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Comments by Zbigniew Kowalewski via Facebook on Eric's article:
I strongly agree with Blanc when he says that "due to the prevailing
Marxist historiographical focus on Bolshevism and central Russia, the
distinct contributions and experiences of revolutionaries in the
borderlands of the Tsarist Empire have been mostly marginalized", or, to
say it more exactly, nearly totally ignored. I find that it is fine that
Blanc speaks about the PPS because of the historical importance of this
party in the Polish workers movement.
Some thinkers like Kelles-Krauz and other left-wing militants and currents
of the PPS elaborated some important and advanced ideas. Especially
Kelles-Krauz had advanced ideas on how to link the struggle for the
independence and unity of Poland with a workers' revolution. He was also,
in my opinion, brillant and unique among Marxists on the Jewish question in
Eastern Europe as a nationality question, but at the same time he was a
disappointing Polish statist on how to solve this question. In general, his
advanced ideas were not followed by the PPS leadership. He was criticized
for stressing too much the permanent revolution (the term was used in this
debate before the appearance of the first texts by Trotsky on permanent
revolution in Russia) and, on the other side, Pilsudski was criticized by
the leadership for not stressing permanent revolution enough or at all.
During the 1905 revolution the PPS build, under Pilsudski's command, an
impressive working-class based military organisation. It was the biggest
nad most active revolutionary armed organization in the Russian empire
during this revolution, and both Lenin and Trotsky observed it as an
experience that should be studied When, in 1939, Trotsky wrote that “the
theoretical work [on the question of workers’ self-defense] must consist of
studying the experience of military and combat organizations of the [among
others] Polish revolutionary nationalists”, he had in mind the Combat
Organization of the PPS active in the 1905 revolution (its characterization
by Trotsky as "revolutionary nationalist" was not exact, because it was a
After the 1905 revolution and the split of the PPS in two distinct parties,
the PPS-Left and the PPS-Revolutionary Faction (including the Combat
Organization), the latter quickly returned to the historical name, the PPS,
and established itself definitely as the majoritary but reformist party of
the Polish workers' movement. Inside the PPS, and later outside this party,
but with its support, Pilsudski developed its own "national-revolutionary
militarist" project, weekening progressively its links with the workers'
movement, finding a petty bourgeois base for its implementation, and
forming an alliance with Austria against Russia in the imperialist war.
The left of the PPS and, later, the PPS-Left as a distinct party were
unable to maintain its position, stressed in the article, on the Polish
nationality question and the fight for the independence of Poland in the
framework of a program and strategy of workers' revolution, The position
adopted by this party and presented in a positive light by him was
abandoned relatively quickly and became close to the position of Luxemburg
and the SDKPiL. So the evolution of the PPS-Left in this field finished in
a failure. And when, in 1918, the PPS-Left and the SDKPiL fused to form the
Communist Workers' Party of Poland (KRPP), later renamed Communist Party of
Poland (KPP), this new party was totally unable to put the nationality
question on the agenda. So, the PPS became the standard-bearer of the
independence and unity of Poland inside the workers' movement, adapting
itself and the majority of this movement to the building of a bourgeois
So, both sides of the workers' movement, the PPS on one side, and the
SDKPiL and the PPS-Left on the other side, failed dramatically. The former
fought for the independence and unity of Poland but abandoned the workers'
revolution, becoming the left-wing actor in the building of the bourgeois
state, while the latter fought for workers' revolution but ignored the
struggle for national independence. In this manner, both contributed to the
failure of workers' revolution in Poland. It should be clear, and I think
it is not in this article by Blanc, that there was never, on a long term, a
consistent current and/or party able to present a programmatic and
strategic alternative to the the positions of both the PPS and the SDKPiL.
But there is something else: and very important, too: both sides failed
totally to have a correct position on the nationality question of
Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuanian nationalities colonized and oppressed
historically by Poland. There could not be a a revolutionary position on
the Polish nationality question without a revolutionary position on the
Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuanian nationality questions.
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