Culture, International, Politics

America Should Learn From How Poland Defeated Communism

Solidarity was an important concept. “Separate men are absolutely powerless,” says Wildstein. In his essay “Theses on Hope and Despair”, the Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski wrote: “Monopolistic power demands a continued effort for the atomisation of society and the destruction of all forms of social life not prescribed by the ruling apparat.” Yet the rigidity of the system, Kołakowski wrote, “depends in part on the degree to which men who live within that system can be convinced of its rigidity”. Authorities, concluded Kołakowski, “remain powerful for as long as people believe in the power”.

As well as producing underground literature, organising protests, and disseminating information related to state crimes, the Student Solidarity Committee tried to spread the knowledge that communism could be opposed. Wildstein told me most people had assumed “if something is happening it means that the authorities agree”. Breaking through this cynicism was essential.

The young activists resisted constant threats of imprisonment and infiltration. Wildstein used to hitchhike around Poland because if he had taken the train he would have been arrested. Read more…

You Might Also Like