The West European left hardened its opposition to martial law in Poland today, as the Socialist International denounced Warsaw's "brutal repression of civil rights" and the Italian Communist Party condemned what it called the "negative influence" of the Soviet Union.
In a 17-page resolution that marked its first major statement on the Polish crisis, the Italian Communist Party, the largest in the West, said in Rome that the Polish crisis showed that the "propulsive force" unleashed with the 1917 Russian Revolution was now exhausted.
"When one is no longer able to face the protests of the working class and the people with political means and resorts to military force," the statement said, "this represents a blow at the very cause of socialism." Events in Poland, it said, "convince us . . . of the necessity of finding . . . new ways of restoring impetus to the struggle for democracy and socialism in the entire world."
The resolution was adopted at a Central Committee meeting, and represented a victory for Italian Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer, who had severely criticized Poland's martial law rule several times since it was imposed Dec. 13.
Spain's Communist Party leadership also was quick to condemn the Polish crackdown, and the French Communists, after nearly two weeks of hesitation, issued a gentle but clear appeal for a return to civil liberties last week.
The party criticisms, and today's Socialist International statement, have put European leftists ahead even of some NATO governments, including West Germany and the conservative leadership in Britain, in denouncing the Polish situation.
The Socialist International communique, which urged reconsideration of any further economic aid to the military government in Warsaw, was issued here today at the end of a special Presidium meeting and represented a rebuke to former West German chancellor Willy Brandt.
Brandt, who is president of the organization, said in a Dec. 17 message that upset a number of the International's members that such critical declarations would not "help the Polish people." Significantly, Brandt stayed away from today's gathering of the 48-member organizations of socialist and social democratic parties in non-communist countries. Socialist International members are committed to the evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, development of socialism within the framework of existing governmental systems.
The French Socialists, whose leader, President Francois Mitterrand, has been harshly critical of the military repression in Poland, sought out today's special gathering of 15 socialist leaders, and played a key role in toughening the International's stand.
"Yes, it is harder," said Joop den Uyl of the Netherlands in explaining the resolution. "But be aware that we are much more informed now about events in Poland than we were a fortnight ago."
Despite this effort to soften the appearance of disowning Brandt, the resolution highlighted the West German's caution compared to forthright condemnation by other West European socialists. In tone at least, a similar difference has been noticeable in official government reaction, reflecting West Germany's geographical position abutting Eastern Europe and its concern over maintaining detente in relations with its neighbors to the East.
In a bow to this concern, the communique warned that nothing should be done about Poland that endangers efforts toward detente or arms control or that becomes "an alibi for any intervention in other parts of the world."
Brandt and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, also a Social Democrat, received a measure of support for their attitude yesterday from Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria, a Socialist.
Kreisky said in an interview with the Viennese newspaper Die Presse that what he called "free Europe" should follow "more nuanced and more cautious policies" regarding the Polish crisis.
This advice was largely ignored by the International's statement today. It called for "immediate release of all imprisoned and detained people," an "end of repression and martial law" and the right of the Solidarity trade union federation to carry on its struggle.
At the same time, the International avoided any mention of the Soviet Union or possible sanctions against Warsaw or Moscow. Despite measures being taken in the United States, den Uyl and Lionel Jospin, the French Socialists' secretary general, said sanctions were not even discussed.
Jospin told French television earlier today, however, that Poland's need for aid from the West should be used as a lever "to make things evolve positively." Reflecting this goal, the statement urged socialist parties "to consider economic and financial assistance in the light of developments in Poland," without endangering food or medical aid.
Jospin said sanctions were not part of the discussions because they are for consideration only by governments. The Socialist International, although its member parties belong to a number of governments and rule in some countries such as France and Greece, is a nongovernmental group.
News services reported the following:
Leaders of French, Italian and Japanese trade unions met in Paris today, and agreed to request that the International Labor Organization, a U.N. agency based in Geneva, send a delegation to Poland to study the situation there.
The ILO announced in Geneva, however, that Poland had rejected a request by the agency to send a mission there.
The ILO statement said Director General Francis Blanchard was told by Polish Ambassador Bogumil Sujka that: "The government of Poland feels that in the present circumstances of martial law it is not possible to receive an ILO mission."
The organization said the Polish ambassador told it the position of the martial law authorities in Warsaw "might change as soon as conditions improve or return to normal."
"His government, he said, was determined that there should be a place for free trade unionism in Poland, provided that workers associations were concerned with trade union rather than political questions," the ILO said.