From The Marxist Archives -The Revolutionary History Journal-Draft Programme of the Polish Socialist Party (1934)
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Peter Paul Markin comment on this series:
This is an excellent documentary source for today’s leftist militants to “discover” the work of our forebears, particularly the bewildering myriad of tendencies which have historically flown under the flag of the great Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky and his Fourth International, whether one agrees with their programs or not. But also other laborite, semi-anarchist, ant-Stalinist and just plain garden-variety old school social democrat groupings and individual pro-socialist proponents.
Some, maybe most of the material presented here, cast as weak-kneed programs for struggle in many cases tend to be anti-Leninist as screened through the Stalinist monstrosities and/or support groups and individuals who have no intention of making a revolution. Or in the case of examining past revolutionary efforts either declare that no revolutionary possibilities existed (most notably Germany in 1923) or alibi, there is no other word for it, those who failed to make a revolution when it was possible.
The Spanish Civil War can serve as something of litmus test for this latter proposition, most infamously around attitudes toward the Party Of Marxist Unification's (POUM) role in not keeping step with revolutionary developments there, especially the Barcelona days in 1937 and by acting as political lawyers for every non-revolutionary impulse of those forebears. While we all honor the memory of the POUM militants, according to even Trotsky the most honest band of militants in Spain then, and decry the murder of their leader, Andreas Nin, by the bloody Stalinists they were rudderless in the storm of revolution. But those present political disagreements do not negate the value of researching the POUM’s (and others) work, work moreover done under the pressure of revolutionary times. Hopefully we will do better when our time comes.
Finally, I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries from the Revolutionary History journal in which they have post hoc attempted to rehabilitate some pretty hoary politics and politicians, most notably August Thalheimer and Paul Levy of the early post Liebknecht-Luxemburg German Communist Party. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts. So read, learn, and try to figure out the
wheat from the chaff.
B. Drobner, W. Kielecki & H. Swoboda
Draft Programme of the Polish Socialist Party
The rigidity of the Stalinist parties during the ‘Third Period’ and their failure to react to the coming to power of Hitler obliged the more active sections of the working class in the early 1930s to seek expression elsewhere. The example of the armed resistance of the Viennese and Asturian workers put new life into Social Democracy in Spain, France, Britain and even the USA, producing centrist currents within it or sizeable splits outside, such as the Independent Labour Party and the Norwegian OSP (Independent Socialist Party). The Trotskyist movement took a decision to enter the Social Democratic organisations as an international strategy to make contact with and influence this development. In Poland this took the form of entry into the Bund and the Polish Socialist Party.The Twenty-Third Congress of the Polish Socialist Party in 1934 decided to convene a special conference with the task of changing the party programme. The ferment inside it is reflected in this document, which was submitted as a draft on behalf of the left to the Party Programme Commission, and it provides a necessary background to the entrist activity of the Trotskyists at the time. It was translated by Ian Birchall from the Cahiers Léon Trotsky, no. 16, December 1983, pp. 120–5, and we tender our thanks both to Comrade Birchall and to Professor Broué for his permission to include it here.
Draft Programme of the Polish Socialist Party
The Polish Socialist Party, basing itself on the evolution of social relations, justifies its aspirations and makes concrete its methods of struggle in the programme set out below.
The Struggle for Power
It is therefore the conquest of power by the proletariat and the establishment of a workers’ and peasants’ government, which is the fundamental condition for the achievement of Socialism. As the bourgeoisie will not abandon its class rule voluntarily, the workers’ and peasants’ government can be established only as the outcome of a determined revolutionary struggle.
The struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ government requires the unity of the whole proletariat on a revolutionary class platform, and the gathering round the working class of the broadest masses of the working population: intellectuals, petit-bourgeoisie and peasants.
The working class movement aims to extend its influence over the whole working class. The division of the working class movement is the factor which can make the effectiveness of its action difficult and on occasion impossible. It is therefore essential to overcome the internal division which exists at the present time. But, in Poland, there exists alongside this split the division of the Socialist movement itself into a number of national parties. It is necessary for all the Socialist parties to be united by the bonds of the closest possible cooperation.
The proletariat constitutes a revolutionary vanguard. It allies itself in its struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ government with the peasants, and it draws along with it the undecided elements of the middle classes. Under the slogan of the struggle for the workers’ and peasants’ revolutionary government, the Polish Socialist Party mobilises all the oppressed and exploited layers of capitalist society.
A consistent and revolutionary policy on the part of the party, showing the masses a concrete objective in the form of the workers’ and peasants’ government, will raise the level of activity of the proletarian and peasant masses, and will enable the party to become their authentic leader.
Since the utopian programmes of Fascism cannot in any way be put into practice, the masses of petit-bourgeois and intellectuals who have been under Fascist influence will move closer to the working class movement. Conflicts are ripening within the Fascist movements, as a result of the contradiction between, on the one hand, the aspirations of the Fascist masses who had been lured by the pseudo-radical and allegedly anti-capitalist phraseology, and, on the other, the actual policies of the Fascist dictatorship. These conflicts will inevitably lead to the growing disillusion and demoralisation of the masses in the face of Fascism. In this situation, the Socialist Party, by revealing the true class face of the Fascist dictatorship, will accelerate the process of moving the intermediate strata away from Fascism and bringing them closer to the working class movement. The masses of petit-bourgeois and intellectuals oppressed by poverty and disappointed in their social and political hopes by Fascism will turn to the working class movement as the only truly anti-capitalist movement, while the last links with capitalist society and the capitalist state are broken in their minds.
The revolutionising of ever broader sections of the working masses will produce a shrinking of the social base of capitalist society and the capitalist state. As the military and police apparatus of the state is formed, in the overwhelming majority, of working class, peasant and petit-bourgeois elements, the revolutionising of these will lead to the break-up of the apparatus of oppression which maintains capitalist society.
In conformity with the interests of the working class and of all working people, the party is resolutely opposed to overt or covert imperialist policies, to militarism, and to armaments. The party realises that the only effective way to struggle against war is the threat of proletarian revolution. If war were nonetheless to break out, the workers’ movement would attempt to transform the imperialist war into proletarian revolution.
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Socialist Construction
From the territorial point of view, the dictatorship of the proletariat will cover the whole of the territory on which the revolution has been carried out. But the working masses belonging to territorial national minorities will have the right to determine for themselves the form of their political existence and their relations with the Polish Socialist Republic.
The first task of the workers’ and peasants’ government will be to deprive the possessing classes of the economic basis of their rule. To this end the workers’ and peasants’ government will immediately and without compensation expropriate the banks, mines, factories, workshops, means of communication, principal commercial firms, insurance companies, rented houses and large estates. At the same time, this will be an introduction to the organisation of the economy on the basis of Socialist principles.
- The right to vote and be elected, based on the following principles: universality (above the age of 18), equality, secret ballot, the right to recall delegates;
- Freedom of the press, of assembly and of organisation;
- Freedom of conscience;
- Freedom to develop national languages and civilisations; full cultural autonomy will be granted to national minorities remaining within the frontiers of the Polish Socialist Republic.
The Socialist Republic will guarantee the freedom and independence of scholarly research; it will support the development of science, and sponsor artistic production.
The Socialist Republic will make available to everyone the products of past culture and civilisation.
- The reduction of working hours to the necessary minimum required by social needs and the demands of productive techniques;
- A minimum wage allowing the satisfaction of normal human needs;
- Care in the event of sickness, or accident at work, or total or partial disablement making work impossible, and old age insurance;
- Protection for women workers;
- A ban on work for minors; and it will strive to ensure the highest standards of safety and hygiene at work.
The organising and setting in motion of the socialised economy will be the fundamental tasks of the workers’ and peasants’ power.
The general management of the socialised economy will be in the hands of the Central Economic Council.
In the sphere of finance and credit all banking establishments will be socialised. Bank accounts, apart from small savings, will be confiscated. The socialised credit apparatus will be directly under the authority of the Central Council of the Economy.
Socialisation will not include the tools of self-employed workers who do not employ wage-labourers. All categories of artisan production and home-based production will retain their freedom of economic activity. The state will support voluntary organisations of artisans and of home-based producers set up on the basis of the principles of cooperation. Industrial establishments of smaller size which are not ready for socialisation will be placed under social supervision.
The large commercial firms which have been expropriated will be replaced by the organisation of a national distribution mechanism. The existing cooperative apparatus will enjoy the same rights as the national distribution mechanism.
Arable land expropriated together with buildings and livestock, grazing land and meadows, will be divided among the agricultural proletariat and peasants owning little or no land. The state will guarantee to peasants the resources necessary to improve the cultivation of the land. Some of the expropriated lands will be taken over directly by the state for experimental and scientific purposes, as model agricultural economies. Larger stretches of forest-land, lakes and waterways, being of general concern, will be managed by the state.
In the sphere of international economic policy, the Socialist Republic will establish close cooperation with other Socialist republics, in order to include them in the same economic plan. The monopoly of foreign trade will be introduced in relations with capitalist states. The Socialist Republic will not recognise any commitment entered into by governments of the former capitalist state with regard to other capitalist states.
The act of expropriation and socialisation, carried out consistently and vigorously according to an established plan, will become the basis for the development of the new Socialist economy, erected on the fullest and freest satisfaction of the needs of the broad masses of society.
The victory of Socialism means the emancipation of all humanity. Socialism will create not only the new economic and social order, but also the higher civilisation and morality of free mankind.