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New Left Review I/179, January-February 1990

John Keane

The Polish Laboratory

Warsaw. Wednesday December 7th. The eighth anniversary of martial law approaches. Foul-smelling fog blankets the city. The battered Russian-made taxi which fetches me from the airport clatters down potholed roads. Rows of grey apartment blocks stand guard, frozen, expressionless. Trams whirr and clang through street crowds. Fur-capped shoppers skelter, wrapped in dour coats of brown, olive-green and grey. Powdered snow swirls through sullen-faced queues for bananas, pork, detergent, bread, chocolate. Trench-coated soldiers. Blue-overalled workers. Frozen silence. Winter. The Polish road to democracy.

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