Red, Brown and Green Detox


The Polish left, although weak and socially marginal, continues its search to find new variations around which to build electoral vehicles. This means that every few years, a new left party product is created and seeks coalitions. Often these have led to quite unsavoury coalitions. One of the people who has been going through the left has been Mateusz Piskorski, a pro-Kremlin slavophile with nationalist and fascist roots and ties. A number of leftists have gone to political bed with this deal-maker, known to be able to help financially and organize support from Russia. Piskorski and his cronies are founding a new pro-Russian party next weekend. Among the likely founders are characters like Boleslaw Tejkowski, most known in this country for his anti-semitic outrages like taking a large group of skinheads to Auschwitz to make an anti-semitic demonstration in 1996. Figures like these are now coveted by the Russian state; Tejkowski is head of the Polish-Russian Friendship society, Piskorski's foundation is funded by the Kremlin and we understand that organizations like Falanga and the totalitarian-loving Communist Party of Poland are also connected.

The founding Congress of this Party is to be held at the headquarters of OPZZ, the second largest union federation in Poland.

Trying to make political capital in the left and to rally people against this option, which will include totalitarian communists, anti-semites and fascists, the Green Party asked OPZZ not to rent out the space to the party. Such moves, meant to appeal to liberal leftists, have the opposite effect on those which have been more strongly anti-capitalist. The Greens represent pro-EU, social democracy and liberalism – something which more of the left seeks to reject. Censure and disapproval from the Greens has met with comments that they are bourgeois, hypocritical and on the side of the neo-liberals who will now get to work in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, in Poland, being against something sometimes moves people into the opposing camp. We saw how liberal, pro-EU, pro-establishment elites took over anti-fascism some years ago, moving more of the working dispossessed to support the fascist's cause. We saw how the cheerleading of liberal democrats for Majdan and the liberalization of Ukraine pushed some left people together with right people to support Russian fascists and the Kremlin. Unfortuantely, when people are devoid of any clear, positive vision of what they want to achieve, they fall into reaction against what they don't like and can cling onto any type of opposition.

What is happening in the Polish left is rather tragic. It has turned itself into a cesspool of parties and party initiatives which offer poor choices and false choices to people, who usually are smart enough to ignore them - although sometimes the leftists ride on and try to steal the positive messages of various independent social movements and people can be fooled.

Given the upcoming party founding, the protest of the Greens and the discussion around this, it is worth pointing out why working people should ignore this and build movements, not parties.

Neither Russia nor the EU: Against the false choices of the Left

The cold war really is not over. Capitalism triumphed and regardless of whether you think the Soviets lived under state capitalism or something else, it is clear that in at least the Russian Federation, people live under capitalism, exploited by various forces, ranging from oligarchs to low-level capitalists to the state. But the current cold war is about the sphere of influence of capital and in many spaces we see how the war of capital is playing out. If Ukraine will have favourable trade relations with EU producers, Russian producers will lose market share; if that happens, Polish producers should suffer an embargo as revenge, etc. etc. Cultural and political influence are factors which loom in the background and ultimately help economic interests.

In the Russian area and, to a lesser extent in some areas nearby, the Slavophile-Westernizer debate has a long history. Long and complicated. In many ways, there are similarities in the modern Russia-EU debate as some people view the politics of Russia as in contrast to the EU. In some ways, this is true, however the basic issue is still who will control the capital and have more influence.

Both forces are presenting themselves as a different set of values and trying to find adherents to their doctrines. As in the recent past, the Russian state now runs several slickly-produced propaganda outfits and tries to find supporters, especially in geopolitically important areas. The EU has its own programs presenting itself as a core of values.

But as more and more people in the EU area become critical of the Union, of the politics coming out of its institutions and their obvious link to capitalism and the politics of austerity, nationalism as rising. Besides local nationalism, another option presents itself on the political front and this is support of the forces that are outside the EU. The two are not mutually exclusive.

With the conflict in Ukraine, more leftist activists, together with anti-EU right-wingers, have rallied to one side of the conflict, which they incorrectly see as a struggle against the encroachment of Western capital and Western values on the area. Although this struggle does exist for some and certainly there are those fighting for their identity, this is not the main issue: the issue of who will control the capital and the human capital.

Acting in reaction to one of the perceived sides, Western „anti-fascists” have gone to fight alongside fascists, earning a place amongst the most useful idiots of the 21 century. Many leftists and rightists have mistakenly associated the EU, US or even Israel as the only bearers of capitalist values. In doing so, they are used by Russian capitalists and agents of reaction.

A growing number of people in the left are falling into a trap. This view of the world is a false choice. Our enemies are not our enemies because they come from some place or speak some language, nor are they are friends for the same reason. We mustn't fight for the protection of national capital because it still implies that a small group of elites control the wealth, not the people. We need to fight to control what we produce, without the intermediaries of capital or the state.

Green Liberalism vs. Red-Brown Anti-liberalism: Neither is an option for the Working Class

The red-browns attack the Greens for being liberals. Supporters of capitalism with a human face, the Greens support market capitalism, wage slavery, etc., but with state controls which they believe can eliminate the worst abuses, rendering workering people „happier” with their position. When it comes to harder anti-capitalist positions, they show that their „critique of capitalism” does not go far enough.

Some reds have alligned themselves with browns in criticizing liberalism. For the browns we assume that their anti-liberalism extends to an opposition of cultural liberalism. Both support a strong state which would act to repress the petit bourgeoise aspirations of the people – but not only. As we see with the Russian state that they support, collective conformity is required and various groups of people are to be persecuted for being different. In fact, the authoritarian state has a long history in Russian and a long history of crushing any workers who fought to run things themselves, instead of giving power over to their state overseers.

Neither the liberalism of the Greens, which seek social-democratic reforms without eliminating the root causes of our exploitation, nor the anti-liberalism of the reds and browns, who ignorantly confuse the elimination of capitalism with limitations on private and foreign capital, offers us any real solution.

Authoritarian Communism, Nationalism and Fascism

There is a history of nationalism used by authoritarian communists to rally working people to support a strong national state. In the most recent two decades, we see that lovers of fascism sometimes become close to those seeking to revive the authoritarian and totalitarian states. In Russia, a red-brown coalition has existed since the early 90s, when the totalitarian state stepped down in a staged coup, to get on with the business of capitalism and plundering state assets.

In some areas we now see „anti-capitalists” of different sorts supporting different fascist groupings as fellow anti-capitalists, together against the liberal elite. Those fascists which go in the Strasserist or Eurasian traditions seem to be more than welcome among authoritarian communists ranging from Syriza to various groups here in Poland.

All of these things are nothing but a dead end for working people. The authoritarian state is not something we need to regulate anything – it is an instrument for usurping power and imparting priveleges to party elites. Nationalism just distracts our attention from the deeper nature of capitalism and the various fascist groups act in the same way by manipulating issues to get themselves into power.

The best way forward is to ignore all these groupings and go forward to build independent social movements. But beware – once you have started, a lot of these people will be around like vultures, pretending to be interested and supported – basically trying to use these movements to get themselves elected. Don't be fooled: making progress is not about believing charlatans who promise they will support you and helping them get elected. It is about building up an alternative source of power in self-organization, independent of these parties, so you can work as a successful direct action and pressure group in your own interests.