Internal bolshevisation? Elite social science training in stalinist Poland
- John Connelly
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From the viewpoint of its Stalinist-era creators, the IKKN/INS could at best be described as a mixed success. Despite heroic efforts, it failed to train the cadres that might have permeated Polish scholarship with Marxism-Leninism. If it was the major channel for transmitting Soviet experience to Polish academia, then Poland's universities would not learn to be Soviet—the Polish historian Jerzy Halbersztadt has made the point that the institute was the only direct conduit of Soviet experience into Polish academic life. It even had a major role in educating some of Poland's most famous critical thinkers, although they, unlike their master Adam Schaff, seem less fond of reminiscing about the institute. Leszek Koŀakowski writes that he does not regard his role in the ideological struggles of the early 1950s as a “source of pride”.90
The legacy of the IKKN/INS has also been a mixed one. It was not only a “foundry of revisionists”. For every future critical thinker of world repute, it graduated several cadres who served the PZPR loyally over decades. Adam Schaff recognises this dual legacy. Looking back on a long and active life, he has called the institute a “pearl in my crown”.91 Its members filled top party and government posts throughout the history of People's Poland. Andrzej Werblan served as Central Committee secretary and a member of the Politburo, Sylwester Zawadzki became minister of justice, Stanisŀaw Wroński was minister of culture, Mieczysŀaw Jagielski was the Politburo member who negotiated the Gdańsk accords, Stanisŀaw Kania succeeded Edward Gierek, and Mieczysŀaw Rakowski acted as General Jaruzelski's Party First Secretary.92
Undoubtedly much of the institute's strange course is to be attributed to the designs of Adam Schaff. Despite his Moscow training, Schaff retained an attachment to the Polish academic milieu which had formed him. He may have believed in Stalinist doctrine, but he also believed that this doctrine would show its superiority in competition with other views—even if the competition was far from a fair one. Of course, Schaff tried to retain ultimate control, and to play, as he now calls himself, the “grey eminence”. Nevertheless, his was a very unstalinist way of propagating Stalinism, and he must be given credit for helping to keep a spirit of intellectual inquiry alive in Poland during the dark years of the early 1950s.
Yet Schaff tends to exaggerate his personal role in educating philosophers, dissidents and critical thinkers. This tendency is itself a legacy of the Stalinist period and its concentration of power. Stalinists view the present as their personal creation and therefore reject all criticisms of the past. At the final meeting of the Crooked Circle Club in 1962, Schaff encountered unwonted criticism from, among others, Andrzej Walicki. Schaff shot back at him: “You are ours, you are our creation, a creation of socialism ... we educated you, and we didn't do such a bad job.” But far from being a “creation” of Schaff's, the non-party member Walicki had been denied admission to graduate studies in philosophy. He felt relieved when those in attendance, who knew him better than Schaff did, burst out laughing.93
The point is that the Polish intellectual world maintained its integrity outside the IKKN/INS, and in the end it was the institute which merged into the Polish intelligentsia, rather than the opposite. After 1957 the non-Marxist sociologists and philosophers made their way back to academia, and were joined by many former INS staff members. The basic unity of Polish social science training, and of the Polish intelligentsia, was restored.94
Of course in a larger sense the fate of the IKKN/INS had little to do with the designs of its master. Schaff admits as much, proclaiming that “I did this because I did not know what I was doing!” If he had been asked to start such a project five years later, the answer would have been: “No!”95 The fatal flaw of the Institute for Training Scientific Cadres was cadres: Poland did not have them. By 1956, Schaff and the party leadership, and perhaps Soviet advisers as well, had learned that one could not create an elite party scientific institution almost out of nothing. It would either be party or scientific, because apparatchiki could not become scientists, scientists would not become apparatchiki, and students could not produce teachers. In the Stalinist period, Polish intellectual life had stood in the shadow of the party; yet during the Thaw the relationship was reversed—increasingly the tiny party training institute was engulfed by the shadow of the resurgent Polish universities. Talented young people, even those in the party, made their way into the traditional higher educational establishment.
The IKKN/INS did not, therefore, fail because of its own failings, nor succeed because of its own successes. It was a failed part of a failed whole. To succeed, “mild” revolution would have required decades, and Poland's Stalinists had only a few years. To make matters worse—or better, depending on viewpoint—they did not use these years in a conventional Stalinist manner. Under Schaff's guidance and at somewhat erratic Soviet bidding, the institute became an awkward series of half-measures, reminiscent of much of Polish Stalinism. When Poland's communists fell back and regrouped in 1956, the IKKN/INS occupied a lonely position they preferred to abandon.
- For Stalin's comments on the “stratum” of the intelligentsia, see de Huszar, George B., The Intellectuals: A Controversial Portrait (Glencoe, Ill.: 1960), pp. 407–410.
- In the summer of 1949, the Czech Communist Party's Central Committee founded a Higher School for Political and Economic Sciences (VŠPHV) that immediately began concentrated training of elites needed urgently by the emerging socialist state. Social science disciplines had been carefully purged of individuals deemed less than loyal to the party in February 1948. See my “Creating the Socialist Elite: Communist Higher Education Policies in the Czech Lands, East Germany, and Poland, 1945–1954”, ch. 4, unpublished PhD dissertation, Harvard University, 1994.
- Archiwum Akt Nowych Warsaw (AAN) KC PPR 295/XVII/57/20. In November 1947 the PPR delegate in Warsaw for university admissions wrote to the Central Committee that he could not tell precisely how many candidates were party members, because “many members have not revealed their affiliation”. If they belonged to another “democratic organisation”, they often listed it alone. AAN KC PPR/295/XVII/61/429, 429a. In some places communist functionaries had not yet cast aside the conspiratorial practices they learned during German occupation. AAN KC PPR 295/XVII/58/79; AAN KC PPR 295/XVII/38, 46.
- “Rewolucja ŀagodna”, Odrodzenie, 10–12, 1945, cited in Hübner, Piotr, Polityka naukowa w Polsce w latach 1944–1953 Geneza systemu (Warsaw: Książka, 1992), p. 67.
- Gomułka, Władysław (1946) Ku nowej Polsce: sprawozdanie polityczne i przemowienia wygloszone na I Zjezdzie PPR. Spóldzielnia Wydawn, Łódź
- Letter of Ministry of Higher Education, 15 January, 1952, in Archiwum Uniwersytetu Jagiellonńkiego (UAJ) S III 251. In 1951 it was anticipated that 127 lectures and 448 assistants were needed to teach the foundations of Marxism-Leninism and political economy, but only 84 lecturers and 82 assistants were available; 21 Soviet scholars were sent to Poland to assist in Marxist-Leninist training. Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit., p. 665.
- The discussions in November 1949 between leading PZPR functionaries are recorded in AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/2/11-13. The Politburo meeting was on 17 January, 1950. AAN BP KC PZPR, t. 9/54-55, protocol 27.
- Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit., pp. 100–101. The “Democractic Club” included about 30 left-leaning intellectuals.
- Schaff claims that Kotarbiński was a frequent visitor to his father's house in Lwów. Pora na spowiedź (Warsaw, 1993), p. 41. But in July 1948 Kotarbiński had opposed Schaff's receiving a chair in philosophy at Warsaw, insisting he first habilitate and spend at least two years in the West to become acquainted with formal logic. AAN MO/291/69. In Schaff's view, his Moscow doctorate was equivalent to a Polish habilitation. Pora, op. cit. pp. 31–32. But Kotarbiński did believe that Schaff could immediately take up a chair “specially dedicated to the cultivation of Marxism...”.
- Interview of 15 July, 1992.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/29/1.
- AAN ANS 6/6/22.
- Letter from Schaff to Zambrowski, 11 August, 1950. AAN KC PZPR 237/V/48/15-16.
- AAN ANS 6/6/22.
- The second group included historians Stanislaw Arnold (University of Warsaw), Tadeusz Daniszewski (director of Institute of the History of the Party at Central Committee of the PZPR), Leon Grosfeld (professor at IKKN specialising in economic history), N. Gąsiorowska (professor at Łódź University), H. Jabłoński (vice-minister of education), and Żanna Kormanowa (director of the IKKN history factulty). AAN BP KC PZPR t. 13/197-198 Secretariat of Central Committee Organisation Bureau (B.O.) meeting of 20 June, 1950. See also Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit. p. 652.
- AAN BP KC PZPR p. 3 t. 13/186e.
- Ibid., t. 18/43, protocol no. 1, 12 January, 1951.
- AAN BP KC PZPR p. 4 t. 20/203-204. The change was supposedly based upon Soviet experience. In a letter of May 1951, Schaff wrote that the faculties would “hamper the work of the departments”. AAN AS 6/2/21.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 25 (unnumbered), protocol no. 169, 6 May, 1952. During the academic year 1953–54, Kołakowski was criticised for not providing his graduate students with “continuous, systematic political supervision [opieka]”. AAN ANS 5/106/87.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 25 (unnumbered), protocol no. 182, August, 1952. AAN BP KC PZPR t. 40/181, protocol no. 25, 3 September, 1954.
- Ibid., p. 3 t. 14/77.
- Ibid., p. 3 t. 13 186a-c.
- Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit., pp. 652–653.
- Sprawozdanie z pracy Instytutu w roku 1950/51r., AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/13.
- Ibid., 237/XVI/69/22–25.
- Ibid., 237/XVI/69/18.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33 (unnumbered) protocol no. 254, 31 July, 1953. More provision was also made for candidates without formal qualifications. From the start, those with only high school diplomas could enter graduate studies at IKKN, but now a six-month preparatory course in foundations of Marxism-Leninism, political economy, topics in Polish history and Russian language was provided for them. Though expected to train future college teachers, such persons were never entirely accepted by the Polish academic community as qualified. Ibid., protocol no. 227, 11 April, 1953.
- Letter from IKKN to R. Zambrowski, 28 October, 1950. AAN BP KC PZPR p. 3 t. 14/189.
- O pogladach filozoficznych i spoleczno-politycznych Tadeusza Kotarbinskiego (Warsaw, 1951). Cited in Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit., pp. 653–654. For doctoral theses produced at the IKKN against the philosophers Kotarbińskiego, Twardowski and Ajdukiewicz; the sociologists Znaniecki and Chalasiński; and “Revisionism of the PPS as an ideology of a bourgeois agency, the role of various reactionary views in Poland [neothomism, phenomenology, neopositivism]...”, see Sprawozdanie z pracy Instytutu w roku 1950/51r., AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/10–12.
- Schaff, Adam, “Nauki Filozoficzne”, Suchodolski, Bogdan et al. (eds), Dziesieć lat rozwoju nauki w Polsce Ludowej (Warsaw, 1956), pp. 97–98.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/16; AAN BP KC PZPR p. 3 t. 14/77.
- AAN ANS 6/2/147. In a report of 1953 Schaff described the students “of the first period of the existence of IKKN [as] mostly having some experience in political battle”. AAN ANS 24/15/78.
- Ibid., 6/2/151, 162–163.
- This request was approved. Ibid., 6/2/182–183.
- AAN BP KC PZPR p. 3 t. 13/188.
- AAN BP KC p. 3 t. 13/271.
- AAN ANS 6/6/22.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/V/48/23–24.
- Ibid., 237/V/48/25–27. Nekrasov could not be used as effectively as Schaff hoped because he had no experience of the problems of Polish industrial economics, nor a Polish partner to explain them to him. AAN ANS 6/12/17. For further reports on catastrophic shortages in PZPR economics teaching 1951–53, see ibid., 6/2/16, 92, 164.
- Ibid., 6/6/40.
- Ibid., 6/2/90.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/V/48/35.
- Ibid., 237/V/49/4. Later he increased this request to seven. AAN ANS 6/6/40. Teachers at IKKN were much overworked: they taught 6–8 hours daily whereas their Soviet counterparts taught for only two. AAN ANS 6/2/110.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/V/48/35. Polish communists attempted to make extensive use of “bourgeois” professors in ideologically sensitive areas. See, e.g., the historian Celina Bobińska's complaint at the meeting of the PZPR cell of Jagiellonian University, 12 November, 1951, that the party organisation “did not control the situation” at the department of journalism, and non-party professors did not wish to teach there. Archiwum Państwowy w Krakowie, KW PZPR 62/XV/5/28. In a project to reform Polish studies drawn up in 1950, Stefan Zolkiewski planned much use of the skills of non-party professors. AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/43/1–13.
- Ibid., 237/XVI/21/60–61.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33 (unnumbered), protocol no. 269; 21 November, 1953; AAN ANS 6/12/172. On Brus, see AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33 (unnumbered), protocol no. 227, 11 April, 1953.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33 (unnumbered), protocol no. 213, 9 February, 1953.
- Ibid., protocol no. 248, 2 July, 1953; AAN ANS 6/2/197.
- AAN BP KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/7. Report by Jadwiga Siekierska. Kroński was the only teacher in the philosophy faculty with a negative assessment. AAN ANS 5/106/17. Kroński, Poland's leading Hegelian, “philosophised incessantly and with his whole body... [and was] antitotalitarian to the core... “. Milosz, Czeslaw, Native Realm: A Search for Self-definition (Berkeley, 1981), pp. 266, 270, 290. See also Walicki, Andrzej, Spotkania z Miloszem (London, 1985), pp. 47–71; and the reminiscences of Assorodobraj, N., Baczko, B., Beylin, P. and Kolakowski, L. in Kroński, T., Rozwažania wokót Hegla (Warsaw, 1960), pp. 475–499.
- AAN ANS 5/106/92.
- In a letter of 21 December, 1953, Schaff promised to cancel the student status of all who had entered IKKN in 1950 and had still not graduated; they would be sent to work. Ibid., 6/2/225.
- AAN BP KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/7.
- AAN ANS 5/12/8.
- Schaff's connection at the secret police was Julia Brystigerowa. Interiew with Tadeusz Kowalik, 27 February, 1996.
- AAN ANS 5/106/100.
- On Schaff's role in closing the circle in 1962, and criticism of a paper he delivered, see Walicki, A., Spotkania, op. cit., p. 65; and Jedlicki, Witold, Klub Krzyzwego Kola (Paris, 1963), pp. 157–163.
- See Ajdukiewicz, K., “W sprawie artykulu prof. A. Schaffa o moich pogladach filozoficznych”, Myśl Filozoficzna, 2 (1953); Ajdukiewicz, K., “Logika, jej zadania i potrzeby w Polsce wspólczesnej”, ibid., 1–2 (1951); Kotarbiński, T., “Humanistyka bez hipostaz”, ibid., 1 (3) (1952), and “Odpowiedź”, ibid., 2 (4) 1952. This concession is more astounding since Ajdukiewicz had publically described the “contribution” [dorobek] of Marxist philosophy as “very slight”, on 3 July, 1950, at a meeting of the social sciences and humanities section of the First Polish Congress of Science; cited in Hübner, P., Polityka naukowa, op. cit., p. 799.
- AAN ANS 6/2/239.
- The “Library” was started by the party leadership in January 1951, partly to employ philosophers who had lost work; its statement of approval specified an editorial board “from Marxist philosophical cadres, but with broad participation of non-party professors”. In the party command structure, direction was given to the faculty of philosophy of the IKKN. “The translations should in every case in which this is possible include Marxist introductions drawn from Soviet literature, or independently drafted.” AAN BP KC PZPR p. 4 t. 18/85.
- Walicki, A., Spotkania, op. cit., p. 42. Herbert, known for a particularly uncompromising attitude towards the regime, lived in great poverty during the Stalinist years.
- On S. Zólkiewski's role in providing work for W. Tatarkiewicz and K. Górski, see Nowacki, Witold, Notatki autobiograficzne (Warsaw, 1985), pp. 122–123.
- Norman Davies has remarked on the “heavy burden of guilt” borne by the Polish “careerists”, which causes them to “temper the severity of their regime, to fudge, and delay and deliberately forget, to interpret their orders in the mildest from possible”. Heart of Europe: A Short History of Poland (Oxford, 1986), p. 350.
- Hübner, Piotr, Nauka polska po II wojnie swiatowej: idee i instytucje (Warsaw, 1987), p. 350.
- AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/69/20.
- Żółkiewski planned in 1950 to close Polish philology at all but three universities for six years, during which old professors would gradually be “removed” and young PZPR cadres trained to replace them. The Institute of Literary Studies was not to provide refuge for the persecuted, but to train the new elite. That these plans were unrealised had more to do with the party's weakness and academics' resistance than with the restraint of Żółkiewski. Ibid., 237/XVI/43/1–13.
- AAN ANS 24/15/66-68.
- Ibid., 6/2/223. Professor V.S. Aleksandrov “consulted” the department of history of USSR at INS in 1954; on his departure the PZPR leadership decided to ask the CPSU for a replacement. AAN BP KC PZPR t. 47/163, protocol no. 50, 22 March, 1955. That year the Soviet historians Pankratova and Khrenov visited Warsaw for two weeks, and lectured at INS and Warsaw University. AAN ANS 6/2/233. In August, the Soviet “consultant” Boldyrev helped set up a department of pedagogy at INS. An additional “consultant” was requested for 1956, when the course began. AAN BP KC PZPR t. 40/181, protocol no. 25, 3 September, 1954. AAN BP KC PZPR t. 40/205, protocol no. 30, 5 October, 1954.
- AAN ANS 6/2/219.
- Ibid., 6/2/229.
- Interview with Tadeusz Kowalik, 27 February, 1996. On trips of ANS students and graduates to Moscow: AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33 (unnumbered), protocol no. 227, 11 April 1953; ibid., t. 40/152, protocol no. 20, 3 August, 1954; ibid., t. 47/229, protocol no. 69, 19 August, 1955.
- AAN ANS 6/2/245.
- Zaitseva, M.I. (1953) Vstrecha s polskimi filosofami. Voprosy Filosofii 6: pp. 219-221
- To make appearances complete, the trip would include Kotarbiński, Ajdukiewicz, Ossowski and Chałasiński, besides the communists Kołakowski, Baczko, Hochfeld, Assorodobraj and Schaff. AAN ANS 6/2/142.
- Ibid., 6/2/248.
- Letter from Sekretariat to Schaff of 22 May, 1954. Ibid., 6/4/8. For the decision: AAN BP KC PZPR, t. 40/113, protocol no. 11, 18 May, 1954.
- AAN ANS 5/12/1; 6/3/20, 32.
- Report of 22 February 1955. Ibid., 5/12/6.
- Report on the work of the department of the history of philosophy for the period September 1954 to January 1955. Ibid., 5/106/95.
- Ibid., 5/12/29.
- AAN BP KC PZPR t. 33/184.
- These were the departments of political economy, dialectical and historical materialism, history of philosophy, history of Poland, and general history. AAN ANS 6/3/68.
- Ibid., 5/13/11-16.
- Ibid., 5/13/11-16.
- Wolenski, Jan (1992) Philosophy Inside Communism: The Case of Poland. Studies in Soviet Thought 43: pp. 98-100
- AAN KCPZPR 237/XVI/224/24-29. The reports on ideological training from Gliwice, Wrocław and Warsaw were similarly gloomy. AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/227/12-17, 219/29-33, 182/161-165.
- Fijałkowska, Barbara (1985) Polityka i twócy (1948–1959). PWN, Warsaw
- “Notatka w sprawie projektu instrukcji KC o szkoleniu ideologicznym nauczycieli i pracowników naukowych szkół wyższych w roku 1954/55”, 2 September, 1954, AAN KC PZPR 237/XVI/186/1-2. In 1956 Toruń still had no director of political economy. The district PZPR office to Warsaw requested a director, because the “department was not able fully to influence youth ideologically ...”. The request was placed ad acta with the “notation” that “we cannot give them a director for the department of political economy”. Ibid., 237/XVI/217/8.
- Report of 4 September, 1954. Ibid., 237/XVI/186/7.
- Main Currents of Marxism, Vol. III (Oxford, 1978), p. 173.
- Interview of 15 July, 1992.
- Mołdawa, Tadeusz (1991) Ludzie Władzy 1944–1991. Wydaw. Naukowe PWN, Warsaw
- Walicki, A., Spotkania, op. cit., p. 65.
- One example of such reunification was the philosophical institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where, in the early 1960s, former INS members Bronisław Baczko, Leszek Kołakowski, Henryk Hinz, Anka Śladkowska-Hochfeldowa worked side by side with Andrzej Walicki, Barbara Skarga, Zygmunt Ogonowski and Lech Szczucki. Ibid., p. 68.
- Interview of 15 July, 1992.
- Internal bolshevisation? Elite social science training in stalinist Poland
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