Documents in: Bahasa Indonesia Deutsch Español Français Italiano Japanese Polski Português Russian Chinese Tagalog
International Communist League
Home Spartacist, theoretical and documentary repository of the ICL, incorporating Women & Revolution Workers Vanguard, biweekly organ of the Spartacist League/U.S. Periodicals and directory of the sections of the ICL ICL Declaration of Principles in multiple languages Other literature of the ICL ICL events

Subscribe to Workers Vanguard

View archives

Printable version of this article

Workers Vanguard No. 892

11 May 2007

Spartacist Group of Poland Refounded

For New October Revolutions! Reforge the Fourth International!

The following is translated from the Spartacist Group of Poland’s Platforma Spartakusowców No. 23 (May 2007), which was distributed at May Day demonstrations in Warsaw.

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. The RML was a group of subjectively communist militants that originated in the late 1980s from the Stalinist youth movement in the Polish deformed workers state. The comrades of the RML started to come to an understanding that what existed in the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) was not socialism, but rather that Poland was a deformed workers state. While the Polish bourgeoisie was expropriated in the mid-late 1940s following Poland’s liberation from German occupation by the Soviet Red Army, Poland was ruled not by democratically elected workers councils but by a parasitic bureaucratic caste—much as in Stalin’s Soviet Union—deriving its privileges from the collectivized property forms. The Stalinists of the Polish United Workers Party lied to the working class that it was committed to building socialism. In reality they carried out a program that was directly counterposed to the interests of international proletarian revolution.

The RML came to understand that socialism is a classless egalitarian society that can only be achieved on the basis of a qualitatively higher level of economic development and an international division of labor, requiring a series of workers revolutions around the world. Building “socialism in one country” was a Stalinist lie that pandered to nationalism and went hand in hand with promoting “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism. Thus the Stalinists vehemently opposed the struggle for socialist revolutions in the West. Within Poland the Stalinists granted enormous rights to the Catholic church and accommodated the politically and socially backward peasantry. Throughout the 1970s the Stalinists mortgaged Poland’s wealth to the Western bankers and massively subsidized the landowning peasants, ruining the Polish economy.

The aspirations of the working class were frustrated time and again by the Stalinists, so that by 1980 the majority of the historically pro-socialist Polish proletariat was driven into the arms of the Catholic church. Workers flocked to Solidarność, whose leader Lech Walesa wasted no opportunity to declare himself to be a true son of the Polish church. By September 1981, Solidarność had consolidated itself around a program for capitalist counterrevolution, as demonstrated by its calls for “free trade unions”—a war cry of Cold War anti-Sovietism—and for “free elections,” which would have meant capitalist restoration under the guise of parliamentary government. It received active support from a wide range of reactionary forces, such as the Vatican under Polish Pope Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II), the union-busting U.S. president Ronald Reagan, Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain and the anti-communist Social Democratic Party of Germany. The ICL’s predecessor, the international Spartacist tendency, described Solidarność at the time as a company union for the CIA and bankers, raising the call “Stop Solidarność counterrevolution!” and stressing that the Polish working class needs a Trotskyist party.

When in December 1981 General Wojciech Jaruzelski suppressed Solidarność’s bid for power, the iSt 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 July 1990 the RML noted in a letter to our German section: “In the Trotskyist movement in Poland, we often meet with activists who have a ‘Solidarność’ pedigree, or in any case put all their hopes in ‘Solidarność.’… It is increasingly more difficult for us to have a common language with them.”

Counterrevolutionary Heritage of Solidarność

In 1990, the SGP was founded on the basis of the Agreement for Common Work between the RML and the ICL. The Agreement rejected the idea of a “family of Trotskyism.” It noted that Trotskyism has nothing in common with such purveyors of anti-Sovietism as the followers of Nahuel Moreno or the United Secretariat of Ernest Mandel, who in 1983 hailed the Solidarność leadership as “the best socialists in the world.” To this day our pseudo-Trotskyist opponents defend their support to counterrevolutionary Solidarność. In striking contrast to the pro-Solidarność left which capitulates to poisonous Polish nationalism, we declared that “Polish communists must fight relentlessly against Pilsudskiite nationalism, which subjects the workers to the dictates of the IMF while spewing out anti-Russian and anti-German chauvinism. Only proletarian internationalism offers a way forward—For the revolutionary unity of Russian, Polish and German workers! For a socialist united states of Europe!” (see Platforma Spartakusowców No. 1, October 1990 and WV No. 513, 2 November 1990).

In the following years the SGP published Platforma Spartakusowców and actively intervened in class and social struggles, such as the 1992 coal miners strike and in defense of Roma immigrants against racist deportations in 1996. Uniquely on the left, we opposed both the bourgeois parties that came out of Solidarność and the ex-Stalinist, social-democratic SLD [Democratic Left Alliance], which led alliances with capitalist parties. Such formations on the basis of an agreement between bourgeois workers parties like the SLD (a party with a working-class base and a pro-capitalist leadership) and bourgeois parties are “popular fronts”—political blocs based on the program of administering capitalism, thus subordinating the working class directly to the parties of the bourgeoisie. PS also published ICL articles on broad international issues.

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 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. The document of this conference noted soberly:

“Failure to recognize the period we are in and the necessary relationship of our small revolutionary vanguard to the proletariat, and the absence of the Soviet Union as an active and defining factor in politics, have led to disorientation. Frustration and impatience over the disparity between our small size and slender roots in the working class and our proletarian internationalist purpose have led both to opportunist lunges and sectarian moralism.”

Spartacist (English-language edition) No. 58, Spring 2004

The conference concluded that an inability to deal with the world created by the fall of the USSR, and the consequent retrogression in consciousness, lay at the root of the ICL’s crisis in 2003. The weight of the defeats and the ensuing social catastrophes of capitalist counterrevolution flattened the understanding of our cadre that the ICL was, and is, the party of the Russian Revolution, of new Octobers, leading the way to the coming transformation of the world. At bottom, what was posed was whether “we will fight to maintain our revolutionary continuity or buy into and ultimately surrender to the worldview of our opponents. To these opponents, the issue of revolution, the Russian question, is an ‘old’ question that does not fit into their ‘new world reality’.” Following our 2003 conference we undertook a further re-examination of past practices and political questions.

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 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. We consolidated another ICL sympathizer and won new ones.

For a Leninist Vanguard Party!

The organizational disappearance of the ICL in Poland in 2001 created a vacuum that was filled with various counterfeits—albeit limited to the Internet, as many such leftists share an illusion that posting texts and chatting on the Internet can substitute for the hard work of forging a Trotskyist party through polemical struggle against all varieties of opportunism and through active intervention in class and social struggles. Our principled fight [in 2005] against one of these counterfeits, Platforma Proletariacka (PP), paved the way for the refounding of the SGP.

PP was a creation of a former SGP member who for a period of time postured as a Spartacist. The extent to which he broke with the ICL program was seen in his declaration of critical electoral support to a liberal-bourgeois candidate for president of Poland, Maria Szyszkowska, in 2005. PP falsely portrayed her as an opponent of Solidarność counterrevolution and SLD social democracy (then in government). That position was counterposed to the Marxist principle of working-class independence, which necessarily includes not voting for bourgeois candidates. It effectively meant abandoning the ICL’s hard struggle against capitalist counterrevolution. We responded to this unprincipled maneuver in our 4 September 2005 “Statement of Sympathizers and Supporters of the ICL in Poland,” pointing out: “The fact that PP provided critical support to Szyszkowska in the elections testifies, at best, to an attempt to improve her image under the influence of her left-sounding demands or, at worst, to a desperate desire to exist on a ‘political scene’ saturated with the reactionary climate of post-counterrevolutionary Poland.” PP eventually accepted the criticism, acknowledged the violation of Marxist principle and went out of business.

The group that is refounded faces by and large the very same questions that were posed at the time of the founding of the SGP in 1990. The capitalist counterrevolution, spearheaded by Solidarność and embraced by the disintegrating Stalinist gravediggers of revolution, meant attacks on the living conditions of the working class, intensified national chauvinism, anti-Semitic attacks and persecution of Roma people and immigrants. As we had warned, women were hit particularly hard—they were the first to be sacked, they receive lower wages than men for the same work, and they are confronted with a reactionary ban on abortion. Catholic and Polish-nationalist values are being imposed on youth in schools. The ex-Stalinist social democrats of the SLD demonstrated their loyalty to the bourgeoisie during two terms of administering the capitalist state. Their attacks on the gains of the working class paved the way for electoral victories of right-wing reactionary parties in 1997 and 2005. Today the SLD is attempting to cohere yet another alliance with liberal-bourgeois democrats with the aim of administering Polish capitalism again after the next elections.

The Polish bourgeoisie continues its military alliance with U.S. imperialism. In 1999 Poland joined NATO, and since 2003 it has participated in the colonial occupation of Iraq. Poland has recently sent more troops to Afghanistan. In 2004 Poland joined the European Union (EU), a consortium of imperialist states formed on the basis of anti-Sovietism and maintained to facilitate competition with its American and Japanese imperialist rivals.

The recent extensions of the EU to East Europe are aimed at exploiting the poorly paid and well-trained labor there and expanding the markets and spheres of influence of the European imperialist bourgeoisies. At the same time, the EU pursues austerity measures against the working class aimed at destroying “welfare state” measures in West European countries. It unleashes cop terror against the minority populations of Turkish, Asian, Arab, African or Roma origin and has drastically increased measures to seal the EU off from further immigration. While Germany is its strongest element, the EU is lacking a cohesive political or economic center. The EU is riven with rivalries among its bourgeoisies. The British have lined up with the American bourgeoisie against German and French imperialist interests. The newer East European members, including Poland, often ally themselves politically with U.S. imperialism. We counterpose to the imperialist EU our struggle for the Socialist United States of Europe!

The present government of the arch-reactionary Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski twins has been viciously attacking gay rights activists while presiding over the current attempts to restrict abortion even more severely, including in cases of rape and health problems. They have strengthened the power of the capitalist state by introducing a more severe penal code and fast-track courts. As dissatisfaction with the government grows among the older generations of the working class and their children—who still remember the social gains destroyed by capitalist counterrevolution, such as employment for all, free quality medical care and education systems accessible to all—the Kaczynskis unleash lustracja, a McCarthy-style anti-Communist witchhunt.

Lustracja threatens large numbers of the older generation with being purged from their jobs for their recorded cooperation or contacts with the Stalinist secret services—a crime in the eyes of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie persecutes members of the Security Office for suppressing the anti-Communist Home Army (AK) and has put Jaruzelski on trial for his successful spiking of Solidarność’s counterrevolutionary bid for power in December 1981. Jaruzelski and other representatives of the former PRL are being tried by the wrong class for the wrong crimes! The witchhunt against them is ultimately aimed at criminalizing anyone fighting today for a socialist future. Down with the anti-Communist witchhunt! Hands off Jaruzelski!

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.

Trotskyism and the Second World War

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 Czechoslavakia:

“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).

While Polish patriotism has constantly been whipped up by the capitalist regimes after counterrevolution, the rule of the Kaczynski twins is particularly pernicious in combining virulent anti-Russian and anti-German chauvinism with anti-Communism. This may well be motivated by holding up their family “honor,” as their father was a fighter in the Home Army, an outfit notorious for mostly engaging in battle with Communist forces, killing Jews and standing by idly when the Nazis crushed the heroic 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Upon the advance of the Soviet Red Army on Warsaw in 1944, the AK staged an uprising in Warsaw to prevent Poland from falling under the influence of the Soviet Union (see “The Warsaw Uprising of 1944” in WV No. 294, 4 December 1981; PS No. 9, Spring-Summer 1999). When this uprising ended in complete failure, the AK cynically accused the Red Army of refusing to liberate Warsaw. This old anti-Communist myth has become official history in Poland’s schools and universities today.

We are inspired by the Trotskyists, who during World War II upheld the banner of proletarian revolutionary internationalism. They stood for the fraternization of the soldiers fighting in the imperialist armies, including organizing Trotskyist cells among Wehrmacht soldiers in France and the Netherlands. They saw in the German proletariat the instrument to overthrow the Nazi regime, to expropriate the bourgeoisie that brought Hitler to power and to build a socialist Germany. They solidarized with defense of the German proletariat against retributions and opposed the mass expulsions of the German population from the areas east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, Poland’s new border with Germany. They exposed the lie of “collective guilt” of all Germans. As a statement of the European sections of the Fourth International declared in 1945:

“The treatment of the German people on the principle of collective guilt provides the fascists precisely with new possibilities to fish in the murky waters of nationalism. The danger is all the greater since if the German people are collectively guilty then the Nazis who are the real guilty ones can logically hope to escape punishment....

“Fascism and imperialism can only be ended with the downfall of capitalism and the victory of international socialism. Long live the German proletarian revolution! Long live the Socialist United States of the World!”

—“International Solidarity With the German Proletariat,” 1945

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!


Workers Vanguard No. 892

WV 892

11 May 2007


U.S. Out of Iraq, Afghanistan Now!

Iraq Occupation: Imperialist Barbarism

Break with the Democrats—The Other Party of American Imperialism!

For a Workers Party That Fights for Socialist Revolution!


For Class-Struggle Defense to Free Mumia Now!

Join PDC Contingents!

Philadelphia & San Francisco

Thursday, May 17


NYC Transit: Murder by Speedup


Labor: Defend Immigrant Rights Demonstrators!

Los Angeles

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)


Protest I.C.E. Raid in Chicago!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)


On JetBlue and Outsourcing



The Capitalist State and Proletarian Revolution

(Quote of the Week)


Spartacist Group of Poland Refounded

For New October Revolutions! Reforge the Fourth International!


Class-Struggle Defense vs. Faith in Capitalist "Justice"

David Lindorff, Michael Schiffmann: Undermining Mumia's Fight for Freedom


Declaration of Mumia Abu-Jamal

3 May 2001