David Ost: Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics
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Based on extensive use of primary sources, this book provides an analysis of Solidarity, from its ideological origins in the Polish 'new left, ' through the dramatic revolutionary months of 1980-81, and up-to the union's remarkable resurgence in 1988-89, when it sat down with the government to negotiate Poland's future. David Ost focuses on what Solidarity is trying to accomplish and why it is likely that the movement will succeed. He traces the conflict between the ruling Communist Party and the opposition, Solidarity's response to it, and the resulting reforms. Noting that Poland is the one country in the world where 'radicals of '68' came to be in a position to negotiate with a government about the nature of the political system, Ost asks what Poland tells us about the possibility for realizing a 'new left' theory of democracy in the modern world. As a Fulbright Fellow at Warsaw University and Polish correspondent for the weekly newspaper 'In These Times' during the Solidarity uprising and a frequent visitor to Poland since then, David Ost has had access to a great deal of unpublished material on the labor movement. Without dwelling on the familiar history of August 1980, he offers some of the unfamiliar subtleties such as the significance of the Szczecin as opposed to the Gdansk Accord and shows how they shaped the budding union's understanding of the conflicts ahead. Unique in its attention to the critical, formative period following August 1980, this study is the most current and comprehensive analysis of a movement that continues to transform the nature of East European society. David Ost is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the translator of 'The Church and the Left: A Dialog' by Adam Michnik.