Review of Polish Penal Code: Hands off Communists!

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Socialist Workers and Youth League has raised concerns on the review of the Polish penal code, demanding that the dissemination of revolutionary socialist ideas must not be criminalized. This was in a letter signed by Comrade Lai Brown, SWL National Secretary, which was delivered to the Polish Ambassador in Abuja on 10 June.

Below is the text of the letter titled “We Say No To A Review Of The Penal Code Aimed At Silencing Socialists!”

The Socialist Workers and Youth League considers the ongoing review of the Polish Penal Code worrisome. We particularly find the changes being made to article 256 to be anti-democratic, aimed at silencing socialists in your country.

With a sleight of hand, the proposed amendment attempts to conflate communism along with fascism as being “totalitarian state systems”. Socialist activists will thus face the possibility of being deprived of their liberty for 3 years, for propagating socialism.

We staunchly condemn this attack on what essentially is the body of ideas and movement of the working-class for its self-emancipation. Communism is essentially the highest form of democracy i.e. democracy from below, of working-class people and all other oppressed strata in society that have been exploited by the rich propertied classes.

This is distinct from the bureaucratic state capitalism which was the monstrous practice behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Empire falsely presented as “communism”.

Contrary to the view being falsely presented with this review, Communists have been at the fore of struggle against Nazism, fascism and all other totalitarian regimes and politics over the past century.

We have and continue to place ourselves in jeopardy with such struggle. Many Communists have been killed, maimed and where totalitarian regimes have been in power, detained often without trial.

An injury to one is an injury to all. We thus speak out and vehemently so, against the inclusion of “Communist” in the proposed review of article 256 sub-section 2 and urge you to call on the Polish Parliament to drop it.

We look forward to your taking necessary action in the light of the foregoing, please.

As stated in the letter, “an injury to one, is an injury to all”. This is a fundamental principle of working-class solidarity, and the basis of our internationalism as workers and youth. We realise the rise of different shades of right-wing populism reflects the generalised crisis of capitalism in an era where the crimes of Stalinism in the 20th century are still ascribed to “socialism” by reactionary forces.

The tyrannical Stalinist regime in power as the Polish People’s Republic between 1947 and 1989 which suppresed working-class independence was not at all socialist. The Republic was a bureaucratic state capitalist regime. Socialism is the self-emancipation of the working-class and represents the most democratic expression of social life. It is not top-to-bottom like the monstrosity of Stalinism. On the contrary it rests on and refreshes democracy from below.

There are revolutionary groups of activists in Poland who stand in the International Socialist traditions of socialism from below, such as the Pracownicza Demokracja. They spread the ideas of genuine socialism and advance the cause of working-class independent organisation. They are the targets of this mischievous review of the penal code.

They remain undeterred, and the Socialist Workers and Youth League stands in solidarity with them. We will mobilise support against any attack on revolutionary working-class activists and socialists in Poland and anywhere in the world. Workers of the world are one. We have nothing to lose but our chains, and a world to gain.

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