YESTERDAY MORNING Gen. Jaruzelski had the Polish police knock down the door of Lech Walesa's apartment, drag him out into a car, detain him for several hours so that he could not appear at a little rally of workers, and dump him back home in the afternoon. It was a brazen, carefully focused show of force designed to make clear that the regime intends to enforce on the Solidarity leader the limited private citizen's role it announced when it released him from 11 months of internment in November. Gen. Jaruzelski had to know Solidarity's Polish followers and foreign admirers would be outraged by this little piece of thuggery. Clearly, he wished to demonstrate he would not be deterred.

Lech Walesa strikes us as anything but a would-be martyr. He released in advance the text he intended to deliver yesterday. It was by and large a restrained call for worker participation within the bounds of the new order. A clever police leadership would have signaled that it was prepared to accept him as an authentic partner in the long decompression Poland faces as it comes up from the depths of martial law. Instead, the police were sent to his door.

It is Gen. Jaruzelski's long-term strategy, some suggest, to break the will of all Poles who would resist his authority and then to impose a regime that, like the one imposed after the Hungarian revolution of 1956, would come to be seen as a success of reform. One wonders what reading of Polish history leads the general to think, if he does, that the will of the Poles can be broken. To an extent, Soviet subsidies can be substituted for the Western economic connections that were broken by martial law and whose restoration the Jaruzelski government seems intent on blocking. But nothing can be substituted for the willing and energetic participation of the Polish people in the rebuilding of their national life. The general, the formal leader of "people's Poland," cannot possibly hope to win such participation while he turns the police on Lech Walesa, a true leader of the Polish people.