>They Forgot Poland

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You know, despite conservatives’ claim that Ronald Reagan singlehandedly destroyed the Berlin wall with the tweak of his mighty pinkie, those of us who actually remember the 1980s remember the Polish trade union which got the democracy ball rolling. You kids who were still in your nappies back in 1981 might want to read up on Solidarity and how it took down Soviet domination in Poland, the first chink in a movement which steamrolled across the Baltic region and ultimately destroyed the iron curtain. I was a sophomore in college then and well remember the Polish uprisings. By 1982 I was living in Copenhagen and several friends traveled “behind the iron curtain” to Poland to see what was happening for themselves.

I went on an organized student trip to the Soviet Union instead — all trips by Westerners to the USSR were closely monitored, rigidly organized affairs back then (though that didn’t stop us from having some adventures). We had a Q&A session with some low-level Party official, can’t remember his function now, where we asked tough questions about oppression of gays in the USSR (“We have no homosexuals in the Soviet Union,” the guy actually told us. “This is a Western issue.”) And we asked about Solidarity. He told us it was an example of how much freedom the people of Poland have, that they can protest and strike (never mentioning martial law and other attempts to oppress the movement). It was all a ruse, not too different from what we see from conservatives today, where they talk publicly about the freedom to assemble and all that and then privately talk about sneaking in troublemakers to discredit those protesting.

Today Poland’s Solidarity leaders have sent Wisconsin workers their support:

On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ
“Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.

We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union-busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.

Dear friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.

Your victory is our victory as well.

In Solidarity,

Piotr Duda
President

You know, conservatives have long tried to connect labor unions with communism. Yet it was a labor union which destroyed communism in a key Soviet Bloc country.

I guess they forgot Poland.

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5 Comments

Filed under unions, Wisconsin Protests

5 responses to “>They Forgot Poland

  1. >But, but, but–They ARE commies. They were s'posed to get rid of those Russkierats and then turn over power to the free and capitalist (now) former soviet apparatchiks. Instead they acted for the good of all–whattabunchaloozers!

  2. >Great post. I wasn't quite in nappies in 1981, but I was pretty young (sophomore in high school) — I do remember a few years later trying to explain to a winger down here how a Solidarity-type union would be illegal under US labor law…as you might have guessed, he didn't believe me.

  3. >I remember trying to explain to a winger in the mid 80s that a Solidarity-type labor union would be illegal under US law. As you might expect, he didn't believe me. Great to know they're expressing support for the working people of Wisconsin and around the country.

  4. >There were many straws on the back of the Soviet camel. Not the least of them was their adventure in Afghanistan.The mujaheddin, which we armed and supported, was the root from which Al Qaeda sprung.Bitter, bitter irony there.JzB

  5. >I remember trying to explain to a winger in the mid 80s that a Solidarity-type labor union would be illegal under US law. As you might expect, he didn't believe me.Back in the 1970s, you had to be pretty far right-wing for anybody to actually know about it. For the most part, we didn't really know or care who was democratic or republican! We didn't care about that kind of stuff anymore than the kids in American Graffitti.