If Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski's purpose was, as he said, merely to "postpone" the process of reform, then how do you explain the following: more than one month after all the "extremists" have been rounded up, thousands of Solidarity activists, scholars and intellectuals still languish in prisons and detention camps? More than one month after martial law was proclaimed, armed soldiers still patrol the streets of the cities; mail is censored; free telephone communication within the country and with the outside world has been cut, social gatherings outlawed, and travel severely restricted.
Every day brings new arrests, trials and cruel sentences (up to eight years of imprisonment plus four years of deprivation of civil rights) for crimes such as "urging workers to strike." The seach for scapegoats--"counter-revolutionaries," CIA agents and those inveterate "enemies" of Poland, "Zionists" (read Jews)--goes on.
The Independent Student Union has been disbanded. University reforms have been rescinded, compulsory indoctrination reinstituted, and teachers have been placed under the supervision of political commissars. The pious promises not to return to the "repudiated methods of the past" notwithstanding, the mass media are full of palpable lies and absurd claims (e.g., that more and more people approve of the government's policies)--all of which is singularly reminiscent of the old "propaganda of success."
As for Solidarity, it is no longer portrayed as merely "dominated" by extremists, but as an organization hell-bent on seizing power. In a speech in Gdansk on Dec. 28, Jan Labecki, a Politburo member, flatly announced that Solidarity would never be allowed to reemerge under its existing (that is to say, legally sanctioned) statutes. A "new Solidarity," he said, made up of reliable members of the old union, would eventually be formed. On Jan. 4, the party's daily, Trybuna Ludu, elaborated on this point: "The Solidarity Union, in the form in which it functioned until Dec. 12, cannot have a place in the socialist system. Anti- socialism must be crushed politically, definitively, irreversibly."
And on Jan. 14, Poland's deputy prime minister, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, a man who for the past 25 years has combined his professions of "liberalism" with unswerving loyalty to every single Communist leader who happened to be in power (Gomulka, Gierek, Kania and now Jaruzelski) cynically dismissed Walesa as a man who no longer "means much."
Perhaps Jaruzelski had hoped that his methods would work more swiftly and effectively. As a military man as well as a Soviet-trained Communist, he might well have counted on cowing his opponents--and the country at large-- by a mixture of intimidation, brutality and political bribery. If so, he has miscalculated.
To be sure, some collaborators have been found: bogus organizations, ranging from the "Democratic" and "Peasant" parties to the old reliable "Polish- Soviet Friendship Association" and the Union of Socialist Youth have all pledged their support to the new regime. So have some middle-rank Solidarity leaders. But most intellectuals have refused to sign the humiliating "loyalty oaths," while others have remained either silent or openly critical of the regime.
Walesa and the top Solidarity leaders remain unbroken and defiant. Students refuse to knuckle under, and reports from Poland speak of workers engaging in acts of passive resistance. The Catholic Church, too, after some initial hesitation (dictated largely by the fear of precipitating domestic bloodshed and perhaps even a Soviet invasion) has now come out firmly in defense of the junta's victims.
What, then, of the future? Are Jaruzelski and his Moscow mentors likely to admit political (as distinguished from military) defeat and start making concessions aimed at restoring at least a modicum of public confidence and thus create a climate in which the country could begin to emerge from its present state of economic collapse and pervasive moral and psychological bitterness? Or will there be a continuous emphasis on "normalization," which in the lexicon of Polish communists has unfailingly meant a return to the status quo ante? Can the military government and that wretchedly discredited party afford the risk of lifting martial law, thus providing an impetus to an organized political opposition?
The answers will soon be forthcoming, perhaps in part in Jaruzelski's address to the parliament next week. But before many Western observers once again indulge their penchant for wishful thinking (as happened in the early days after the coup, with all the talk about that splendid patriot Jaruzelski being "forced" to undertake those regrettable measures), they would be well advised to assimilate the record of the past month.