Programme of Polish socialists (1878)


The following programme, also known as the Brussels Programme, was written in 1878 by a group of socialists in Warsaw. Some of its authors included Ludwik Waryński, future founder of the International Social Revolutionary Party "Proletariat", Szymon Diksztajn, member of Proletariat and author of brochures popularising Marxism in Poland, as well as Stanisław Mendelson, one of the founders of the Polish Socialist Party.

Submitted by Dyjbas on October 5, 2015

In every society all social, economic and political functions are the outcome of joint, multi-generational efforts of all its members without exception, and as such should be used for the general benefit of all. However, due to the fact that today only a small minority of society owns the instruments of labour, i.e. capital, only that minority benefits.

This relationship of a minority owning capital to the majority providing the labour has ultimately expressed itself in the institution of wage labour, that is, in labour being given the character of a commodity.

Reducing the worker to a commodity is a new form of slavery and exploitation as the worker selling their labour, according to general laws of exchange, can in no way influence the terms; he gives the capitalist the value of his labour, receiving in return its market price, dependent only on the amount of labour hands available and the costs required to meet the necessities of life.

Social and State institutions have accommodated to the organisation of wage labour. The so-called "freedom of the individual", having as its basis the famous idea of "self-help" has been reduced to a struggle of all against all, a fight in which the winner is the capitalist strong in material resources. Deprived of the means of production and the capability for independent labour, reduced to a wage-earner, the worker loses any moral autonomy and is subject to the will of capital in all aspects of his personal and social life.

In all civilised societies, this state of affairs has led to attempts by the working class at using all social devices for the benefit of all members of society without exception. In this way, the capitalist theory of ownership of tools and the division of product was opposed by the theory of socialism, the principles of which have recently been consciously adopted by the workers of Europe and America, who seek a fundamental change in the existing social relations in favour of labour, i.e. a social revolution. The consideration of the conditions of life of our society as well has led us to believe that the triumph of socialist principles is a necessary precondition for the prosperous future of the Polish nation [naród], that active participation in the struggle against the established social order is the duty of every Pole, carrying the fate of millions of Polish people [polski lud] over the interests of the nobility-capitalist [szlachecko-kapitalistyczna] section of our nation.

The principles that we profess are as follows:

1. Society provides each individual with a wide-ranging development of their natural forces.

2. The means and tools of production should pass from the hands of individuals into the common property of workers, and thus wage labour will be converted into labour combined into factory, craft and agricultural associations.

3. Each individual has the right to benefit from the results of associative labour, a right which in the future will be determined by the workers on the basis of science.

4. Complete social equality of citizens without distinction of sex, race and nationality.

5. The implementation of these principles is an objective for all those who work, without distinction as to the type of their labour or their nationality, and as such the social revolution must be universal and international.

6. On this basis we demand a federated union with the socialists of all countries.

7. The application of these principles can be carried out only by the people themselves, under the moral leadership of a people’s organisation [organizacja ludowa] conscious of its rights and interests.

8. The principle of our activity is the moral consistency of our means to the established ends.

As the main measures that contribute to the development of our party we consider:

a) the organisation of people’s forces,

b) oral and literary propaganda of the principles of socialism

c) agitation, i.e. protests, demonstrations and in general active struggle against the present social order according to the spirit of our principles.

The programme above, due to the ineffectiveness of the legal road, can only be achieved through a social revolution.



That the aspirations of the modern proletariat have found their ultimate expression in the International Workingmen's Association, we submit ourselves to the following statement, which was adopted by the first congress of the Association:


That the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves; that, the struggle for the emancipation of the working classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule;

That the economical subjection of the man of labour to capital, lies at the bottom of servitude in all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political dependence;

That the economical emancipation of the working classes is therefore the great end to which every political movement ought to be subordinate as a means;

That all efforts aiming at that great end have hitherto failed from the want of solidarity between the manifold divisions of labour in each country, and from the absence of a fraternal bond of union between the working class of different countries;

That the emancipation of labour is neither a local, nor a national, but a social problem, embracing all countries in which modern society exists, and depending for its solution on the concurrence, practical and theoretical, of the most advanced countries;

That the present revival of the working classes in the most industrious countries of Europe, while it raises a new hope, gives solemn warning against a relapse into the old errors, and calls for the immediate combination of the still disconnected movements;

For these reasons:

The first International Workingmen’s Congress declares that this International Association and all societies and individuals adhering to it will acknowledge truth, justice, and morality, as the basis of their conduct towards each other, and towards all men, without regard to colour, creed or nationality;

This Congress considers it the duty of a man to claim the rights of a man and a citizen, not only for himself, but for every man who does his duty.

No rights without duties, no duties without rights.

Warsaw, September 1878

Translated from the version published in Równość (no. 1, 1879), under the title ‘Program socjalistów polskich’. This was a redacted version of the original draft, ‘Zasady Socjalno-Rewolucyjnego Stowarzyszenia Polaków’.