Polish Left-Wing Party Razem Supports NATO and EU Militarisation

Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine must not become a pretext for supporting Western imperialism!

By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10 March 2023, www.thecommunists.net


Razem – a reformist party in Poland with 6 deputies in the Sejm (the country’s parliament) – has published a short statement on the anniversary of the Ukraine War. [1] The statement reiterates the party’s position of support for the Ukrainian’s national liberation struggle which it has held since the beginning of the war. “One year ago today, the Russian Federation launched its criminal invasion of Ukraine. After the occupation of Crimea and Donbass, this was another act of aggression by Putin's far-right regime perpetrated against a sovereign state in the name of the regime’s obsession with rebuilding the former empire. (…) We also express our admiration for the whole Ukrainian society for its resistance and steadfastness in the face of the aggressor.

Furthermore, Razem (which means “Together” in Polish language) “calls for the complete cancellation of Ukraine's foreign debt.” It also expresses its solidarity with the “Ukrainian labour movement, which has been facing the aggressor simultaneously with attacks on labour rights during the war.

Unfortunately, Razem combines such progressive and legitimate demands with slogans in support of Western imperialism. First, it criticises Washington and Brussels for not imposing more draconic sanctions against Russia. “At the same time, we express our disappointment at the insufficient sanctions imposed on Russia and its oligarchs and the lack of consequences drawn against those pursuing the Kremlin's political goals.

Worse, the Polish party advocates the expansion of the military structure of the European Union. “The last year has clearly demonstrated the constant threat from states that violate international law with increasing boldness, as well as the need to build a new security architecture. We believe that the only way to ensure the stability and security of our region is to rely on the broadest possible defence, political and economic cooperation. Therefore, we fully support initiatives aiming at increasing integration, especially with regards to defence, within the European Union.


National and international affiliations


These demands are not surprising but reflect the political commitment of Razem in support of Western imperialism. It is true that activists of this party had participated in the past in protest activities against Washington’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, for their own country, Razem fully supports membership in NATO and the EU.

Zofia Malisz, a member of the party’s International Office, said in a recently published interview that Razem believes the EU badly needs social and democratic reform, but that Poland should stay and contribute to fostering integration and partnership on the continent.” She added that “given the lack of a proper European security architecture, NATO currently represents the only guarantee of protection for Polish citizens.[2]

Such a stance has to be seen in context of the party’s general policy. Until March 2022, Razem was part of the “Progressive International” – a bourgeois-populist alliance dominated by parties associated with Brazil’s President Lula, the U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (who campaigned twice to become the Democratic Presidential candidate), Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa and Greece’s former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. While it (correctly) broke with the Progressive International because of their shameful refusal to support the Ukraine, it kept the same reformist policy, just in a more pro-Western version. [3]

This is also reflected in the fact that Razem closely collaborates in Poland with “Nowa Lewica” with which it stood in a joint list at the last elections in 2019. Nowa Lewica has its origins in the remnants of the old ruling Stalinist party and is a left-liberal, social democratic party. Its predecessor was part of coalition governments in Poland (1993-97 and 2001-05) and stood four Prime ministers. It is a member of the “Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats” – a coalition of leading social democratic and bourgeois-liberal parties in the European Parliament.

In short, we see that Razem’s support for major institutions of Western imperialism – like NATO and the EU – is not accidental but rather a natural reflection of its long-standing collaboration with social democratic and bourgeois-populist forces, i.e. with mainstream parties which are wedded to capitalism for many decades.


Vasemmistoliitto and Finland’s NATO membership


As the Ukraine War goes hand in hand with a dramatic acceleration of the inter-imperialist rivalry, this dynamic has also provoked a deepening of divisions within the reformist and populist camp. Since Chinese [4] and Russian imperialism [5] have substantially expanded their spheres of influence in the Global South in the past decade, many reformist and populist forces in these countries sympathise with the Eastern Great Powers. [6]

Other parties in Western Europe try to combine acceptance of NATO membership (including participation in such governments even in times of war) with a pacifist stance and a policy of accommodation with Russia and China. Often such parties also advocate the “emancipation” of Europe from the U.S., i.e. that the EU becomes a more independent imperialist power. Examples for such parties are PODEMOS, IU and PCE in Spain, [7] the PCF (France) or Germany’s LINKE as well as Sarah Wagenknecht and Oskar Lafontaine. [8]

It seems that there is now another current in formation, which brings together left-reformist forces with a strong pro-Western leaning. In the above-mentioned interview, Razem’s Zofia Malisz explains that her party has initiated a network last year which includes various parties from Eastern Europe as well as Scandinavian countries.

Among these parties is Finnish Vasemmistoliitto (Left Alliance). It is associated with the “Party of the European Left” – a European reformist association led by the LINKE (Germany), PCF (France), PCE and IU (Spain) and SYRIZA (Greece). Vasemmistoliitto is currently part of a coalition government of social democratic, centre and green parties. Not only has it remained in this government when it decided in May 2022 to initiate the country’s accession to NATO. Leading figures of Vasemmistoliitto even actively supported the government’s decision. [9] Such support was repeated at the vote in the Finnish Parliament about the country’s NATO treaty on 1 March. Half of the 16 MPs from the Left Alliance voted in favour of membership and only 6 deputies of this parties managed to vote against! [10]

Another example of the pro-US leaning of the Razem-initiated current is the fact that Malisz, in her interview, considers it as a success of their campaign to cancel Ukraine’s debt that “a bill has been passed in the US House of Representatives calling on the US government to influence lenders on behalf of Ukraine.” The very idea to imagine that progressive measures for the Ukraine could be achieved if the US House of Representatives “calls” Biden “to influence lenders” demonstrates both an extraordinary amount of naivety and trust in major political institutions of the American ruling class as well as an orientation to “benevolent” U.S. imperialism.


Positions of socialists


The RCIT and other authentic socialists strongly oppose such a pro-NATO policy. One must strictly differentiate between the legitimate support for struggles of oppressed peoples facing imperialist aggression (like the Ukraine) and consistent anti-imperialist opposition against all Great Powers. This is why we have supported – together with our comrades in Socialist Tendency (Russia) – Ukraine’s war of national defence (including its right to get weapons). [11]

From early on, the RCIT has participated in practical activities in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. We initiated resp. participated in three solidarity convoys bringing aid to the Ukraine (together with Chechen and Crimean Tatar organisations as well as with the ILNSS and LIT-CI). Likewise, we co-organised public rallies in solidarity with the Ukrainian people. [12] In addition, our comrades in Russia have constituted an internationalist and anti-imperialist bloc with “Socialist Alternative” and former members of the Russian IMT section to jointly advance a policy in the spirit of revolutionary defeatism against Putin’s invasion. [13]

We oppose Moscow’s wars of aggression like all other imperialist wars. [14] However, we reject all forms of Great Power chauvinism (e.g. sanctions, armament). Such actions, as we explained in our documents, do not serve the interests of Ukraine’s war of national defence but rather advance Great Power interests in the struggle for world domination. [15] We have summarised our internationalist and anti-imperialist program in the slogan: “Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism!


Defending Eastern Europe … with NATO imperialism?


One of the arguments of Razem in defence of their support for NATO membership and EU militarisation is that this would be necessary for defending the people of their country against Russian imperialism. The left in our part of Europe cannot afford to take a purely ideological stance that is divorced from the security realities of the peoples of our region. (…) The vast majority of Poles want this protection [by NATO, Ed.], because they know the threat Russian imperialism poses. That is why I do not think that we can honestly talk about NATO expansionism in our region. (…) For people in our region, Russian expansionism is the existential threat. And it is Russia that is expanding towards and across our region — by invading Ukraine.[16]

We do not deny that there is a strong pro-NATO sentiment among the Polish population (as well as in Baltic countries). This is not surprising given the centuries of national oppression of these peoples by the Russian Empire (plus the abhorrent crimes of Stalinism).

However, first, we shall note that this is not the case in all Eastern European countries – including neighbors of the Ukraine (like Hungary, Slovakia, Moldavia/Transnistria). More importantly, socialists who are not willing to swim against the stream are spineless opportunists. Their task is rather to explain that as long as Poland (or another country) is part of NATO and/or EU, it is first and foremost an instrument of these imperialist powers. Poland’s participation in Washington’s occupation of Afghanistan, its accommodation of secret CIA torture prisons, its stationing of Western troops – all these demonstrates that Poland is not part of NATO in order “to defend itself against Russia” but rather in order to serve the political, economic and military interests of American and European imperialism.

Furthermore, socialists should explain that the daily attacks against the interests of Polish workers, youth and ordinary pensioners – social cuts, unemployment, denial of fundamental rights (like abortion), etc. – does not come from Moscow but rather from the Polish government as well as from big corporations (domestic as well as foreign). This is why the traditional Marxist slogan “The Main Enemy is at Home” has a very concrete and actual meaning.

Of course, the RCIT and all authentic socialists oppose any potential aggression of Russian imperialism against the peoples in Eastern Europe. However, one should be clear that such an attack is not likely in the foreseeable future except if NATO wants to engage in a direct military confrontation with Russia. This is the case not because Putin would be peace-loving benevolent ruler. It is rather because the Kremlin is fully aware that Russia’s army is clearly inferior to NATO in military terms. (No doubt, the Ukrainian people helped Putin to remember the weaknesses of his armed forces!) Furthermore, the Kremlin would prefer to do business with Western Europe instead of waging a senseless war.

We conclude this article by repeating that it completely illegitimate for socialists to combine support for progressive demands (like the defence of the Ukraine, advocacy of the rights of women, LGBT+ people, etc.) with support for Western imperialism. Such combination of progressive and reactionary programs harms the cause of internationalism, anti-imperialism and socialism!


[1] Razem (Poland): Statement on the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, 24 February 2023, https://partiarazem.pl/stanowiska/2023/02/24/statement-on-the-anniversary-of-the-invasion-of-ukraine-by-the-russian-federation-adopted-unanimously-by-razem-s-national-council (All quotes are from this statement if not indicated otherwise.)

[2] Zofia Malisz: Razem: Building a left alternative in Poland, 10 January 2023, Green Left Weekly, https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/razem-building-left-alternative-poland

[3] For a critique of the Progressive International see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: “Multi-Polar World Order” = Multi-Imperialism. A Marxist Critique of a concept advocated by Putin, Xi, Stalinism and the “Progressive International” (Lula, Sanders, Varoufakis), 24 February 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/multi-polar-world-order-is-multi-imperialism/; see also by the same author: “Athens Declaration” on Ukraine War: A Disorientation Smoke Grenade. Critique of a statement issued by the “Progressive International” of Sanders, Lula, Varoufakis and Corbyn, 17 May 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/athens-declaration-on-ukraine-war/

[4] For our analysis of capitalism in China and its transformation into a Great Power see e.g. the book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/; see also by the same author: “Chinese Imperialism and the World Economy”, an essay published in the second edition of The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism (edited by Immanuel Ness and Zak Cope), Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2020, https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-91206-6_179-1; China: An Imperialist Power … Or Not Yet? A Theoretical Question with Very Practical Consequences! Continuing the Debate with Esteban Mercatante and the PTS/FT on China’s class character and consequences for the revolutionary strategy, 22 January 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-imperialist-power-or-not-yet/; China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power (2012), in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4; How is it possible that some Marxists still Doubt that China has Become Capitalist? (A Critique of the PTS/FT), An analysis of the capitalist character of China’s State-Owned Enterprises and its political consequences, 18 September 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism-2/; Unable to See the Wood for the Trees (PTS/FT and China). Eclectic empiricism and the failure of the PTS/FT to recognize the imperialist character of China, 13 August 2020, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/pts-ft-and-chinese-imperialism/; China’s Emergence as an Imperialist Power (Article in the US journal 'New Politics'), in: “New Politics”, Summer 2014 (Vol:XV-1, Whole #: 57). See many more RCIT documents at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[5] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014 (this pamphlet contains a document written in 2001 in which we established for the first time our characterisation of Russia as imperialist), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; see also these essays by the same author: Russia: An Imperialist Power or a “Non-Hegemonic Empire in Gestation”? A reply to the Argentinean economist Claudio Katz, in: New Politics, 11 August 2022, at https://newpol.org/russia-an-imperialist-power-or-a-non-hegemonic-empire-in-gestation-a-reply-to-the-argentinean-economist-claudio-katz-an-essay-with-8-tables/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/; Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[6] See on this e.g. the pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting: Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/nato-russia-conflict-stalinism-as-putin-s-poodles/; by the same author: Great Power Rivalry: Deepening of Differences between Stalinist Parties. Notes on the XXII International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Havana (and the so-called “Paris Declaration”), 10 November 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/stalinism-22-imcwp-great-power-rivalry/

[7] See on this e.g. the pamphlet by Michael Pröbsting Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/.

[8] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The “Manifesto for Peace”, Pacifism and European Imperialism. About the so-called “Uprising for Peace” against the Ukraine War and the policy of Sarah Wagenknecht, Oskar Lafontaine and Alice Schwarzer, 28 February 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ukraine-war-the-manifesto-for-peace-pacifism-and-european-imperialism/

[9] See on this e.g. RCIT: Sweden and Finland Seek NATO Membership: Down with all Imperialist Powers! 17 May 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/sweden-and-finland-seek-nato-membership/; Michael Pröbsting: Only 6 out of 16. On the shameful capitulation of the Finnish “Left Alliance” in face of the parliamentary vote about NATO membership, 19 May 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/finish-left-alliance-parliamentary-vote-about-nato-membership/

[10] Yle News: Parliament approves Finland's NATO membership, 184-7, 01.03.2023, https://yle.fi/a/74-20020423

[11] We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 160 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/; see also: Manifesto on the First Anniversary of the Ukraine War. Victory to the heroic Ukrainian people! Defeat Russian imperialism! No support whatsoever for NATO imperialism! 10 February 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-on-first-anniversary-of-ukraine-war/

[12] See on this various reports on our website, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/international-workers-aid/

[14] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Struggle of Revolutionaries in Imperialist Heartlands against Wars of their “Own” Ruling Class. Examples from the history of the RCIT and its predecessor organisation in the last four decades, 2 September 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-struggle-of-revolutionaries-in-imperialist-heartlands-against-wars-of-their-own-ruling-class/.

[15] See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Can Socialists Support Imperialist Sanctions? The “Fourth International” in the tradition of Pablo and Mandel supports Western sanctions against Russia, 4 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/can-socialists-support-imperialist-sanctions/; by the same author: Why Socialists Should Not Support Imperialist Sanctions or the United Nations. A comradely critique of a joint statement of Russian and Ukrainian socialists, 17 April 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/why-socialists-should-not-support-imperialist-sanctions-or-un/

[16] Zofia Malisz: Razem: Building a left alternative in Poland