Four decades ago, Poland’s communist system faced the challenge of a powerful independent workers’ movement and eventually drove it underground. Understanding Solidarity’s fate during and after communism is essential for making sense of Polish politics today.
David Ost is professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and author of The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe.
Poland’s Solidarity trade union was one of the most impressive workers’ movements in postwar Europe. It rocked the foundations of an autocratic regime, but it took a wrong turn as the Eastern Bloc started to crumble.
Karol Modzelewski emerged in the 1960s as a leading dissident against Poland’s state socialist dictatorship — but he remained a socialist until the very end.