POLAND AND THE DEBATES
IN THE II INTERNATIONAL
AT THE END OF THE XIX CENTURY
During the Congress of the International celebrated in London between the 27 of July and the 1 of August of 1896, the discussions that preceded it revolved around the independence of Poland. Three points were made:
1) That of the "fraquists" or extreme left fraction of the popular Socialist Party of Poland, who wanted the International to recognize in its program the claim of the independence of Poland. The proposal was not accepted.
2) That of Rosa Luxembourg, who maintained that the polish socialists did not have to demand the independence of Poland. This criterion was also defeated before the International.
3) The criterion presented by Kautsky and shared by the Bolsheviks, arguing that the International unconditionally recognizes the right of all nations to self-determination, but, on the other hand, it exhorts all the workers in a not less explicit way, to the international unity of its class struggle .
Analyzing what happened in that Congress, Lenin distinguished between the objective conditions in force in Russia and most of the Slavic countries during the insurrections for the liberation of Poland until 1863, and those at the moment of the deliberations of the London Congress in 1896. According to Lenin, since until the second third of the XIX century those regions lacked any democratic movement with social weight, the aristocratic liberating movement in Poland had an essential value, not only for the democracy in Russia and the Slavic countries, but for the democracy in the whole of Europe. Such was the criterion shared by Marx and Engels during those decisive events in Poland.
But as in Ireland, Lenin observed that the emergence of powerful democratic independent bourgeois, and even proletarian, movements were showing that the objective conditions in Poland and other parts of the world had changed significantly, thus concluding that what had been said by Marx and Engels, correct for their era, was not anymore:
<< The attempt of the P.S.P. (the Polish Socialist Party, the present-day “Fracy”) in 1896 to “establish” for all time the point of view Marx had held in a different epoch was an attempt to use the letter of Marxism against the spirit of Marxism. The Polish Social-Democrats were therefore quite right in attacking the extreme nationalism of the Polish petty bourgeoisie and pointing out that the national question was of secondary importance to Polish workers, in creating for the first time a purely proletarian party in Poland and proclaiming the extremely important principle that the Polish and the Russian workers must maintain the closest alliance in their class struggle. >> (V.I. Lenin: “The right of nations to self determination” April-June 1914)
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