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Voices from Poland’s left: ‘We must organise working people or remain on the margins’

This article is over 15 years, 4 months old
There is a wide debate on the left about forming a left coalition to fight elections and neoliberalism. A number of activists spoke to Socialist Worker about their views.
Issue 2112
Boguslaw Zietek
Boguslaw Zietek

Boguslaw Zietek – leader of the August 80 trade union and the Polish Labour Party (PPP)

‘A formation is needed that is rooted in society, which will implement a programme aimed at wage earners in general.

They constitute the modern working class – the exploited, discriminated against and excluded.

This formation must have a strong foundation in the trade union movement, which is its natural social base.

Such attempts are currently being made. Until now the dominant position of the SLD [social democrats] made it impossible to reach such an understanding.

But the SLD is in decline.

This is an enormous opportunity for the development of an authentic left wing formation, which will be firmly based in the trade union movement, organisations involved in fighting for the rights of tenants, the unemployed, workers, and in anti-war campaigns.

The recent meeting of the European radical left in Paris by the French LCR group was very successful. Anti-capitalist organisations from all over Europe were able to exchange their views and agree to common fields of activity.

We saw how much united and how little divided us. This is a step in the direction of creating an anti-capitalist formula for activity for various organisations throughout Europe.

In Poland the PPP has stressed that in order beat the right we have to be radically different to “social-liberal” formations like the SLD. The organisations attending the conference had a similar view of this.

I want to express my appreciation to the organisers of the conference for launching this initiative.’

Piotr Ikonowicz – leader of the New Left

‘The left is not an intellectual but a social concept. As long as we do not organise working people, those hurt by the system, we will remain on the margins of social life and will be only theoreticians and talkers.

The New Left has chosen another road and on a very small scale it has organised people who in their mass keep away from politics because they feel that politics harms them and politicians are cheating them.

In the 1990s the problem for people in Poland was finding work. Today it’s finding somewhere to live.

The process of pushing out the poor from “respectable” areas and city centres – in other words the “cleansing” of tenants – is forcing people to become involved in social self-organisation from below.

Left wing groups must create and initiate social, trade union organisations and social movements because their opportunities for engaging in parliamentary politics are very limited.

This does not mean that fighting elections is excluded – even if this is only aimed at breaking into the media with a left wing message. Such a politics however requires material resources.

The only way to obtain these is to turn the movement of resistance against the system into a mass movement.

In Poland such a movement will be possible only after democratic means of communication like the internet become more general.

Uniting small groups will not bring anything unless we find a way of expanding the social base of the left.

Cooperation between those who are really fighting capitalism is necessary.

It is enough to check who is not active in the workers’, anti-war or tenants’ movements to know who there is no sense in making an alliance – with the SLD and those like them.

Sooner or later in Poland a multi-tendency anti-capitalist party with a programme for building a people’s Poland will emerge.

This however requires joint work at the grassroots by all the anti-capitalist groups and grouplets in our country.’

Magda Mosiewicz – Greens 2004

‘There is a sense in building a modern alternative to Civic Platform, the main neoliberal party of prime minister Donald Tusk, not to the SLD.

Its politics, based exclusively on “deregulation and privatisation at all costs” is dangerous for education, health, security and the protection of the environment. This has to be opposed.

Up until now we have not seen any will to participate in politics among the so-called “alternative” circles.

They have opposed engaging in elections. It is hard to know how much this position will change in the future.

We are interested in building a real alternative against Civic Platform and the anti-European right.

This should anyway be the main aim of all groupings to the left of Civic Platform and they should support each other in this.’

Piotr Ikonowicz
Piotr Ikonowicz
Magda Mosiewicz
Magda Mosiewicz

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