On 14 January 1965 in New York City, Bob Dylan recorded the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and the single was released on 8 March 1965. The song includes the lines:
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows.
The metaphor expressed in these lines was very influential. For instance, the main left-wing armed terrorist movement in the USA, formed in 1969, called itself Weatherman, or The Weathermen, later calling itself The Weather Underground.
Was the metaphor originally due to Dylan? We can answer NO to that question. On 18 March 1957, Time magazine reported on political events in Poland, where the ruling Polish United Workers Party had recently seen some liberalization of its earlier Stalinism (and the return to power of reformist communist Wladyslaw Gomulka), followed by something of a reversal back to hard-line policies. The Time article began:
There is usually one Communist who knows the way the wind is blowing long before the official weather vanes swing into line. In stormy Poland he is a longtime Stalinist timeserver named Jerzy Putrament. When Wladyslaw Gomulka broke with Moscow last October, Comrade Putrament was so enthusiastic in Gomulka’s support that Pravda publicly rebuked him for saying that he preferred “imperialist Coca-Cola to the best home-distilled vodka.” Last month Weatherman Putrament held up a moist forefinger and got the feel of a new breeze blowing through Poland.
The first page of the Time article is reprinted below:
There is usually one Communist who knows the way the wind is blowing long before the official weather vanes swing into line. In stormy Poland he is a longtime Stalinist timeserver named Jerzy Putrament. When Wladyslaw Gomulka broke with Moscow last October, Comrade Putrament was so enthusiastic in Gomulka’s support that Pravda publicly rebuked him for saying that he preferred “imperialist Coca-Cola to the best home-distilled vodka.” Last month Weatherman Putrament held up a moist forefinger and got the feel of a new breeze blowing through Poland. The country, he said forthwith, was drifting away from Socialism into anarchy, thus creating the danger of “Hungarian tragedies.” He accused the young hotheads in the vanguard of Gomulka’s national movement of “cheerfully blowing up the very bases of our ideology.”
Putrament’s forecast was hardly in print before the Politburo was directing all Polish Communists to fight on two fronts: against “sectarians,” a discreet new name for the Stalinists, and against “revisionists,” the derogatory new name for the liberal hopefuls. By last week it was becoming clearer that the brunt of the attack is being borne by the revisionists.
Follow or Fight. The first revisionists to go were the young newspaper editors who had dared to criticize the Soviet Union. Scolding the editor of Trybuna Ludu, the main party newspaper, for expressing “adventurous private opinions,” Gomulka sent him off to a minor party job in the provinces, took the resignations of eight staff members, and appointed as new editor a party hack who had run the newspaper during the years Gomulka was in jail. A magazine was confiscated, and its editor fired, when it reprinted an angry article on Stalinism by French ex-Fellow Traveler Jean-Paul Sartre. An iron censorship was imposed on the bright reformist weeklies. Said one ex-editor: “I cannot follow Gomulka on this. But I cannot fight him, either.”
Revisionists were unwilling to fight Gomulka because most of them sensed that he was acting to impose needed discipline on his confused party. Many young men had carried on as if Poland were about to become a bourgeois democracy forthwith, when it was obvious that the Russians were still watching and calculating every move in Poland. But there were deeper murmurs of discontent when Gomulka began replacing revisionists with sectarians in his government.
In the crucial hours of the October revolt, Warsaw Committee First Secretary Stefan Staszewski backed Gomulka to the hilt, mobilized thousands of Warsaw students and workers into a scratch militia to fight the Russians if necessary. A fortnight ago Staszewski was replaced by a party functionary. Into top ministerial jobs went two other onetime Stalinists who had opposed Gomulka’s early program. But the appointment which caused most suspicion was that of blond, poker-faced Zenon Nowak.
Party Conscience. Nowak was a member of the hated Bierut Politburo during the years Gomulka was under arrest, a sponsor of schemes to prevent Gomulka’s return to power after the Poznan riots, a champion of the policy of encouraging anti-Semitism in order to divert the anger of the masses from the Stalinist party leaders. Nowak’s name had been stricken from the list of candidates for the new Parliament.
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