Poland, 1982, February, Committee in Support of Solidarity Report No. 1
Committee in Support of solidarity Reports
(un-numbered issue, possibly Number 1, possibly February, 1982)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WHERE DOES SOLIDARITY GO FROM HERE: A DEBATE
Introduction page 1
"The way out of the impasse" by Jacek Kuron, page 2
The leader of KOR discusses the possibility of an "underground state"
"Trench Warfare" by Zbigniew Bujak, page 7
The head of "Warsaw Solidarity" calls for an "underground society"
"A Third Alternative" by Wiktor Kulerski, page 10
Another leader of "Warsaw Solidarity" looks at "government rotting"
These items are the most recent that the Committee in Support of Solidarity has published through the date of this report.
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The Committee in Support of Solidarity, based in New York, organizes efforts on behalf of the Solidarity movement in Poland and for general human rights for the Polish people.
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WHERE DOES SOLIDARITY GO FROM HERE: A DEBATE
The following are three articles discussing strategy for resisting the state of war in poland.
The first was written by Jacek Kuron, and smuggled out of Bialoleka Prison, where Kuron is interned. Kuron was a co-founder of KOR--the Workers Defense Committee--in 1976. KOR organized legal and humanitarian assistance for workers and intellectuals repressed by the authorities. KOR and its members also helped organize independent publishing houses and other activities independent of the state.
Kuron, also a leading advisor to Solidarity's National Committee, advocates a national center of resistance to prepare for the overthrow of what he--and others as well--call the "occupation"--if the authorities do not decide to reach a compromise with Solidarity.
Soon after Kuron's piece began circulating, two Solidarity leaders now underground Zbigniew Bujak, chairman of "Warsaw Solidarity," and Wiktor Kulerski, a member of "Warsaw Solidarity's" presidium--responded to Kuron's analysis, offering different strategy.
Their respective articles appeared in the eighth issue of "Mazowsze Weekly," published March 30th. "Mazowsze Weekly" is one of a large network of underground publications currently circulating in Poland, and numbering more than one thousand.
"A way out of the impasse"
by Jacek Kuron
1. The state of the economy stands in no need of description. If one is to believe the authors of the military coup when they claim that they acted in order to save the economy, one may say that the operation was successful, but the patient died.
According to an officially published report from the Central Office of Statistics [GUS], January--the first calm month of our war --saw a 13.6% fall in production from the strike-racked (5 free Saturdays were extorted) January of last year, and a 17.5% fall from December, 1981, the first month of the war. If this process continues, in five months' time we will have reached a production level of zero.
Future statistics can easily be improved; but will it be equally simple to improve production and prevent the death throes of the economy?
The answer to this question lies in the interpretation of the causes of the catastrophe. Frequently cited among them are workers' demoralization, the information blockade imposed by the state of war, and Western sanctions. The second of these no longer exists. The third is only beginning to take effect. The causes cited, however, are so obvious that they overshadow another--the most important. The disintegration of the economy began neither in December 1981, nor in August 1980. Those who had the courage to speak have been predicting it since 1976. After August 1980, everyone who knew or cared about the matter at all agreed that our public and economic life was fatally ill. The illness was centralized management, the sole way of organizing social initiative and activity. Hence the participants in the social process had no influence in its aims or development. That was the cause of the illness.
This state of things was supposed to have been radically changed by reforming the state and the economy. Instead, whatever the declared and even undeclared intentions of the authors of the coup, December 13th saw the introduction of military methods of rule. This means that social and economic life in its every aspect must be subordinated to the orders of the central military authorities. The entire population, the middle and lower classes included, must carry out orders and report on the situation. While this is certainly a good method of waging a war, it is also certainly the worst way to manage the public life of the country. The causes of the fatal illness have thus been blown up to proportions bordering on caricature. Even if a miracle happened--if the Poles were to throw themselves into frantic activity, and if Western credits were to reach the level of the Gierek era--these fruits would be wasted, with a speed directly proportional to the extent that our life is militarized.
2. Our society lives a life of war. Those who proclaimed that war are making no special attempt to hide the fact that they are waging it against the people. Thanks to the extraordinary self-discipline of Poles, so far we have been able to avoid bloody conflicts on a mass scale. On the other hand, we live under a classic occupation: with censorship of correspondence, curfews, mass raids, searches, arrests, military court sentences, collective responsibility, and so forth.
Violence, threats, and desperate appeals for calm make up the only language with which the regime is capable of carrying on a dialogue with society. What does it achieve by this, and what can it achieve? Only despair and hate from everyone; fear and submission from some; determination and the will to fight from others. The authorities cannot count on those who are afraid; their fear and submission will last as long as violence reigns. The determined will fight; and they will do so the more determinedly the more severe the methods used against them. The economy, in ruins, will produce hunger and poverty; the determined will increase in numbers. The occupying forces should not delude themselves: partitions of Poland never lasted long. Nor do partitions destroy the web and tissue of social and economic life; occupation does.
Violence breeds violence. The not so patient, and the not so thoughtful, will tend towards terror, the double-edged weapon. Terror breeds terror, and the spiral of terror cannot be broken by terror. He who sows the wind reaps the tempest.
3. The entire Soviet bloc has been profoundly shaken by the events in Poland. The fatal illness that I spoke about is most advanced in Poland, but all the countries of the bloc suffer from it.
As an economy becomes modernized, the aspirations of society increase, as does participation in the international division of labor. Modernization is essential in the Soviet bloc countries because of the demands of defense. When the illness has set in, modernization leads to a violent increase in investments coupled with an unchanged--and hence diminishing--output. Hence the increasing dependence on the West and social conflicts that become more and more acute.
We know that war was introduced in Poland under pressure from the USSR. The authorities of that power have reason to fear that the Polish example will be contagious. But evidently they went astray in their calculations. The restrictions limited the possibility of cooperation with the West, without which the economy of the bloc cannot function normally; and it is unable to bear the burden of additional and costly armaments.
The destruction of the Polish economy deprived the bloc of an important link of economic cooperation. The countries of the bloc must therefore come to Poland's aid, but they can do little. Their people must bear the burden of this aid, along with the burden of a crisis which is increasingly acute. The patience of a society has its limits. These limits are becoming more and more evident.
The dying of the empire has begun, although it is still capable of a bloody settling of accounts with Poland.
4. Can Polish society wait for the death throes of imperialism?
No appeals will stop the young and eager who would fight. If such appeals are effective enough to prevent other forms of struggle, they can only lead to the blind alley of terrorism. No appeals can diminish hate and despair--an explosive mixture, liable with one spark to be set afire.
Poverty is the fruit of the state of war, as is violence. To violence--and to poverty imposed by violence--a healthy society responds with struggle. While the struggle may be waged on different fronts, today there is only one front. This is Poland, and history teaches that the oppressor can, for the space of one generation, achieve calm only at the cost of blood and destruction.
Appeals, even from the highest authorities, to refrain from certain activities can be effective only if they provide other ways of resolving problems. But the occupation has made all peaceful activities impossible: it has not even left the possibility open for effective work. For this reason it is not within anyone's power to assure calm in Poland as long as the occupation lasts. It can be assured by the authorities, if they come to a compromise with society; or it can be assured by society, if it overthrows the authorities. In this second case, we would come face to face with Soviet military power.
5. A national accord is a necessary condition for peace. To achieve it, all citizens must agree to at least some fundamental values and goals.
Since August 1980, the Polish nation has been united as never before. The difficulties arose from the fact that society, in the face of the Soviet threat, had been forced to renounce a significant portion of its aspirations. We disputed over the scope and content of this portion. We sought a compromise with people who represented the interests of the USSR in Poland.
In the name of this compromise, the majority of Poles accepted the decisive role of these people in governing the state. What was sought was only social control over their actions and a guarantee that society would be genuinely represented in the making of crucial decisions.
The people of the USSR wanted no such compromise. Instead of building a state--a state of even the most limited democracy--at the head of the nation, they destroyed the economy and the administration. After December 13, they completed their work, destroying all the necessary conditions for a compromise.
Such a compromise, that is, a compromise between society and those in power, is much less possible today than it was before December 13. But the occupation, if it continues, will inevitably lead the government camp to catastrophe. If this camp contains people who are aware of this fact, they will ask themselves whether or not initiating such a compromise would lead to an equally tragic end for them. The question is a justifiable one. Polish society has reason for demanding a squaring of accounts with the occupying forces.
But the episcopate, an enormous authority in Poland, is on the side of a compromise. Its position will be supported by a decisive majority of the Solidarity leadership, by men of science and culture--in short, by all those whose voice counts in Poland. Most importantly, however, initiating a compromise would provide people from the government camp with a social mandate, which it has lacked since 1956. For them such an initiative would have its risks. But maintaining the occupation is an act of suicide.
6. A well-organized mass resistance movement is, for Poles, the only chance. Only such a movement can comprise one side of a compromise. Only such a movement can stem a tide of terrorism and, if no one can be found within the government camp to initiate a compromise, can lessen the risk of Soviet intervention in the face of the social explosion that inevitably would occur.
The strength of the occupying forces lies in the disorganization of society and the ability to transfer rapidly from one place to another a small number of pacification teams. For this reason, we must at present organize ourselves--differently than before August 1980--around a main center and display absolute discipline before it. We must organize an efficient system of information. We must, however, take into account the possibility that, at the decisive moment, it will be blocked. Hence the concrete goals of the movement and its methods of functioning must be popularly known.
7. The activities of the movement, with the exception of publications, are currently confined to demonstrations. These can take various forms, from leaflets and graffiti to longer or shorter strikes, passing through various kinds of collective demonstrations. All these forms are extremely significant for sustaining the spirit of the nation. They are also a means of pressure on those in the government camp who might be in favor of a compromise.
The ultimate means of exerting such pressure, and currently the last chance for a compromise, would be a general strike. Nevertheless we must realize that the movement's activities cited so far manifest the will of the nation to those who have, in a premeditated action, stood up against the nation. If we confine ourselves to them, and if there proves to be no one in the government camp willing to initiate a compromise, we cannot avoid catastrophe.
In the course of a dozen or so weeks, a little earlier perhaps, or a little later, independent local incidents will be transformed into national ones, spreading throughout the country. The occupying forces will probably be overthrown, but at the greatest possible costs to society and with the greatest risk of armed intervention.
Hence, the leadership of the resistance movement must at the same time prepare Polish society for even the farthest reaching concessions in a compromise with the authorities, and for liquidating the occupation as a collective, organized demonstration. I think that such a demonstration can take the form of a simultaneous offensive against all the centers of power and information throughout the country. People from the government camp must know that the time left for them to initiate a compromise is strictly limited.
In expecting the worst, we must now do everything in our power to make the authorities of the USSR realize that, with a small amount of good will on their part, a Polish national agreement would not--even if it were without the participation of the current government of the Polish People's Republic--harm its military interests, and would be extremely favorable to its economic ones. Armed intervention, on the other hand, will be the last action of the USSR.
I am not claiming that an organized demonstration, combined with a declaration of good will towards the USSR, will guarantee our safety from that power. I maintain only that, if the occupation continues, such an action will carry with it the fewest risks.
Throughout the many years of my opposition activity I propagated the principle of avoiding all forms of violence. I therefore feel obliged to speak out, to say that at present, preparing ourselves for overthrowing the occupation in a collective action seems to me to be the least of all evils.
February 1982, Bialoleka Prison
"Trench Warfare" by Zbigniew Bujak
I find that the main point of Jacek Kuron's article is contained in the assertion, "If you don't want a war, prepare yourself for it."
Kuron's piece represents an important voice in the discussion about our program of action. Jacek Kuron is a distinguished intellectual with a keen understanding of social phenomena and the valuable ability to predict their results. However, I disagree with his fundamental assumptions and with the conclusions he draws from them.
Kuron bases his argument on the premise that--because of poverty, coercion and the lack of possibilities for effective action other than open battle--a social explosion is inevitable. I think people generally realize that this kind of explosion, while failing to solve any of the problems currently facing us, would, on the contrary, create a great threat--both of outside intervention, and of the most brutal use of internal forces. Society's high level of self-awareness, discipline and organization provide the chance for avoiding such an explosion.
The authorities' use of terror is countered by the society organizing forms of resistance not involving violence. It is precisely in this direction that work on our program of action should tend. We must cross all the battlefronts before we take a stand on the last one that remains.
It follows from what I have said that I do not believe that the creation of a resistance movement "capable of destroying the occupation in an organized, collective action" is our aim. I believe, moreover, that such an undertaking is unrealistic. Unrealistic in the first place because of the police-army structure of the state, well-adapted to breaking and destroying such organizations. The fact that the occupying forces use the same language, that they also are "on their own turf," facilitates infiltration enormously. Furthermore, we are surrounded by states with the same systems.
I would also raise doubts about the view that only a centrally organized resistance movement is capable of stemming the tide of terrorism. I think quite the contrary could be the case: a movement, once centralized, must receive and execute instructions; if at any point these fail to appear, if they prove to be inadequate or unattractive, the organization might be pushed in the direction of terrorism. The spiral of terror, once set in motion, will, with this type of structure, rapidly expand.
I favor a strong decentralized movement, a movement with a variety of techniques of action. Only such a movement--multifarious and undefined--will be elusive and difficult to overcome. Its unity is assured by its unity of goals: the revocation of the state of war, the release of the arrested and interned, the restoration of rights to unions and associations.
I disagree with the claim that a centralized underground organization can, through the threat of a general strike or of attacking government centers, exert on those in the government camp who favor a compromise, pressure strong enough to force them to move effectively towards a compromise.
I think, on the contrary, that a threat so strong will unite the government camp in undertaking action aimed at the total destruction of the movement. At worst, it will better the chances for that part of the apparatus to whom outside intervention would prove convenient. And Moscow could profit from intervening, if it could thereby succeed in eliminating all the "troublemakers" and "enemies of socialism." This chance would be enhanced by the existence in Poland of a centralized movement of resistance.
One final argument against the centrally organized underground is that the destruction of such an organization, while extremely difficult to safeguard against, would prove yet another heavy blow for "Solidarity" and to the hopes of society. This we cannot allow to occur.
In summary, building a "Solidarity" movement as a monolithic organization prepared for decisive and final action creates the danger of another attempt by the authorities to pacify the nation with internal forces. Even if it were possible for us to avoid this, outside intervention would still await us. I therefore believe that we should assume the principle of avoiding head-on conflicts with the government. The danger to which they leave the country open is too great, and our chances in them are, as I have tried to show, slim.
I think that both an effective and a safe form of battle is, to use military parlance, "trench warfare." This is the type of resistance I would like to propose here.
Individual groups and social circles must build a mechanism of resistance against the monopolistic activities of the government in various spheres of life. Through the existence of a mass organization the size of "Solidarity" and through the activities of independent peasants', craftsmen's and student's unions, this resistance could be so widespread as to create the possibility of building a structure for the life of society that would be independent of the authorities.
In the workplace, this primarily means fighting for the right to continue union activities. The only method of doing this is, precisely, to continue them: that is, to defend the rights of working people by all possible means--strikes (without leaders) included. One of the most important tasks, especially in the current economic situation must be to secure salary raises and family subsidies as the cost of living increases. This kind of union activity will be possible only when crews defend their active members against repression by engaging in various kinds of protest actions.
Important elements in the structures of social life which are independent of the government have been the Social Self-Help- Committees formed around parishes. They are able to bring aid to those who were repressed by being fired from their jobs (this deprives the government of the opportunity to use economic blackmail). Other such elements are independent publications (every larger plant should put out its own publication, every larger city should have an active independent publishing house); Councils of National Education and Culture formed by literary, artistic, scholarly and scientific groups to create conditions for the acquisition of independent knowledge and experience; a network of centers of the Association of Workers' Universities, whose graduates could form a group of union activists--founders of and activists in local and workers' self-managing groups.
Other elements in the structures of the independent life of society will surely be worked out in the process.
This road is not one of rapid and effective success, but one of long, hard work, demanding activity from a significant part of society. But "Solidarity," a movement ten million strong, with nearly a million activists, exists and is active, despite the state of war. This allows it to believe that the prospects outlined here are realistic. An uprising, if it proves necessary, will be the final action in a battle to realize the national program of rebuilding our economy, and our culture, science, education and Independence.
"A Third Alternative"
by Wiktor Kulerski
What will happen if the government decides that economic crisis and the current anxiety are less costly to them than a compromise? If local incidents do not lead to a nationwide revolt that overthrows the government? If the occupation assumes a less spectacular form, but continues to last for a long time?
History supplies numerous examples that governmental rotting can be a lengthy process, and of the long, lasting endurance of societies, even--or perhaps especially--when they are faced with hunger and poverty. Should we not, then, prepare ourselves for just such a possibility: not revolution, but evolution?
In what direction? This also depends on society. So it is not, as Jacek Kuron would have it, an alternative of either revolution or compromise. A third alternative: a lengthy rotting of the system, and gradual changes leading to society regaining influence over its fate.
In order for the changes to proceed in just this direction, it is essential not so much to create an Underground State, but to organize ourselves into an Underground Society. Not a center, then, requiring total discipline to be displayed towards it, but a multi-center movement--informal, decentralized --comprised of mutually independent and loosely linked groups, committees, etc. with a large amount of independence and freedom of decision. These would have to secure continuous and effective aid for all those repressed by the authorities to expand the scope of independent information and free thought; to create a network of social communication and to secure the possibility of self-education; to provide moral and psychological support.
Such a movement ought to lead to a situation where the government will control empty shops--but not the market; employment--but not the means of livelihood; the state presses--but not information; printing houses--but not the publishing movement; postal and telephone service--but not communication; schooling--but not education. Such independence on the part of society could, in time, lead to the government retaining in its control only the police and a handful of servile collaborators.
In such a situation, there would be no third way out. There would come either the downfall of the government or--not a spectacular compromise, but rather --the gradual yielding of barriers that divide the government from society, and the gradual shuffling off by society of the bonds imposed upon it: the restoration of civil rights; self-management; and, finally, participation in decisions bearing on, in the first place, the economic life of the country--as well as its social and cultural life.
The scope of the restored liberties must be such as to outweigh the risks involved in living in an Underground Society. Only then will the downward trajectory of the government decrease sufficiently to allow it to regain some kind of control over the life of society in general. The cost of regaining such influence would be, then, gradual liberalization and democratization.
In conditions of a modern police state surrounded by similar systems and, like them, supervised by a neighboring power, it is not possible for a mass underground organization encompassing the entire country to be active on a long-term basis. Creating one risks a premature explosion, or the premature destruction of the organization, a tragedy that we cannot allow. It is only a relatively narrow group of people who can risk organizing the framework of a "center" and, at most, of regional centers. The germ of an Underground State would be just another potential threat to the authorities. Its influences would spread in the Underground Society, offering the possibility of rapid organization around a central core, should this become necessary.
It is therefore only in the ultimate situation that an Underground State would find its continuation and support in an Underground Society. Until that time, the Underground Society should be independent, and should avoid broader contacts with the central structure. This would both increase its strength in defending itself from premature destruction and defend it from a tragedy. In such a situation, even the destruction of the Underground State would be merely one blow dealt the Underground Society--which would live on, able to recreate what had been lost.
This third alternative becomes more worthy of attention as yet another danger comes more clearly into sight. Empires torn asunder by internal conflict, wracked by crisis and threatened by outside forces, have frequently taken refuge in aggression. Aggression allows them, quickly and irrespective of cost, to increase their military potential, to consolidate the masses around the government, and to divert people's attention from their own tragic internal situation. This is a possibility we cannot overlook. In our position, the comforting thought that "armed intervention in Poland will be the last action taken by the U.S.S.R" is--to say the least--problematic.