A broad attack is being mounted here to ease if not break the Polish Communist government's grip on censorship.
Dissident groups, intellectuals and the Catholic Church - although constantly aware of the dangers of Soviet intervention - are nevertheless pressing the outer limits of permitted expression in the Communist society.
The unauthorized, semi-underground press has expanded to a point where more than 25 periodicals are now being mimeographed and circulated among perhaps 20,000 persons without provoking a government crackdown.
A few outspoken members of the Polish Writers Union, which is dominated by the Communist Party, are now making speeches openly at professional meetings alluding to such previously forbidden subjects as historical Russian-Polish military clashes.
The Catholic Church is also pressing to reduce official censorship of the Catholic press and to get coverage by Poland's state-controlled mass media, espcially television, of religious affairs.
While it has had no success thus far the church's influence is considerable in a country that is 85 percent Catholic.
What is more, the issue could, as one critic suggests, become "the glue" that blinds together many of the cross-currents of opposition that traditionally flow in Poland.
One man at the center of the movement is Jacek Kuron. The 43-year-old historian is a leader of a dissident human rights group called the Worker and Social Self-Defense Committee. Its publication, Robotnik - The Worker - reaches between 5,000 and 6,000 regular readers, according to Kuron.
In a recent interview, Kuron outlines the movement's basic strategy. At its core, he said, is a realization that the government controls information in all areas - science, culture, the economy.
"Our concept," he continued, "is to organize society in a way so that it is independent of the state."
This can happen in a variety of ways.
One approach, he said, is to take over an existing organization like the Writers Union, and work "within the structure." A similar tactic might be used at certain levels in the trade union movement.
Another approach is to circumvent direct state control, as in the independent publishing movement, he said, "Instead of demanding a change in official censorship, we take no note of it and publish ourselves."
Then there are other organizations that "simply get on with it."
He pointed to the unauthorized "flying universities" that teach small groups of students a broader view of Polish history than that found in Soviet-approved textbooks. There is also the Workers' Defense Committee, which won important battles against the government, including an amnesty for workers jailed after the 1976 food price rise riots.
"The example of Poland shows that pressure brought to bear on the government can bring not insignificant concessions." says Adam Michnik, another leader of the Workers' Defense Committee.
But he adds, "the limitations of this potential revolution are, and probably will be for a long time to come, set by the political and military presence of the U.S.S.R. in Poland."
This is what is referred to as "the Soviet tank factor" - the point at which Polish opposition would provoke a Soviet intervention, something every Pole in the dissent movement seeks to avoid.
Kuron is perhaps bolder than the others.
"The main problem is that we are in a state of social, economic and political crisis and the government cannot do anything about it. In the long run, this is why the authorities have to lose . . . Because if they want to solve the opposition problem, they have to solve the social ones and they can't." Kuron said.
"I think the Soviet Union does not want to intervene military because there would be a war, which would have repercussions for the other Soviet republics, for socialist countries and on our economic dependence on the West.
"So the Soviet Union is ready to permit us - meaning Poland - a lot of freedom to maneuver.
"Of course they would intervene if they thought they would lose Poland and that is why our program of opposition is to organize Poland and not to overthrow the regime" of Communist leader Edward Gierek.
But, Kuron continues, it is "no secret that our long-term dream is for a parliamentary democracy and the object of organizing to be ready for that opportunity if it ever comes.
"I think the chances are real," he said.
What about a younger generation raised only in post-war conditions of Soviet influence? "Nobody has any doubts," he claims. "Starting from the party apparatus and on down.
Kuron's outspokeness is reflective of Poland's paradoxes. Poland, under Gierek, has, in fact, undergone an impressive liberalization, as Kuron acknowledges, although much of it was because of pressure. Poland - along with Hungary - is viewed as having the highest tolerance for criticism and cultural expression of any country in the Soviet-bloc.
The standard of living has increased substantially in the eight years of Gierek's rule. Still, the country faces enormous economic problems.
Gierek presides over a fragile yet traditionally volatile mixture of workers with rising expectations, outspoken intellectuals, and the largest church in Eastern Europe. The workers, in particular, are an important element in this mix, as they have developed a kind of people's veto by rioting and overthrowing governments twice in 20 years.
Gierek is generally well-liked. He is viewed as a leader with good intentions who even critics and church leaders prefer to some unknown, possibly hard-line substitute that Moscow might impose.
Yet, the swirl of events here always carriers with it the whiff of unpredictability, which makes Poland a country of great interest to both East and West and undoubtedly earns Gierek some leeway in Moscow.
By all accounts, the workers and bread-and-butter issues are the key to stability here. If Warsaw can improve its economic performance in the next few years, few believe that the heady discontent of a small number of intellectuals and dissidents would spread very far.
For the moment, however, the efforts against censorship by intellectuals and church are very much in evidence.
The matter is so touchy that usually well-informed sources here say they believe reports that former Soviet Ambassador to Poland Arkady Pilotowicz was recently recalled to Moscow after Warsaw protested that he was interfering too much in Polish party affairs and censorship.
For example, the Writers Congress, held in Katowice this April was widely viewed here as the most out-spoken in years.
Complaints were made there about black-listing not only books but authors as well. A respected Catholic editor asked why the works of Czeslaw Milosz, an emigre considered by some to be Poland's best living poet, cannot be printed here. She is now a professor at the University of California.
The pivotal event, however, was a speech by irreverent poet and author Andrzej Braun.
Braun refereed to the Katyn Forest massacre of 1939, when 15,000 Polish officers were killed - most Poles believe by Russians while the Russians say it was the Nazis - when Hitler and Stalin divided up Poland.
"What does a 30-year-old know about Poland's independence in 1918," according to a copy of the speech circulating here. "How can one explain the defenders of 1944," he said referring to the Nazi era, "if one doesn't know the defenders of 1920," a reference to the Russian-Polish war. "After all," he said, " they were fathers and sons."
In reference to Polish towns that were occupied by the Soviets in 1939, Braun said: How much longer will the places of death of the martyred fathers be wiped out of family biographies and censored from death notices? An attack on Braun's speech by a Communist minister present was greeted by the walkout of a third of the delegates.
Still, the authorities have not dealt harshly with Braun or the dissident writers. Another reflection of Gierek's need and ability to maneuver.
"As far as I'm concerned" says Andrzej Wasilewski, a powerful figure in the Writers Union and a Communist Party official, "much of Braun's speech was unjustified. But he had the right to say it."
Wesilewski, viewed as a moderate, says, the key issue on censorship "is how to create the greatest possible means of literary freedom within the conditions that Poland finds itself today."
Wasilewski insists, however, that even the most critical writers are not advocating the abolition of all censorship.
The reason is unstated. In 1968, the demand for abolishment of censorship in neighboring Czechoslovakia was one issue that unleased "the Soviet tank factor."