Poland: the working class vs the “Good Change”

Written by M. Krakowski, Revolutionary Regroupment sympathizer in Warsaw, November 2018

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This year it is going to be the third year since the far-right Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość; PiS) won the parliamentary elections in Poland, becoming the first party in the history of the capitalist Third Polish Republic to hold both the presidency and the Senate and Sejm (both chambers of parliament) and secure an outright majority, allowing it to form a virtually single-party government.

PiS ascension to power followed the 8-year-long rule of the centre-right Christian-democratic Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska; PO) and its coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party (PSL), the party of the Polish rural petty-bourgeoisie. These years, despite PO’s propaganda of successes (especially in 2014, when it celebrated the 10th anniversary of joining the EU as well as the 25th anniversary of capitalist counter-revolution in Poland) were marked by harsh austerity measures. Among them, there were privatizations of publicly-owned industries (as well as their liquidation) and hospitals; growing poverty and unemployment; raising of the retirement age to 67; practical elimination of the 8-hour working day and proliferation of the so-called „trash contracts” (work contracts without job security, health insurance, paid vacation time or the right to have union representation).

Here are some other events during the PO rule: In 2011, a Warsaw tenant activist and a victim of the wild re-privatization of housing, Jolanta Brzeska, was murdered by the landlords and the prosecutor’s office conducted investigation assuming that it was suicide, and then dropped it altogether. In 2014, there was a wire-tapping scandal in which it was revealed that someone illegaly recorded the private conversations between politicians in a restaurant and in the villa for former PM Donald Tusk (who in 2014 became the President of the European Council). Those conversatiosns were all very frank, vulgar and revealing, with disparaging comments, for example, about politicians such as Britain’s David Cameron and other political allies. At first it had little political consequences, but in 2015 new revelations about this affair led to a cabinet re-shuffle. Also, in early 2015 there was a strike of miners in Silesia against closure of the mines. The strikers were met with rubber bullets shot by the police.

PO managed to win two terms consecutively, but all they had to offer was that they were not like the far-rights loonies from PiS (who had already ruled briefly in 2005-07). Their self-complacency and arrogance was what doomed them. In early 2015, when the victory of PiS candidate for president Andrzej Duda gave the foretaste of what was to come, the then-incumbent president Bronisław Komorowski, supported by PO for re-election, blamed his loss on the “demanding” youth who does not appreciate their “freedom” won in 1989. Disgruntled masses threw in their lot with the reaction, which employed social demagogy, to see if maybe this time it would be better (since PO could not deliver any improvement).

Law and Justice is led by a national-conservative Catholic, Jarosław Kaczyński, said to be the real ruler of Poland today. He rules his party with an iron fist and President Duda and Prime-ministers Beata Szydło and now Mateusz Morawiecki are seen as being merely his puppets. Kaczyński served as PM in the first PiS government and his deceased twin brother Lech was the president of Poland. Lech died in Smolensk plane crash on 10 April 2010 and, to this day, the party propagates conspiracy theories blaming either the PO government or the Russians on this, suggesting that it was an assasination.

Kaczyński is a populist who exploited the discontent of workers and the poor (especially the rural poor) after 25 years of capitalism. But he, to be sure, directed that discontent into very reactionary channels. In the election campaign, promises of increased benefits for children (“500 złotys for every child”), taxing the banks and lowering the retirement age back to 65 for men and 60 for women were coupled with nationalism and anti-immigrant racism. Kaczyński himself stoke fears of Muslim refugees bringing in with them disease and parasites, reminiscent of Nazi propaganda against Jews). His party was and is vocally opposed to the EU and German plans for refugee quotas/relocation. The PO at first said it would only take 60 families or so, all Christians. It then reluctantly agreed to take 7000 refugees without such distinctions. PiS, however, said it will not take anybody in. The party also has close ties with Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, a Catholic priest and millionaire media mogul, owner of the ultra-Catholic Radio Maryja and TV Trwam. The sort of person about which the band Genesis wrote their song “Jesus He Knows Me”.

There was nothing to be believed about PiS social demagogy, of course. Already when they ruled in 2005-07 they had lowered the taxes for the rich and sent police against the protesting nurses. Now, they implemented their flagship 500+ program, taxed the banks and reinstated the old retirement age, among other things, but apart from these being modest crumbs from the table, they take away from the workers with other hand more subtly. In December last year there was a cabinet reshuffle and Beata Szydło, associated with the 500+ program, was succeeded as the Prime Minister by Mateusz Morawiecki, former BZ WBK banker and chairman of the Leviathan Confederation (which for years has lobbied the interests of big business in politics), with 33.5 million złotys on his account. This capitalist, who is also a good Catholic, in an interview with TV Trwam soon after his inauguration, said he dreamed of “re-Christianizing” Europe.

Morawiecki has recently succeeded in his dream of making the whole Poland a “special economic zone”. These zones were established in Poland 20 years ago. Within them, entrepreneurs are exempt from paying the income tax, certain bylaws of the labor code do not apply and the temporary work agencies proliferate, making it harder for workers to organize.  The idea was praised by the head of the Industrial Development Agency, who said that it meets the demands of business.

PiS new idea of a pension scheme, called “Employee-capital Plans”, would benefit mostly the financial institutions, sucking 10-15 billion złotys from workers’ payments and public funds annually to the financial market, while the benefits would stop being paid to pensioners after becoming 70. The “Mieszkanie+” (More Apartments) housing program that was to deliver 2-3 million cheap flats by 2030 is bound to fail because it is done on the basis of the market, giving in to the graces of developers and the private sector. Since the announcement of the program, only 200-300 have been built, while it would need to be 167 to 250 thousand annually to meet that target. It falls short of the housing program on the basis of a nationalized, planned economy, as was exemplified by the Polish People’s Republic, despite its bureaucratic deformation. Moreover, tenants under this program are to accept their eviction “on the pavement” (without assigning them social housing) if they cannot pay anymore. According the law, this is will be seen as their “voluntary leaving of the premises”, to which the tenant consented when signing the lease agreement. Under the deformed workers’ state there was no homelessness and housing was not a luxury good.

Since its coming to power PiS has focused on taking over all the organs of the state and building an authoritarian regime. Their inspiration is Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the dictator of the interwar capitalist Poland whose regime brutally repressed communists, workers, peasants and national minorities. PiS have seized the Constitutional Court, Poland’s highest court, which determines the constitutionality of laws, as well as the Judiciary system, the prosecutor’s office and the intelligence agencies. In 2016, it passed the so-called “anti-terrorist” bill, which expanded police and security agencies’ powers to conduct surveillance and detention, and abridged the freedom of assembly. It also talks about re-writing the Constitution, with Duda calling for a constitutional referendum on the 100th anniversary of Polish independence this year. What they may have in store can be seen in their draft of a constitution from 2011, which included increasing the power of the President and weakening the role of the Sejm, a total ban on abortion, weakening the separation between Church and state as well as introducing the death penalty.

There has been, of course, repression against the left. Soon after PiS took power, in 2016, three members of the (Stalinist) Communist Party of Poland (KPP), which is a registered party which operates legally, got sentenced to community service for propagating content “appealing directly to the communist system of state as well as Marxism and Leninism”. The party has been harassed ever since.  Now in the crosshairs of the prosecutor’s office is the ostensibly Trotskyist (Grantite) website Władza Rad (Soviet Power). The administrator’s house was raided by the police and all his devices were confiscated.

There has been a rise in anti-Muslim racism and all forms of xenophobia as well. People were attacked even for speaking German on the streets! Ultra-nationalist or even fascist forces feel emboldened since the PiS victory. Hardly a day passes without the news of hate crimes, such as the beating of people who simply have darker complexion (so not only Middle Eastern people, but Roma, Southern Europeans, Caucasians, Latinos). There is also an anti-Ukrainian sentiment and, contrary to Muslims, there are indeed many immigrants from Ukraine in Poland, being a cheap workforce for Polish capitalists. Last year in Warsaw, the fascist Independence March gathered 60,000 people, brandishing the Celtic crosses and such slogans as “White Europe of brotherly nations”, “Europe will be white or it will become desolate”, “All different, all white” and “We want God”. In January 2017, small city of Ełk saw the pogrom-style riots over the killing of a Polish man by Tunisian kebab vendor.

PiS is itself propagating such reactionary moods and encouraging these tendencies. They are ready to incorporate the far-right paramilitary groups into the so-called Territorial Defense, modelled after the National Guard in the U.S. Like its American counterpart, it would be used against the internal rather than external threats to the state. They welcomed the Independence March, and Morawiecki, then the minister of development, said that it was “shameful” that an anti-fascist march took place at the same time in Warsaw. The anti-fascist march remarkably gathered from 2,500 to 5,000 people who perhaps were foreshadowing future repressions. This year, the infamous bill criminalizing mentions of Polish participation in Holocaust, as well anyone who accuses the “Polish state and nation” of any crimes against humanity, was passed. It was accompanied by an outpouring of hatred against Jews. Anti-Semitism is a traditional weapon of the Polish bourgeoisie, as was also the case with the Stalinist bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops have been pushing, with support of leading PiS figures, for overturning the 1993 abortion “compromise”, which took away the right to abortion on demand established in the deformed workers’ state, permitting it only in case of serious deformation of the fetus, when pregnancy threatens the life or health of the woman or if it is the result of rape and incest. The bishops want to ban it even in such cases. These plans were met with serious popular mobilizations which defeated the first attempt to introduce such the law. The “Women’s Strike” and “Black Protest” got much attention abroad. However, the reaction has not yet said its last word on this attempt.

Aside of these demonstrations against the total ban on abortion, there were other mass mobilizations against measures taken by PiS, such as the taking over the Constitutional Court and now the Judiciary system in general. But the organizations that led them, such as Committee for Defense of Democracy (KOD) and Citizens of Poland (Obywatele RP), have a liberal political perspective, seeking to appeal to the European Union to intervene to defend “democracy” in Poland. It is also oriented towards the parliamentary opposition: the PO as well as the very pro-market, liberal party Nowoczesna (Modern), founded in 2015 by Ryszard Petru. Petru is the disciple and assistant of Leszek Balcerowicz, the Polish finance minister who in the 90s enacted the infamous “shock therapy” and is also a former economist for the World Bank, who drafted austerity packages for Hungary. These movements speak in the name of those who benefitted from the “system transformation”, one of their slogans is “Let it be like it used to”. Obviously they do not attract the impoverished youth.

There is of course nothing progressive in these parties and their opposition to PiS. Both the government and opposition now accuse each other of “communism”, underlining the reactionary political climate of contemporary Poland. It seems that the “ghost of communism” is still haunting the Polish bourgeoisie. These parties are not serious about the defense of democratic rights. In essence, they even supported the “anti-terrorist” bill, with only some mealy-mouthed opposition to its more controversial measures. The attorney who is persecuting Władza Rad is a darling of the opposition, having spoken last year against the politicization of the prosecutor’s office by PiS. Nowoczesna at some point proposed to ban “anarchist organizations” alongside the racist ones.

The predominance of the Catholic Church did not come with PiS. It was re-introduced by every government since 1989, restoring its privileges and property. The notorious PO MP Niesiołowski (who is also an admirer of General Franco) said that the money best spent is the money spent for Church. Under PO, you could also get sued for “offending religious feelings” (Poland’s version of blasphemy laws). As for the plans to ban abortion, under PO the number of legal abortions performed was already really low, since the current law still leaves the option for a doctor to not perform it if “conscience” tells him not to. This is the reality of the draconian abortion “compromise” they defend.

As for the racial, ethnic and national hatred, in 1996 a social-democratic government conducted massive deportations of the Roma. Fascism started to rise up its head already under PO: at the 2013 Independence March, the mob tried to set fire to a squat in which aside of leftist activists there were evicted families with children. Most likely the leaders of ultra-nationalists were already at that time connected to the secret services. Far-right paramilitary groups were already being integrated into the Polish military in the wake of Ukrainian crisis in 2014 too. Under PO, the “historical police” of the so-called National Remembrance Institute had gained forces and rehabilitated their reactionary forefathers, while either erasing the Polish left from history or denigrating its traditions. It was under the PO-PSL government and with support from president Komorowski that the Cursed Soldiers’ Remembrance Day was instituted, giving the grist to the mill of fascist milieus. “Cursed Soldiers” was the name given to an anti-communist armed resistance in 1944-56, which killed leftists, Red Army soldiers, Jewish Holocaust survivors and national minorities, or peasants who had taken the landlords’ land after the agrarian reform. Their cult is one of the focal points of the new wave of Polish nationalism.

The real difference between the PiS and the opposition is foreign policy, which mirrors the current conflict dividing the ruling class in the United States. However, what makes it even more ridiculous is that both of them agree that the main enemy is Russia. They disagree with whom to cooperate against it. Both parties are committed to the alliance with the US, but PO and Nowoczesna, especially since Trump’s election, calls for closer cooperation with Germany and the EU. PiS wants to rely on its American ally as well as on a coalition of states of Central and Eastern Europe against both Russia and Germany, reviving Pilsudski’s “Intermarium” strategy (today called the “Three Seas Initiative”). So, aside from calling each other “communists”, both factions accuse each other of being “Russian agents”, with the opposition talking about how the government undermines the defense of Poland. The former PO foreign minister Sikorski lamented the fact that the Polish F16s which engaged in operations against the Islamic State did not take part in this year airstrikes in Syria. Meanwhile, Poland is training Saudi pilots who bomb civilians in Yemen. There is also a “Polish connection” to arms with which the anti-Assad jihadist militias are equipped. Under PiS, NATO troops were deployed to Poland and Americans started installing its missile defense system aimed against Russia.

As we see, the differences between PiS and the liberal opposition are mostly tactical. Both PiS and PO come from the Solidarność, which was the battering ram of the counterrevolution in Poland. PiS may now speak in defense of the victims of capitalist restoration, but it is complicit in the impoverishment and overall social catastrophe that happened. The Kaczyńskis were close collaborators of Lech Wałęsa, with Jarosław being the head of his presidential chancellery in 1991, as Wałęsa was overseeing the attacks on Poland’s working masses. Nowadays, PiS denounces Wałęsa as a “Communist agent”. One can say that the counterrevolution devours its own children!

While PiS has used the murder of Brzeska and the re-privatization affair as a cudgel to beat the PO mayor of Warsaw, these kinds of things have been going on since 1989, including under Lech Kaczyński’s term as mayor of the capital. Their criticisms of the post-1989 order boil down in the last instance to a narrative according to which Polish capitalism was “distorted” by “Communist agents” within Solidarność, working in cahoots with the Stalinist bureaucracy was well as foreign capitalists (perhaps Jews too). They want to build “national capitalism” and “real Polish capitalism”. Soon after having appointed Morawiecki as the PM, Kaczyński said that they want “a second wave of Polish capitalism and the government of Mateusz Morawiecki is supposed to foster it”. Morawiecki, by the way, had previously worked as an advisor for PO Prime-minister Tusk.

While PiS won by appealing to the desperate workers and farmers who had lost in the transformation, its core electorate is the petty-bourgeoisie, which wants to regain its “dignity” at the cost of the working class and the poor, as well as attacking the “elites” defined as the foreign capital and those Poles who are connected to it. It has the delusion of becoming a true Polish big bourgeoisie capable of competing with Germany.

Apart from PiS, PO, Nowoczesna and PSL, also represented in parliament is the “anti-establishment” populist movement of rock musician Paweł Kukiz, which is as reactionary as PiS and has occasionally been its ally. Among people who got into Sejm on Kukiz’s slate were members of the National Movement (Ruch Narodowy) and All-Polish Youth who, in November 2015, invited to Sejm members of the neo-fascist Fuorza Nova from Italy. Another of Kukiz’s deputies is the Polish national bourgeois Marek Jakubiak, who became known first for his homophobia and transphobia. This capitalist politician complains that Poles are a cheap workforce for the Germans, but it was revealed that in his brewery he pays people only 1,700 złotys. Kukiz himself has stated that KOD is being financed by a “Jewish banker”.

“What about the left?” one may ask. Since the elections, the traditional left-wing of the Polish capitalism, the ex-Stalinist social-democratic Alliance of Democratic Left (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej; SLD) is outside of the parliament. SLD has a long history of betrayals of Polish workers and oppressed. It lowered taxes for entrepreneurs, backed down on its election promises to liberalize the abortion laws, got Poland into NATO and imperialist EU, laid the basis for the “trash contracts”, introduced evictions “onto the pavement”, privatized the state-owned industries and conducted other attacks on the working class. Last but not least, they participated in criminal wars in the Balkans, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as well as allowed the torturing of people in CIA secret prisons. SLD paved the way for the first PiS government. It never ran on the basis of class independence, which would warrant it critical support from the revolutionaries. In last elections, it ran in coalition with the bourgeois Greens as well as the liberal Your Movement party. Nowadays it tails behind the bourgeois parliamentary opposition, accepting its leadership. In 2016, its trade-union arm OPZZ even invited KOD activists to the May Day demonstration.

The rising force on the left, which has taken away some of the leftist voters from SLD, is Razem (Together), founded in early 2015. It is a bourgeois populist formation modelled after Syriza and Podemos, which does not even pay lip service to socialism and working class interests, and is hysterically anti-communist. Still, the horrified right-wingers call it “communist”, citing such postulates as progressive income tax with 75% as the highest rate, and even call for its prohibition. Razem is committed to NATO and EU, and like many on the Polish left is obsessed with the supposed threat of “Russian imperialism”. During Trump’s visit to Warsaw last year, they staged a protest in which they accused him of having “ties to Russia”, just as he was saber-rattling against it to the delight of the Polish bourgeoisie! As for accusations of “communism”, Razem’s program is that of capitalism “with a human face”, one that is impossible under decaying capitalism, as was shown by Greece’s Syriza, which after coming to power in 2015, betrayed its promises to end austerity, imposing cuts even more drastic than the ones they had initially rejected.

On the more radical left, we have the afore-mentioned Communist Party. It is an inept reformist party and no threat to Polish capitalism, contrary to what the reactionaries who want to ban it believe. While even the Stalinized Communist Party in the 1930s called for a “Polish Soviet Republic”, today the KPP declares its aim to be simply “a sovereign [Polish] Republic”. It now mostly focuses on fighting the “de-communization”, the changing of names of streets from people’s names, events, organizations and dates associated with the Communist regime. This process is aimed at erasing he Polish left from history and smearing the leaders of revolutionary Marxism in Poland by comparing them to Nazi and Stalinists criminals. Often “de-communization” targets the memorials in homage to Red Army soldiers who fought to liberate Poland from Nazism. Of course we should honor their struggle and sacrifice and oppose the removing of these monuments. But it is also necessary to differentiate ourselves from reactionaries who see Germany as the main enemy and would pragmatically have supported Stalin as saving “the Polish nation”; same for the “comrades” from the Stalinist security and military services who have made their way into the bourgeois police and military, and whose “leftism” boils down to vague nostalgia for Stalinist Poland while still holding very reactionary views.

KPP, as typical Stalinists, is prone to popular-frontism. For instance, in the 2005 elections it ran in a bloc with the bourgeois-liberal Anti-Clericalist Party, the Greens, Polish Socialist Party, as well as the so-called Polish Labor Party (with which many on the reformist left were infatuated, including almost all “Trotskyists”). The Labor Party is actually a chauvinist, clerical, post-fascist formation which tried to refurbish itself as social-democrats, poisoning the workers with economic nationalism.

The most significant ostensibly Trotskyist organizations are the Cliffite Employees’ Democracy (Pracownicza Demokracja; PD), affiliated with the British SWP, and Socialist Alternative (Alternatywa Socjalistyczna; AS), Polish section of the Taaffeite CWI. Pracownicza Demokracja is basically a social-democrat organization, avoiding references to working class in favor of the “ordinary people”. They called for vote to Razem in last elections and at times they even refer to it as an “anti-capitalist” or “socialist” party. Socialist Alternative can be more radical sounding. In the “Our Postulates” section on their website, they call for such things as “socializing the economy; re-placing the managerial system with employee self-management” and “democratic planning of economy to satisfy the needs of the whole society and save the planet, not for the accumulation of wealth by a handful of capitalists”. But they omit the question of the state and political power and who would implement such principles. AS thinks Razem can be something more than it is now, calling for it to “adopt an anti-capitalist program” and supporting the “radical” elements in the party against the leadership. They want it to be a new social-democratic party in which they would be able to make a deep entry and vote for it loyally as their political ancestors in the Militant tendency did with the British Labour Party.

What about the working class itself? Sadly, it is still mostly under the spell of nationalism, racism and religion. It was basically brainwashed during the 1990s and now many have a petty-bourgeois mindset, thinking that if they work hard enough they will become bosses themselves and screw others over instead of being the ones screwed over. Their problems have been blamed not on the market economy, but on its distortion by the “elites”. The left has been compromised by betrayals and crimes committed by both Stalinism and social democracy. Solidarność, in alliance with the PiS government, does its best to contain workers. They are the most venal of the trade unions, preferring to organize pilgrimages for workers to the Jasna Góra sanctuary and meetings for entrepreneurs instead of strikes. But the other ones are little better. It is not a surprise that the unionization rate is among the lowest in Europe. The more “left-wing” All-Polish Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ), aligned with SLD, has not said a word on the recent successful strike of metalworkers in Germany, which won them a 28-hour working week. Both Solidarność and OPZZ have in the past sought help from the EU parliament and its courts instead of mobilizing workers, as it was in the aftermath of the big trade-union demonstration of September 2013, which resulted in nothing.

But as Trotsky wrote 80 years ago, the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucrats. PiS cannot solve the problems which propelled them to power. It seems that the Polish workers, feeling more confident due to modest social gains under PiS and lowering unemployment, are beginning to wake up and demand higher wages. There have been more labor disputes, even though they still rarely result in strikes. Last year there were protests of junior doctors and even hunger strikes against the low payment and the under-funding of healthcare. The postal workers have been organizing on a national scale (allegedly even with Ukrainian workers) against the Post Office management and established unions. The syndicalist Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative) can boast of having organized the workers in Poland’s first Amazon warehouse, established there to leverage the low-paid Polish workforce against the Amazon workers in Germany. There was an example of a minor local strike which achieved victory thanks to the solidarity between Polish and Ukrainian workers. This year there was going to be a strike scheduled for May by the workers at LOT Polish Airlines. Due to betrayal of the bureaucrats of Solidarność (and OPZZ’s Jan Guz was no better, preaching conciliation) it did not happen. Instead there was a Catholic mass and communion for both workers and the company’s management. The woman-worker who was the leader of the would-be strike was sacked and is even accused of “terrorism”. But as one stewardess told a leftist journalist after that spectacle, “this is war” and it is not over.

Government boasts of economic miracle, just like PO’s Tusk used to do. But, as some pundit noticed in a public radio interview last year when discussing this economic boom, while the profits have been on the rise, the investment has not. The “Good change” (PiS election slogan which has since become sort of a joke) cannot escape the contradictions of capitalism. With the passing of his bill making Poland one big “special economic zone”, Morawiecki gave the signal that his government wants to increase the exploitation of the Polish proletariat. The Polish ruling class no doubt sees the breaking down of the post-war geo-political order fueled by the crisis of capitalism, and is going to arm itself to survive and pursue its interests against Russia and other countries. Under PO, the military budget achieved 2 percent of the GNP, while PiS pledged now to raise it to 2.5 by 2030. They expect the masses to pay for this. Consequently, the ruling class is also arming itself against the workers. We must do our best to prepare workers for the battles to come, and to explain the lessons of victories and defeats (both present and past).

The PiS is still able to seemingly “maneuver” between classes and stave off discontent of the masses by pretending to distance themselves from the “elites” in a semi-Bonapartist fashion. This is due to the utter political bankruptcy of the liberals who had nothing to offer the working masses other than “warm water in the taps” (Tusk’s infamous slogan); and most importantly the left, chiefly the social-democratic SLD. Twice have the working population voted SLD into power due to nostalgia of the social and economic security under Stalinism, only to become bitterly disillusioned, paving the way for the reaction coming to power, including the first PiS government in 2005.

Despite communism having been proclaimed dead back in 1989, as we said, its ghost seemingly was never exorcised, with all parties of the bourgeoisie trading the accusations of “communism”. In a new show on occasion of the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth, the Polish state TV felt it necessary to warn the viewers of his “deadly ideas”. As Marx wrote regarding France in the lead up to the ascension of Louis Bonaparte, “The social republic appeared as a phrase, as a prophecy, on the threshold of the February Revolution. In the June days of 1848, it was drowned in the blood of the Paris proletariat, but it haunts the subsequent acts of the drama like a ghost.” (The Eighteenth Brumaire). Clearly, the ruling class fears that it may lose the ground from under its feet and the proletariat will be once again propelled into a revolutionary path, following the examples of the strike movements of teachers in U.S., rail workers in France, steel workers in Germany, or popular revolts in Iran, Tunisia and Morocco.

There is discontent brewing within Polish society, but it can find no progressive outlet. The liberal opposition and its appendages by virtue of their class nature are unable to appeal to the working class, the only powerful social force that can fight for democracy. Razem, on its part, can only offer “social dialogue” and try to bright about a 7-hour working day… by petitions that fail to get enough signatures! While according to the polls most Poles are against the PiS takeover of the Judiciary system, they hardly want to line up with the opposition in defense of “free courts” which in the past have rubber-stamped many an eviction “onto the pavement” or declared work without a job contract to be legal.

It is necessary to break this vicious cycle of “center” and “left” governments paving the way for the rule of the far-right. This is an international phenomenon, as it happened with the Democratic Party and Trump in the United States; PD and the Conte/Salvini government in Italy; SPÖ and the Kurz government in Austria; and we soon may add to that list the PT and Bolsonaro in Brazil. We need to build a new force, a political party that will expose the social demagogy of PiS and strike not only against foreign capitalists but also against their cherished national bourgeoisie; a party that will propose a program of  social change going way further than crumbs given by the PiS government, as well as the Stalinist Polish People’s Republic (while acknowledging its accomplishments); a party to fight for the institution of workers’ democracy based on the workers’ councils, as the ones created in Russia in 1917; a party that will champion all the oppressed, promoting international solidarity of the working class. Under the red banner of the socialist revolution, not under the EU flag or the bourgeois constitution of 1997, in hoc signo vinces! (“Under this sign you shall prevail!”).

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