of Poland, Polish “Essarism” is something very peculiar, something anachronistic, but progressive, by virtue of its anti-imperialist and anti-totalitarian position. This anachronistic, democratic character of Polish peasantry is due to the fragmentary nature of the bourgeois revolution which was never completed in Poland in a Jacobin fashion. Now Stalinist counter-revolutionary imperialism strives to annihilate the peasantry politically in a barbarous form for its own reactionary political purposes.

A Marxist Solution

Poland, then, is a neuralgic point in the present imperialist system in Europe, where the contradictions take on a more pronounced character. The Polish proletariat and people suffer the consequences of this contradiction. But as this contradiction hastens historical development toward a new revolutionary denouement, the Polish proletariat acquires new experience, matures and takes new positions which its class brothers in an America which is so rich, so sure of its power, do not understand.

In the fire of this contradiction the third revolutionary front is being forged in Poland, which desires to break a path, for its own development, the third front which fights against both imperialist blocs, both forms of economic, political and social reaction, the third front of world socialism, composed of the revolutionary proletariat, the oppressed nations, and colonial peoples.

Poorer and in a more miserable condition than the proletariat, the Polish peasantry also belongs to this third front and are our companions in the struggle, no matter what Comrade Bess says, and whether Stanislaw Mikolajczyk wishes it or not.

Fellow workers of the United States, accept these peasants, oppressed by the hateful Stalinist reaction, without vacillation and fear, because our common struggle opens the road of the socialist revolution. In the end we, the Marxists, more powerful with our Marxist doctrine than with the atomic bomb, shall gain the victory over the capitalist and Stalinist imperialisms. However, the road presents many risks and mortal dangers, and whoever stands in fear of climbing the peaks and descending into the abysses which lie along the narrow path that leads toward world socialism, separates himself from our difficult road. But we, conscious of our responsibilities, shall follow our “break-neck” path until it is transformed into the broad and luminous highway of human liberation.

March 31, 1947

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