To what extent did Solidarity contribute to undermining Communism in Poland?

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To what extent did Solidarity contribute to undermining Communism in Poland?

Communism in Poland was self-consciously the workers-state, largely responsible for creating the modern Polish working class through industrialization and raising expectations of equality and of higher living standards. It is widely believed that Solidarity undermined Communism in Poland, partly by disrupting the Communist program of production through strikes, but more by transferring the trust and loyalty of the Polish people from Communism to itself. The supposed "adversaries" of Polish workers - the church, the officer class, the national leadership - were in fact combined by Solidarity as allies of the workers to "break the resistance" of Communism to reform. What the state never appreciated in Poland was that it was seen as Russian, oppressive, and corrupt, having created the working class they then, in line with Marx's prediction, demonstrated their control of the means of production (strikes) and undermined Communism in Poland. However, one cannot ignore the pull of the capitalist west in displacing communism in the eyes of the people. In this essay I plan to show the extent to which Solidarity was responsible for undermining communism and also to question how far other factors, such as the Poles hatred of Russians, their strong allegiance to the Catholic church, and the raging Cold War, displaced communism in the eyes, and from the hearts of the people.

Solidarity weakened Polish Communism providing a vehicle of transmission for years of grievances against a government out of touch with the ideals of the Polish people. This is shown below in the picture taken from: "http://encarta.msn.com/find/MediaMax.asp."

Solidarity took workers grievances, and grafted onto them more general national grievances (Russian dictatorship, suppression of the church etc.). Photographs of Solidarity led demonstrations show how they united people to challenge what they believed to be wrong. The challenge to the government's principles undermined it as a unit, lost any credibility, and weakened it in the eyes and minds of the people.

Solidarity not only weakened Communism by providing an organized channel for grievances, but also gave people new ideas, as seen in the "1980 Gdansk Agreement", article 4, issued by Solidarity: "To re-establish the rights...of all students who have been excluded from...higher education because of their opinions"

This idea of free speech and thought was new as Communists devoted mass energies to suppressing this. The Church also received active support, where it had been oppressed by the government, turning the masses towards Solidarity, and against the present government, this possibly being Solidarity's trump card.

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