Poland

13 June 2019 will go down in history as the date when Poland, eventually, joined the coterie of authoritarian states. States that deprive their citizens of fundamental democratic rights like freedom of speech, thought and scientific inquiry, and penalise them for their views. On that day, the Polish Lower House of Parliament (Sejm) passed the bill updating the Penal Code, changing the wording of Article 256 – which now includes a prohibition on propagandising communist ideas. This is now punishable by prison.

On the 1 May demonstration in Warsaw, the presence of the Czerwony Front (Red Front) was marked by our banner, slogans and red flags. On that same day, we also released our first booklet, Marxism and Anarchism by Alan Woods. The reception was enthusiastic, as proven by the sale of our whole stock during the first hour of the demonstration. This confirms that, in Poland as in the rest of the world, there is a thirst for the only ideas that are able to guide the working class to victory: the ideas of Marxism.

“From Saturday 27th of April, the ZNP (Teachers’ Union) suspends the national strike. It suspends it, but it does not end it! I shall add: Starting today, we are entering a new, much more important period.” With these words, Sławomir Broniarz, the leader of the ZNP, has bent to the pressures of bourgeois public opinion and put a lid on the cauldron of struggle that has been developing over the past three weeks. For this, the government representatives in the dispute, led by ex-PM Ewa Kopacz, thanked him warmly.

The Polish teachers’ strike, which started on 8 April, marks a fundamental change in the situation in Poland, once hailed as the success story for the transition to capitalism after the collapse of the Stalinist regime in 1989. The class struggle is back on the agenda. Now the greatest teachers’ strike in Polish history has entered its second week and is becoming the catalyst for the pent-up anger of youth and workers.

The spectre of a national strike of teachers has been looming over Poland for some time now. But despite the lukewarm attempts by the right-wing PiS government to alleviate the situation with half-hearted concessions, the strike date has been set for 8 April. This day will definitely go down as an important event in the history of the National Teachers’ Union (ZNP, formed in the course of the 1905 revolution), and perhaps of the Polish working class as a whole.

A wave of deep consternation shook Poland on Sunday 13 January. A well-known, liberal politician and mayor of the major coastal city of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz, was stabbed on stage in front of hundreds of people. He died in hospital the following morning. Adamowicz, who had been the city’s mayor since 1998, was taking part in the biggest annual charity event, the Great Orchestra of Christmas Aid, as he was stabbed in his chest repeatedly by a raving terrorist. Many are in a state of disbelief, as this is widely considered to be the most serious political assassination since the murder of Polish President Gabriel Narutowicz in 1922.

The Polish government and the European Commission are locked in conflict over proposed changes to Poland’s Supreme Court. The EU is considering taking the unprecedented step of stripping Poland of its voting rights within the Union as punishment for infringing on the rule of law. It has also threatened to cut EU development funds for Poland unless the rule of law is protected.

This month marks the anniversary of the December 1970 Polish protests – or ‘Black Thursday’ – when the workers of Polish coastal cities of Gdańsk, Szczecin, Gdynia and Elbląg rose in protest against a huge increase in prices of basic food products, but were harshly repressed by the so-called People’s Army. The cost of striking against price rises was high: 46 workers and students were killed and thousands injured in the stand-offs, just a week before Christmas.

Este año es el 97º aniversario de la ofensiva de Kiev de 1920 por el ejército polaco y la derrota decisiva de las tropas soviéticas en la Batalla de Varsovia: un acontecimiento de gran importancia histórica que marcó un punto de inflexión en el curso de la revolución europea. Este frente de la Guerra Civil rusa fue una prueba grave e importante para el partido bolchevique, que provocó un debate sostenido e intenso entre sus filas.

This year is the 97th anniversary of the 1920 Kiev Offensive by the Polish Army and the decisive defeat of the Soviet troops at the Battle of Warsaw: an event of great historic importance that marked a turning point in the course of the European revolution. This front of the Russian Civil War was a grave and important test for the Bolshevik Party, sparking daily and intense debate throughout its ranks.

Protest for trade union rights at AELIA

In today's episode from the "One rule for the rich, another rule for the workers" series, a well-known journalist, trade union activist and socialist, Piotr Nowak, was faced with a choice of either spending 20 days in prison or paying a 1000 Zloty fine. The “crime” stated was the organisation of a small protest outside of the Fryderyk Chopin airport in Warsaw back in 2014.

On the surface, the wave of political earthquakes shaking Europe and the world seemed to have left Poland unaffected. The seething anger growing from decades of privatisations and austerity has produced neither a Corbyn nor a SYRIZA. Eight long years after the economic crash of 2008, an election for the first time in the new republic's history produced a majority government of the nationalist, ultra-Catholic Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, Law and Justice Party, (PiS), ousting the previous Civic Platform led government, considered “right of centre”.

Polish women staged magnificent demonstrations and strike action all over the country on Monday 3 October. They are fighting against a proposed law that would ban abortion under all circumstances, even in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s life. Even in this country where the Catholic Church is so powerful, and where the right-wing Law and Justice party won power just a year ago, the spirit of struggle is alive and explosive.

“Young people are completely tired of the situation in Poland. The endless political war between the two main parties that never produces anything. They want change. I want change.” These are the words of a 21 year old student in Warsaw in the aftermath of the presidential election in May 2015.

Last week saw the Polish Parliament vote on motions of no confidence in the interior minister and the ruling coalition as a whole. These motions, which were tabled in the wake of a massive corruption scandal involving politicians at the highest level, were both defeated. However, surviving the votes of no confidence will do little to rebuild the reputation of the ruling coalition and the ideas they represent in the eyes of Polish people. They are rightly being seen, now more than ever, for the corrupt clique they really are.

On Saturday 14 September over 100,000 people marched through Warsaw in a joint action called by Solidarity, the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ) and the Forum of Trade Unions. This was the culmination of four days of trade union demonstrations against the Donald Tusk government.

The Polish economy was the only European economy to avoid a technical recession in the wake of the global collapse in 2008. But the whirlpool of capitalist crisis continues to grow and as its pull on the creaking ship of the Polish economy intensifies, the strain is beginning to show. From the capitalist point of view, the Polish ship of state appears to be in good working order – the Polish left is weak and neo-liberalism dominates. But below the waterline social unrest and eye-watering inequality reveal the real state of the rotting capitalist system.


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Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his party PiS, Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (Law and Justice), are in trouble. A scandal has erupted threatening the already unstable government. The situation is extremely unpredictable, and every day brings new revelations and new possible outcomes.

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Poles are tired. You can see this everywhere: on the streets, in shops, places of work, schools and universities. There is deep frustration, anger and cynicism about the political system. However, we also have to look at the situation from below, from the streets, where we are seeing protest movements arising like that of the students last year, and the nurses this year.

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The collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe created a peculiar political situation, which is not easily understood from outside. Stalinism discredited the very idea of socialism, but what has replaced is a rather crude bourgeois political set up. However, below the surface, things are moving on. In Poland, where right-wing Christian views seem to dominate the scene, a crisis is brewing.

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Last month’s elections reconfirmed Lukashenko as the president of Belarus. The Western media and governments have protested about the “lack of democracy”. In reality what is taking place is a conflict of interests over who should control the Belarusian economy.

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Parliamentary elections took place in Poland on September 25. The victory of the right wing is a direct consequence of the pro-capitalist policies of the outgoing Democratic Left Alliance government. The vote is against those policies rather than for the right wing.

On April 2, after long sufferings perfectly played out across the media, Karol Wojtyla, also known as the Pope, passed away. The media made an enormous spectacle of his death, allowing thousands to mourn and helping the Catholic Church enter a second spring – even if this may be only for a short period of time.

Dear Comrades,

I’m writing this letter to inform you about the ongoing paranoia in Poland which is related to the death of John Paul II. It is absolutely incredible and probably most of you will find it difficult to believe.

As the war broke out also in Poland we've witnessed a quite spontaneous demonstration in front of the American Embassy. The preparation for the demo was organized quite badly: you couldn't see any posters on the streets, no gatherings at schools or in the factories were organized to explain the nature of the present war with Iraq. Nevertheless what has to be stressed is that the people in Poland are deeply shocked by the conduct of Bush & Co., and also the servile attitude of the Polish government to their plans. Recently published polls show that 62 per cent of Poles oppose war and as much as 75 per cent do not accept sending Polish troops to fight in Iraq. In spite of all this the

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We publish an edited version of a document sent to us by Professor Jacek Tittenbrun of Poznan University in Poland. He gives an interesting and detailed account of the economic and social processes (especially the role of Western credit) that led to the revolt of the Polish workers in the early eighties, and to attempts by the Polish Stalinist bureaucracy to transform itself into a capitalist class.
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