How to support Solidarność: A Debate

Editor’s Note: The birth in Poland of the free trade union Solidarity in September 1980 proved to be a precursor of the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe in 1989-91. Democratiya is very pleased to make available to readers the transcript of a debate held in New York City in March 1981, a time when it seemed likely that either the Soviet Union would invade Poland to crush Solidarity and restore untrammelled one-party rule, or the Polish Communists would launch their own crack-down. (Sure enough, in December 1981, the Polish General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law and arrested the leadership of Solidarność.). The debate was sponsored by the Committee for the Free World and the League for Industrial Democracy and hosted by the Polish Institute for Arts and Sciences, New York City. The participants were not discussing whether to support Solidarity – all were fierce antitotalitarians. They were searching for the best policy, in particular the best economic policy, for democracies to adopt in order to support the emergence of democratic forces within totalitarian societies. As such their discussion speaks to us today. The Editors would like to thank Eric Chenoweth, Co-Director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, for providing the transcript.

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