Warsaw — When a group of dissidents announced the formation of the Confederation for an Independent Poland in 1979, few Poles gave it a second thought.
Those who are Communists see their country as independent through and with a Soviet guarantee. Others simply accept the geopolitics of the map.
But the military authorities prosecuting four members of the miniscule group for antistate activity see things differently. So does the officially controlled news media, which emphasize the group's alleged outside connections as it gives the trial daily play.
It's part of the authorities' effort to convince Poles of an international threat to Polish ''security'' and to paint martial law as the ''lesser evil.''
Leszek Moczulski and others from the Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN) are on trial for allegedly plotting the forcible overthrow of Poland's communist system and the breakup of its alliance with the USSR.
The KPN was largely overlooked until the crisis that produced Solidarity erupted. Then Moczulski told a Western magazine he wanted to overthrow communism in Poland. He went on to impugn the government's good faith over Solidarity and its professed acceptance of the union's reform program.
Last June he and three others were put on trial for antistate activity. Procedural objections and ideological filibustering delayed a verdict.
When martial law was declared, the trial was transferred to a military court, and there one defendant has begun to talk. Tadeusz Jandziszak admitted being ''chief of a zone'' and of enrolling new members, but he could not say how many members there were. He denied KPN was a secret paramilitary organization but said members were taken in under pseudonyms.
Transcripts from the civil court indicate Moczulski spoke of ''creeping revolution'' and ''revolution without revolution.''
The indictment calls it ''counterrevolution,'' alleging the group received aid from ''subversive centers'' and emigrants in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. The point is made daily in the Polish media.
The trial symbolizes one of the two main efforts in the authorities' current tactics - convincing the public of an allegedly internationalized threat to Poland. The other is an appeal to traditional Polish patriotism and nationalism to gain support for the ''salvation'' program foreseen under martial law.
The patriotic motif is exploited by another nationalistic and shadowy organization. It is the Grunwald Patriotic Union, whose roots go back to a search for scapegoats for the Stalinist years and, later, struggles between orthodox Communists and revisionists.
In both periods nationalists tried to whip up feeling against allegedly Zionist influences operating in the party against Poland's interests. Prominent intellectuals fell victim to the purge following the 1968 student rebellion.
Anti-Semitism has a long history in Poland. Only 300,000 of a Jewish population of 31/2 million survived Hitler's Holocaust. When the border was opened by the 1956 reform movement, only 30,000 stayed on in Poland. More left after 1968. Today only 5,000 are still here.
When Grunwald emerged last year, it took aim at the human-rights group KOR and Solidarity, claiming each had Jewish advisers.
Grunwald's platform -- and its evident patronage from some high in the party -- alarmed intellectuals as well as Poles at large. A Warsaw newspaper reported receiving ''tens of thousands'' of letters protesting -- and only seven supporting -- its activities.
The paper said there was reason to believe that, behind the patriotism, Grunwald was a creature of an antireform faction seeking to cover up those (former party leaders) responsible for Poland's crisis.
Grunwald was granted legal status much quicker than was Solidarity. It was the only public institution except the Communist Party itself not proscribed under martial law.
Lately it has denied being anti-Semitic. It urges members to work with Committees of National Redemption, through which authorities hope to win support for martial law.
Grunwald is right-wing and orthodox, in party terms. Despite the nationalism, it is pro-Soviet, which apparently puts it among the ''healthy forces'' approved in Moscow.