Spartacist English edition No. 60
Spartacist Group of Poland Refounded
For New October Revolutions!
Reforge the Fourth International!
The following is translated and adapted from the Spartacist Group of Poland’s Platforma Spartakusowców (PS) No. 23 (May 2007), which was distributed at May Day demonstrations in Warsaw. A complete version of the English translation appears in Workers Vanguard No. 892 (11 May 2007).
We are proud to announce the refounding of the Spartacist Group of Poland as a sympathizing section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). The SGP will be part of our disciplined democratic-centralist international. We are committed to the fight for new October Revolutions worldwide, the fight for an international socialist society that will put the entire world’s wealth at the disposal of humanity. The decision to refound the SGP was made earlier this year by the delegates of the Fifth International Conference of the ICL.
The SGP was first founded in October 1990 as a result of the fusion between the Young Left Movement (RML) of Poland and the ICL, following on the heels of the capitalist reunification of Germany and the ICL’s fight against counterrevolution.
When in December 1981 General Wojciech Jaruzelski suppressed Solidarność’s bid for power, the iSt [international Spartacist tendency, the ICL’s predecessor] supported this measure. At the same time, it warned that the Stalinists were capable of selling out the Polish workers state to capitalism, which they eventually did in 1989-90. The iSt’s position was a direct application of the Trotskyist program of unconditional military defense of the bureaucratically deformed workers states against internal and external counterrevolution and for proletarian political revolution to oust the parasitic Stalinist bureaucratic castes and replace their rule with that of democratically elected workers councils based on the defense of collectivized property forms, the planned economy and an internationalist perspective.
The RML started to break from Stalinism under the impact of the events in Poland. They rediscovered and upheld a fine tradition of the early Communist International that had almost been forgotten in Poland by the late 1980s: to honor in the month of January the “Three L’s,” Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, outstanding leaders of Russian, Polish and German communism. In honoring the Three L’s, the RML effectively broke from the Polish nationalism promoted by the Stalinist bureaucracy and set itself apart from other left organizations which at the time actively promoted Solidarność counterrevolution.
What particularly attracted the RML to the ICL was the ICL’s fight for a red Germany of workers councils in a socialist Europe in the unfolding proletarian political revolution in the German Democratic Republic [East Germany] in 1989-90. The ICL was the only organization internationally that fought against the capitalist reunification of Germany. A May 1990 “Letter to Polish Workers” issued by the Spartakist Workers Party of Germany (SpAD), German section of the ICL, made clear the ICL’s unflinching opposition to Solidarność counterrevolution. The RML shared this understanding and embraced the ICL’s Trotskyist program.
In 2001, the International Executive Committee of the ICL decided to dissolve the SGP. The objective political situation in Poland was mistakenly viewed as bleak for the ICL in contrast to workers’ and other social struggles occurring in West Europe at the time. However, the Fourth ICL Conference in 2003 undertook a critical review of internal problems stemming from the impact of capitalist counterrevolution on our organization. Following our 2003 conference we undertook a further re-examination of past practices and political questions [see Spartacist No. 58, Spring 2004].
One of the questions that came under review was our propaganda on Solidarność in the 1990s. After the destruction of the Polish deformed workers state in 1989-90, Solidarność had served its purpose as the spearhead for capitalist counterrevolution. Its peasant sector and many intellectuals decamped and founded their own bourgeois parties. Thus, Solidarność (and its offshoots like Solidarność 80 and Sierpien 80) became more akin to a trade union in social composition. During the first tenure of the [ex-Stalinist social-democratic] SLD-led government in post-counterrevolution Poland we observed that the “official Solidarność union now poses as a champion of working-class interests while revving up its anti-Communist demagogy and making overtures to openly fascistic forces” (WV No. 614, 13 January 1995; PS No. 5, Spring 1995).
However, taking into account only the latter, we argued one-sidedly in a 1998 article in PS that “the function of Solidarność has nothing to do with ‘trade unionism’ of any kind, ‘militant’ or otherwise.” Following internal discussion within the ICL, we corrected this formulation in our 2005 article “Right Wing Wins Polish Elections” (WV No. 857, 28 October 2005 and PS No. 13, December 2005), noting that it wrongly denied the fact that Solidarność is both a trade union and a reactionary clericalist organization: “It organizes workers at the point of production, sometimes leading defensive economic struggles; at the same time it functions as a political movement closely allied to the Catholic hierarchy and explicitly right-wing nationalist parties.” This article, which summarized the ICL’s proud record of fighting against counterrevolution against the backdrop of the obscene 25th anniversary festivities for Solidarność, was written in close collaboration between the ICL and its sympathizers and supporters in Poland.
Despite the SGP’s dissolution, the ICL, especially through the SpAD, continued to intervene in leftist events and class struggles in Poland, and pursued discussions with militants who were interested in our program and repelled by the Polish left’s embrace of anti-Communism and Polish nationalism. This work was facilitated in large part by a founding cadre of the SGP who continued to closely collaborate with the ICL.
Our new members were recruited mainly on the proud record of the ICL’s fight against capitalist counterrevolution and for Trotskyism in Poland. One of our comrades encountered the ICL at a march for women’s rights on International Women’s Day and was attracted to the ICL because of our fight for women’s liberation through socialist revolution and for full democratic rights for homosexuals. Our left opponents talk to striking workers only about economic demands and refuse to combat reactionary prejudices like anti-Semitism, male chauvinism or anti-gay bigotry; when these opportunists go to demonstrations for women’s rights, they promote bourgeois feminist ideas. In contrast, we intervene in all struggles and among all layers of society with the revolutionary program. We tell striking workers that for the proletariat to advance, it must actively champion the rights of the oppressed; and we tell women’s rights activists that they must turn to the proletariat, which is the only class in society with the social power and the objective interest to overthrow the capitalist system to which the oppression of women is inherent. We fight to build a revolutionary party that must be, in Lenin’s words, a tribune of the people.
On the way to re-establishing a Polish section of the ICL we discussed the Trotskyist position on World War II. The cynical propagandists of the capitalist class portray World War II as a war between democracy and fascism. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, World War II was a war between competing gangs of imperialist robbers. Our revolutionary predecessors, Trotsky’s Fourth International, took no side in the war between the imperialist Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan and the Allied imperialists of Britain, France and the U.S., who disguised their desires for world hegemony and unbridled imperialist exploitation of colonies with “democratic” rhetoric. During the Second World War, the Polish bourgeoisie was a lackey of French and British imperialism. It is for this reason that the Trotskyists did not take a side in the 1939 war between imperialist Germany and Poland, which was merely, to use Trotsky’s words, a “‘crippled’ gangster of imperialism.” In clarifying this question, we referred back to Trotsky’s powerful 1938 article “A Fresh Lesson,” written at the time of the Munich accords upon which Hitler’s troops dismembered and annexed the Czech parts of Czechoslovakia:
“Even irrespective of its international ties, Czechoslovakia is an absolutely imperialist state
. A war, even on the part of isolated Czechoslovakia, would thus have been waged not for national independence but for the preservation and, if possible, the extension of the borders of imperialist exploitation
“An imperialist war, no matter in what corner it begins, will be waged not for ‘national independence’ but for a redivision of the world in the interests of separate cliques of finance capital.”
In the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, we did have a side. We stand in the tradition of the brave Trotskyists in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw, who declared, “We defend the workers state, notwithstanding the Stalinist regime, like we defend every workers organization from blows of the class enemy, notwithstanding the reformist regime ruling it
. LONG LIVE THE RED ARMY! LONG LIVE THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION! LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL REVOLUTION!” (Czerwony Sztandar [Red Flag] No. 6, July 1941).
By re-establishing the SGP, the ICL is provided with an important window into East Europe. This is an important step toward reforging the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution. Workers of the world unite! For new October Revolutions! Join us!