The Polish left and the conflict in Ukraine

by Bruno Drweski

Since 1989, even though there exists in Polish society a strong socializing, anti-capitalist and often nostalgic sensitivity towards the social aspects of former socialist Poland, no significant social left force has been able to emerge, because the left was first monopolized by the former right wing of the “ex-communist” party in power in the years 1944-1989 (Polish Unified Workers’ Party – PZPR) which aligned itself completely after 1989 with a pro-capitalist, neoliberal, pro-NATO, pro-EU, societal, and very superficially pro-social or even pro-secularism line. The only mass movement that could emerge after 1989 on a “patriotic left” line was the short-lived agricultural trade union and “Self-Defense” party led by Andrzej Lepper, who publicly raised the question of NATO, the participation of Poland in the aggressions against Iraq and its participation in the CIA’s secret prison program. This movement eventually disappeared, its founder having been found “committed suicide” in murky conditions and its former parliamentary spokesman, Mateusz Piskorski, having been imprisoned later for three years on the charge of spying for the benefit of Russia and China, and who only had to be released, on parole, under pressure from the United Nations Office against abusive arrests.

Today, in the wake of the war in Ukraine, Poland is undergoing a media and political witch-hunt campaign targeting all political dissidents but also intellectuals, academics and journalists (see: ). In this context, it is not only the “official left”, social democrats, gathered within the Alliance of the democratic left (SLD) which fully supports all the Polish initiatives of NATO to arm Ukraine and fight “Putin’s imperialism” but it is also the fact of the movements of the socialist left in theory more radical, like the party Razem (“Together”), the review “Krytyka Polityczna”, “Le Monde diplomatique – Poland”, the Polish Socialist Party PPS, the Chancellery of Social Justice, etc., which were known until then for their more or less critical judgments towards NATO and neoliberal policies. These groups no longer hesitate now to “support the struggle of the Ukrainian people at war against the Russian invasion”, without even daring to mention the role played in the Kiev government by the semi-mafia Ukrainian capitalist-oligarchs, the Lubavitch religious sect of the oligarch Kolomoisky ,the funder of Zelensky’s election campaign, the Ukrainian and European Nazi extreme right or the NATO powers in the mechanism that led to the current war. To dare to ask such questions in Poland today is tantamount to being publicly stigmatized and denounced as “Putin’s henchman”, “Putin’s agent” or “Putin-funded”. To the point where we saw that during the preparation for the May Day demonstration this year, Piotr Ikonowicz, a socialist leader from the left wing of Solidarnosc before 1989 and who had had the courage to go to Yugoslavia during the bombings of 1989, to propose that the meeting of the international workers’ day this year be held in front of the Russian embassy, in testimony of “solidarity with the Ukrainian people”. However, this maneuver failed in the face of resistance from a few more left-wing groups who have the courage to take more critical positions towards the leaden screed that has fallen on Poland, and in particular on the Polish left since February 2022. Five small radical and social left groups have therefore published declarations which move away from the benevolence of the “saloons of the Warsaw left” and which join the feelings widespread in the largely atomized Polish working classes but much more aware of the iniquitous nature of the social system in which they live, and the history of Ukrainian Nazism in particular. In this respect, it should be noted that the Polish radical right also generally supports the most extreme positions of NATO and the USA on Ukraine, but that it is also on the right that we find the publications which study with the most seriousness the phenomenon of Ukrainian fascism, the Russian political system and the reasons which explain why Russia felt obliged to launch the “special operation” of February 2022. These sectors are similarly as it is the case for the sectors of the radical left, submitted to pressures, repressions, stigmatizations and prohibitions on the part of the political power, the big media and the Polish judiciary system.

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On the left, therefore, we find a few organizations that make a dissident story heard in relation to the choir of defenders of the established order concerning Ukraine. The Red Front (“Czerwony Front”), a member of the International Marxist Tendency of dissident Trotskyist obedience, thus supports « The position of the TMI (of which the Red Front is a member) with regard to the conflict in Ukraine, it condemns without equivocates the Russian attack, expresses its solidarity with the Ukrainian people and supports their right to self-determination, without dependence on the West or Russia. At the same time, it does not support any bourgeois state in this or any other conflict. In addition, he tries to investigate the causes that led to the conflict in Ukraine and its possible consequences ». Another Trotskyist-leaning group, Workers’ Democracy (Demokracja pracownicza), considers that « For the United States and its Western allies, this is simply a ‘proxy war’ against Russia led by the Ukrainians. The United States therefore supports the pro-Western Ukrainian authorities in every way possible. Of course, not for humanitarian reasons or reasons and concerns in favor of the people of Ukraine – the Western powers themselves indeed have hectoliters of blood on their hands. Their aim is to extend the influence of the “western world” in Eastern Europe and to maintain the crumbling American hegemony in the world not only against Russia but also against China ». This organization also leads a campaign against Russophobia in the sphere of culture and against wars, even though it had taken ambiguous positions at the time of the war in Syria.

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Among the communist organizations with tradition stemming from “Stalinism”, the point of view of the Communist Party of Poland (KPP), now the object of repression and threatened with banning, is to support the communiqué of the World Council of Peace which « expresses its deep concern at the growing tension in the Eastern European region, in particular in Ukraine, and which results mainly from the growing and aggressive expansion of NATO in the east of Europe and the deployment of alliance forces from the Baltic Sea to Bulgaria, forming a belt surrounding the Russian Federation. Since the 2014 Kiev coup and the seizure of power by pro-fascist reactionary forces sponsored by the United States, NATO and the European Union, the Atlantic Alliance has planned and implemented a further expansion of the greatest war machine in the world, responsible for wars, crimes and coups ». The Polish Workers’ Party (Polska Partia Robotnicza – PPR), a party formed recently by young activists criticizing the KPP for its lack of activism and radicalism on the ground considers that « Russia’s attack on Ukraine was brought about by the West which has aggressively militarized this country. Putin, however, got sucked into the war and thus made a strategic mistake. On this basis, we do not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For many years, Ukraine went through a process of banderization, with the consent and support of the West, which allowed the promotion of fascism and the rehabilitation of Nazism. We therefore support the fight of Russian troops against this phenomenon which should be completely eradicated. We call for an end to the war and an end to all military aid, as this fuels the conflict and increases the number of victims. »

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As for the Maoist Front, he declares « …as the Maoist Front, we believe that this is a war between two capitalist countries caused by the imperialist ambitions of NATO and Russia, as well as by the Kiev regime’s aggressive policy. We strongly condemn the war, we call on the two governments concerned to stop the military operations and we support the approach to this conflict formulated by the governments of Belarus and Cuba. »

We must also highlight the courage of the quite well-known radical left online magazine “Strajk” (The Strike), which has taken very critical positions towards NATO and the Ukrainian government, and analyzes with hindsight the causes of the Russian attack.

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