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The Triumph of Provocation

The Triumph of Provocation

Józef Mackiewicz
Jerzy Hauptmann
S. D. Lukac
Martin Dewhirst
Foreword by Jeremy Black
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1npj5b
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  • Book Info
    The Triumph of Provocation
    Book Description:

    This masterful political treatise, first published in 1962, examines the history and nature of Communism as it developed in the Soviet Union and in Poland. Józef Mackiewicz, known for his relentless opposition to Communism, argues that accommodation with the Communists simply helped them to impose their vision of the world and pursue their goal of global domination. He compares Communism to Nazism and insists that the former was the greater threat to the future of humanity.

    Now available in English for the first time,The Triumph of Provocationwill be compelling reading for those interested in Polish history, Communism, and Nazism.

    Mackiewicz's unique interpretation of the differences and similarities between Communism and Nazism is highly relevant to debates about these two systems and to major contemporary issues which are of particular importance to the U.S. and Europe, including radical Islam and the necessity of war and the responsibility for war.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14570-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Jeremy Black

    This salutary book is a reminder of the terrible damage wrought by Communism and of the need, amid the War on Terror, not to lose sight of other ideological challenges to Western values. As the chronology at the end of the book makes clear, Józef Mackiewicz (1902–85) in his life and views bore testimony to the extraordinary changes in Europe over the twentieth century. Growing up in Vilnius, now the capital of the independent state of Lithuania, he experienced the shattering shifts of control and ideology that were particularly acute in 1915–21 and 1939–45. In his novels...

  4. Part One The Downward Slope

    • Chapter 1 “Censored”
      (pp. 3-26)

      In the famous trial of the seventy-nine nihilists (all of them followers of Nechaev and used by Dostoevsky as models for hisDevils) conducted in 1871 in St. Petersburg, one of the most distinguished Russian lawyers of the nineteenth century, a Pole named Wlodzimierz Spasowicz, stated in his defense plea: “A Pole . . . may look back at many past events which will quicken his pulse. When he re-creates the grandeur of this past, all in gold and purple, he takes refuge in the arms of history so that his dreams of democracy are wreathed in the national romanticism....

  5. Part Two Poland No Longer Between Germany and Russia

    • Chapter 2 Does Russia Still Exist?
      (pp. 29-47)

      The concept of today’s Polrealism is based upon two fundamental premises: (1) the Polish state still exists, although subjugated by a Communist “régime,” and (2) Poland is still situated between Russia and Germany.

      Both these premises are, in our opinion, false. They come from an innate lack of understanding of the essence of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. This whole concept assumes that the Soviet Union, today the center of the so-called world Socialist (Communist) system, is in essence the old Russia. Since at the same time many other groups in the free world—for different reasons—would like to maintain...

    • Chapter 3 Between Bolshevism and Nationalism
      (pp. 48-59)

      There is nothing stable in the world, and there is nothing unstable. History may repeat itself, or it may not. Sometimes one has the impression that those who assert that “history never repeats itself” do so because they are too lazy to acquaint themselves with it. In the history of Communism, from the beginning to our own day, the central elements repeat themselves as on an often-exposed negative. Was it only an accident, or was it that Lenin, like a genius, foresaw the role that nationalism would play in helping Bolshevism to achieve stability?

      Lenin based the Bolshevik Revolution on...

    • Chapter 4 Mikaszewicze
      (pp. 60-72)

      The course of events described below is not generally known to Polish readers, since traditionally it was explained exclusively from the standpoint perceived at that time as the Polish “raison d’état” and the “Polish national interest.” This is what actually happened.

      Admiral Kolchak, who at the end of 1918 and in early 1919 had at his disposal the greatest military force, which was concentrated in Western Siberia, had been recognized as the leader of all the anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia. In the spring of 1919, he began a great offensive toward the Volga. After crossing it, he intended to march...

    • Chapter 5 “Gomulkaism” (National Communism) of the Twenties
      (pp. 73-81)

      Obviously, the title of this chapter is tendentious. It should be “Lenin’s National NEP [New Economic Policy],” because that is what we are going to talk about. The tendentiousness lies in drawing attention to the identical nature of the Communist tactics involved, which many have either forgotten or, ignorant of history, have never even heard of. It dispels the currently fashionable illusion about the so-called evolution of Communism, which is said to be finding its expression in a transition to “National Communism.”

      In actual fact, “National Communism” is a very old invention; conceived by Lenin, it was, at the inception...

    • Chapter 6 The First Great Provocation About the Alleged “Evolution of Communism”
      (pp. 82-88)

      We have been pointing to those historic facts that worked in favor of Communism. In the first decade after the Bolshevik Revolution, there still remained in the West some powerful elements that looked upon Bolshevism with genuine revulsion, despite the fellow-traveling nationalists and the pro-Communist attitudes of European “progressives.” (In Poland itself, ordinary people regarded the word “Bolshevik” for a long time as a term of abuse!) Many states refused to recognize the Bolshevik government. Attempts were made to create out of the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania a cordon sanitaire against the “Bolshevik pestilence.”

      It is therefore understandable that,...

  6. Part Three Between the Quality of Life and the Boredom of Communism

    • Chapter 7 The Second Phase of National Communism
      (pp. 91-96)

      There is a generally accepted opinion that world politics are conducted by people good or bad, wise or foolish—but at any rate of a cut superior to that of the average “café politician.” There is a large element of exaggeration in this generally held view. Here, for instance, Count Jan Szembek, Under-Secretary of State in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quotes the U.S. Ambassador in Warsaw, George Biddle, from a conversation on January 6, 1939, that is, a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War: “Biddle does not believe that Germany will decide to attack...

    • Chapter 8 Alliance or Collaboration with the Soviet Invader?
      (pp. 97-113)

      In the Second World War, the great Western powers could be Soviet allies both de jure and de facto. Poland, however, because of its weakness and its geographical position, could be only an ally de jure. However, through this alliance, it became de facto “a collaborator with the Soviet invader.”

      Well-brought-up people usually avoid embarrassing comparisons that are offensive to others. However, it is impossible to avoid embarrassing comparisons when applying the method of comparative research. No doubt General Sikorski, along with many other Polish politicians and generals, acted and wanted to act in good faith and with the best...

    • Chapter 9 The Origins of “PAX”
      (pp. 114-122)

      The fundamental concept behind the creation of this subversive organization was the same as that used by the Communists when setting up religious splinter organizations that at one time had broken up the Russian Patriarchal Church from within. All done, naturally, in keeping with the so-called objective conditions. On entering Poland in 1945, the Bolsheviks found that the “objective conditions” that prevailed presented them with considerable difficulties in several respects. Unexpectedly, however, they won an ally for their plans in possibly the most unlikely quarter. And this is how it all began.

      We have already discussed the situation in Poland...

    • Chapter 10 Pharisaism Versus Subversion
      (pp. 123-132)

      Lenin was not only the creator of classic tactics in combating faith in God. Lenin personally suffered from a phobia: he hated God. In one of his letters to Gorky, he called God “a putrescent corpse, the stench of whose putrefaction has poisoned the atmosphere of the globe.” Bolshevism’s victory over Russia’s Orthodox Church, whereby it was transformed into an agency serving the godless party, is generally ascribed to that Church’s traditional structure and docility in the face of all kinds of tyrants. However, a little-known event shows that the Orthodox Church in Russia was actually the only Christian Church...

    • Chapter 11 The Second Great Provocation
      (pp. 133-143)

      It is not true that one’s choice of words is of no major significance. Sometimes it makes a tremendous difference. When it was said in 1927 that Metropolitan Sergii of Moscow had “made a deal with the Bolsheviks,” it sounded awful; when it is now claimed that an “agreement between Church and State” has been worked out, it sounds dignified and respectable. In both cases, however, the gist of the matter is identical. A politician who said, “I have decided to become a fellow-traveler of international Communism” would no longer be regarded as a respectable politician; if, however, he stated,...

    • Chapter 12 Along the Road of Classic “Poputnichestvo” [Fellow-Traveling]
      (pp. 144-155)

      Although Gomulka has now exposed his cards with regard to his tactics, not one of the politicians of the Polrealist camp who had previously given him moral credit has openly admitted his mistake, has admitted that he was duped. On the contrary, the Polrealistic version has it that “Gomulka is abandoning his position of October 1956.” In this way, the previous assessment remains accurate, and the interpretation of the “Polish October” is still correct and positive. We called attention earlier to the fact that the acceptance of certain words frequently has a decisive influence on the substance of reasoning. In...

    • Chapter 13 The German Complex
      (pp. 156-167)

      Turning now to the “German complex,” I shall not treat it with the “caution” and “tact” with which so-called painful and delicate questions are commonly treated. This is the line adopted by some Poles who recognize, on the one hand, the necessity of getting out of the anti-German impasse but who at the same time insure themselves by selecting a special stylistic form so as not to vex public opinion and not to become the target of more or less brutal invective and abuse. Perhaps, from their point of view, they are justified in trying in a real and practical...

    • Chapter 14 Culture in the Stranglehold of Compulsory Infantilism
      (pp. 168-179)

      The moral aspect of the anti-German complex has a much wider significance than the political aspect described above. Its consequences may indirectly have a negative influence on the whole development of national culture. For it creates a situation in which there is a substantial lowering of standards, not only in politics but also on the intellectual level, as a result of the renunciation of objectivity and its replacement by demagogy. This situation pushes the whole nation into a kind of compulsory infantilism. I want to be understood correctly: what is at stake here is not only relations with Germany. I...

    • Chapter 15 The Real German Threat
      (pp. 180-184)

      Someone once joked that America could easily defeat the Soviets by using a ready-made formula: take the example of Hitler and do everything in exactly the opposite way. Sometimes one also has the impression that the reality of West Germany today could be best depicted according to this formula: take everything the socialist realist and Polrealist press writes about Germany and turn it the other way around.

      At the present time, Germany is undoubtedly the most anti-Nazi country in the world, not only in form but also in spirit. Such phenomena as the anti-Negro excesses in the United States, the...

    • Chapter 16 “Realisms” Versus Reality
      (pp. 185-190)

      It is not true that Communism threatens “Western civilization” and “Western culture.” It threatens every civilization and culture: Roman, Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Arab. As the enemy not of nations but of man tout court, it is also the enemy of man’s God and of all the achievements of humanity. Unfortunately, the attitude of man toward Communism and the attitude of a politician toward the Soviet bloc frequently differ.

      The overthrow of Communism in general and the liberation of the peoples of Eastern Europe in particular seem to be rather difficult to achieve—as we have seen earlier—without German participation,...

    • Chapter 17 Pathos Versus Pestilence
      (pp. 191-196)

      In view of the overlapping of international interests, there is today no longer a place for state sovereignty of the old type. If a nation wants to remain sovereign, it should understand that such a possibility exists only through being an integral part of the free world. The motto should not, therefore, be “one’s own road to Socialism” but rather the “common road to freedom,” not one’s own path “for the benefit of the nation” but the common path “for the benefit of humanity.”

      In view of the position of the “international socialist system” and with regard to the territories...

  7. Part Four Let Us Hope . . . [1982]
    (pp. 197-212)

    Attempts to define what is happening in the Polish People’s Republic are rendered very difficult by the flood of disinformation, ignorance, and misrepresentation of the truth, the latter either unwitting or deliberate. We must include here not only the disinformation launched by the Communist headquarters in Warsaw and Moscow for politicaltacticalreasons but also various kinds of nationalist wishful thinking by those nations under the control of Communism, which for their part confuse the governments of the free nations so far as their relations with the Soviet bloc are concerned.

    I. The identification of the Soviet Union with old...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 239-244)