Poland, Bridge for the Abyss? An Interpretation of Developments in Post-War Poland

By Richard Hiscocks | Go to book overview

XIII. POLAND AS A BRIDGE

THE Communist world and the West are divided by deep ideological differences, by misunderstandings and prejudices that accentuate these differences, and by diplomatic and military alliances that have acquired qualities of rigidity and permanence. The alliances are unlikely to be modified or dissolved until the barriers presented by conflicting ideals have been breached, and then only by the action of the United States and the Soviet Union. The main scope for other States, on either side, to contribute to bringing about a détente lies in the fields of ideas, and of cultural and commercial contacts, where power is not the dominant consideration.

The Polish people, within their own frontiers, have already accomplished much by their example. They have demonstrated to the world that a Communist régime need not follow the Stalinist or the present Soviet pattern. Two Polish leaders in succession, Ochab and Gomułka, have established standards of humanity and integrity in Communist leadership and have thus done a great deal to counteract Stalin's example and influence. Gomułka's own emphasis on some of the best features of Marxism and his rejection, as inapplicable to Poland, of certain methods used by Lenin in Russia, have introduced a healthy, empirical element into Polish Communism. He has paved the way for a reappraisal of the ideas of Marx and Engels in the light of every Communist country's needs today.

The extent to which Gomułka's Poland has exerted an influence on other countries is a complex problem. But she has made an impact in varying degrees on the Soviet bloc, on the neutral and underdeveloped countries, and on the West.

In the case of the Soviet Union itself, Polish influence has been limited by Soviet military, diplomatic, and economic dominance. She has, nevertheless, had some influence on Soviet life, for example, in the arts, in literature, and in political ideas. Her past history, her traditional contacts with the West, and her high academic standards have given her something special to

P.B.A.--22

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