Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968David Ost
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during the Solidarity uprising and a frequent visitor to Poland since then, David Ost has had access to a great deal of unpublished material on the labor movement.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 subtletiessuch as the significance of the Szczecin as opposed to the Gdansk Accordand 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.
"For both academic analysts and political activists, this book offers useful lessons from the Polish experience with anti-politics and neocorporatism."
—Political Science Quarterly
"In his superb book, ...political scientist David Ost chronicles the trajectory of the Polish post-war opposition from its roots in the fascist resistance up to the actions of Solidarity in 19.... (He) astutely bridges academic disciplines, interweaving social theory with intellectual and political history to explain Solidarity's raison d'etre.... In an age when definitions of left and right have become obscured, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics stands out at a creative example of left thought."
—In These Times
"Ost contributes not only an explication of Polish political life, but he also presents a vision of democracy applicable to the Western world as a whole."
"An invaluable contribution."