Osnos, Peter
October 1977
Foreign Affairs;Oct77, Vol. 56 Issue 1, p209
This article describes the character of communism in Poland and its relationship with the communist government of the Soviet Union as of October 1977. There is a growing divergence between the Soviet Union and Poland, its largest ally that is understandably a matter of the utmost sensitivity for both countries. Profound differences in the way Poles and Soviets order their worlds in the 1970s start with superficial points of style, but they extend increasingly to fundamental issues of politics, economics and ideology. Official Poles prefer not to discuss the subject openly with outsiders, but they do acknowledge that for all their supposed commitment to Soviet ideals, Poland today is in certain key respects much as it might have been bad the communists failed in their takeover bid three decades ago. The Catholic Church bas as strong a bold on the national spirit as ever, despite the regime's concerted antagonism. Not that Poland is about to break away from the Soviet orbit; the idea is not even considered for the consequences would almost surely be catastrophic. Rather, the developments in Poland are taking place within parameters set by the Kremlin for the classically imperial purpose of assuring the leaders of the Soviet Union the security and allegiance they demand as the price of Warsaw's independence. The result is a system formally patterned after the Soviet model, guaranteed to support the Soviet Union in the international arena, a staunch and unquestioning ally in the Warsaw Pact. Yet the realities of Polish life today are a great deal more complicated than genuflection to the Kremlin would indicate. Behind the totalitarian front, government actions and policies reflect a wide array of competing influences, many overtly hostile to the Communist Party, that can neither be suppressed nor ignored.


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