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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 09, 1984

POLISH CENTRAL COMMITTEE REPORT, 'THE BATTLE AGAINST THE INFLUENCE OF IDEOLOGICAL AND PROPAGANDA SUBVERSION ON POLISH SOCIETY (COUNTERPROPAGANDA)'

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    This Central Committee Information Department document contains an analysis of “Western propaganda” during martial law. While claiming that Polish society is “stabilizing,” the Department recommends increased research, analysis, and coordinated publications to counter Western ideological “subversion.”
    "Polish Central Committee Report, 'The Battle against the Influence of Ideological and Propaganda Subversion on Polish Society (Counterpropaganda)'," March 09, 1984, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AAN, Polish State Archives. Obtained by Lechoslaw Gawlikowski. Translated by A. Ross Johnson. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121540
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[Excerpt]

CC Secretariat Conference Sent to Secretary

9. III. 1984 L.dz. KS/556/84

The battle against the influence of ideological and propaganda subversion on Polish society (counterpropaganda)

We submit to the secretariat the following material that provides a brief look at our activities in the area of counterpropaganda, along with a depiction of ongoing changes in the opponent’s line of attack that have resulted from the ongoing process of stabilization in Poland. We present conclusions aimed at improving our activities against the subversive ideological and propaganda influences on Polish society, and at better coordinating and systematizing them.

1. Review of activity to date in the area of counterpropaganda […]

2. The main instruments, directions, and methods of the opponent in the area of subversive ideology and propaganda.

The most important instrument of enemy propaganda against Polish society is the radio stations that broadcast [a total of] 37 hours of subversive Polish-language programming daily. They are concentrated in the morning and evening hours. Information, commentary and instructions recognized as important for subversive purposes recur in all the Polish-speaking broadcasts. This indicates a high degree of coordination among [the stations]. In May 1983, 24 percent of OBOP respondents acknowledged listening to foreign radio broadcasts, including regular, sporadic and infrequent listeners. This means that the information and argumentation broadcast, at least in part, circulates widely among the public. (Details in appendix no. 1 [not translated].

The main motivation for listening to foreign radio stations (more than 30%) is the quest for alternative information, in order to compare information learned from different sources. Nearly 50% listen out of curiosity, but less than 20% affirm that they listen to Western radio stations because “they give truthful information.” This lowers the credibility of the Western radio stations. One-quarter of the listeners question the accuracy of the information given by the broadcasts, and only one-fifth believe [in the broadcasts’ accuracy] without reservations. Evaluations of the strong points of the information broadcast by Western radios stress their speed and their ability to supplement domestic information with interesting facts.

All Western radio stations (especially RFE) try to strengthen their credibility by asserting that the most important thing for them is the Polish national interest they utilize illegal [underground] domestic publications and pamphlets, even though these play a declining role in shaping public opinion. Their utilization in radio programs serves to camouflage the un-Polish inspiration of the propaganda of NATO countries.

An important role in shaping hostile tendencies among the intelligentsia is played by publications sent from the West through various channels of communication. During eight months of 1983, 470,000 books and 5.2 million copies of printed materials and tapes were sent into Poland through one Warsaw post office alone. For example, 160,000 copies of the Western German publication PROFIL were sent. There were grounds for questioning only some 5000 books, pamphlets, and tapes as anti-Communist or anti-state. The majority of these publications had an ostensibly neutral stance but in fact consisted of cunning formulas of bourgeois propaganda linked to the main themes of ideological subversion. These publications are directed mostly at intellectuals, especially in higher educational institutions and renowned libraries. This problem requires a separate detailed analysis.

The actions of subversive enemy propaganda are subordinated to two propaganda goals developed in the 1970s in the USA and implemented consequently with great discipline by all organs of ideological subversion:

– First: defending bourgeois criteria of human rights and democratic principles. The point of departure for the manipulative propaganda activity is propagating the stereotype of “the special connection of Western culture with democracy” and the “mutual contradiction between socialism and democracy.”

– Second: propagating the thesis of the Soviet military threat [and] suggesting that the military superiority of the USSR is the source of aggressive Communist ideology. The necessity of opposing that danger justifies the arms race.

These principles are the basis of contemporary American anti-Communist doctrine (project “Democracy” “Truth” etc.)

Subversive propaganda directed at Poland is subordinated to these principles. However, it is geared to Polish specificity, and the susceptibility of different social groups to bourgeois ideology as a consequence of social consciousness in the 1980s. [Western] propaganda emphasizes as a point of departure the special ties of Poland and Poles with Western culture, and the resistance of the Polish nation to Communist ideology. The intention of the authors of the concept is to create spiritual ties between the broadcasts and their audience in Poland. […]

In recent days several RFE broadcasts of a thematic character, especially the series “Between the Poland of our dreams and a Poland within our capabilities,” indicate an important change in the direction of subversive propaganda and tactical instructions for the anti-socialist opposition in Poland. The change requires detailed study on our part, because it is possible that that [this approach] will in time come to dominate the propaganda and actions of the enemy. […]

5. Conclusions

In order to perfect our counterpropaganda, more systematization is needed, i.e., we should aim to improve and coordinate this activity while simultaneously shoring up its professional foundation. In this regard the information department proposes:

a) appointing a CC press staff to coordinate a counterpropaganda group comprised of the deputy heads of the [CC] information, Press, Radio, and Television, and Ideology departments who are responsible for handling these issues with the mass media and intra-Party activities. A performance assessment should be provided at a staff session at least quarterly.

b) within two weeks the information department should prepare a full analysis of the tactical shift by the subversive centers, and lay out conclusions that will enable us to modify our operations;

c) undertaking a prognosis to establish the dangers stemming from the development of psychological warfare in the coming years, and the means of countering them from our side. A team of specialists should be formed to examine in detail two problems:

– What lines of attack will the enemy use as stabilization progresses in Poland?
– How to prepare for the possibility of subversive propaganda transmitted through the medium of satellite television.

The conclusions of the group should be presented to the CC Secretariat in the 4th quarter of this year.

d) the RSW “Press-Book-movement” should ensure that the Research Institute on Contemporary Problems of Capitalism concentrates more than in the past on problems of ideological and propaganda subversion and focuses on practical requirements in this area. Its work should be based on material presenting the agreed position of the [CC] Departments of Information and Press, Radio, and Television;

e) A Polish Radio and Television editorial board should be established to serve as a workshop for counter-propaganda activities; it should compile documentary material (lies, propaganda works, examples of subversive campaigns permitting quick reaction, and perfecting counterpropaganda programs).

f) twice a year—more if deemed necessary—OBOP should conduct research on public opinion to gauge the depth and direction of the [social] destruction resulting from enemy propaganda;

g) undertaking and analyzing the results of a trial program of counterpropaganda at the local level (using voivodship Party committees and Party committees in large enterprises); enabling voivodship committees to exchange experiences in the area of counterpropaganda;

h) working out a program of didactic publications for the coming year, and beginning distribution of popular scientific and literary works in the area of psychological warfare;

i) organizing in the 4th quarter of this year a seminar with the participation of representatives of the fraternal Parties from the socialist countries in order to exchange experiences in the area of counterpropaganda; begin continuing cooperation.

Information Department, CC, PUWP

(coordinated with the Press, Radio and Television and Ideological Departments)

Warsaw, 9 March 1984

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