David Ost, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics.

Lessia Shatalin
The book focuses of the development of the Solidarity, trade union organization in Poland and how this movement for free association of workers progressed from anti-political to political and in the end to solidify its place within the government of Poland. The author starts with discussing how the ideas of building a civil society were formed in Poland since 1968 and ends his book with the year 1989 when Solidarity gained control of the government. The first part of the book was the most interesting to me as there Ost discussed how the ideas of creating a civil society were developed and especially his take on politics of anti-politics, that is the belief that Solidarity leaders and organizations that preceded it had that their activities had to be social and not political and did not aim to challenge the Party’s control of the state. There aims were to organized citizens in civic activities thus creating a civil society and they borrowed their ideas from radical movements in the West. Instead of trying to reform the political they focused on the social that is the development of a civil society. Once citizens became more socially aware – organized into unions and began to organize strikes their demands seemed to be heard and Solidarity was legalized.
Once Solidarity was legalized and recognized by the state (the Party) its initial goals had been accomplished and now it had to move towards political which it was not prepared for. It could not ignore the question of state power anymore. After reading the book it seems that Solidarity’s leadership only focused on the immediate goals and once they had been achieved they had no idea as to how to proceed next. The same happened in the next stage of Solidarity’s development that is their strive to create a political system of neo-corporatism. And once again Ost explains this system and the debates over it within Solidarity in an impressive manner. Neo-corporatist approach entails the coming together of Solidarity, State and Church together in the task of governing the country. However, once neo-corporatism was achieved (Round Table Accords of 1989) the opposition leadership – Solidarity – was once again facing new challenges. It moved form a position of opposition to a position of power, something it was not prepared for and definitely did not envision at the beginning.

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