From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 9, 1 March 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Mikolajczyk has received a hearty welcome in the British and American press. The British Parliament heard his story and in official session granted him the right of asylum. It is known that the British authorities aided him in his flight from Poland. The gratitude of the English bourgeoisie is understandable: Mikolajczyk served them well, helping to liquidate the thorny and troublesome Polish question and the Polish government in London, which did not wish to recognize the new partition of Poland. Besides, the government of the United States and the United Kingdom have probably decided to use Mikolajczyk for new tasks, not only in Poland but in Central-Eastern Europe as well. At the present time Mikolajczyk is in the United States engaged in the pursuit of his political activities.
The émigré Polish press in England did not prepare so warm a welcome for Mikolajczyk as did the Anglo-American press. Not only the official press of the government-in-exile, supported by the rightist coalition, but the “democratic coalition” as well, which is led by the PPS (Polish Socialist Party) in exile, subjected the policies of the peasant leader to a severe criticism, demanding of the ex-Premier a frank confession of his mistakes. The leader of the PPS, Kwapinski, Vice-Premier in Mikolajczyk’s government, asked for a clarification of his ex-chief’s policies. In his recently published book, Kwapinski also criticized the vacillations and zig-zags of Mikolajczyk’s policies, reproaching him for his lack of firmness and political character.
The rightist coalition concentrated its fire on the peasant leader for fear that he would take over the government-in-exile. The criticisms of the PPS stemmed from its belief that Mikolajczyk had betrayed the policy of Polish national independence with regard to Russia. Kwapinski went to the extreme of hinting that Mikolajczyk could only leave Poland thanks to the tolerance of the GPU.
Before such a concentrated offensive in England, Mikolajczyk departed for the United States and in an interview granted to the Buffalo Polish language newspaper, Everybody’s Daily, stubbornly reaffirmed his “faith” in the Yalta pact, his acceptance of Poland’s eastern frontier and his recommendation that “friendly relations with Russia” be maintained.
This declaration aroused such a violent reaction in the Polish emigration that Mikolajczyk’s political position became untenable. But the astute peasant surprised his adversaries with another zig-zag by coming to an agreement with the Polish-American Congress in Chicago. The Congress represents all the Polish-American organizations and claims to represent six million Americans of Polish origin. The most important parts of the agreement signed by the Peasant Party representation, headed by Mikolajczyk, Baginski and Koronski, and the Council of the Polish-American Congress, headed by Rozmarek, was the condemnation of the Yalta policy, the present eastern frontier (the Curzon Line) and the agreement to defend the present western frontier and to struggle for a democratic and independent Poland between the limits set by the Riga Line (1920) and the Oder-Neisse. With this declaration, Mikolajczyk revoked his Buffalo statement, condemning his recognition of the Curzon Line, thus taking up new political positions which are decidedly anti-Russian.
But much more important than the question of frontiers was the fact itself of the political agreement between the PSL (Peasant Party) and the Polish-Americans, since with this a new center of Polish politics in exile is created, opposed to the Polish government in London. This new center, will probably assume clearer forms, will surely be able to count on the good will of the American State Department and the British Labor government. For these governments, the peasant with a backbone of rubber is much more easily dealt with than General Bor, hero of Warsaw, or the Polish Socialists, intransigent on the question of national independence, or the National-Democratic right which does not have any great political possibilities. Besides, Mikolajczyk’s future Polish government fits in well with Washington’s political program for Eastern Europe, which is based on the peasant opposition.
The agreement between Mikolajczyk and the Polish-Americans constitutes a fact without precedent in Polish politics since it admits the intervention of American citizens, who although of Polish origin, are Americans who support either the Democrats or Republicans, instead of adhering to the usual Polish political affiliations, those of the Rightists, Populists and Socialists of various shades. With this intervention, Mikolajczyk’s policy will reveal itself as under open American control.
Popular Polish opinion, not merely in the Polish emigration but in Poland itself as well, will hardly greet this with welcome eyes. The Polish people remember very well the sellout of Poland at Yalta and Potsdam by Roosevelt’s policy, which first called Poland the “inspiration of the peoples” and afterward went ahead with the cynical partition.
With all their hatred of Stalinist Russia, the Polish people have no desire to fight Stalin for the benefit of Anglo-American imperialism, which has sold them out twice. Among the masses in emigration, the program of an independent policy with regard to the Anglo-Americans is very popular now.
For a long time we defended Mikolajczyk’s opposition to Stalinist totalitarianism as a symbol of the popular workers and peasants’ resistance to the Stalinist reaction in Poland. In the same manner we also defended the workers’ opposition, which represented the second line of trenches of the opposition to the Stalinists and which has now become the first line, as is shown by the workers’ strikes in Lodz and other places, and the trials and reprisals against the Independent Socialists. Now, after the defeat of the peasant movement and Mikolajczyk’s flight, it is time to strip the peasant leader bare, whose rustic “toughness” turns out to be very smooth, very soft and very much like ... rubber, whether in dealing with the capitalists or the Stalinists; a phenomenon typical of the intermediate classes, of the peasant petty bourgeoisie.
In Poland, where five generations grew up in the shadow of Czarist and later Nazi gallows, where the youth were educated in prison and viewed the world from behind bars, there did not exist the environment for the skillful politicians of compromise, the political traders, the traveling salesmen of “pieces of paper” as at Yalta or Potsdam. No politician who sought to compromise with Czarism, as did Czartoryski after the Congress of Vienna, or Wielopolski in the period of the last national revolution in 1863, played a decisive role. The people scorned them and refused to follow them. In Poland there was only room for tough and self-sacrificing men of struggle. We cannot take into account the present Stalinist government, as it does not include any national political figures, but puppets and secret agents who act as Stalin’s police.
Mikolajczyk, leader of the peasants, represents the tragedy of his social class, which is fated to be crushed between the Stalinist and capitalist colossi. He represents the custom-bound world of the peasant dwarfed by the giant shadow of industrial civilization. We have defended and shall continue to defend, in the person of the peasantry, men of hard labor and democrats, but we do not intend to defend the agents of capitalism.
Mikolajczyk has already lived out the best of his political life; we do not foresee any great political future for him in spite of the support of Washington and the English Labor government. Peasant Poland will be absorbed by Stalinist totalitarianism unless the Anglo-Americans quickly come to its defense. But a workers’, a proletarian Poland will remain, an intransigent Poland as always in its program of national independence, which today signifies social emancipation, a Poland of the third front.
In this new Poland which will arise from the Stalinist inferno there will be no room for leaders with spines of rubber ... like Mikolajczyk.
Last updated: 26 December 2015