The Rise and Fall of the Revolutionary Left in ‘People’s Poland’

Kuroń, Modzelewski and the Struggle for Workers’ Socialism under Post-Stalinism (1956–89)

In: Historical Materialism
Paweł Szelegieniec PhD Candidate, Jagiellonian University Kraków Poland

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This article explores the experiences of the revolutionary-left opposition in the People’s Republic of Poland, a bureaucratic post-capitalist state established after WWII. It draws heavily upon Andrzej Friszke’s research concentrated on the 1960s, when post-1956 oppositional activity emerged and had an impact on the public sphere. The aim of this article is to present Marxist and revolutionary trends within oppositional circles mainly via the political trajectory of two important figures associated with revolutionary Marxism during the ‘People’s Poland’ of the 1960s, Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski, and their later attitudes during the military dictatorship and the restoration of capitalism in Poland. It also focuses on Kuroń and Modzelewski’s relations with Ludwik Hass, a controversial Polish Trotskyist, and Trotskyism as a political doctrine; and the 1980s’ general tendency toward workers’ democracy in factories, before the advent of martial law implemented by General Wojciech Jaruzelski in December 1981.

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