I have just read a report that a hot fight over a proposed strike is going on between hardliners and “softliners” inside the Polish Communist Party. The advocates of the “soft” position are calling for concessions to the Solidarity union to soften the attitude of the promoters of the strike. The hardliners maintain that concessions never soften the attitudes of organizations on the rise like Solidarity and are instead risky shows of weakness.
This disagreement can be considered from a high theoretical-practical side. It calls to mind principles of the theory of action that have divided men in the most diverse ideological and political frays, at all times and in all places.
However, in this concrete case what is in focus is much less a high and even beautiful strategic problem than a rowdy show, a sinister knavery.
Indeed, in my reference to men being divided I should make an exception for those of the communsit-leninist line, who, since 1917, appear to follow a perfectly studied alternation between advances and concessions, threats and smiles. Deep down they invariably strive to strangle their adversary. This is their purpose whether threatening and advancing or smiling and conceding. They use soft tactics only to boobify their adversaries, deviate them and thus strip them more quickly and completely of their means of action. For communist-leninists, every relaxation of tension is really nothing more than a tactical artifice. It is a way of waging war.
So, I do not believe in the authenticity of the arguments supposedly raging between hardliners and “softliners” in the meetings of the leadership of the Polish Communist Party. Both are — by conviction or out of personal interests — puppets of the Leninist communism installed in Moscow. If they are allowing opposing theories of action to leak to the public it is for some underhanded purpose common to both. When we see the hardliners accuse the “softliners” of being infiltrators of the Russian Communist Party inside the Polish Communist Party, it is impossible, as I see it, not to suspect that we are watching a well-rehearsed show.
But what is this show for? — an innocent person will ask. The answer is simple: Solidarity, the papers say, is also divided into hardliners and softliners. But Solidarity is not a monolith like the Polish Communist Party. It is composed of different ideological and political groups, naturally with their own temperamental positions and tactics. Faced with the option of striking or not, it is natural and almost inevitable that they disagree with each other. Aversion to communism is the only thing that unites them.
The communist show is quite useful. In fact, the Solidarity softliners — at least the majority of them — really are softliners. As such they have a certain propensity to believe in the sincerity of their adversaries, except, of course, the communist hardliners. Everyone behind the Iron Curtain has had horrifying experience of them, experience that leaves no room for illusions. But they at least tend to hope for something from the “softliners” of the Polish Communist Party. For softliners there is only one step between hope and negotiation. And there is only one more step from negotiation to agreement. Everything is so easy to arrange when both sides are soft.
Thus the zephyr of concord between “softliners” and softliners is beginning to blow over the table of negotiations between the Polish Communist Party (of which the Warsaw government is a mere puppet) and the representatives of Solidarity.
What is going to come out of that? The softliners on both sides give the impression that they are rebelling against their respective hardliners. It is possible that they may come to sign a softliners’ agreement having airs of victory for peace, and defeat for the hardliners.
But what an illusion! If that is how events go, something very different will have taken place behind these deceptive appearances. The “softliners” of the Communist Party are mere marionettes of their hardline co-religionists. They will have agreed to make only and exclusively the concessions that the hardliners of the Communist Party have ordered them to make to the Solidarity softliners.
What concessions? Those that may be necessary to open a deep cleavage between Solidarity’s hardliners and softliners, in order to have the softliners (always and everywhere the majority, for the Scriptures say that the number of fools is infinite) assume the leadership of Solidarity by unseating the hardliners (always a minority, because it is difficult, thankless and painful to hold a hard line).
What will the hardliners of the Communist Party have gained with this Machiavellian ruse? They will have gained the obvious. Whenever one of two groups in a struggle begins to be led by its hardliners and the other to be led by its respective softliners, all the clashes from then on become those of an iron pot against a clay pot!
Let us have the courage to see the whole truth. There must be a widespread and well-coordinated communist fifth column in Solidarity to help the softliners inside this likeable movement, Communism has always forcefully repressed all the movements that have tried to organize against it. But if any of these movements ever appears capable of lasting a while and becoming dangerous, Communism does not limit itself to fighting it summarily from the outside. Without giving up strong arm tactics, it also begins to use cunning. For example, it will try to infiltrate its adversary with spies or with deviators. While a certain degree of cunning is required of the spy, much more is required of the deviator. His mission is to infiltrate the core of the opposing party, sow factors of division, propose wrong maneuvers, and foment the discouragement arising from reverses. It is to produce defeat.
I tremble for Solidarity as I think of this. Is it not infiltrated with spies and deviators? What harm are they doing to it?
Where is all this leading Poland and the world? Yes, the world. Because a “model” is being forged in Poland which, even before being defined and put to the test, is avidly awaited by the left all over the world.
The preceding article was originally published in the Folha de S.Paulo, on April 8, 1981. It has been translated and adapted for publication without the author’s revision. –Ed.