“Prosto z mostu”, No. 9/1936
It is difficult, very difficult for a nationalist to agree with a socialist if they happen to talk, and discuss some points in the process. They speak different languages and use different concepts. Thus there are bound to be plenty of misunderstandings in any such discussion, which must first be eliminated so that a debate that touches upon material and important subjects does not become a dispute over misunderstood words – so that arguments clash with one another rather than missing and going nowhere.
Marxism is a doctrine. Nationalism is not a doctrine. This is the first and fundamental statement without which no progress can be made. It is even more important to realise this fundamental difference, since the words “Marxism” and “nationalism” unfortunately share the same ending “-ism”, which results in an external appearance of some conceptual unity. We would much rather have renounced the term “nationalism” in order to put an end to such false associations arising from the “-ism” ending, but our contrarian and proud spirit will not let us do so: precisely because the word has been denigrated so much, precisely because it has been made a bogeyman; precisely because it has been attacked. Escaping from a word, even if it is unfortunate, is the same as leaving a standard on a battlefield. One does not leave one’s standard in battle – it can be replaced and exhibited in a museum in peacetime.
So we will stick with nationalism, just forget the “-ism” ending. It simply means the national idea. In even simpler terms, it means the love of one’s homeland. It is not a word that describes a doctrine, but rather a word that expresses a state of affairs that is obvious and eternal: the relationship between man and his homeland.
Thus the first correction to the article by Leon Kruczkowski “Bezdroża nacjonalizmu i socjalistyczne ideały” [Nationalist Wilderness and Socialist Ideals] (Prosto z mostu, No. 59). Namely, nationalism is not a “bourgeois ideology that was introduced by the bourgeoisie in the 19th century”. In fact, nationalism dates back further than to the 19th century and it is older than the bourgeoisie. Triumphs of nationalism in the 19th century are the classic proof of the victory of the national reality over the class doctrine.
After all, what historical fact was the beginning of this “introduction of nationalism in the 19th century”? It was the French Revolution. That revolution, which was supposed to be one of a class-conscious bourgeoisie against the tyranny of the upper classes according to the class doctrine, is now seen from the historical perspective as a revolution of a national bourgeoisie against the cosmopolitan upper classes.
A similar historical phenomenon is now being played out before our eyes, on an even greater scale, in Soviet Russia. Here revolution also took place under the banner of class; it was triggered by Marxists and was intended as a test whether the doctrine was sound. However, it is more evident with each passing day that the national reality triumphs over the doctrines of those who inspired the revolution. The cosmopolitan upper classes and the cosmopolitanising bourgeoisie were deposed while the masses and their strong national instincts came to power. After its class-driven revolution, the national shape of the new Russia is slowly emerging. The word “homeland”, which used to be anathema, has returned to the dictionary, but with a different adjective: instead of the Russian homeland, it is the Soviet homeland now.
This change of adjective points to an even more interesting process whereby the instinctive, subconscious Russian nationalism goes as far as to use international slogans of the communist doctrine for its own purposes. What the Tsars failed to achieve through the Russification of the various tribes that inhabited the Russian Empire is now being achieved by Red Russia through the Sovietisation of its empire. Of course, the emerging Soviet nation will not be the same as the Russian nation. It will only include a high percentage of Russians, over 50 percent in any case. The rest of the new national amalgam will consist of the other ethnicities that live in the territory of the USSR, but history teaches us that the enlargement of a nation always involves sacrifices made for the benefit of other nations.
Owing to the peculiar ethnic and economic structure of the Russian Empire, Marxism, which developed in the west of Europe, found a fertile ground in Russia against all theoretical assumptions of its creators. It was not in the United States, which according to the communist doctrine should have been the first to undergo a revolution because it has the greatest concentration of capital and (theoretically) the proletariat should have found it easiest to take over means of production there; the revolution happened in the industrially backwards Russia instead. Today, when we see the enormous expansion of industry in the Soviet Union that is undertaken in order to catch up with the West and even overtake it, it is impossible to resist the thought that here, the subconscious national instinct was at work as well; only through revolution, only through the enthusiasm of the liberated masses, and only through the internal ennoblement of work (which is akin to slavery in its external appearance) could Russia embark on this race, which was necessary for it to become a mighty nation and to make up for its backwardness.
As it happened, the dry, soulless doctrine of Marxism became a useful tool for the Russian nation at a given historical moment. In its practical application in the USSR, it acquired a completely different internal sense, which was often the polar opposite of the intention of its creators.
The international aspect of communism, which was undoubtedly the result of Jewish ideological contribution to the formation of the communist doctrine (since Jews live in a diaspora, they must advocate internationalism), has now become a thoroughly national factor within the complex ethnic structure of Russia – it is the glue that keeps the new Soviet homeland together. Inside the USSR, it integrates; on the outside, it offers the possibility of further conquests (which are not being planned right now, since there is a lot of work to be done within current borders); in addition, it serves the Soviets extremely well in the diplomatic arena – in each country, there are locals who are devoted to the Comintern and ready to participate in demonstrations to support the Soviet foreign policy.
Their collectivism allows the Soviets to catch up economically with other states by amassing workforce and using it in a manner that would be seen as the most terrible exploitation if it occurred under the capitalist system. This is, of course, work for the Soviet homeland rather than for the capitalist and this endows it with a different character. And this work is precisely what allows Russia to catch up with the Fords and the Krupps.
Indeed, even the communist struggle against religion in Russian lands has a very different meaning than it would have elsewhere given the decay of the Orthodox Church, sectarianism and Rasputinian traditions. In effect, it may only serve to clear the ground; where the word “homeland” has already appeared, the word “God” cannot be far behind.
So we may agree with Leon Kruczkowski that the essence of socialism (or communism) is national – but this is the case in the Soviet Union. Since it is precisely there that communism has become national (and more precisely: national-Soviet, which is one more triumph of the national reality over the class doctrine), then in Poland it must necessarily be anti-national, since its consequences will be anti-Polish. Socialism, or rather communism, has already become a national profession of faith – a Soviet one. Whoever converts to this faith, loses his national identity and Red Moscow becomes the capital of his homeland. After the split between the Stalinists and the Trotskyists, there are no more naïve people who would believe that Stalin’s Kremlin seriously pursues world revolution and the utopian Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of the World. The Kremlin seeks to build a powerful Soviet state in Russia – a country which could of course still be enlarged if it managed to swallow its closest neighbors (provided that these could be converted to the Soviet national faith through agitation).
Well, we simply do not want to be swallowed. The global struggle is being fought between nations. Nations use doctrines, even foreign ones, and recycle them for their own purposes (just like in the Soviet Union nowadays, in the Middle Ages the Germanic world used the Roman doctrine – the Holy Roman Empire is an example); doctrines are powerful weapons in struggles between nations, but they are only weapons. The essence will always be the nation – its needs and interests.
On this plane, we may indeed come to an agreement with Leon Kruczkowski, because for him (which is rare in his political camp) the notion of national interests does not ring hollow. I found the very term “national interests” in Kruczkowski’s article, which means that under the varnish of the socialist doctrine, Kruczkowski’s reasoning is …well, healthily nationalist. The sentence in question from Kruczkowski’s article reads:
“Nationalists do not represent national interests; on the contrary, they express the interests of their class, which is incompatible with the interests of the masses”.
This is a typical dispute over words, since it is clear that when he says “nationalists”, Kruczkowski simply means the cosmopolitan, anti-national so-called upper classes, which usurp the right to speak on behalf of the nation, while in fact they represent capitalist egoism. Against such “nationalists”, I am ready to march hand in hand with the socialist Kruczkowski to defend national interests.
But while on the one hand we have to defend our nation against exploitation by the capitalist international – the so-called moneyed classes, on the other hand we must not let it be swallowed by the proletarian Soviet nation. We need to be ambitious and to rebuild our national system on our own. This is not because, in Korolem’s words (Prosto z mostu, No. 60), “each nation considers its model of life and the idea it represents to be the best”. This would indeed amount to national megalomania. However, each nation worthy of its name should have the ambition to build a model of life that is the best.
The model of life created by the Soviet Union certainly has many qualities that make it preferable to the deeply unattractive liberal-capitalist-fascist mess that now exists in Poland. Soviet achievements in the area of fair distribution of social income are so impressive that they are now praised by Miedziński [deputy from the ruling Nonpartisan Bloc for Cooperation with the Government and subsequently Vice-Marshal of the lower house of the Polish Parliament – trans.] and his ilk in the Parliament. These socialist successes deserve to be spread around the world. On the other hand, the overall model of life adopted in the Soviet Union raises serious doubts. Its original sin is one of its materialistic doctrine.
And here we arrive at the second fundamental point that is contentious: materialism versus idealism. I do not claim and have never claimed that socialism has no ideals. It certainly has them and these do not need to be demonstrated by providing examples of heroic socialist struggle (as Kruczkowski does). Great conquistadors and little colonial agents of capitalism can also claim heroic histories, which does not mean that they are devoted to any ideology; for that, it is enough for them to be sportsmen.
Socialist ideals are in no doubt and they are well known. However, these are materialistic ideals – precisely these demands that social income be distributed fairly. This is an important matter. A very important one. This goal must be achieved, but it will satisfy only half of human needs at best. The other half (spiritual needs) is considered to be superstructure in the socialist system, i.e. a luxury, an additional perk to be enjoyed in leisure time. Socialism takes over in unchanged form the entire capitalist production system, which is calculated to deprive a man of his humanity and make him as similar to a machine as possible so that he does not think or rebel; the only difference is that it offers a fair share of profit to the worker. Such a system cannot be resilient and it must collapse after having achieved its most dazzling, short-term successes of catching up with the “rotten West” and overtaking it. Workers who are transformed into slaves will certainly collapse psychologically.
The task that is worthy of the Polish national ambition is to build a system that will reconcile the demands of satisfying both material and spiritual needs, abolish the division into that which is necessary and that which is pleasant and restore creative character to human work, offering to everyone the greatest gift of all: the pleasure of creation. This task is much more thrilling than meekly joining the giant Soviet ideological machine.