Polish consensus grows to tread more softly in protest

Support for reducing the risk of direct confrontation between Polish activists and the authorities is gaining ground. It explains why attempts to stage protest marches, as had been planned for today, may well be forestalled.

With an eye on the Soviets, who have just extended aid terms to their economically beleaguered East-bloc ally, the government does not want the marches. The influential Roman Catholic Church has expressed its disapproval. And solidarity, the independent union, is similarly opposed.

Thus if marches from provincial centers to the capital of Warsaw go ahead, their organizers will be moving not only against the advice of their union, but also in defiance of the government's declared intention to brook no more potentially explosive demonstrations.

The Catholic Church has aligned itself with government endeavors to persuade the nation as a whole to get down to work and at least give the plans for economic reforms a chance to begin sorting out the catastrophic mess left by the preceding regime.

The new primate, Archbishop Josef Glemp, supports Solidarity. But in his first full-lenght interview, he qualified that support: He sees it as the spokesman of the working class and says the authorities should treat it as a partner in the effort to solve Poland's problems.

"[But] we know that prudence is important," he said. "If one is too revolutionary, too aggressive, it can create new difficulties." Strikes and demonstrations, he told the weekly Polityka, "only worsen the already difficult situation and hinder the economic reform.

"We appeal to all social leaders to give up strikes and cooperate with the authorities in the effort to lead the country out of its crisis."

His words undoubtedly contribited to Solidarity's subsequent decision to back away from the kind of tragic confrontation that loomed with the defiant demonstration that brought mid-town Warsaw to a stop for 48 tense hours two weeks ago.

When the crisis first broke last August, the authorities abjured any kind of force to put down the strike movement. Their successors -- the party-government team headed by Stanislaw Kania and Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski -- have stuck firmly to the proposition that only political solutions and negotiation can keep events within manageable bounds.

The current regime will presumably use its quasi-emergency powers to restrain further open, anti-government political agitation in what it will deem -- with considerable public support -- the absolute prior national interest. That is, to assure time in which to begin applying the country to the decisive business of a radically different system of economic management.

It is likely, therefore, that any attempt to carry through the marches this week in "defense of political prisoners" will be forestalled.

The need for restraint in underscored not only by the delicate state of the country's economy, but also by the cautioning note of the joint communique on the Kania-Jaruzelski talks with President Brezhnev at the weekend.

The communique recognizes economic realities. Thus the Soviet Union will let Poland defer its debts to the Soviet Union until the end of 1985, while promising raw materials to help boost totally inadequate Polish consumer industries. But clearly these concessions are conditional on the leadership acting more robustly to put its shaky house in order and deal with disruptive opposition.

One are where sharp disagreement is likely to emerge between government and union is workers' self-management, where the union has already staked out a tough position as the prerequisite of its cooperation in the government's economic reform package as a whole.

Solidarity's most controversial challenege is over the appointment and dismissal of enterprise directors. It wants "hire and fire" rights to be the prerogative of the workers in every enterprise, and says, moreover, that enterprises themselves shall legally belongm to those who work in them, instead of the state-social ownership concept of the Constitution and normal communist practice.

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