Workers Vanguard No. 996

17 February 2012


Myth of Solidarność “Left” Falls Flat

Polish Elections and the Bogus Labor Party

The following article was written by the Spartakusowska Grupa Polski, Polish section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist).

Shortly after Poland’s parliamentary election in October, the daily Gazeta Wyborcza (18 November 2011) declared that the economic crisis raging through Europe meant that “prime ministers fall not as a result of elections but because of the economic situation, external pressure and the pronouncements of rating agencies.” Yet the Polish elections resulted in the return of the incumbent government for the first time since the restoration of capitalism in 1989-90. So far, Poland has been spared the sort of violent assaults on the masses’ standard of living that have been seen in Greece, Hungary and many other European countries. In Hungary, the right-wing Fidesz party not only ousted the ex-Stalinist Socialist Party from power in elections nearly two years ago but has now pushed through a new constitution that brands the Socialist Party with “responsibility” for its predecessor “criminal organizations.”

In Poland, with a turnout of only half the electorate the Civic Platform (PO) of prime minister Donald Tusk won 40 percent of the vote and again formed a coalition with the PSL peasant party. Tusk’s PO is for “European integration,” as opposed to the deeply chauvinist Law and Justice party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, which came in second with 30 percent of the vote. Despite the Tusk government’s recent cuts in social spending, the social-democratic Alliance of the Democratic Left (SLD), heir to the Stalinist party that had ruled the former deformed workers state, had its worst showing ever. The SLD’s former drawing, which was largely based on the nostalgia of the masses for the social security of “People’s Poland,” dissipated after SLD prime minister Leszek Miller led Poland into the European Union in 2004. Emboldened by Civic Platform’s electoral victory, Tusk announced further cuts in social benefits, e.g., by gradually extending the pension age of women and men to 67 years (now 60 and 65 respectively).

The SLD came in behind even the newly established liberal bourgeois Palikot’s Movement (RP), which got 10 percent of the vote. The RP was founded by a wealthy capitalist and Civic Platform parliamentarian, Janusz Palikot. The RP recruited the leader of a large youth protest in the summer of 2010 against the placing of a crucifix in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw. The RP also recruited several bourgeois feminist, gay movement and anti-clerical activists who had earlier worked with the SLD.

In a situation where the pressure of public opinion compelled the government to dissolve the Property Commission for the Catholic church, RP proved to be more clearly anti-Kaczynski and anti-clerical than the SLD. For the past 20 years, that commission had been handing over vast properties to the church, ostensibly as compensation for church property nationalized under the deformed workers state. Meanwhile, not so long ago, RP leader Palikot was the publisher of a strongly Catholic-nationalist paper, Ozon, and took an oath in the Sejm (lower house of parliament) calling on god to help him in his role as a Civic Platform MP.

The SLD’s misfortune eclipsed another result of the October elections: the fall of the myth that the Polish Labor Party (PPP) is a left-wing workers party. The PPP (officially called PPP-Sierpien [August] 80) is the political arm of the “Free Trade Union” WZZ Sierpien 80, a splinter from Lech Walesa’s counterrevolutionary Solidarność movement. Until recently, this bogus “labor” party had been enthusiastically embraced by a number of fake-Trotskyist social democrats who had earlier supported Solidarność. Among these were the Revolutionary Left Movement (NLR), publishers of Dalej!, who are associated with the United Secretariat of the late Ernest Mandel; the Group for a Workers Party (GPR), affiliated to Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI); and Employee Democracy (PD), linked to the British Socialist Workers Party of the late Tony Cliff.

A little over a year ago, in November 2010, the GPR rhapsodized over “the perspective of evolution” of the PPP, in which these “Trotskyists” were ensconced, “into a mass workers party, capable of presenting an alternative to capitalism” ( But the PPP’s leftist apologists panicked when it came out with an electoral slate featuring contemporary proponents of the viciously chauvinist and anti-Semitic National Democracy (Endek), which predated the establishment of the deformed workers state. An August 2011 statement of the erstwhile Group for a Workers Party announcing a “Change of Name” to Socialist Alternative (AS) offered:

“The experience of the Polish Labor Party demonstrates that it’s not enough to build a party which is composed of workers and says that it wants to represent them. A workers party also must have a socialist program, which strives to overthrow capitalism.”

This was followed by a September 7 statement titled “Socialist Alternative Resigns from Polish Labor Party,” which declared:

“The fact that PPP started to collaborate with nationalists and anti-Semitic elements is shocking to us…. Such people are being placed on the electoral lists now, while socialists are being removed.”

As long as there were places on the PPP’s slate for these “socialists,” it somehow did not inconvenience them that this “workers party” was built by nationalist and anti-Semitic elements, with whom the Taaffeites cohabited for years! Did they not notice that the membership statement they signed upon joining the PPP committed them to “embrace the precedence of the national interest”?

Then there is the PD, which cynically admitted in an 11 September 2011 open letter to PPP: “We knew, of course, about the collaboration of part of the WZZ Sierpien 80 leadership with various forces of the right wing in the past.” This did not, of course, stop these dyed-in-the-wool opportunists from defending the honor of the PPP against critics who pointed to its unsavory connections and from promoting its “essentially leftist positions” in elections: “Thus we had been actively supporting those campaigns, e.g., by organizing public meetings with the participation of the party’s electoral candidates several times.” But “after the electoral lists were published,” the Polish Cliffites could no longer squirm out of the fact that “this time there were candidates on them not only with a right-wing past, but persons actively propagating nationalist politics.”

For its part, Dalej!, an early advocate for Sierpien 80, published an article as far back as its May/June 2010 issue describing the PPP as an “agency” of the fascistic KPN (Confederation for an Independent Poland), delicately sidestepping its own years of support for the PPP. And while politely foreswearing support for the PPP in their statement on the October elections, Dalej! could not help but laud its “many social slogans which deserve support” (

Accomplices to Solidarność Counterrevolution

The fake Trotskyists’ policy of camouflaging the PPP as a leftist organization was fully in keeping with their earlier betrayal of the proletariat’s interests by supporting the forces of capitalist counterrevolution in East Europe and the USSR, first of all Solidarność. That mass clerical-nationalist movement, born out of a wave of strikes in the summer of 1980, consolidated at its first national congress in September 1981 around an open program of capitalist restoration, marked by appeals for “free elections” and “free trade unions,” a battle cry of Cold War anti-Sovietism. Not by accident, Solidarność had support from, among others, imperialist leaders Reagan, Thatcher and Mitterrand as well as the “Polish pope,” John Paul II. An analysis of the development of Solidarność can be found in Platforma Spartakusowców [PS] No. 14 (Summer 2007), which includes a Polish translation of the October 1981 Spartacist pamphlet, Solidarność: Polish Company Union for CIA and Bankers.

True to the Trotskyist position of unconditional military defense of the workers states, our comrades of the international Spartacist tendency (forerunner of the ICL) raised the call: “Stop Solidarność counterrevolution!” At the same time, we indicted the Stalinist bureaucracy for driving the mass of the historically socialist Polish proletariat into the arms of clerical reaction, pointing to the need for proletarian political revolution. While the military-police action of General Wojciech Jaruzelski in December 1981, which we supported, checked Solidarność’ drive to power, in 1989 these same Stalinists (backed by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev) organized “free elections” as the first step to handing power over to the counterrevolution. This defeat was sealed when Walesa replaced Jaruzelski as president in 1990.

It was necessary for Marxists to seek to break a section of Solidarność’ working-class base from the clerical-nationalist leaders before they embarked on an open drive for counterrevolution. But such a split could only be carried out by a party based on the program of Trotskyist internationalism, not by left apologists for clerical-nationalism. As members of the Young Left Movement (RML) who went on to fuse with the ICL and found the Spartakusowska Grupa Polski wrote in a July 1990 letter to the ICL’s 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” (quoted in “Spartacist Group of Poland Founded,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 45-46, Winter 1990-91).

For the Taaffeites, Mandelites and Cliffites, support to Solidarność was an expression of their capitulation to “democratic” imperialism. Similarly, they supported the counterrevolutionary coup led by Boris Yeltsin and his imperialist patron, George Bush, in the USSR in August 1991; Taaffeites were even present at the Yeltsin barricades in Moscow. These traitors to the cause of the working class alibied their support to Solidarność counterrevolution with the line that “ten million Polish workers can’t be wrong.”

When, once in power, Walesa and Co. immediately proceeded to implement capitalist “shock therapy,” becoming discredited in the eyes of millions of workers, the pseudo-Trotskyists, especially the NLR, turned to Solidarność 80, which came out of a 1989 split headed by Marian Jurczyk, a Solidarność leader in Szczecin. The opportunists preferred not to remember that in 1981 Jurczyk declared that three-quarters of the Stalinist leadership were really Jews who had changed their names, and that in his opinion “a couple of gallows would come in handy” for those “traitors to Polish society.” They preferred not to remember the pogromist cries of Solidarność mobs in the 1980s: “And on the trees instead of leaves will be hanging communists!”

When Sierpien 80 emerged from a split in Solidarność 80 in 1993 with a sizable base among the Silesian miners, it became the new hope for the pseudo-Trotskyists intent on maintaining illusions regarding a supposed “left wing” of Solidarność reaction. Having fulfilled its role as the battering ram for counterrevolution, Solidarność lost much of its middle-class and peasant base and became more proletarian in composition, leading some defensive labor struggles while continuing to be a “political movement closely allied to the Catholic hierarchy and explicitly right-wing nationalist parties” (“Right Wing Wins Polish Elections,” PS No. 13, December 2005; printed in WV No. 857, 28 October 2005). Likewise, the Sierpien 80 trade union was dominated from its inception by socially reactionary forces.

The PPP issued out of an electoral coalition, the Alternative Social Movement, set up in 2001 with extreme rightists, including the fascist National Revival of Poland (NOP). At the end of 2001, the Alternative Social Movement was transformed into Alternative-Labor Party. In May 2002, this outfit sent a contingent of Polish miners to Paris to join a march by the fascist Le Pen’s National Front against the European Union. When it changed its name to the Polish Labor Party in 2004, adopting the image of an allegedly social-democratic party, this gave the pseudo-Trotskyists a last chance at maintaining their tattered fiction that Solidarność had ever had a socialist wing.

The truth is that the PPP was never even a reformist workers party. Against the likes of the GPR, PD, NLR and the pro-Stalinist Communist Party of Poland, which all supported the PPP in the 2005 parliamentary elections, we insisted in our 2005 article: “Judged by its political program and history, the PPP is a bourgeois formation” steeped in Polish nationalism and clerical reaction. Finally, it is now no longer possible to ignore or cover up the facts, irrespective of how much the various leftist orphans chasing after an imaginary pro-socialist wing of Solidarność have tried. Remember that the Cliffite PD even called itself Socialist Solidarność at one time! Those groups are an obstacle on the road to building a Leninist-Trotskyist party in Poland. Like its Marxist predecessors, such a party will be established as a fusion of revolutionary intellectuals with the most class-conscious workers.

October Revolution: Our Tradition

It would be wrong to believe that, after the scandal of Endek nationalists being placed on the PPP’s electoral list, there are no more fake communists in the service of that bourgeois party. The SGP received an invitation from the editorial staff of the Internet site Władza Rad (Soviet Power) for a meeting—in the PPP’s Warsaw office—on the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the October Revolution. Władza Rad, a self-avowed “Marxist portal,” writes about the “counterrevolution executed on the initiative and in the interest of the ruling stratum described as the ‘red bourgeoisie’ or ‘Stalinist bureaucracy’,” without even mentioning Solidarność (

In a presentation to the meeting, a Władza Rad representative described themselves as “Trotskyists” and referred to the tradition of early American Communists James Cannon and John Reed. Cannon went on to become the founder of the American Trotskyist movement, and Reed became famous for his account of the October Revolution, Ten Days That Shook the World. One wall was painted all in red and a banner featured portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. A second presentation was given by Dawid Jakubowski, a candidate on the PPP’s electoral list who was placed 20 positions behind one of the Endek nationalists. That was the place for the PPP’s leftist losers.

While Socialist Alternative and Employee Democracy absented themselves from the meeting, among those present was Zbigniew Kowalewski, who was connected for a number of years with the Revolutionary Left Movement and the United Secretariat. Kowalewski was a delegate to the 1981 Solidarność congress and cultivates the myth that the Solidarność of that time had the character of “a workers’ revolution conducted in the name of authentically socialist values” (International Viewpoint online, September 2005). In 2007, Kowalewski became a member of the Programmatic Council of the PPP attached to party chairman Boguslaw Zietek.

We reprint below an excerpt of the intervention by an SGP spokesman during the floor discussion at the Władza Rad meeting. After our comrade spoke first on the discussion round, those in attendance were encouraged to take a break at the sandwich table. We didn’t avail ourselves.

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This is a supposed celebration of the October Revolution and, as expressed in the invitations, “ideological integration.” Yet there is one very small problem: I’m sorry, but the tradition of Cannon, the tradition of Reed, the tradition of the October Revolution is not the tradition of Władza Rad! Why? Well, the recent parliamentary elections exposed some things pretty well. Members of Władza Rad here have been seen many times at various demonstrations with flags and propaganda of PPP-Sierpien 80, in whose headquarters, by the way, we are at the moment. As an interesting detail, I can say that here on this wall, not so long ago, a white eagle was visible, which is in the PPP logo and is the symbol of the Polish bourgeois state. Really, a very interesting place to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution!

In 2005, we wrote in our press what the PPP was in fact. And here I’m quoting from our press, which by the way is available here if somebody is interested; I recommend it very much. I quote: “Sierpien 80’s political arm, the PPP, originated in March 2001 before the parliamentary elections as an electoral bloc of the right-wing, anti-Semitic” organizations. “In 2004, the PPP refurbished its image.... This ‘turn to the left’ is meant to provide the PPP with access to the social-democratic salons—and, no doubt, money—of the Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament.” “The PPP is a bourgeois formation. To call for a working-class vote to these Polish nationalists and clerical reactionaries amounts to betraying the interests of the Polish proletariat” [PS No. 13, December 2005].

The International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) from the beginning opposed Solidarność counterrevolution. Our perspective is the struggle for new October Revolutions. We strive to build new Leninist parties, like the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky. And as Lenin himself wrote in What Is To Be Done?, this party is built through fusions and splits, not through tailing bourgeois parties, I’m sorry. I’m saying this here mainly to young subjective socialists, who were invited here, so that they don’t let themselves be deceived by the helpers of PPP-Sierpien 80. The October Revolution is our tradition and not the tradition of Władza Rad.