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Poland confirms: the need for organisation the need for the party

Poland confirms: the need for organisation the need for the party
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At the time of the genuine insurrections that shook Poland in 1970, we emphasised the progress which had been made by the social movement since 1956. At that time, in Poland as well as in Hungary,
the proletariat acted alongside all the other classes in the large popular rebellion against foreign oppression, i.e. that of the pseudo-socialist USSR, but had not yet broken away from them at all. (...) The movement of 1970 presents a completely different appearance (...) we no longer have a popular movement in which all layers of society are still naively and fraternally united against a common enemy which, moreover, is not even the national state, but a genuine insurrectional strike, waged exclusively by workers, independent of all anti-Russian nationalism, free from any collaboration with other social strata or classes, for the good reason that its demands are purely proletarian. This time, not only have the peasants not moved, the students have refused to follow» (1).
In fact, alongside the purely economic demands whose acuity had started the strike, the workers were asking for
the lowering of functionaries salaries to the level of the workers' average salary (...) the punishment of everyone who had taken part in the repression, the condemnation of the harmful and deceitful campaigns directed against them, the liberation of prisoners, etc. What is more, the strike committees demanded above all the freedom to strike, the creation of free trade-unions, i.e. independent of the pseudo-socialist state» (2).
It is clear that they had widely gone beyond the interclassist and popular demands of «freedom» and «democracy», for if freedom to strike and freedom of association seem to belong to «democratic rights», in reality these demands represent the requirements of the proletarian struggle against the bourgeois state, even if it is democratic.

The problem of organisation was one of the weaknesses of the movement in 1970. Certainly, in the course of the struggle, the workers sought to organise themselves, since they could fight only by being organised. But, as a matter of fact, the struggle had broken out in an unorganised way and if, here or there, the workers spontaneously assaulted the party centres and even made attacks on barracks, these actions were too disorderly, isolated and uncoordinated. They were able to be easily crushed by a repression which left 300 dead officially, and without doubt, more than 1 000 in reality. Even as far as the strikes were concerned, no workers' organisation existed on a national scale, which would have been able to join, extend and co-ordinate the strikes throughout all regions of the country. It was the struggle itself which made the need for organisation so very apparent to the workers, and efforts to implement one followed the most violent explosions. The strike committees which came into being then obviously represented an enormous gain, but they lacked a stable foundation, a connecting network between businesses, categories and regions; in short, it was impossible for them to acquire, in the height of struggle and repression, the capacity to unify and lead the movement on a large scale.

If the strikes in the summer of 1980 in their turn took on a very different appearance from those of 1970, this did not result from the content of the demands, which were in substance identical, but from the fact that in the intervening period, the vanguard elements accomplished an enormous clandestine work of previous organisation as Marx said. It was this effort of previous organisation which allowed the movement to very quickly endow itself with a centralised leadership effectively linked to the different factories and regions. This allowed it to smash the state's attempts to divide and isolate it factory by factory and city by city; this allowed it to extend the strike to the main centres; to co-ordinate actions and demands; to erect before the government a compact front and an interlocutor representing the movement. This allowed it, then, to go beyond the stage of immediate but desperate and dead-end insurrection, to become a struggle which, without directly threatening bourgeois political power, nevertheless opposed to it a class front capable of making it draw back.

The various currents of political opposition played an important role in this organisational effort, accomplished, it seems, primarily after 1974, by the advanced workers who had drawn the lessons of 1970. It could not have been otherwise. The combative and vanguard proletarian who tries to go beyond the immediate situation and struggles and tries to draw from the questions that they pose a larger and more general vision of the class struggle and its requirements, is inevitably «politicised». He cannot but look for answers to the problems that he must face in the programmes, platforms, methods of struggle and organisation put forward by the political parties. It is normal for him to believe that he has found them in the instructions given by this or that current or party, and to follow them as long as the very experience of the struggle and its requirements has not shown him that they are false answers.

Moreover, this would be too easy if the non-communist parties and currents only gave completely false answers. In reality, they win an influence precisely because their responses correspond at least in part to the real immediate needs of the workers. Thus, in Poland, political movements like the Catholic church, KOR, and more generally, the «democratic opposition», have actually worked to found and build these «trade-union» organisations, independent of the official state trade-unions, which the workers needed in order to wage broad struggles. Obviously they did it according to their own perspective and their own political line, but they did do it. They not only demanded this organisation, they tried hard to build it, they made the workers that they influenced act in this direction, and without doubt, they gave the support of their own organisational structures, especially that of the church, the pre-existing centralised and hierarchical apparatus, which is in appearance opposed to the bourgeois state. But, while providing this correct response to the immediate problems of the workers' struggle, they also provided their false political response.

Naturally, one or the other of these aspects came to the forefront, depending on the events of the struggle. This is seen very clearly by following the unfolding of these events, from the beginning of the strike until today, and their meaning, which has been recorded progressively by our press. From the beginning of the strikes, the leadership which had forged itself and imposed itself throughout the long work of preparation effectively appeared as the leadership of a formidable movement of working class struggle, of a movement which was upsetting not only the Polish state, but the whole equilibrium of classes and states in central Europe; of a movement which, in fact, if not in consciousness, placed itself resolutely on the class terrain against all bourgeois interests. After a confused period where this leadership started to slow down the movement, where the Walesas often risked being «overwhelmed by their base» to the great terror of all the bourgeois observers, where they often had difficulty in imposing their compromises on the most dynamic elements like those of the Gdansk committee and in stopping the «wild-cat strikes», they appear today, more and more openly, like real social firemen, the only ones capable of making the workers accept the sacrifices required for the «salvation of the national economy».

It is obvious that this action by the agents of collaboration with the bourgeois state is all the more effective the better they have accomplished the other task, that of organising the workers outside of direct state control and of leading their struggle against it. Some draw from this the conclusion that any previous stable and broad organisation of workers is by nature an instrument of class collaboration; thus, that it has to be combated and, logically, that its constitution must be opposed. This is an infantile conclusion. In reality, this fact, inevitable to a certain extent, only demonstrates that if the proletariat needs an organisation in order to fight, the organisation needs a party in order to escape the influence and control of political forces which tend to make it collaborate with the bourgeoisie. Not any party, obviously: the genuine communist party.

The need to organise itself is one of the fundamental and permanent needs of the class, and it appears with clarity as soon as the class moves or wants to move. Reciprocally, the growing organisation of the class on its own positions is in reality the most important and the most lasting gain of its immediate and partial struggles, and the struggle is itself a powerful organisational factor, although not always immediately. All the political forces present their organisational methods to the proletarians, all claim to contribute to satisfying this essential need, all effectively do, in part and in their own way, and all of them, in this manner, make their influence penetrate into the immediate organisation. This is possible, because the immediate and partial straggle and the organisation that it requires are not enough in general to decide definitively between the programmes and methods of the various parties. In other words, this shows that the organisation born from or for the immediate struggle is not sufficient to lead the general struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat, that an organisation based on a larger and more general historical experience and vision is needed for this. It shows once again the necessity of the party.

But it also points out that the party cannot abandon the immediate terrain, the immediate struggles and the immediate organisation to the political forces of reaction, of conservatism, of reformism or of pseudo-revolution, which all provide their own answers to the needs of the workers. Answers which can correspond in part to the immediate needs and can draw from this fact a terrible effectiveness. On one hand, it shows that the party cannot remain outside of one of these organisations or desert it for the simple reason that it was built by the efforts Of other political currents which influence its orientation or control it, but that it is precisely the terrain where it must combat them. On the other hand, it points out that it cannot wait while the workers organise «themselves», which would amount to waiting while other forces organise them, but must contribute to the greatest possible extent to the organisation of the proletariat at all levels.

The party represents the most general consciousness of the class and its highest organisation, the only one capable of unifying and integrating all the struggles beyond the limits of space and time. It is the unifier and organiser of the proletariat as a revolutionary class on an international and historical scale. But its doctrine, its programme, its principles and its experience do not only map out the great path of the struggles of the proletariat's emancipation, they integrate into it the daily and partial struggles and also give the most complete answers to the problems that they pose. It is the party which can give the entirely correct answers to the problems of the workers' struggle, and it is on this terrain, tested by facts and experience, that it must make them prevail against the partially correct but tendentially false answers given by all the other political forces.

It is on the terrain of immediate struggles and immediate organisation that the party can and must assert itself in practise as the leadership of the class, impose its solutions, its orientation, its poles of organisation, and there by give to the proletariat's struggles and organisation the greatest effectiveness and the greatest scope.

This perspective, which must not be understood on the scale of one country or one continent, but on the scale of the entire planet, might seem like idle fancy if one looks at the situation today after fifty years of counter-revolution, and the scarcity of forces which align themselves along the front of revolutionary communism. It would be, in fact, if it only counted on the sole will and sole force of the party. But forces much greater than ours are working in this direction.

The mounting crisis of capitalist society and the violent explosion of social antagonisms impel the working class on an international scale to struggle. Through these struggles and the corresponding organisational efforts, the workers experience the responses provided by all the forces which today occupy the political scene. It is the very requirements of the struggle which oblige and will increasingly oblige the vanguard elements to submit these responses; to the tests of facts, to go beyond them and to search for the true answers. And they must be able to find them!

Thus the party cannot be content with waging its theoretical fight and its general political struggle. It must intervene on the terrain of immediate struggles. brine the answers of revolutionary communism to them, and appear there as a pole of orientation and organisation. Even if this intervention cannot today give spectacular results in the short term, it is the condition for future successes.

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  1. See «Le premier éveil du prolétariat polonais et ses causes» pp. 47-48, in «Programme Communiste» no. 51-52, April-September 1971. [back]
  2. See «Le premier éveil du prolétariat polonais et ses causes» p. 50, in «Programme Communiste» no. 51-52, April-September 1971. [back]

Source: «Communist Programm», No. 7, Sept. 1981

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