Sunday, September 6, 2009

Walesa’s “Left” Fans Run for Cover (1990)

Workers Vanguard No. 493 (12 January 1990)

As Solidarność Cracks the Whip against Polish Workers…

Walesa’s “Left” Fans Run for Cover

Eight years ago, almost every self-declared “Trotskyist” organization in the West took the imperialists’ Cold War rallying cry of “Solidarity with Solidarność” as their own. They heralded Solidarność as a glorious uprising of the Polish working people against Stalinist “totalitarianism,” as an example for the American labor movement, as the inspiration for revolutionary struggle around the globe, ad nauseam. The international Spartacist tendency (now International Communist League [Fourth Internationalist]) stood virtually alone in recognizing Solidarność for what it was - “a company union for the CIA and bankers.”

Walesa & Co. hardly kept their program for capitalist restoration a secret. At its first national congress in September 1981 Solidarność opposed any mention of “socialism” in its constitution, while taking up the CIA call for “free trade unions” and “free elections” in the Soviet bloc and demanding that Poland join the bloodsucking International Monetary Fund. Lane Kirkland, the hardline Cold Warrior who heads the AFL-CIO, was invited to attend. So was Irving Brown, the CIA’s main “labor” operative in smashing Communist-led unions in Europe after World War II.

A month after the Solidarność congress, Lech Walesa secretly met with top American corporate executives at a posh restaurant outside Paris (see “Friends of Lech Walesa, Inc.,” WV No. 296, 8 January 1982). Meanwhile Solidarność was getting millions through various CIA conduits, including the German Social Democracy and the AFL-CIO “International Department” (see “‘AFL-CIA’ and $olidarność,” WV No. 490, 24 November 1989). The tapes of the secret Radom leadership meeting in December 1981, publicly broadcast by the Jaruzelski regime, exposed Solidarność plans for a counterrevolutionary coup.

Our call to “Stop Solidarność Counterrevolution!” provoked howls of outrage from the left. Now Walesa openly brags, “We are setting out... to return to the prewar situation when Poland was a capitalist country, after having gone through a long period of socialism” (Il Messaggero, 22 August 1989). Cracking the whip for Western bankers the Solidarity-led government of Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki has begun to slash wages and subsidies for food, housing and social services – the price of coal for home heating has already been jacked up by 600 percent! Whole industries are to be dismantled, with up to one million workers laid off. If Walesa, Mazowiecki & Co. got their way, conditions of life in Poland would make Ceausescu’s Romania look tame by comparison.

So now Walesa’s former “left” fans are trying to bury their years of cheer-leading for Solidarność. Not surprisingly the award for the most consummate hypocrisy and cynicism in this endeavor has to go to David North’s Workers League.

An editorial in the Bulletin (15 December 1989) entitled “Eastern European Revolutions Threaten World Capitalism” warns against the “program of capitalist restoration and mass impoverishment... imposed through the joint collaboration of the sections of the Stalinist bureaucracy and imperialist stooges like Lech Walesa.” But a few years back, under the heading “Lech Walesa Speaks,” the Bulletin (2 January 1981) rhapsodized over this imperialist stooge as a veritable working-class savior: the “son of a carpenter,” who “had to live in a tiny two-room flat...with his wife and five children” but now “leads of [sic] union of 10 million workers which has... the bureaucracy trembling in its boots.”

Today Walesa’s program is “capitalist restoration and mass impoverishment.” But when Solidarność decisively took the road of capitalist restoration at its first congress, the Bulletin (15 September 1981) crowed “Poland: On the Road to Political Revolution” and heralded “an undaunted, young, vigorous and independent trade union movement – the strongest in Eastern Europe – Solidarity.”

Now the Bulletin asks “What Is Lane Kirkland Doing in Poland?” and points out that “Kirkland’s specific assignment on behalf of the White House is to setup a CIA-run trade-union bureaucracy to brutally suppress the struggles of Polish workers.” But in 1981 they somehow “neglected” to mention that Kirkland was invited to the Solidarność congress. Even now the Northites’ German outfit, the Bund Sozialistischer Arbeiter, damns the Trotzkistische Liga Deutschlands for “slander[ing] the mass movement of the working class in Solidarność as a ‘company union for the CIA’” (Neue Arbeiterpresse, 15 December 1989)!

Meanwhile the Australian Northite press is attacking United Secretariat leader Ernest Mandel as “an agent of capitalist restoration” who is “absolutely hostile to questions of political principle” for his support to Solidarność! When the Northites talk about “political principle,” hold on to your wallet! The Workers League has consistently stood on the side of every and any force hostile to the Soviet Union from Walesa to the ayatollah Khomeini to the CIA’s Afghan mujahedin. Vitriolic Russia-haters, the Healy/ Northites hailed the murder of 21 Iraqi Communists by the Ba’athist regime in 1979, as only one among many of their paid services for a variety of Middle East despots.

The Pope’s “Trotskyists”

Of course the USec took a back seat to no one in its enthusing over Solidarność. Mandel called Walesa & Co. “the best socialists in the world,” while the U.S. Mandelites in Socialist Action were so inspired by Walesa that they took the Solidarność logo as the masthead for their paper. In a 1984 speech to commemorate the birth of Solidarność, Socialist Action’s Larry Cooperman declared, “For us, Polish Solidarity has been and is a reminder of the ‘socialism we want”‘ (Socialist Action, October 1984). Now we read that “Walesa steps in to direct attacks on Polish workers” (Socialist Action, September 1989).

In yet another American Mandelite group, the Fourth Internationalist Tendency, support to Solidarność seems to be causing some friction today. In the December 1989 Bulletin in Defense of Marxism, an article by Samuel Adams chafes that FIT leader Steve Bloom “tends to make light of Solidarity’s rightward thrust.” “Let’s Not Forget the Role of the Masses,” replies Bloom, dismissing Solidarność’ program for capitalist restoration as “a purely abstract possibility raised by Mazowiecki in his public pronouncements”!

The bottom line for Walesa’s “left”enthusiasts was “ten million Polish workers can’t be wrong.” Like their support to the ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic revolution” – which they also now seek to deny – they couldn’t resist Solidarność because it too was a “mass movement.” Above all, support for Solidarność was the ideal calling card for getting hired on as waterboys by the anti-Communist U.S. labor bureaucracy.

Spouting revolutionary jargon does not a revolutionary make. Those incapable of swimming against the stream when the masses are intoxicated with backward consciousness will not be capable of leading them to victory when a revolutionary opportunity arises. As we wrote at the time of Solidarność first national congress:

The choices facing revolutionaries over Poland in the absence of a mass Trotskyist vanguard are not attractive even if they are clear. Abstentionism is not a choice; it is backhanded support to counterrevolution. No less a danger is abandoning the perspective of struggle for the conscious factor in history, for the international proletarian vanguard.”
– Stop Solidarity’s Counterrevolution!” (WV No. 289. 23 September 1981)
Today there is an opening for common struggle between the workers who were the base of Solidarność and those in the much larger, formerly Stalinist-led trade unions against the unholy gang of Stalinist bureaucrats and Solidarność leaders who are controlled by the bloodsucking international capitalists of the IMF. While necessarily beginning around immediate economic demands for survival, what is posed implicitly is a working-class struggle for political power. What is desperately needed, as we wrote eight years ago, is a genuine Trotskyist leadership “reforged in a reborn Fourth International by revolutionaries who defended the gains of October when the danger was near, the situation complex and need for programmatic clarity and backbone urgent.”