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Rosa Luxemburg
In Defense of Nationality


4. Nobility, bourgeoisie and people
in Poznan province


When the Social Democrats where the first to support religious education in Polish in Poznan, which Mr. Studt had abolished, and called a large popular assembly, where they called all working people to defend their rights, what did the other parties of our society do? The “cream of the nation,” the aristocrats, the landowners, did not even speak. They, who always and everywhere are called the leaders, the head of the nation, who allegedly manage national interests, who always and everywhere blare their patriotism – where were they, when the people, its mother tongue, needed defending? They are not here! When it comes to grabbing mandates for the national or state parliaments, those like Kwilecki, Chlapowski, Czartoryski, Radziwill, Koscielski, stand in line and hold “civil” or “patriotic” speeches. Representative duties in the capital, in Berlin – they can handle that! But where is their whole stock of “civic consciousness” and “patriotism,” when these gentlemen, elected by the votes of the people, take place in the deputy seats in parliament? What good have these deputies done for the Polish people? Nothing at all! Our Polish deputies sit like mummies in national and state parliaments; they have achieved neither power, nor influence, nor respect. When all year the deputies of various parties fight stubbornly about the vital questions of the people, about safety laws for factory workers and tradesmen, about civil rights for farm servants, about tariffs on wheat and meat, then nothing can be heard or seen of our Polish deputies. When the people need protection against inflation, taxes, governmental oppression, Czarlinski, Radziwill and Kwilecki become tongue-tied. Once a year, they tweet a few words against Germanization, but anemically, without spice, so that the ministers do not even turn around to look at them. The Social Democrats defend the Polish identity much more vigorously, although so far there is not a single Pole among them. Their influence made it possible that someone who declares in court, that he does not speak the German language sufficiently, must receive an official interpreter. Every year they reproach the government, because the children in Upper Silesia have no schools!

But that’s not all. The hypocritical patriotism of our emblazoned parliamentary deputies surfaces fully during the vote for the expansion of the infantry and the navy. [1] In 1893, our Polish deputies voted for the expansion of the German infantry, for strengthening the armed forces of the same government, which is tormenting Poland, for tightening the noose around the neck of the Polish people! Considering this, must the government not laugh at the patriotic whimpers of the Polish deputies? And does this not show clearly that the Polish people have been sending their enemies, not their defenders as deputies into parliament? Even during the doubling of the German fleet this year, whose sole purpose was to subdue and oppress the Chinese [2], like they are oppressing us today. Even here, barely half of our deputies cared to vote against the government bill. The second half of these “Poles” disappeared from parliament, as befits brave men, and hid in a mouse hole, so, God forbid, they would not have to vote against the government!

Who could have expected anything else from them? Our Polish deputies are a bunch of tycoons, nobles, for whom the people already sang a hundred years ago: “Honor to you, Princes and Prelates, for our slavery and chains, honor to you, Dukes, Princes, you dog’s cunts, for our land stained with brothers’ blood.” Back then, the fatherland to them was just personal profit, and the people were just the foot stool for reaching higher positions; today it’s still the same. Almost all of them are owners of large estates and therefore live off the efforts of the Polish farm workers, just like the German agrarians. Almost all of them keep and feed their “brothers, the little peasants” like German tycoons – worse than pigs. Their main concern is also to sell expensively the grain, the livestock and liquor they distill, so they want high tariffs, even though their own people will suffer under inflation and alcoholism. Basically, they belong to exactly the same kind of people as the German nobility and the German capitalists; they are equal. Although the Germans favor the Hakatists and the Poles allegedly defend their identity, the band of greed is stronger than national hate. Like the Germans, the main concern the Polish agrarians and industrialists have for the “fatherland” is how to best exploit the people working for them. Birds of a feather flock together – so our deputies sent to parliament to defend the Polish people band with our worst enemies – the government and the German ruling classes. Is it any wonder that Hakatism becomes stronger, and stronger and that the Polish people suffer one defeat after the other?

The so-called People’s Party, i.e., our bourgeoisie, has done little more to protect the Polish people. This party has been active in the Poznan province for many years; it controls several newspapers, it can call public assemblies, because the venue owners do not reject them, like they reject the Socialists. And what are the results? The same aristocrats sit in parliament and the “people’s” movement does not even care that Hakatism is making greater and greater progress, while the Polish people live in the same poverty and ignorance as in earlier times.

The “People’s Party” might have good intentions, but what incompetence, what confusion, what political backwardness! The best image of this party was given by its behavior after Studt’s last attack. In its awkwardness, it stalled the beginning of any protest movement until the Social Democrats did it first and called a popular assembly in Poznan. Shamed by this example, they finally managed to call an assembly, but what did they decide? Rather than denounce the Polish deputies for their awkward behavior in parliament, instead of denouncing the Catholic party for its hypocrisy in defending Polish identity, instead of unveiling the true character of the government and its allies and calling the people to a relentless fight against them, the assembly sent a whiny plea to the Archbishop to protect “our children” and religious education in schools! Holding on with both hands to the priestly cassock – that is the whole wisdom of the “People’s Party.” Doing everything with and through the priests, that is an old policy, which the aristocracy already followed in the former Polish Republic, until this policy led to disaster.

What best proves the awkwardness and backwardness of the “People’s Party” is that it pretends to fight the aristocracy and awaken the people to develop their own political life, while it holds on to clerical politics, point for point, just like the nobility.

And not without reason. This party calls itself the “People’s Party” but it actually cares little about the welfare of the actual people, the working people – the Polish tradesmen, workers, farm hands.This party does not wish to open the people’s eyes and point to its enemies: Capitalist exploitation, the power of the aristocracy, the partiality of the government. When in Poznan Polish workers and tradesmen began some years ago to organize in professional associations, to fight against Capital, for better wages, for a better existence for their women and children, the “People’s” Party looked very sour and its newspapers tried to dissuade them from this project. About the German oppressors, these “People’s Partisans” like to invent as much as possible, but to hear some bitter truths about their own Polish oppressors and exploiters is not according to their taste. They are afraid that the people might smarten up and therefore want to keep them on a leash with the help of the priests. But in this way, the entire defense of Polish identity simply becomes the wiggling of a toe in a boot, because if the fight against Hakatism should end with the distribution of little calendars an with deputations to the Archbishop, an evil fate awaits our nation. After all, the clergy, just like our bourgeoisie, is not interested in defending the Polish people against Germanization, but rather in protecting the Polish industrialist, master tradesman and landowner against the justified demands of the disinherited working people, not so much in the holding back the Hakatist ignorance, but rather in holding back the light of Socialism. It is interesting and telling that the Archbishop, in his long answer to said deputation and the “humble plea” of the bourgeois assembly of 8 September, spoke much about religious observance, but lost no word about defending the Polish language, as if the whole matter had nothing to do with the Polish language. He exhorted the deputation to “resist the temptation”: “With the words of the Redeemer, I address you, be vigilant and pray so you may not be tempted, because outbursts and pain will serve the enemy of our souls, who offers alluring phrases to tempt you into overthrowing the divine and social order.” (Goniec Wielkopolski, No. 207)

This is their first demand faced with the threatening avalanche of Hakatism – a great warning and the fear of Social Democracy, i.e., of the only party which honestly defends Polish identity and is an irreconcilable enemy of the government and the Hakatists! This shows what the “patriotism” of the “People’s Party” is worth. We now see that can expect no effective protection against Germanization from the Polish aristocracy and their parliamentary deputies, or from the bourgeois party, the “People’s Party”, or from the priests. Our bourgeoisie endeavors, just like the nobility, to convince the working people that the oppression of Polish identity is our only evil, that the Germanizers are our only enemies, and that the struggle against Hakatism is our only political task. Meanwhile, the Polish tradesman, worker, farm hand suffers under thousands of other disadvantages, thousands of other sorrows plague him!

Capitalism exploits the tradesmen and workers, the farm hand is sucked dry by the nobility and the land owners, the entire working population is ruined by the government through high food tariffs and inflation caused by these tariffs; this same government impoverishes us through taxes, oppresses us through the military draft and commits injustice against us by not spending the people’s money for schools or for the welfare of the people, but for cannons and war ships. This is our greatest sorrow, these are our enemies: Exploitation by capitalists and aristocrats, a government serving only the capitalists and aristocrats and ordering the people to “pay taxes, serve your military service and shut up”!

And in this exploitation and in these politics, as mentioned, the Polish bourgeoisie and landowners have the same share as the German ones. Does the Polish industrialist or landowner pay the Polish worker one bit better than a German one? Does not the Polish textile manufacturer ruin the Polish tradesman or the Polish seamstress just like the German one? They equal each other like two drops of water, whether they end in “-berg” or “-ski” – there is not the slightest difference in their relationship to the Polish working class.

Therefore our bourgeoisie and our nobility compete to convince us that nothing oppresses us but Germanization, that we have no enemies but the Hakatists. This is nothing but a maneuver, a policy to throw sand into the eyes of the working people, to divert its attention solely to the German enemies and to distract it from the enemies in its own house. These “leaders” of the people want the people to only think of their language and their Catholic religion, but not about their empty stomachs; to only fight the Hakatists, not against the exploitation by its own parasites, against oppression in the shape of politics, tariffs and the military.

Therefore we must consider the “patriotism” of the higher Polish classes a mean swindle against the people! Not behind them, not with these landowners and bourgeois should we go, but against them; not seek to save our nationality in community with them, but fight to defend our welfare and our mother tongue against them! The Polish people can count only on themselves and on the only class whose misfortunes equal theirs: the German working people. May the Polish tradesman, worker, miner rise to fight, may he unite his efforts with the aspirations of his suffering German comrades, and the German government and the Hakatists will need to reckon with this force. Under the banner of Social Democracy, this sole refuge for freedom and justice, is where the Polish working people must flock. Here they find protection of their welfare, their family lives, their civil rights and mother tongue.

The agrarian, the industrialist, the capitalist, whether German or Polish, is our enemy, but the German worker is our ally and suffers just as much under capitalist exploitation and oppression by the ruling classes as we. Following the example of the working people in Germany, our Polish people must also take up the fight for its material and spiritual existence and must organize for this purpose, must join labor unions, to resist against the Capitalists together, must read workers’ papers and leaflets, to become educated and understand its needs and objectives. But above all, our working people must vote only for Social Democratic workers’ candidates, so that from Poznan, West Prussia, Masuria and Upper Silesia no more enemies of the people, no emblazoned parasites or bourgeois idiots take their seats in parliament. An alliance with the German working people against exploitation by the German and Polish ruling classes and against governmental oppression – this is what we want!


Footnotes

1. On 15 June 1893, the German Reichstag had passed a military bill against the votes of the Social Democrats, the Zentrum party, the Liberal People’s Party (FVP), the Guelph Party (DHP – German Hanoverian Party) and the Alsatians. The Polish Reichstag deputies voted for the bill.

2. In 1899, the anti-imperialist rebellion of the Ihotuan broke out in Northern China, which was cruelly crushed by the united armies of eight imperialist states, led by the German general Alfred Count of Waldersee. In a final protocol in 1901, China was forced, among others, to pay approx. 1.4 billion marks in reparations and agree to the establishment of military bases for interventionist armies.

 


Last updated on: 24 January 2015