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Boleslaw LIMANOWSKI (1835-1935)



Sociologist, politician, and socialist thinker. B. Oct. 18, 1835, Podgórze (near Dyneburg). The years 1879-1907 he spent abroad, in Switzerland and France; having come across the works of F. Lassalle when in exile, he began to incline towards socialist thought, especially its strand opting for national independence. In 1892 he took part in the founding congress of the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS). In 1907, by permission of the then governor M. Bobrzyñski, he returned to Galicia, where he was active as a politician, journalist, and scholar. In the independent Poland he twice sat in the Senate (1922, 1928). Wrote the voluminous Historia powstania narodu polskiego 1863 i 1864 r ("History of the Polish Rising in 1863 and 1864", 1882), Historia demokracji polskiej w epoce przedrozbiorowej ("History of Polish Democracy in the Pre-Partition Era", 1901), Stuletnia walka narodu polskiego o niepodleg³oœæ ("The Century-Long Struggle of the Polish Nation for Independence", 1906), Rozwój polskiej myœli socjalistycznej ("The Development of Polish Socialist Thought", 1929), and many important works in political thought (Socjalizm, demokracja, patriotyzm ["Socialism, Democracy, Pariotism"], 1903; Demopkracja w Polsce ["Democracy in Poland"], 1903; Naród a pañstwo["Nation and State"], 1906). D. Feb. 1, 1935, Warsaw.

The selected fragments are from Bolszewickie pañstwo w œwietle nauki ("The Bolshevik State in the Scientific Perspective"), Biblioteka "Trybuny" no. 4, Ksiêgarnia Robotnicza: Warsaw 1921, pp. 13-24.


   Bolshevik rule provides us with a new historical experience, showing that although the path chosen by the Bolsheviks may lead to communism, it will be a communism of slaves, such as already existed in the ancient world. These slaves, driven to work with the help of a whip, raised the pyramids, built the palaces, arranged the gardens which we count among the wonders of the world, but their condition would probably not inspire envy among today's workers. The socialist system pursued today by enlightened workers in more civilized countries means - as Karl Kautsky correctly noted - not only bread for all, but also liberty for all, and liberty is no less important than bread.

   Yet what is the path chosen by the Russian Bolsheviks? They chose the path of centralism, the expansive centralism which created the state and whose main characteristics - class division (there are two classes: the ruling minority and the overwhelming majority of the ruled) and territoriality (territory being more important than the people) - have survived to this day, although in a much mellowed form. They did not immediately take this road, although the program of instituting the socialist system clearly pointed in that direction. When they came to power, they had to take into account the peasant, worker, and soldier soviets, which had been created under the auspices of the SR's (Socialist Revolutionaries). However, they soon met with the insurmountable passive resistance of the peasants, and they decided to seek their power base in industrial workers as an element both more revolutionary and more lending itself to socialist propaganda. The industrial workers, however, also did not provide them with sufficient support, especially in Moscow, where Bolshevik activity was concentrated. In the textile industry located in the Moscow region, the worker population belonged to the half-proletariat, that is, half agricultural/peasant and half factory/industrial, because they had an allotment of land in the village, where the family lived and farmed. In the course of their struggle for power, during which they often met with opposition from the factory soviets, the Bolsheviks threw overboard the democratic principles which encumbered them, especially the principle of freedom, and in some respects also the principle of equality, for even among the socialists they granted some of the civil rights only to communists. As the only effective means to the complete annihilation of the bourgeois system they proposed the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is the dictatorship of their own party, the dictatorship of the communists. This dictatorship regards only its own beliefs as legitimate and enforces its will by means of violence, intimidation, and terror. This requires the concentration of all power in the hands of the regime. Elections have become illusory in the face of the despotic power of the popular commissars and the grim Cheka. The regime gathered all power unto itself - legislative, executive, and judicial, as well as military, administrative, political, and economic. They did create a strong government with an iron arm, equaling in despotism the old Asiatic rulers, stronger than the former Tsarist government, and eclipsing even the rule of Ivan the Terrible in its terror and cruelty. [...]

   The Bolshevik State, as clearing the way for a new socialist system, has no future before it. Either a peasant republic, resembling the old communes of Novgorod and Pskov, will arise from its ruins (that would be the best result), or, a more likely possibility, this state will turn into a menacing and expansive military Tsardom.

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