Poland has introduced a law which bans all people, organisations, streets and monuments linked to communism. This is an undemocratic attempt to equal Marxist socialism with the Stalinist monolith, that ruled the People’s Republic of Poland until 1990. But if the anticommunist Polish government wish to ban ”communist” symbols, then let them ban them. The Polish flag and eagle must be included in this ban, because the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) used these symbols for their ”people’s republic”. No red stars, no red flags, no hammer and sickle, the Polish banner and the eagle were used as national symbols of ”communist” Poland. Are these symbols now banned because they were used by ”communists”? We don’t think so!
Anticommunist laws are not new. America and Europe have limited the freedoms of revolutionaries as long as there is resistance to capitalism. Before the 20th century, the absolute monarchies of Europe would simply hunt down and arrest any member of a social democratic party. Back then social democracy was a broad name for all socialist ideologies, from Marxist revolutionaries to socialist moderates who advocated compromises with the ruling class!
After the first world war, the world was in revolution. The ruling classes of Europe and the USA, feared what Lenin did in Russia. Anticommunist laws were crafted to limit the democratic rights of leftists. Those who were not loyal to the capitalist system were denounced as ”dangerous communists”. Winston Churchill himself wanted to eradicate the socialist revolution and ordered 40.000 British troops, to fight alongside the White Armies. British forces were only a part of a larger anticommunist force made up of 250.000 soldiers from 21 different nations. Their goal was to destroy the socialist revolution. They failed and capitalism was defeated for 70 years!
The Red Scares in the United States of America are good examples of anticommunist hysteria. Many American states carried out laws which gave their police forces the right to arrest suspected leftists, no distinction was made between stalinists, anarchists, revolutionary socialists or moderate social democrats. The second Red Scare was the most brutal and most undemocratic. Many progressive writers, artists and actors were called ”communists” and lost their jobs. Famous movie director and actor Charlie Chaplin left the USA and went into exile in Switzerland. Right-wing senator Joseph McCarthy impose a law that would ban civil liberties in the name of fighting communism. His McCarran Internal Security Act was vetoed by president Henry Truman, who (rightfully) saw in it a move towards totalitarianism in the USA. But the anticommunist congress and senate overruled the presidential veto and the Internal Security Act was passed!
After the Stalinist monolith collapsed in the USSR, the new independent republics tried to equal Marxist socialism with Stalinist rule. Nations like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all tried to ban the use of communist symbols. In Latvia and Lithuania it is forbidden to show Lenin face or use symbols like the red star and hammer & sickle. The anticommunist governments claim that symbols of communism are totalitarian in nature, totally ignoring their true history. The red star is a workers symbol far older then the Soviet-Union and the use of the hammer & sickle predates stalinism!
But anticommunists have no understanding of history nor wish to have it. They are guided by intolerance and deep hatred for anything that is leftist. They see a ”dangerous communist” in anybody who is not a supporter of capitalism. From a moderate social democrat to a revolutionary socialist, even Bernie Sanders is called a ”dangerous communist” by conservative media outlets in the USA. It is one thing to be anticommunist and intolerant of leftism, it becomes dangerous when anticommunism is institutionalized and laws are made to limit the democratic rights of leftists!
After the Polish United Workers Party abandoned power and dissolved itself, Poland enter a new era. Capitalism and neoliberalism led to a rise in inequality and poverty. Social democrats were voted into office, but changed nothing. Soon the voter turnout stagnated at 51%, meaning that only half of the population came to vote. This allowed right-wing conservatives to win a majority of seats, although only 37% out of 51% voted for them. The ”Law and Justice” party of Jarosław Kaczyński is ruling Poland now. On 14 May 2016, the government enforced a law that banned communism from public places!
The ”Institute of National Remembrance” (INR) is the anticommunist police force for the ”Law and Justice” party. It has made up a list of 1300 examples of ”cursed communism” in Poland that need to be destroyed. Listed are the brave Polish fighters of the Spanish civil war, the early members of the socialist party and communist party, the left opposition (anti-Stalinist), places named after Soviet hero’s, antifascist members of the Polish People’s Army and writers like Julian Tuwim, Jan Brzechwa and Władysław Broniewski. These ”cursed communists” are to be removed from Polish history as the INR wishes it!
In reality the INR is trying to erase the history of the Polish revolutionary left. While names, organizations and symbols of ”communism” are to be denounced and removed, nothing is said about the state symbols of the People’s Republic of Poland. Because Poland under the Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) kept the national flag and its coat of arms is almost identical to the one used by the current Republic of Poland. The PZPR choose to use the white eagle of the first republic (1918-1939) in order to appeal to nationalism. Also the Polish flag win out any socialist symbol was used. The anthem of Poland from the first republic stayed the same, under these ”cursed communists”. So the true symbols of ”cursed communism” as the INR claims are in fact the same as those used by the current day Polish state!
Equating the workers movement with the Stalinist regime and fascism, is done deliberate to confuse workers and preventing the build up of a mass workers party against the ruling class. The INR and ”Law and Justice” aim to criminalize the whole communist ideology, making it difficult for revolutionary socialists to operate in Poland. Because our propaganda would be called ”communist” and our comrades would face arrest and jail time for ”spreading communism”. Although we reject stalinism and totalitarianism, our ideology is based on Marxist socialism. This means that in the eyes of the anticommunist government, we stand on equal ground with the stalinists of the former PZPR. An absurd equalization consider the fact that many revolutionary socialists were suppressed, tortured and killed by Stalinist regimes for their opposition to dictatorial rule!
The first party to face prosecution is the Polish Communist Party. A political party founded in 2002, by orthodox stalinists who favored the regime of Wojciech Jaruzelski. Four activists from the communist party were found guilty of spreading ”totalitarian” propaganda and got suspended prison sentence with forced labor and fines by the Regional Court in Dąbrowa Górnicza in Silesia. Around the same time in April 2016, more then 400 neonazi’s were marching to celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the establishment of the ONR party (Antisemitic far-right party during the 1930’s) in Białystok. While Polish ”justice” was prosecuting 4 members of the communist party, 400 neonazi’s were waving the flags of antisemitism and fascism, unopposed!
We see this happening in Ukraine too, were neonazi thugs are free to destroy and vandalize Soviet memorials. Almost 1300 Lenin statues have been destroyed, many symbols of Soviet Ukraine are vandalized by far-right scum. Ukrainian police forces were told not to intervene by anticommunist politicians, who promote the destruction of Soviet statues and symbols. With this new anticommunist law in Poland we might see the same thing happening. Symbols and memorials to antifascists and leftists are removed while politicians glorify those who spread anticommunism, antisemitism and ethnic nationalism!
The anticommunists claim they are ”democratic” but reality shows they have a deep intolerance for anybody that does not follow anticommunism. Supported they are by the reactionary cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who love to see streets and symbols put up in honor of their saints and popes. We know how ”democratic” minded the church is and how they supported fascism and imperialism. These anticommunist laws in Poland and Ukraine only serve one agenda, to attack the revolutionary left in a bold attempt to keep the angry working class away from Marxist socialism. Because there is deep resentment towards those who are in power. 27 years after the collapse of the PZPR and the Stalinist monolith, capitalist absolutism is losing supporters. Younger people are starting to realize that their life under the markets is not that great. Therefore the ruling class try’s to ban the only ideology capable of fighting for workers power and a socialist society!
They try to poison the youth with ethnic nationalism, especially hatred of Russia as the ”big evil enemy”. This works among many layers of Polish and Ukrainian society. Stalinist evil has caused many to hate Russians, but their own hatred will only divide the working classes and this is what both the rulers in Kiev, Warsaw and Moscow hope for. A divided working class can be controlled. Workers with no class consciousness can be poisoned to hate other workers and so the hate drives them in the hands of ethnic nationalists. In secret the Kremlin leaders are very happy about the anti-Russian sentiment, which they then use for their own propaganda against the western world. This is why revolutionary socialists call for unity among workers of all lands. We reject the Polish and Ukrainian anticommunist laws. At the same time we reject Russian chauvinism and the Kremlin’s attempts to whitewash the crimes of stalinism!