Acton Institute Powerblog

For Our Freedom and Yours: Remembering Solidarity

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Today marks the 25th anniversary of the formation of Poland’s Solidarity movement. Samuel Gregg says that Solidary gives us a view of a labor union whose “stand for the truth about the human person and against the lie of Marxism contributed immeasurably to the collapse of one of the two great totalitarian evils that disfigured the twentieth-century.”

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Jonathan Spalink


  • Robert Sprinkel

    Dear Dr. Gregg

    Thanks for the wonderful essay. Thought you might like to take a look at our website which pictures the two people mentioned in the article.

    You might be interested to know that all we are doing is driven by a single idea: the most malignant "ism" of the 20th century and now continuing into the 21st century is relativism. It drives and sustains all the other more widely reviled isms.

    Yours sincerely

    Robert Sprinkel
    Leaders for Liberty Foundation

  • Kamila Pajer

    Dear Dr. Gregg,

    Thank you for the essay and for reminding the great history of the Polish people brave enough to oppose the most cruel and anti-human system ever.

    I agree with your view that Poland did not follow the Cuba’s history for the people in Poland were able to point to the moral lies of Communism and they fought for the truth. One of the 21 postulates of Solidarnosc in 1980 was "freedom of speech" which the Communists actually established (at least to some extend) in 1981 and which proved to pose the biggest danger to the system as communism was built on lies.

    There is, however, one point, I think, you neglect. When you say "The Solidarity union is now a shadow of its former self." It is of course true, but the reason of the fact is not that the transition process in Poland was so painful but rather that Solidarnosc in 1980 was not only a trade union – it was a lot more than that.

    It took the shape of the trade union for some shape it had to take – under communism associations were forbidden – but the fact was that Solidarnosc was a movement of a national resistance not a trade union. Under the name of a trade union it fought for freedom and the protesting workers in Poland sang patriotic and religious songs for they all felt they were fighting for Poland not only for the conditions of work, salary or free Saturdays. Today’s Solidarnosc is a trade union but in 1980 it was anti-communist opposition and that is why people in Poland remember it as a movement of great hope even though in 1980 no one dared to dream about the end of Communism…

    Yours sincerely,
    Kamila Pajer

  • chris

    I’ve always thought that the enthusiasm of American conservatives for Solidarity was (and still is) hilarious. Here is a political philosophy that does nothing but denigrate organized labor in its own land, but finds the idea appealing when it is convenient in attacking the official enemy. There were a lot of "materialistic" demands in Solidarity’s platform; these are never discussed, for the good reason that they might raise some uncomfortable questions here in the US.

    A demand for a 36-hour week, for example, or a retirement age of 60. Or five weeks’ paid vacation instead of four…. Those demands might seem incomprehensible to the average American worker, but more to the point, they might seem subversive to the political commissar class that mr. Gregg represents. Solidarity forever, but Air Traffic Controllers get the shaft, even if they did endorse Reagan.

    As for Cuba, the reason the Revolution persists, against all odds, is for the simple reason that the Cubans, unlike the Poles or the Czechs, made their own revolution rather than have it imposed on them by force of Soviet arms.