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First steps in communism
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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I had begun my journey into communism long before I realised I was a communist. I had endless battles with my father from the moment we moved to Warsaw which was at the beginning of '47 in early January. Our arguments were so intense, and I had started reading Lenin because it was as if in the course of these arguments, I had consciously chosen the path I wanted to follow by reading The State and Revolution. It made an incredible impression on me especially since he lays claim in it to his achievements in anarchy. I was able to appreciate this because I think this... it was a kind of anarchy. This is why that book by Lenin made such an impression on me. It was simple and clear. Apart from that, I was reading books - I was probably about 12 years old - and I'd read them with a dictionary of foreign words. After that came Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism. I found this was much harder. I read the Communist Manifesto. As I said, I began to read then, to draw conclusions and that's when I got my next reward for following the path leading to communism. I said a moment ago that there was a key, that this gave a simple key to the world, to solving all the issues, all the world's evils. But it provides another key, too. It gives a key to the world in the sense that you can suddenly explain the whole world and you become incredibly clever and can say something sensible about every single topic, sensible means from the Marxist point of view. You can analyse literature, history, political activity, everything and you have something to say on any subject, and it makes sense. Then, you are incredibly erudite. Well, for a 12-year-old to get this kind of a boost, it was magic, it was something terrific. I began hanging around ZWM where, surprisingly, I was made very welcome. I wasn't allowed to join the organisation, I was 12 years old so that wouldn't have been possible, but those adults accepted me. For the most part, in that area of the ZWM, they were the lumpen of Marymont, cab drivers, coachmen. They really were people from the lowest social level, and their hunger for justice, for compensation for all the harm they'd suffered touched me deeply. In addition, they considered me to be clever! I was the one who knew everything because I knew about Marxism.

No więc właśnie zacząłem moją drogę w komunizm, no dużo wcześniej już tak jakby... wcześniej nim sobie powiedziałem, że jestem komunistą, to toczyłem rozliczne spory z ojcem. Jak tylko przenieśliśmy się do Warszawy, a przenieśliśmy się na początku 1947 roku, na początku stycznia, to te kłótnie już się tak zaostrzyły i ja zacząłem czytać Lenina, tak już jakby w ramach tych sporów świadomie wybierać sobie drogę. Czytałem Państwo i rewolucja, niesłychane to na mnie zrobiło wrażenie, zwłaszcza, że jest to taka książka jego, którą on... w którą on jakby przyswaja dorobek anarchizmu. I to myślę było mi najbliższe, bo właśnie jak sądzę taka... odmiana anarchizmu w socjalizmie była mi najbliższa. Tak że ta książka Lenina zrobiła na mnie niesłychane wrażenie. Była prosta i jasna. Wręcz... Poza tym czytałem literaturę, miałem wtedy lat 12 pewnie, czytałem ze słownikiem wyrazów obcych. Potem Imperializm jako najwyższe stadium kapitalizmu, to już mi dużo trudniej szło, Manifest komunistyczny czytałem. Mówię, zacząłem wtedy czytać, wnioskować i przyszła następna tak premia za komunizm. Ja mówiłem tu przed chwilą o tym, że klucz... że to daje taki prosty klucz do świata, do załatwienia wszystkich spraw, całego zła świata. Ale to daje jeszcze jeden klucz. To daje taki klucz do świata w znaczeniu, że nagle cały świat możesz objaśnić, że jesteś niesłychanie mądry, na każdy temat możesz się z sensem wypowiedzieć, z sensem po marksistowsku. Że umiesz analizować literaturę, historię, działania polityczne, wszystko w każdej sprawie możesz zabrać głos i to z sensem. I to jesteś niesłychanie uczony. No! Dwunastolatkowi taki wytrych do świata – to jest w ogóle skarb, to w ogóle wielka rzecz. I zacząłem się kręcić wokół ZWMu, gdzie mnie nad podziw dobrze przyjęto. Nie przyjęto mnie w znaczeniu do organizacji, miałem 12 lat to się chyba nie dało, ale akceptowali mnie ci dorośli ludzie, to tak przeważnie i w olbrzymiej części lump marymoncki, furmani, wozacy w tym kole terenowym ZWM. Tacy ludzie rzeczywiście z odmętów i ich to takie łaknienie sprawiedliwości, wyrównania krzywd, które dostali niesłychanie do mnie przemówiło. No a poza tym, że uznawali mnie za mądrego. Ja byłem tam mędrzec od wszystkiego, bo ja znałem marksizm.

The late Polish activist, Jacek Kuroń (1934-2004), had an influential but turbulent political career, helping transform the political landscape of Poland. He was expelled from the communist party, arrested and incarcerated. He was also instrumental in setting up the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and later became a Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

Listeners: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Tags: Warsaw, The State and Revolution, Imperialism as The Highest Stage of Capitalism, ZWM, Vladimir Lenin

Duration: 3 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008