What Solidarity really stands for

Reprinted below are some excerpts from an article in The Racine Labor (8/28/8]) where Solidarity activists, on a UA W-sponsored tour, outlined their goals to a UAW meeting in Wisconsin.

Area unionists gasped when they heard that the Polish union has grown to a membership of 17 million (in a nation of 36 million people) in little more than a year. (In contrast, the U.S. labor movement has about 20 million members in a nation of 225 million.)

According to the Polish unionists, their union has been built through a difficult struggle against laws forbid-ding independent unions as well as strict censorship. Their movement has relied extensively on the use of the sitdown strikes made popular in the U.S. in the 1930s to win their demands.

Trots . . .in Russia. By arguing that capitalist relations of production can exist within different property relations, Cliff saw the absurdity in calling a state proletarian where the workers were entirely powerless towards it.

But in breaking with a fundamental of Trotskyist theory, he meticulously ignored almost everything which pointed up the absurdity of characterizing the Soviet state as a “workers’ state” while Lenin and Trotsky were in power. As with Trotsky, the price to be paid for facing up to such realities just too high.

Therein lies the central problem.

Both the continued attempts to prove the validity of Trotsky’s views on the Soviet state and those which try to separate them from what remains of Trotskyist theory are means to show the on-going need for a Bolshevik strategy which is distinct from the legacy of Stalinism. The trouble is they are devoid of credibility because there is no recognition of the objec-tively counter-revolutionary essence of Bolshevism. U

Sitdowns most effective

“We have learned that the sitdown strike is the most effective form [of action] to make the government concede to our demands,” said FIAT autoworker Andrzej Kralczyncki.

“Only in our place of work, when we lock ourselves in, do we feel secure.”

“When we walked out into the street, those times always ended with the workers’ blood flowing in it. They are just waiting for us to come out of the factories, and they try to provoke us to do that.”

The workers’ movement in Poland is different from the union movement in the U.S. in some key respects. For example, Solidarity allows managers and supervisors to join the union, unlike unions here which are not permitted to do so by federal law. But the Poles do not allow managers or supervisors to hold union office.

Second, the Poles have a much broader vision of what their goals are. Unlike American unions, which have generally limited themselves to the issues of wages and working conditions without challenging corporations’ “right” to manage, Solidarity seeks to directly confront bureaucratic control of the factories and offices.

“We favor workers’ self-management so that workers participate democratically in decisions which affect their lives and so that competent people are running the show,” they said.

While “self-management” is radically different from the way things are currently done in Poland, it does not represent a desire for a Western-style capitalist economy, according to the Polish delegates.

“We will not return to capitalism”

“We will not return back to capitalism because the means of pro-duction, the placcs of work, are the nation’s wealth. As such they ought to be controlled by the nation, not by private enterprise,” said tractor worker Andrzej Czupryn.

While rejecting the capitalist model of control by a tiny corporate elite, Solidarity members say “Neither are we interested in what the Eastern block has today.” as Czupryn told The Racine Labor.

“We want our nation to decide about itself, by itself, under which system it will live, regardless of what you call it. We have not been given that right. We are demanding that the right of self—determination be given to our nation.” El

The following leaflet was distributed at a demonstration in San Francisco in December to protest the imposition of military rule in Poland.


“If you call for the workers of the world to arise what ‘s to stop them from arising in your own back-yard? Nothing, it appears, except brute force. ” a— —Bill Moyer, CBS News (12—1-1-81)


As almost everyone knows by now, martial law was declared in Poland on December 12. Tanks began attacking t ‘ki s ri ng workers in Gdansk December 15 and Soviet transport planes arrived in Warsaw on December 16. These events are intended to turn into outlaws anyone going to a meeting not ok’d by the Communist Party/ government or the Catholic Church. Any other sort of organized activity inc u ng workplace occupations, strikes or printing leaflets is banned and punishable by military law and possibly execution.

The outlawing of factory occupations should be ve familiar to us in the United States because it has been Many U.S. bankers like new Polish regime illegal here since the 193O‘s. The government here can declare any strike illegal, as witnessed by the recent air controllers’ walk—0ut and the 1978-79 coal miners‘ strike. Republican or Democrat, Communist or Socialist,

all agree that neither the “Free” nor the “Communist” worlds can tolerate extensive workplace occupations or walkouts. Although the U.S. govemment appears to be incensed at Poland for declaring martial law, the same thing would occur here if’10 million people went on strike.

On a smaller scale, it has occurred, such as when the National Guard was called on to intervene against public workers in Massachusetts this year and in 1979 against the coal miners.


Two complementary events have led to the current weakening of the people’s movement in Poland. One was the quick development of a union bureaucracy followed by the discouragement of spontaneous actions and even workplace occupations by this bureaucracy. Lech Walesa and his cadre pushed for a centralized operation with all decisions going through the Gdansk office. He and a few

breakable rice howls

PEKING — Chinese workers who violate “labor discipline” or stay away from ihdr jobs without permission are bdng fired in increasing numbers, the Pefing Review said to-day. The magazine said the “iron rice bowl,” a euphemism describing China’s practice of paying and feeding even workers who do a poor job, was “breakable.” The Peking Review blamed the problern on the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, whm some people, paniculaily young ones, “were influenced by the anardiist trend of thought” and refused to “mend their ways.”

San Fl-ancisoo Emminer 11/9/81

Do you think if we strike for better condi-tions we’ll be stuck with bayonets or tried as anarcho-syndicalist deviationists?”

others became the official spokespeople for the union. The incidents of anti—police actions, the burning down of a station and the stonings of others, were denounced by Solidarity and union people actually appeared to calm the crowd and appeal to them for the good of Poland. Even

anti—Soviet grafitti and leaflets were criticized by the official statements from Gdansk.

The other event is the isolation the Poles have suffered because workers nowhere else have risen with a similar ferocity against their conditions of life and work. This only forces negotiations with the govemment rather than making a real change in social conditions.

We, in the U.S., can recognize some similarities. The AFL—CIA has actively discouraged workplace occupation and any other spontaneous actions workers under their control might take. At the same time, they and other U.S. union groups somewhat dishonestly support the same

actions by those under Solidarity‘s umbrella.

Unlike the San Francisco Examiner (12—l5—8l) editorial which says that “the workers have gone too far,” the sad fact is that the people of Poland (and those of the U.S.) have not gone far enough.

In previous years (’56, ’70, ’76), the Poles went very far in that they seized goods from stores and burned down offices of their rulers. Last year hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people seized their workplaces, and goods, in particular food, were provided freely by farmers to workers on strike.

Before and during August of 1980, people were taking control and showing the Communist Party that they didn’t need the state but that the state needed them. Local networking was effective on a national level in a show of‘ massive solidarity. Since Solidarity has come to represent] the people over the last year and a half, many concessions originally won by the people were bargained away in the name of economic necessity. Also, Lech Walesa was elected to the top position in the union allowing him to influence decisions concerning when, where and who should strike as well as over what issues.

The strike by the women textile workers two months ago was unusual compared to other strikes. The press even commented on it being “without direction.” The usual issues, a boss, wages or food shortages, were not at stake.

Rather, they struck over the “hardship of life in Poland.”

Walesa personally appealed for them to return to work.

This they did winning nothing but a promise now broken.

Now the Polish workers have nothing to lose by taking their struggle further. To stop is likely to lead to a massacre, but to carry on leads only to the unknown. The fate of the Polish population depends not merely on what they do, but also on what we do.

There is a lot more to the social movement in Poland than just Solidarity. We support that struggle, the struggle against martial law and against domination and authority in their daily lives.

The choice posed by events in Poland is not one between the “Communist” or “Free” world, but against them both. U.S. banks, in particular, Chase Manhattan and Bank of America, supported by the U.S. government, have loaned over $3 billion to the Polish govemrnent. Polish workers will be expected to rnalte sacrifices to pay back the debts. The Polish standard of living is reported to have declined 20% due to sacrifices made in the last two years.

One can recognize that it’s the same banks and government which have demanded sacrifices from us, contributing to the decline in our own standard of living.

This is why our government cannot intervene in Poland.

Our government is just a treacherous as the governments of the Soviet Union and Poland.

We can protest in rallies against martial law and against Soviet and/or U.S. intervention. lf the solidarity movement is crushed and martial law lifted, packages of clothing, soap and other necessities will probably be able to be sent to people in Poland. (See address below as we have some contacts.) – _

The only way bloodshed of workers can really be prevented in Poland or anywhere is if similar actions are attempted everywhere, in other words, if workers everywhere occupy their workplaces to bring the rule of the capitalist and “Communist” worlds to an end. At that point there will be no need for hopeless negotiations in isolation from each other.

We’re interested in a project of this magnitude. How about you?


c/o Bound Together Books

1901 Hayes St.

San Francisco, CA 94117

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