Why few Poles are celebrating the lifting of martial law
Warsaw — Indifference. That sums up the reaction of most Poles to the lifting of martial law this week. It is the kind of attitude the Germans call ohne mich (''without me'').
Perhaps the indifference is not surprising, for the government armed itself with a series of new and permanent safeguards before lifting the technical ''state of war'' and dissolving the military council with which it has controlled the country since December 1981.
Few if any here ever expected that the authorities would, or could, go whole hog and, for example, open the jail gates wide or wipe out the inroads martial law made into the ''liberal'' gains of 1980-81.
Moreover, the moves to tighten up in sensitive areas like news media control and censorship, and to reorganize and define more precisely the powers of the police security service had been foreshadowed all along. The East bloc friends who bailed the Poles out economically for three years would not expect them to take any chances.
The changes specify that in the future a ''state of war'' can be declared only in the face of external threat or attack. Any threat of social unrest will be dealt with as a ''state of emergency,'' which would not preclude ''international assistance'' from Warsaw Pact allies.
The people most directly disappointed by the terms under which martial law was lifted are the intellectuals. In fact, it seems to have been the strong anti-intellectual trend within the Communist Party leadership and in parliament that prompted the restrictions. They will continue through the 21/2-year transition period which is to lead to full civilian rule.
The restrictions and punitive sanctions are designed to prevent reemergence of political opposition or challenge in any form whatever. This could include lingering underground Solidarity activity, opposition through the Writers' Union and other cultural unions currently in conflict with the authorities, or any effort to use the new trade unions as a cover for old Solidarity aims.
Active Solidarity opposition as such is no longer a realistic option. A clandestine radio broadcast is even reported to have urged activists still underground to come in out of the cold, and Lech Walesa has endorsed the call.
Walesa himself is more and more the symbol of the great workers' movement he began to lead three years ago - but nothing more.
It is stalemate, rather than opposition as such, that is centered at present within the suspended Writers' Union. Most of its leaders have persistently rejected regime demands that the union repudiate its reform position.
The government could, of course, simply dismiss the board of the Writers' Union and ask an ad hoc group to convene a new writers' congress and set up a new one. It remains to be seen if it will court this final showdown with so powerful and prestigious a group of Polish intellectuals.
Others share the intellectuals' misgivings. The Roman Catholic Church and moderate groups - both Catholic and independent - in parliament are concerned about the implicitly severe restrictions and more permanent safeguards the authorities have devised, especially those allowing stern disciplinary action against academics or students involved in any form of illegal propaganda activity.
Amnesty is the immediate issue. It was an essential point in whatever broad understanding Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and the Pontiff reached just four weeks ago.
According to official figures released Wednesday, amnesty will affect some 800 people. Indications are it will not extend to some 60 persons, including the leaders of the dissident group KOR and union activists charged with plotting against the state.
The authorities are taking no chances. ''Moderates'' in the government, including Jaruzelski himself, could not afford to.
The general has had his difficulties on two fronts: Conservative, hard-line forces would have blocked the lifting of martial law, had they had their way. And Jaruzelski's government still has to secure itself against a populace that remains largely unreconciled to it.
For example, the government's attempt to provide a channel for diverse opinion to the regime - a program known as the Patriotic Front of National Revival - has failed to appeal to enough people to make a difference.
Although many of the safeguards go against the ''liberal'' grain, they will not have a direct effect on a large number of Poles.
''Moderates'' see the end of martial law as the long-awaited first step toward the kind of accord and cooperation that both Jaruzelski and the Catholic Church favor.
To some extent the ''anti-intellectual'' trend within party and state authority has been held in check. The drafts of the press law (though not the stricter censorship provisions) and a new passport law have been put off for decision at parliament's autumn session. Also coming up then will be the new electoral law for elections projected for next year.
This will test ultimate government acceptance of the concept of greater Catholic Church participation in public affairs. It is an essential part of the basic agreement between Jaruzelski and the Pope for a broad and gradual cooperation of church and state in national conciliation and economic recovery.
At present, lay Catholic experts are discriminated against in government and public service generally.
For the general, the report on economic performance in the first six months of the year came as something of a boost. For the first time there was some upturn in almost all branches of industrial production. A simultaneous report announced that on July 9 coal output for the year topped 100 million tons, a mark not reached last year until Aug. 13.
Agriculture - the Achilles' heel of the Polish economy - still does not offer any such encouragement, and it is precisely here that church support and concrete assistance has been laid on the line to help the government's recovery program.