Polish Socialist Party

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Polish Socialist Party

 

(PSP; Polska Partia Socjalis-tyczna), a political party founded in 1893 on the basis of the program set forth at the Paris Congress of Polish Socialists, held in November 1892. The congress called for the creation of an independent democratic Polish republic and for a struggle to achieve democratic rights for the popular masses; however, the program did not provide for the coordination of the struggle with that of the revolutionary forces of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary.

Until 1919 the PSP operated mainly within the Kingdom of Poland. The highest body of the PSP was the Congress, and between Congresses the party was directed by the Central Workers’ Committee. J. Piłsudski, S. Wojciechowski, and other PSP leaders believed that the way to restore the Polish state was through a national uprising and not through an antitsarist revolution headed by the proletariat of the entire Russian Empire. This view was opposed by L. Kulczycki’s group, which seceded from the PSP in 1900, calling itself the PSP-Proletariat. A left-wing faction, the “young group,” which had arisen within the PSP as early as 1893, gained strength between 1900 and 1904. In June 1905 the left-wing leaders M. Bielecki, H. Walecki, and F. Kon assumed leadership within the party, which was active in the Revolution of 1905–07.

The ninth Congress of the PSP, held in Vienna in November 1906, expelled Piłsudski and his followers from the party. The PSP majority, calling itself the PSP-Left Wing, adopted a revolutionary and internationalist policy. In 1918 the PSP-Left Wing merged with the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania to form the Polish Communist Party. Piłsudski and his followers formed the PSP-Revolutionary Wing, which urged armed struggle for Poland’s independence disassociated from the class struggle of the proletariat. In 1909 the PSP-Revolutionary Wing became known simply as the PSP.

At the outbreak of World War I the activists within the PSP joined Piłsudski’s military and political campaign in support of Austria-Hungary and Germany, assisting in the formation of the Polish Legions. In 1918 the PSP participated in the founding of the independent bourgeois Polish state. The PSP did not oppose the intervention of bourgeois-landlord Poland in Soviet Russia, joined W. Witos’ coalition government at the time of the Soviet counteroffensive in July 1920, and supported Pił sudski’s coup d’etat in May 1926. But in November 1926 the PSP refused to cooperate with the sanacja regime and went into opposition. Between the late 1920’s and the mid-1930’s the party’s left wing, led by N. Barlicki, S. Dubois, and A. Próchniak, gained strength.

After fascist Germany attacked Poland in September 1939, members of the PSP participated in the defense of Warsaw and the Baltic Coast. After the surrender of Warsaw, the right-wing PSP leader Z. Zaremba announced, with the consent of the Central Workers’ Committee, the dissolution of the PSP. In October 1939, Zaremba and other right-wing PSP leaders, notably T. Arciszewski and K. Pużak, formed the underground organization Freedom, Equality, Independence, which was anti-Soviet and hostile to the Polish Workers’ Party. The left wing of the PSP founded in 1941 the organization known as the Polish Socialists, which in 1943 became the Workers’ Party of the Polish Socialists. The latter party accepted the program of building a people’s Poland proposed by the Polish Workers’ Party, helped found the Krajowa Rada Narodowa (National Council of the Homeland) and later the Polish Committee of National Liberation, and waged an armed struggle against the occupation forces.

After Poland’s liberation from the fascist aggressors, the PSP was revived under the leadership of E. Osubka-Morawski, J. Cyrankiewicz, and B. Drobner. The party rejected the anti-Soviet and anticommunist views of the right wing of the PSP and cooperated with the Polish Workers’ Party in the struggle to establish and consolidate people’s power and to carry out social and economic transformations. The increasingly closer cooperation between the two parties throughout 1947 and 1948 paved the way for their merger in December 1948, forming the Polish United Workers’ Party on a Marxist-Leninist platform.