The Solidarity Sourcebook
Greg Turko is a policy analyst at the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and
The Solidarity Sourcebook is an attempt to tell the story of this movement “in its own words,” using a selection of original essays, interviews, and official Solidarity documents as well as general background material. The scope of the information provided allows the reader to go some distance in fixing Solidarity within the framework of Polish thought and society, though the items included are very selective and are presented with virtually no introduction or interpretation.
There are two main sections of interest to those seeking to become more acquainted with Solidarity. The first, called an “Open Letter to Party Members,” co-authored by Jacek Kuron and Karol Modzelewski, provides an insight into the intellectual roots of the movement. The second, titled “The Solidarity Program,” provides an indication of the broad goals Solidarity set for itself.
In the Open Letter the authors examine the relationship between the workers and the socialist state. The conclusions drawn are that, in effect, the workers create the wealth which is, in turn, used to subjugate them. These discussions and conclusions are not in themselves new, as such debates have long formed a part of Marxist dialogue. Instead, the importance of this letter is that it forms the basis of such Solidarity policies as worker self-management and the drive to end nomenklatura.
The “Solidarity Program” section provides a detailed picture of the type of society that elements within the movement sought to create in Poland. The 36 theses contained in this section cover a range of topics, from the creation of a free press to the trial of those responsible for the ruination of the country.
There is, of course, a wide range of other topics covered in this book; yet, ironically, it appears to be very incomplete. There is, for example, a very limited discussion of Lech Walesa’s role in Solidarity. If he was not, as he is portrayed in the Western press, the Father of Solidarity, then what was his role? The second major shortcoming is that the role of the Roman Catholic Church is all but ignored. Any discussion of major social change in a country as devoutly Catholic as Poland cannot realistically eliminate the influence of the Church.
Finally, the capacity in which the Soviet Union influenced events in Poland is not examined in any detail. If Solidarity was as astute as most of its literature indicates, this question must surely have been dealt with extensively. It would add to our understanding of the movement to have seen these debates.
Persky and Flam have gathered some interesting and informative material; but by not offering justification for the material they have included and by giving no explanation for not dealing with other seemingly material issues, they leave the reader with the impression of having a very incomplete picture of a complex movement.