1990s >> 1996 >> no-1103-july-1996

Book Review: Trotskyism in Poland

Revolutionary History, Vol. 6. No 1, Winter 1995-96, £4.


The latest issue of Revolutionary History features “Trotskyism in Poland“. Almost all the articles are written by Prof. Ludwik Hass or are about him. This well illustrates the situation of Trotskyism in Poland—there are only a few of them, shouting at each other because of personal quarrels.


Already in the introductory editorial the false claim is made that “Hass played an active role on the left of Solidarity.” The editorial committee want to give the impression that he had some links with the workers movement. But it was quite the opposite—he never had any particular connection with Solidarity spending his time rather in the saloons of Central Committee of the PUWP (the ruling Communist Party) trying to soften party censorship.


After October 1956 he was so animated by his belief in a better future for the Polish “People’s Republic”, that he applied for—and was granted—membership of PUWP. For 13 years he applied every year for a job in the Central Committee of the PUWP. He even appeared on TV soon after the introduction of martial law in 1981 applauding order.


The Editorial Committee also claims that pre-war Poland was one of the few countries where the Trotskyists had a big workers following. It could look like this, because they chose to enter the Polish Socialist Party, the Jewish Bund and the Communist Party. But this reflected the lack of enough members to organise themselves separately in their own independent party.


What did these Trotskyists want? What program did they have? First of all, to seize power and establish a national republic under a “worker-peasant’s government”, with support from elements of the petty bourgeoisie, under the leadership of the vanguard party, of course. This would simply be the next governing group, a new authoritarian power—only with a different name.


To achieve this, in line with Lenin’s ideas, they supported national minorities in cultivating their nationalistic separatism and the creation of new states. In the event of war. they wanted to stage an immediate coup d’état and introduce “the dictatorship of proletariat”—in fact dictatorship over the proletariat. All standing against their order would be deprived of their political rights on the grounds of the special needs of the state.


Work would be compulsory, with a guaranteed minimum wage, social insurance and the like—so what would be the difference with the current situation? The economy would be nationalised and centrally planned, small enterprises would be kept in private hands—which is the same as what did in fact happen in Poland after the war. This was simply state capitalism. There was no trace of socialism. Trotskyism is not at all a revolutionary tendency, it is merely a type of reformism, patching up the current situation, not a radical change of it. Trotskyists don’t believe that workers, the huge majority of society, are capable of organising their own mass movement to change the system. Maybe that is why so few workers believe in their propaganda.


Jan Tomas