Poland: Behind the Crisis (1982) : CLASS RULE AND FORMS OF STATE


JANUARY 5, 1982

Of all the dramatic and extraordinary developments arising out of the Polish struggle, that which has truly stunned if not really staggered the imagination of the U.S., and indeed the world, capitalist class was the military takeover in Poland and the institution of martial law.

In particular, the bourgeoisie was struck by how rapidly and effectively the plans for the martial law were executed.

Ever since the strike movement started more than a year ago in Gdansk and other cities, it appeared to most bourgeois observers and publicists that, barring a Soviet intervention, the so-called democratic processes which had suddenly and so rapidly accelerated in Poland would gradually evolve into a full-fledged "democratic" state of affairs.

They had been describing this gradual, "democratic" process for quite a number of years before the strike wave. Insofar as its economic and political content, this process amounted to instituting reforms that were specifically aimed at reestablishing capitalist relations in all spheres of the economic and political life of the country.

Of course, certain real, genuine, and progressive reforms that vitally affected the interests of the working class of Poland were urgently needed and long overdue. They should have been addressed a long time ago, were it not for a wholly delinquent and in many respects corrupt leadership of the Polish government.

To the extent that these working-class reforms came in the wake of the so-called democratic movement, they were of course welcome. Unfortunately, they merely became instruments for a movement, and in particular a leadership, which is wholly destructive and contradictory to the fundamental historical interests of the working class.

It is not the first time in history that a reactionary movement has seized upon genuine popular grievances in order to foist upon the back of the working class the chains of imperialism.


When future historians peruse the media and press reports of this exciting period in Polish history, they will unfailingly see that the world bourgeoisie had banked over a long period of time on a peaceful takeover of Poland.

Every article, every press and media report, every analysis, especially since the days of Gdansk and the strike wave, has consistently promoted the line that a peaceful evolution of the so-called democratic reform movement was leading in the direction of a full-scale restoration of capitalism.

In fact, the totality of impressions gathered by the world bourgeois press, as well as the press from the socialist countries viewed from a different angle, seemed to confirm that Poland was now in the hands of bourgeois elements. All that was needed, they thought, was to gently but surely close their fist and the restoration of capitalism was assured.

The only fear of the bourgeoisie, and this fear was drummed into the heads of the masses day in and day out throughout the world, was that Soviet tanks might roll through the streets of Warsaw any day. Otherwise, they felt that there was no real obstacle, no force in the entire Polish governmental apparatus, which had the readiness or willingness to stop the counter-revolution.

The imperialist bourgeoisie were greatly encouraged in their happy perspective by a phenomenon that had rarely been seen in world history. The leadership of the Polish government and its leading authoritative organs who were holding the reins of government were so consistently surrendering to every single demand made by the leaders of the counterrevolution that the conclusion seemed almost irresistible that Poland would fall into the hands of the bourgeoisie like an overripe fruit.

As each new leadership of the Polish Communist Party faltered and fell, the counter-revolutionary elements grew bolder and bolder. Their deliberate destabilization of the economy was reaching the point where the entire industrial apparatus would at any day come to a shrieking halt.

And still, the Polish government seemed more intent on further appeasement than any effort to halt the imminent collapse of the economy and the resulting capitalist restoration.


Finally, the denouement came when the Solidarity leaders decided to publicly come out for the abolition of the present form of government.

"On December 7, 1981," the Washington Post revealed in a front-page story on December 8, "the Polish media carried tape-recorded remarks from a closed-door meeting last week in Radom of leading [Solidarity] representatives." According to the Post, the tapes quoted Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and others as stating Solidarity's real goal as being a takeover of power in Poland. Union officials, clearly upset by the open airing of what they thought were private exchanges among 38 regional Solidarity leaders, did not deny the quoted remarks." (Our emphasis, see appendix C.)

Less than a week later the leaders of Solidarity deliberately and insolently challenged the Polish authorities by proclaiming their intention of taking over the government by a coup d'etat, unless the government capitulated, they said, to a national referendum, on a date arrogantly set by them and which they would administer.

The New York Times in a dispatch dated December 12, 1981, from Warsaw, headlined its front-page story on these developments: "Leaders of union urge Polish vote on form of rule. Broad referendum asked. Options would include forming a non-communist regime and defining Soviet ties." (New York Times, December 13, 1981)


It is astonishing that in the light of this open proclamation that a real coup was about to unfold, no capitalist statesman in the West said to the Solidarity leaders, "Stop! This is dangerous and also illegal. This flouts the constitution of Poland which prescribes certain methods for changing the structure of the government."

The bald truth is that when all this was openly declared by the Solidarity leaders, and none -- we repeat none -- bothered to even deny that this was their aim no U.S. State Department official made any warnings to Solidarity not to go too far.

They might have -- if they had known what was coming next.

The capitalist media, especially in the U.S. where the media boast of their much-vaunted independence and seemingly adversarial relation to the capitalist state, decided, as though by unanimous secret decision, not even to editorialize on this impending momentous development -- a projected coup openly and brazenly proclaimed and undenied in a country considered of key and cardinal importance to Western imperialism.

How this development went by the board, as though it were one of a multitude of incidents which did not add up to a qualitative change, must of course be left to the historians of the future.


The fact of the matter is that the army takeover and the institution of martial law came as a complete surprise to the imperialist bourgeoisie. It was a miscalculation of truly historic dimension.

It must also have come as a humiliating embarrassment to all the imperialist organs of suppression and subversion, both overt and covert, which have long been at work in Poland, as they are in many countries throughout the world.

It cannot be denied that the various U.S. intelligence agencies and the diplomatic corps, the CIA and its thousands of operatives in both overt and covert operations, including the new crop of top U.S. businessmen acting as CIA agents, had a superabundance of information and conduits regarding the Polish situation. But even for them, the army takeover was a complete surprise.


Unlike other surprises for U.S. imperialism, such as in Iran, Cuba, and other countries, there was no outcry in the U.S. press about the "failure of intelligence." It would scarcely be possible to do so when they had such an abundance of information and had made such deep inroads.

When the capitalist establishment puts the onus of its disasters on a so-called failure of intelligence, it inevitably opens up acrimonious debate within the ruling class. Its only merit is that it shields the president from blame and puts the onus of responsibility on a few of the more or less minor officials in the spy establishment and more frequently the State Department.

For the capitalist establishment as a whole it has the "redeeming value" of ultimately strengthening the overblown, secret covert operations apparatus. And demands are inevitably made for larger and larger appropriations for the military as well.

This occurred, for instance, just after the "rescue operation" in Iran when the Air Force skillfully manipulated the capitalist press in general, and the politicians in particular, to go along with increased military spending to strengthen the Air Force and the military forces in general.

Each new imperialist disaster of necessity creates the basis not for a reversal of policy, but for digging in deeper.


None in the capitalist establishment, even at this late date, venture to say that they had a premonition of coming events nor that they knew the military would intervene. Certainly some of this would have surfaced in the capitalist press as a result of a leak here or there.

Their calculations, however, were based strictly on the false assumption that the Polish military would intervene only on the side of the counter-revolution. And this would have occurred, they thought, only if the Soviet Union moved in.

That, however, is not what happened. The army moved in not on the side of the counter-revolution, but in an effort to repulse it if not to crush it altogether.

The outcome of the struggle is by no means certain at this date. The counter-revolution has been repulsed and silenced and in part suppressed. The struggle, however, is by no means over. There are formidable forces available to the counter-revolution internally. And the external forces of imperialism while currently in a state of shock and confusion are more than likely to regroup and resume the offensive.


The factor of surprise is very important and should not be underestimated. The U.S. intelligence services were left unaware notwithstanding their vast accumulation of knowledge of the Polish economy, personnel, and various governmental and party leaders. But not, apparently, of the army itself.

Certainly they knew the top command of the army. This was indicated by the historical sketches of the army that appeared in the press both before and after the institution of martial law.

Knowing all this, however, and even having intimate knowledge of the personal histories of the commanding staff of the army does not in and of itself assure a correct estimate of the army's role in such a monumental historical struggle, in which the destiny of Poland literally hangs in the balance.

It is also of considerable significance that the Polish Army was able to plan the takeover and the institution of martial law with exceptional skill and effectiveness, as attested to by the imperialist press.

It is thus with considerable pride and a dash of scorn that the Polish government released on January 3, 1982 through the Polish news agency PAP, a commentary which, as they put it, quotes political analyst Jerzy Muszynski.

Of course, it represents the view of the Polish military. But to soften the blow to U.S. imperialism it is put in the form of a commentary by a political analyst. Not all of the article is available to us at this time. Portions of it are reprinted in the January 4 edition of the New York Times, from which these extracts are taken. It is worth quoting at some length.


The language used in this commentary has not been heard in Poland for many years. It represents a sharp reversal of the former servile attitude to U.S. capitalism and the fear of antagonizing it. Even during the Watergate days, the Polish press played Watergate almost completely low-key, while elsewhere, even in the capitalist world, it was front-page news. Whatever view was taken of Watergate, it added to discrediting the U.S. capitalist system.

One of the officials of the current government even alluded to the fact that the rebellions and demonstrations in the U.S. in the 1960s were also very much played down by the Polish press out of consideration for maintaining good relations with Washington.

The January 4 1982 commentary however is fundamentally different from previous Polish news broadcasts.

"The world public as a whole," it begins, "including that which is friendly towards Poland and that which never had sympathy for the rule of the working masses received with anxiety the sharp turn in U.S. policy towards Poland, and especially the personal involvement of President Reagan against the legal authorities of the Polish People's Republic."

This is the first open attack on Reagan in the Polish press after months and months of ambivalence, accommodation, and downright servility.

"The fact that Reagan preferred instability to prevail anarchic tendencies to spread and conflicts between the authorities and anti-socialist forces to grow in Poland cannot surprise anybody. His exaggerated interest in the internal affairs of Poland also could not be a surprise while the extremist activists of Solidarity and other anti-socialist groups made preparations for taking over power in Poland and sought ways of achieving counter-revolutionary changes in the system."


Reagan is then attacked in no uncertain terms.

"Reagan supported those people and their activities, as he is a fervent anti-communist. With all his heart he would like to see the success in overthrowing the socialist system anywhere. Such a chance the American President and other opponents of socialism saw in Poland."

Finally comes the punch line, which cannot but sting Reagan, the military, and especially the intelligence services.

"Then, all of a sudden, General Jaruzelski established the Martial Council of National Salvation, and the Council of State of the Polish People's Republic decreed martial law to cover all of the country. By this decree the independent trade union Solidarity and other social organizations that were to create the political infrastructure of this new deal in Poland have been suspended. The socialist army took control of various fields of public life and all of that without consent or even knowledge of the American President. (Our emphasis.)

Thus, after months of wavering, indecision, downright capitulation and groveling at the feet of U.S. imperialism by the former Polish leaders, this must come as a blow to the solar plexus of Reagan and his military and secret service camarilla.


"History is bound to duly appraise all Reagan moves. Already now it is obvious, however, that Reagan is not going to join the pantheon of great American statesmen, though many are surprised by his manner of ruling. Undoubtedly he will go down in history as the main author of what could be termed the second cold war, the one that threatens mankind with anxiety for the future and concern over the prospects for peaceful coexistence of states with different socioeconomic and political systems.

"If Reagan continues to pursue this course, the progressive part of world opinion will again, like in the 1940s and 1950s, consider the United States the main instigator of warfare, the leading bastion of contemporary imperialism and the spokesman for international destabilization."

A reading of this analysis reveals that to the extent that the Reaganites and their imperialist allies depended upon the Polish Army to stand by while the counter-revolution was slowly but surely seizing the entire social system and almost reaching the point of executing a coup d'etat, their hopes were wholly erroneous.

As we said, the bourgeoisie miscalculated. It was a howling, truly astonishing blunder.

We hope to go into a detailed examination in explaining this. It is one thing when an individual, even if he or she represents a class, makes an erroneous individual evaluation. It is something else when the representatives of a whole class, the representatives of world imperialism collectively, make this same error. This is a unique situation and requires explanation.


It should also be noted that the military takeover has put the Reaganites on the horns of an acute dilemma. Their policy has resulted in opening wider than ever the split between the U.S. and its imperialist allies.

Don't think for a minute that the European imperialists are any less unhappy than the U. S, ruling class about the military takeover. They both wish that it hadn't happened.

What the military takeover has meant for the Reaganites is a greater sharpening of the antagonisms between the U.S. and its NATO collaborators.

Both the U.S. and its imperialist allies have a common objective in Poland -- to turn it back to capitalism. But the Europeans are understandably more fearful of the situation exploding into a military conflagration near or even on their territory. They know that the U.S. would be fully content for a good while, just like during the Second World War, to watch from a safe distance and utilize the bloody opportunity to get a better and stronger grip on the Western imperialist allies so as to completely subjugate them and use them as a grouping of satellites in the struggle against the Soviet Union.


The military administration of the Polish state has also thrown vast sections of world public opinion into consternation.

The anti-communist left, which in any case has been full of the most bitter hostility not merely to the Soviet Union but to communism and revolutionary socialism in general, is full of praise for Solidarity. They are not one whit embarrassed to be found in the company of Wall Street, Lombard Street, the Bourse, and the Vatican in one great united front to "save freedom."

There is also, of course, very serious apprehension and confusion among truly progressive elements of world public opinion which should and must be addressed. To do so properly, however, it is necessary to deal with the Polish crisis in the context of the present global struggle.

Just as important, it is necessary to go back to the historical roots of the struggle and to analyze once again each and every phase of the struggle as it has unfolded over many decades.

To do this it is necessary to draw on the arsenal of revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist doctrine and methodology as our guide in illuminating some aspects of the great drama that is unfolding on Polish soil, which have been darkened if not obliterated from contemporary view by imperialist propaganda. These aspects have had and will continue to have repercussions of a worldwide significance.

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