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New Left Review I/139, May-June 1983

Oliver MacDonald

The Polish Vortex: Solidarity and Socialism

The greatest and most sustained popular upsurge in Europe for decades has left both bourgeois and working-class opinion in the West profoundly bewildered as to its basic historical meaning. A standard formula—used by both The Times and miners’ leader Arthur Scargill—has been that Solidarity was an excellent thing but that it was going too far, or travelling too fast. Yet the deeper implicit worry on all sides was not so much the speed or extent of Solidarity’s journey, but its point of departure and the nature of its ultimate destination. The main purpose of this article is to try to discover the answer to this question. A second aim will be to try to explore the issue of Solidarity’s defeat in December 1981: why it was possible for this huge mass movement to be driven underground by the imposition of martial law.

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Oliver MacDonald, ‘The Polish Vortex: Solidarity and Socialism’, NLR I/139: £3

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