Solidarity and Anti-Politics in Poland.

Ost, David. Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Opposition and Reform in Poland Since 1968. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.

In Solidarity and Politics and Anti-Politics, David Ost  discusses how the radical movement in Poland created an entire generation of opposition leaders, who later in life created the alternative opposition movement later called Solidarity.  Ost makes an interesting connection to the wider mid-1960s anti-establishment radical youth movement. 

He considers the Polish movement to be an extension of that found in the US and in Western Europe.  He makes these connections in dress, music, style, sexual perspectives, and other cultural issues.  On the societal front, he makes the connections in the semi-anarchist point of view held by both the American and Polish radicals.  In this view, the state is to be ignored.  The struggle for power between the radicals and the established political system is not to replace the old system with a new establishment, but to create connections among citizens to bypass the need for the state. 

Although Solidarity declared themselves a non-political entity upon their founding, it was impossible to remain non-political as the Communist Party monopolized all facets of life in Poland.  Later, Solidarity moved toward a neo-corporatist perspective where they wanted a proportional representation between them and the the Communist Party.

The ending of the book is unique in that Ost wrote the book in the mid to late 1980s, watching Solidarity evolve and change as a movement.  Right when the book was going to press, Solidarity was relegalized (it had been made illegal) and the Communist Party decided to participate in real negotiations with Solidarity.  In effect, Solidarity had obtained all its goals.  At an even later point in the publishing process, Ost felt compelled to report in his book that the Berlin Wall had fallen and he expected Eastern European countries to join the European Union in 1991.  Of course, this expectation was a bit early, as it would take more than ten years more for that prediction of his to happen. 

 In any case, the one aspect that I liked about this book the most is its dynamic nature, and the way in which the author appears to give continuous reporting on what is going on as he does his research.  Of particular interest to me, as I avidly read news about Poland and the European Union (one of the most interesting relationships in Europe), is the fact that the Solidarity movement was the father of modern Polish politics–it seems all Polish political parties have roots in this time period.  In a way, the events in this book are ongoing, even within the past two weeks there was a Polish election in which the ideas of Solidarity were well represented by its descendants.

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