Scholar Interviews

Questions

Padraic Kenney: What is remarkable about the poem and the leaflet together?

Transcription

And so whereas at first I thought of the strikes of 1988 as being kind of a herald over the return of Solidarity, that Solidarity is getting reinvigorated by new blood. This poem and others like it showed me that it was actually the death knell of Solidarity. I had to go back and rethink the strikes of 1988.

These workers, they’re kind of stripped of community and of movement. They’re isolated. They don’t have the kind of support and they don’t think of themselves as having the kind of support that they once clearly had in 1980. And secondly, these poems and the calls to action and so on that appear in their leaflets of the same time period, don’t really have a plan of action of any kind.

In Gdansk, they’re asking for political prisoners to be freed and also for spreading anarchism. And that’s going to turn out to not be particularly competitive on the larger field of contestation that the strikes are going to help create. They’re going to succeed in a sense of creating-it’s because of the strike in this particular mine, the July Manifesto mine, that Solidarity and the Communist leaders agree to negotiate.

Walesa has to come to this mine after all of Poland has stopped striking. He has to come to this mine and say: guys, stop striking. I understand your concerns. I’m going to bring them to the Communists and we’re going to make them listen to us. And they very reluctantly agree to stop striking. As if they bring Solidarity to the finish line, but they collapse, falling over and their hand just touching the finish line of a marathon let’s say, but then that’s it. And others go on ahead without them and the workers are really left behind. And I really did not understand that until I spent a week in Jastrzębie Zdrój talking to workers and understanding their experiences.

How to Cite

Padraic Kenney, interview, "What is remarkable about the poem and the leaflet together?." Making the History of 1989, Item #593 (accessed September 23 2014, 12:20 am)