ISSN 2451-2966


Łucja Iwanczewska

'We Won’t Give Up Solidarity!' Fragments of Heritage

<i>Solidarity: The Reconstruction</i>, dir. Paweł Wodziński, Polski Theatre, Bydgoszcz, premiere: 23 June 2017. Photo: Monika Stolarska.

Solidarity: The Reconstruction, dir. Paweł Wodziński, Polski Theatre, Bydgoszcz, premiere: 23 June 2017. Photo: Monika Stolarska.

Read Abstract

The paper is a critical attempt at an alternative to the dominant narrative of reflecting on the heritage of the so-called first Solidarity movement – the Polish workers' movement from 1980–1981. In dialogue with claims expressed by Jan Sowa in his book Inna Rzeczpospolita jest możliwa! and Paweł Wodziński's productions about the first Solidarity, Łucja Iwanczewska reconstructs its programme, and raise questions about issues related to self-governance in contemporary Polish society. Above all, the author asks questions about strategies and practices of managing history and the memory of the first Solidarity in the Polish social and cultural imaginarium. Iwanczewska problematises the issue of inheriting postulates, ideas and attitudes related to August 1980, reflecting on the intellectual and cultural reworking of this historical event by Polish society. Using the considerations of Jan Sowa, Boris Buden and Cezary Rudnicki, she offers alternative scenarios for the memory of the history of the first Solidarity movement. She also recalls the first alternative heirs: the Alternative Society Movement. 

'We Won’t Give Up Solidarity!' Fragments of Heritage
The first Solidarity: a patchwork of reconstructions

In his book Inna Rzeczpospolita jest możliwa! [Another Republic Is Possible!], Jan Sowadefines the first Solidarity – the movement from 1980 to 1981 – as something more than a trade union due to its engagement in the political and structural reorganisation of the state, which increased the scope of impact of the union’s project and extended beyond the framework of workers’ issues. Another aspect was that the first Solidarity not only defended workers’ rights but also wanted to take control of the means of production. Describing the problems with characterising the first Solidarity, Sowa writes:

It was not a subversive movement in the sense that it did not openly question the leading role of the Polish United Workers’Party in the state nor did it undermine the ideals on which Communist-era Poland was built, but rather demanded their implementation in practice. It could not be regarded as a typical structure of civil society, as with associations and other organisations of the so-called third sector, because its postulates were so broad and fundamental that they did not fit in that area: Solidarity regarded itself as a representative of the entire nation, not just a spokesperson for a group of citizens.1

Sowa also demonstrates that Solidarity was not a religious movement, even though it was embedded in a religious symbolic field. Nor was it a national liberation movement, although nationalistic discourses and practices functioned within the orbit of its influence. Created first and foremost as a workers’ organisation, protecting workers’ rights, it brought together representatives of many diverse professional groups: workers, teachers, intellectuals, journalists, scientists and clerks.

In this fusion and interpenetration of many professional groups, discourses and symbols, Sowa sees the greatest strength of the first Solidarity. The diversity grounded in the field of conflict and agony led to writing one programme composed of various goals and postulates. In the programme of the Solidarity Independent Self-governing Labour Union [NSZZ "Solidarność"] passed by the First National Congress of Delegates on 7 October 1981, we read that the first Solidarity was a social and moral protest, with its heritage in the bloodshed of workers in Poznań in 1956 and in December 1970 in Polish coastal cities, and in student protests in 1968 and in painful events in Radom and Ursus in 1976. This is a heritage of independent activities of workers, youth and the Polish intelligentsia. According to the demands of the delegates, Solidarity was an organisation combining features of trade unions and of great social movements. A movement believing that society must be able to speak in a full voice, must be politically visible and efficient and express different social and political views. Society must be able to self-organise in a way ensuring that all citizens have their share of the common good, both spiritual and material. Participants in the first Solidarity wanted to socialise the way Poland was governed and managed: they wanted a self-governing society, a self-governing Poland.

Sowa posits that the term best describing what the first Solidarity was is the symbolic 'mass mobilisation'2 – ​​active participation in the union's structures, agency, changes in the socio-political order. Sowa writes:

If we define democracy as the influence of citizens on the fate of their country through active participation in public life, those who think that for several months between August 1980 and December 1981 Poland was the most democratic place in the world are right.3

He emphasises that worker practices of self-organisation, self-government and radical democracy were the changes that the protesters demanded. By building structures and strategies of action, organising strikes, inter-factory committees and a nationwide trade-union structure, the protesters demanded a trade union independent of the Party and administrative apparatus, the right to strike, freedom of speech and the abolition of censorship, public information about the socio-economic situation of the country, selection of people to managerial positions by qualification and not Party membership, paid maternity leave to care for a newborn child. This is only a sample of the postulates of the Solidarity programme from the early 1980s.

Emphasis on collective agency in social, economic and political life, empowering employees and workers, and making them co-creators of the economy constituted an important component of the programme. Essential ethical and axiological aspects of the programme were freedom, human and citizen dignity, justice, rule of law, truth. The most important part of the first Solidarity programme was the category of self-government and the 'Self-Governing Republic'. Self-government was understood very broadly. It included various spheres of life, fields of social activity, civic activity – plurality of initiatives, acts, ways of organising, coexistence of programmes reforming public life in Poland. It linked self-governance with praise for diversity and pluralism in social life.

The 'Self-Governing Republic' part of the programme stipulates that pluralism of worldviews along with social, cultural and political pluralism should be the basis for democracy in the self-governing republic. Employee self-government would be the basis of self-government, and local self-governments would be a representation of the local community. The system would guarantee basic civil liberties, respect principles of equality before the law for all citizens and all institutions in public life. The judiciary must be independent, with the law-enforcement apparatus subject to social control. It was also postulated that no one in Poland would be persecuted for their beliefs and that culture and education would be available to everyone – the union would protect and support independence and self-governance in culture and education. It was also supposed to support freedom of scientific research and self-government for the scientific community. The union committed itself to fighting hypocrisy in the public sphere, because society had and has the right to live in truth. These theses and postulates of the Programme of the National Congress of Delegates from 1981 constitute a political image of practising democracy and incorporating principles of self-governance into the social fabric. What seems most valuable in the lost heritage of the first Solidarity is the self-organisation of workers, employees and society, which has turned into collective work for the common good.

Summing up the fate of the first Solidarity as a heritage of ideas and practices that we have collectively lost, overlooked or forgotten, Sowa claims that in fact not much remained from that event, that it neither permanently changed the social and political awareness of Poles nor did it transform our identities. Martial law, imposed by the Communist authorities until 1983, broke the transmission of the first Solidarity project into the Polish symbolic field. I detail Sowa's reflections on the structure of events of 1980–1981 because it has become an inspiration, an archival space and a place where the past meets the Polish present for Paweł Wodziński, the director of the production Solidarność. Rekonstrukcja [Solidarity: The Reconstruction], premiered in June 2017. Jan Sowa was a consultant for the production, itself a performative project.

Solidarity: The Reconstruction, dir. Paweł Wodziński, Polski Theatre, Bydgoszcz, premiere: 23 June 2017. Photo: Monika Stolarska.

Wodziński's project is located in a transition zone between critical theatre, critical strategies of negotiating in the social field and thinking about utopia, while it designs utopian strategies for action in that field. The Polski Theatre in Bydgoszcz, where Wodziński was a director, had interest in the issue of utopia and included it into its programme, first as a place for alternative, libertarian, revolutionary scenarios of social activities or political projects marked by resisting dominant social orders and discourses. At the same time, this turn towards utopia was a retreat from the critical strategies used in theatre and art and in the field of social interactions, indicating an exhaustion of those strategies, their ineffectiveness in manifesting at the interface between art and politics.

I think the choice of the first Solidarity archive in preparing the production was associated with a need to establish a new utopian heritage, or with a gesture of engaging historical utopia in response to the present and in designing the future. The formulation of this transition zone between the critical and the utopian has a hidden agenda. And this is closely related to philosopher Boris Buden's book Zone des Übergangs: Vom Ende des Postkommunismus [Transition Zone: On the End of Post-Communism].4 The book will be important for my considerations, as its main theses and assumptions are directly related to the Wodziński production, and to the first Solidarity as a lost utopia.

Children of Solidarity

In his book, Buden notes that the jargon of post-communist transformation is dominated by peculiar metaphors: 'education for democracy', 'test democracy', 'democracy that needs diapers', that 'grows and matures', 'still wears short pants', 'takes its first steps', 'democracy suffering from childhood diseases'. He perceives this metaphorised language as the great scandal of recent history: these are the people who during the 1989–1990 revolution proved their maturity, yet in just one night they became children. And he claims that politics made them children again, because a child is a political being. Buden analyses pre-transformation changes, showing that self-organising workers, employees and intellectuals in the early 1980s demonstrated unprecedented political and social maturity. In fact, they created a utopia of a new social order: they invented the world anew, incorporating the utopian image of democracy into their postulates. But after the transformation, the same people, the democratic utopians, became children again, unable to incorporate their ideas into the political project.

The point is that a man as a political child seems to be the ideal subject of a democratic new beginning: seemingly unburdened by the past, facing the future, he is ready to learn. However, he is dependent, so he should be incapacitated and guided by adults. No relations of domination seems more obvious than the relationship between a child and his or her guardian(s). No power is as innocent and as just as the power over children. Buden notes that repressive infantilisation in societies liberated from communism is one of the main features of the post-communist condition. Post-communist transformation is seen as a kind of educational process, implementing the ideal of education to maturity. The analogy between humanity's historical development and the natural development of a child – or her or his controlled upbringing – is the invention of the Enlightenment. To recall the first sentences of Kant's famous essay 'What Is Enlightenment?': it is 'man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity'. Immaturity is defined here as 'the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another'. The Kantian concept of enlightenment presupposes that emancipation does not take place within the framework of a revolutionary leap, but as an effort to 'reform a manner of thinking', as a constant progress allowing the establishment of the identity of the subject as the subject of enlightenment.

Buden shows that post-communist transformation appeals to this ideal. The ideal of the mature citizen was most distinct in the development of 'civil society'. The point, however, is that referring to maturity does not serve to broaden mature circles, but instead to multiply those who need first to be declared immature. The metaphor of childhood turns out to be a symptom of new relations of domination. Buden argues that the expression 'children of communism' is not a metaphor. It refers to a figure of subordination to the new form of so-called historical necessity, which implements and controls the process of post-communist transformation. According to this premise, achieving maturity, including the one conceived to be democratic, becomes a radical reconstruction from nothing.

Eastern Europe after 1989 becomes similar to the landscape of historic ruins, inhabited only by children, immature people. Democracy had been taken from them, only to return from the outside realms as a foreign idea to which they must adapt in a slow, painful process. History is included into this foreign concept as material for building an engaged historiography. Awareness of the past is not expected from the 'children of communism', which is why they were made children – so they would not remember the past or would tell fairy tales offered up by adults. Maturity is politically removed: in this area, the child becomes the Kantian ideal, producing people who can not use their own critical minds without the leadership of other dominant historical narratives along with those from the field of counter-history. The child as a figure has structural significance for fantasies about a new society, for as a kind of abstraction of a society in transition it assumes the role of its subject. An entity equipped with memory and oblivion, guilt and innocence, charged then atoned before the tribunal. The child is a kind of ideological 'ground zero' of post-communist society. Every catastrophe, whether inherited from the past or new, can be handledIt is an instance of social pre-innocence, thanks to which everything that happens, including the unacceptable or unbearable, can be incorporated into a new, heroic narrative and told as a comprehensible story of a new beginning that has a structured relation between perpetrators and innocent victims based on a legal pattern.

Bringing these considerations to Wodziński's project, it can be said that when adults of the first Solidarity entered the transition zone to neo-liberal, post-transformation democracy, they again became children who'd forgotten their adulthood, their past. At the same time, Wodziński seems to show that the transition zone is not completely closed, that was not sealed off in 1989. In his production, by replaying this historical utopia of the first Solidarity, he presents a return to its programme, reading its postulates, observing how it was done – what those adults wanted to change in their world. He also presents a reminder of the history of the first Solidarity that was then forgotten by the children of transformation. The production re-enacts the archival remains of the First Congress of Solidarity: documents, audio and video recordings.

Solidarity: The Reconstruction, dir. Paweł Wodziński, Polski Theatre, Bydgoszcz, premiere: 23 June 2017. Photo: Monika Stolarska.

The audience represents the participants of that first congress, the setting of spectators in the audience space seems a reconstruction of that self-organising community. We sit in a crowded room listening to postulates and to discussions, breathing cigarette smoke exhaled by actors playing workers. The audience is a kind of living reconstruction group in the replayed archive of that first congress. Actors read letters of support sent by foreign trade unions and enterprise committees, the programme and postulates for the self-governing republic, they re-enact negotiations from behind the scenes about appointing directors in their workplaces. Film interviews intertwine with the reconstructive performance. Actors speak into microphones, with lively discussions interrupted by music and by collective singing, including the song 'Solidarity' by Angelic Upstarts from 1983 – interesting in that the version of the song in the production is a translation of a poem written by a shipyard worker.

This re-enacted archive, however, has some sort of supplement, irrational, grotesque. Lech Wałęsa is very funny, imitated by actors in the performance: his characteristic way of expressing himself, constructing thoughts and performing the leader's attitude. Also funny are nervous conversations at the table, ways of reporting demands, the make-up and gestures of foreign trade-union representatives as played by the actors. In a sense, Wodziński's production is ridiculous: it has the kind of ridiculousness children produce when imitating adults. I mention this supplement of ridiculousness because the child metaphor also works here, at the performance level. Children imitate adult activities: they distort, exaggerate, overdraw, play with the event's meaning. But above all, element of the grotesque entangled in Wodziński's spectacle may be a kind of symptom indicating that some awareness has emerged in Polish society of the existence of a serious socio-political project in its recent history.

Wodziński and Sowa have taken the path of inventing, recovering an alternative archive and symbolic field, ultimately the alternative heritage of the first Solidarity movement. I interpret Solidarity: The Reconstruction as a political gesture, a political project that assumes the re-enactment of objects from an alternative archive of events from 1980 to 1981. And at the same time as a call for the unpractised social heritage of the first Solidarity movement, and for examining contemporary socio-political events in Poland in the light of that programme and of errors in its implementation. The production-cum–performative project's creators present the event of the first Solidarity as an alternative vision of Polish reality, an alternative proposal for shaping the Polish community, the communal public field. They also remind us that the first Solidarity movement was globally networked, that its actions and postulates were part of the international trade-union and political movement both in Eastern Europe and throughout the world. The power of political gesture in Wodziński's performative project is also evident in its belief that practices and ideas of the first Solidarity and the experience of that event remain an alternative political and economic project for today and for the future: a project of both equality and democracy that may be read as Derrida's democracy to come.

The story of the first Solidarity has shown that there is something to be done. In the face of power, for society and work organisation, education, culture and the position of women in society, something can be done. We can get involved, self-organise, protest, resist, design a better and fairer future. Wodziński's production reminds us of this: actors delivering theses, postulates, reading letters from delegates, arguing about reasons and visions, are constantly at work on the organisation of a better world. The reconstruction of the first Solidarity appearing in the title is based on the re-enactment of what happens, of action and of the creation of a new political and social order. As workers formerly did, the actors act, establishing through their action, acting speech, performing an agonistic political project.

The reconstruction of Solidarity consists of indicating that there is something to be done here. And in institutional theatre, as well – it is noteworthy that the Solidarity performances were the company's final performances under Wodziński's directorship, and his way of saying goodbye to institutional theatre in Bydgoszcz. I mention this because reflection on the critique of cultural institutions that is undertaken in Solidarity can be interpreted as an attempt to work on alternative institutions of art, the self-organisation of directors and their teams in designing the field of activities outside of institutional theatre. But one may also look back to the very idea of ​​Solidarity, postulating that in 2018 in Poland, we can create joint action, do something together, enter into alliances, go to the streets, take over public space. This is how I read the end of the production I watched. Actors in the public space of recent Black Protest demonstrations5, a protest against the government's project of tightening anti-abortion laws, go before the protesting crowd and declare postulates formulated at the first congress of Solidarity. Actors are private and public at the same time. They incorporate the power of the past social project of Solidarity withinthe power of current protests taking place in Poland. They let us deduce that it's not just about being up to date and about a continued relevance of the first Solidarity programme. It's also about the need to take action against weakening and violations of democratic procedures in Poland since the conservative-right party Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice] took political power. It is about the project of returning to adulthood – to self-organisation, commitment and responsibility for democracy.  To act, do, design, establish, fight and resist.

Solidarity: The Reconstruction, dir. Paweł Wodziński, Polski Theatre, Bydgoszcz, premiere: 23 June 2017. Photo: Monika Stolarska.

Here I want to refer to a very interesting article by Cezary Rudnicki, ‘Jeśli mówić prawdę, to tylko w sierpniu. Etyka jako polityka’6 [‘Only Speaking Truth in August: Ethics as Politics’]. As Rudnicki points out, the purpose of his article was to add a voice to discussion undertaken by Jan Sowa about reclaiming the first Solidarity heritage and phenomenon for the Left in Poland. The author analyses August 1980 events by means of categories and concepts taken from the philosophy of Michel Foucault and tries to indicate their usefulness in theories and political projects. I won't reconstruct the complexity of Rudnicki's arguments and analyses here. I want to use one particular category developed by Foucault, to interpret the event structure of the first Solidarity movement. It is a political aspect of the category of parrhesia, a category that appears in that author's History of Sexuality. In literal translation, parrhesia means 'to say everything', it means honesty, freedom of speech, freedom of expression. In ancient ethics, parrhesia functioned as a technique used by the teacher to care for himself. Political parrhesia is used by a speaker before a congregation, by a cynic accusing a town's inhabitants or by an adviser turning to the ruler.7 It is important that political parrhesia is used not by those in the position of privilege but by the subordinate. This kind of parrhesia requires courage, responsibility for one's words, taking into account the consequences of using those words, as well as the consequences of one's sincerity. In antiquity, these could lead to exile or killing. Rudnicki indicates that the speech of striking workers, delegates, members of the presidium of the Inter-enterprise Strike Committee, all had the hallmarks of political parrhesia.  He writes:

In the tragedy Orestes by Euripides, there are four types of speakers, but only one is assigned parrhesia.That hero of the drama is characterised by three traditional virtues (courage, prudence, ethical quality) which ensure the existence of a true and good parrhesia. Next to those, however, a fourth element appears: his socio-political characteristic. A man who is called a parrhesiast is not someone who spends his time on the agora, engaging into endless discussions – he is not a skilled speaker, a rhetorician. On the contrary, he is someone who works with his own hands, he is autourgos – not so much a servant or agriculture worker, but rather a private farmer who takes the plow in his hands, speaking before the assembly only when matters of the polis are threatened.8

The parrhesiast participates in matters of the polis, using hands used to work and also to gestures of resistance against poorly exercised power, and to action for building a better future.The parrhesiast is someone who acts, who works for the benefit of the polis. A worker, a labourer, a man of action expressing his opposition to power, state policy, who clenches his fists in a gesture of social involvement, reacting, designing new, better social and political devices because he is socially aware and involved in affairs of the agora. He is everyone, a citizen, a precarious subject, excluded, involved – anyone who speaks and acts against evil power in the state. Those Polish parrhesiasts were established, performed, called into public life by the first Solidarity, the creators of the production Solidarity: The Reconstruction seem to claim.But this is part of the utopian history that our society has forgotten – like children who were told a different communal tale. Who can't remember that democracy is a socio-political project in which you must be involved, in citizenship, and for which you must fight.

Alternate heirs

The first and perhaps final heirs of the idea of ​​the first Solidarity, especially the idea of ​​the self-governing republic, were the members of the Alternative Society Movement (RSA). Janusz Waluszko, a founder of RSA and among the most active members, recalls that they were the first alternative heirs of August 1980. And they were first to criticise Solidarity for veering from the basic assumptions of the programme. Waluszko wrote:

We were also among the first to criticise Solidarity for departing from the programme of self-governance for the sake of settling things with Communists, and for replacing it with slogans about the 'free market' or for limiting ourselves to religious and national symbolism, through our subjecting the myth of the West, clericalism and nationalism to severe criticism. It must have inevitably brought us into opposition not only with the authorities but also with dissidents and the church.9

RSA was a neo-anarchist organisation established in Gdańsk in the early 1980s. The movement's members came from the Gdańsk alternative environment, operating on the border between political opposition and youth counter-culture. They were concentrated around the magazine Gilotyna [Guillotine] which began publishing in 1980. RSA's name, Alternative Society Movement, was also a programme for the group: Movement, as a loose form of organisation without leader or management; Society, because this was most important for the movement; and Alternative, standing against the dominant organisation of the social sphere. In June 1983, Waluszko and Krzysztof Jankowski wrote the RSA manifesto. At the beginning of the 1980s, the movement dealt primarily with the distribution of underground press, participation in independent manifestations, organising street demonstrations, publishing an anarchist magazine, Homek, and running discussion clubs – the places to begin reflecting on political, philosophical, artistic, philosophical, economic and ecological issues. In the eighth edition of Homek, from 1984, Waluszko described the main areas of interest and dominant problem areas and goals of RSA activity, pinpointing first of all the need to consolidate cultural and political memory of the first Solidarity movement:

[...] today, the purpose of the struggle is to maintain and consolidate the achievements of August 1980, expanding this margin of freedom, independence from the state, as well as developing public awareness and the ability to be ourselves, live without a state. [...] The task for today is also to defend the standard of living of society, fight for the improvement of working conditions and safety.  [...] Moreover, we postulate the abolition of ownership of the means of production – only those who 'work' on them would manage them; the land would be owned by farmers, the factory by its workers, not state or private capitalists. The transitional form could be a model proposed by the First National Congress of Delegates of Solidarity – the programme of the Self-Governing Republic of Poland.10

In archival records of conversations with RSA members, the political and social project most frequently mentioned that could transform Polish society was the programme of the self-governing republic. And in the 1989 article ‘Dzieje pewnej zdrady’ [‘History of a Betrayal’], Piotr Rymarczyk, associated with RSA, describes the potential of this programme for Polish society and the need to return to the idea of ​​self-government, and provides the quote in this article's title. In Rymarczyk's words:

In the years 1980–1981, Solidarity was a truly independent union, not entering agreements with the authorities but forcing them to change through bottom-up pressure. I do not intend to idealise this movement at all – it was a reaction to long years of Communist indoctrination and hence to the presence in its ideology of nationalistic and clerical elements. But at the same time, it was a completely spontaneous and truly revolutionary movement – a movement without this clear rupture between ruling elite and passive 'member masses'. Its guiding idea was anarchist in its essence, a vision of a self-organising society fighting jointly for liberation. That idea has found its fullest expression in the programme of the self-governing republic adopted during the First National Congress of Delegates in 1981, postulating the takeover of enterprises by employees and the replacement of state administration by local self-governments. [...] It seems that the self-governing republic programme is the only reasonable solution in our situation. Poland is too poor of a country to bear the drastic economic inequalities associated with capitalism. Solidarity is probably the only force that would be able to implement that programme. Therefore, an attempt should be made to rebuild a truly independent union, which would be based on horizontal structures and manage the anarcho-syndicalist vision of self-governing Poland in its operation. The ruling elites have already stolen too many unifying words and symbols – we won't give up Solidarity!11

Rymarczyk's appeal, 'We won't give up Solidarity!', attempts to return to the first Solidarity programme in 1989 – and now Sowa's book, Wodziński's play and the book by Ewa Majewska,Kontrpubliczności ludowe i feministyczne. Wczesna Solidarność i Czarne Protesty12 [Folk and Feminist Counter-Audiences: Early Solidarity and Black Protests] constitute discursive, political, artistic practices of reviving concepts from the Polish archive of social changes, along with establishing alternative scenarios from the archive for the shape and framework of the Polish community. I use the category of object to define the archival position of the first Solidarity, as it seems to me most appropriate for attempts at returning, reconstructing this socio-political project. Event, discursive and aesthetic objects belonging in the past tense, to history, are an exceptional form, rare and devoid of a hard historic core.13 This has happened in the past, but it does not undergo transformations, modifications and transmissions from one era to another, from one historical time to the next. These are forms that break down into their own shapes and configurations, and which are the result of certain practices: discursive, artistic and ideological. These are the forms and configurations of what people do with an event from the past. Through repetition of practices associated with it, an object can gain the status of something objective, written, included in historical duration. But it does not have to. The specified object may disappear with the disappearance of practising its establishment. In this sense, objects can remain isolated narratives, images, artefacts, legal regulations, practices, fantasies that do not gain any causal continuity or have the power to transform existing social structures, crossing boundaries between interior (production) and the external (impact).

The first Solidarity movement and its programme can be imagined as objects in the archive of Polish history, devoid of continuity, duration, effectiveness. Objects that disappeared due to lack of practice, taken out of the archive and hidden again. In the parliamentary opposition newsletter Ulica [The Street] in 1991, the article 'Koniec Solidarności' ['The End of Solidarity'] was published:

The programme of the self-governing republic, passed at the First Congress of Solidarity in 1981, expressed social subjectivity, workers' subjectivity and the possibility of finding a different pathway than Communist bureaucracy or ruthless capitalism. After martial law, the programme was forgotten, Solidarity elites began to pursue their own interests, taking the side of private property, not of working people. Today, there is no talk of workers' self-management, except in the context of blocking ownership transformations. When the crews at Białystok MPK [the municipal public transport company] opposed the sale of their workplace to companies owned by the new nomenclature and, through an active strike, wanted to become the owners of their workplace, the police intervened. Until now, Solidarity was just a collection of memories and slogans that the president and other politicians used to exercise power and placate the view of the public. The suppression of a strike appealing to the idea of ​​1980/81 by the 'solidarity' police is the death of Solidarity as a workers' and civic revolution, the end of the game of appearances.14

It is obvious that contemporary Poland needs alternative scenarios of social change, new fields of collective identity, cultural codes, new alternative heritage and other management of public space. The destroyed first Solidarity movement may become such an alternative heritage, an object extracted from the archive which will gain in meaning and duration, in object empowerment and social transformation. It may, but it does not have to. Maybe 'solidarity' is over. And Polish society was told a different tale.

Translated by Monika Bokiniec


Blaut, Michał, 'Prasa anarchistyczna w PRL', Biuletyn Poznańskiej Biblioteki Anarchistycznej 2006, no. 4

Buden, Boris, Strefa przejścia. O końcu postkomunizmu, trans. by Michał Sutowski (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2012)

Falkowski, Tomasz, Myśl i zdarzenie. Pojęcie zdarzenia historycznego w historiografii francuskiej XX wieku (Kraków: Universitas, 2013)

Majewska, Ewa, Kontrpubliczności ludowe i feministyczne. Wczesna „Solidarność” i Czarne Protesty (Warsaw: Książka i Prasa, Biblioteka Le Monde Diplomatique, 2018)

Rudnicki, Cezary, 'Jeśli mówić prawdę, to tylko w sierpniu. Etyka jako polityka', Praktyka Teoretyczna 2016, no. 4

Rymarczyka, Piotr, 'Dzieje pewnej zdrady', Rewolta 1989, no. 2

Sowa, Jan, Inna Rzeczpospolita jest możliwa! Widma przeszłości, wizje przyszłości (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo W.A.B., Grupa Wydawnicza Foksal, 2015)

Waluszko, Janusz P., 'Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego', in: Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego 1983–1991 (Poznań: Oficyna Wydawnicza Bractwa 'Trojka', 2009)

1. Jan Sowa, Inna Rzeczpospolita jest możliwa! Widma przeszłości, wizje przyszłości (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo W.A.B, Grupa Wydawnicza Foksal, 2015), pp. 138–139.

2. Ibidem, p. 140.

3. Ibidem, p. 141.

4. Boris Buden, Strefa przejścia. O końcu postkomunizmu, trans. by Michał Sutowski (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2012).

5. In September and October2016, women across Poland mobilised within the framework of Black Protest and the Polish Women’s Strike.

6. Cezary Rudnicki, ‘Jeśli mówić prawdę, to tylko w sierpniu. Etyka jako polityka’, Praktyka Teoretyczna 2016, no. 4.

7. Ibidem, p. 178.

8. Ibidem, p. 181.

9. Janusz P. Waluszko, 'Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego', in: Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego 1983–1991 (Poznań: Oficyna Wydawnicza Bractwa 'Trojka', 2009), pp. 25–26.

10. Quoted in Michał Blaut, ‘Prasa anarchistyczna w PRL’, Biuletyn Poznańskiej Biblioteki Anarchistycznej 2006, no. 4, p. 19.

11. Piotr Rymarczyk, ‘Dzieje pewnej zdrady’, Rewolta 1989, no. 2, quoted from Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego 1983–1991, op. cit., pp. 130–131.

12. Ewa Majewska, Kontrpubliczności ludowe i feministyczne. Wczesna „Solidarność” i Czarne Protesty (Warsaw: Książka i Prasa, Biblioteka Le Monde Diplomatique, 2018).

13. Tomasz Falkowski, Myśl i zdarzenie. Pojęcie zdarzenia historycznego w historiografii francuskiej XX wieku (Kraków: Universitas, 2013), pp. 276–277.

14. See: Ruch Społeczeństwa Alternatywnego 1983–1991, op. cit., p. 151.

Łucja Iwanczewska

Ph.D. lectures in Performatics at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. She holds a degree in Theatre Studies from the Jagiellonian University and a postgraduate degree in Gender Studies from the Institute of Audiovisual Arts at the same university. Her books include Musisz się odrodzić. Inne spotkania z dramatami Stanisława Ignacego Witkiewicza (Księgarnia Akademicka 2007) and Samoprezentacje. Sade i Witkacy (Księgarnia Akademicka 2010). Her interests include performatics and the performative nature of contemporary cultural phenomena (with an emphasis on Polish counterculture). Her work has been published in journals including Didaskalia, Dialog, Perfomer and a number of anthologies. She has published academic texts and has organised a conference as part of the Dramatic Poland research grant. She collaborates with Cricoteka, the Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor, where she has worked on the project Biographies in Theatre, and with the Theatre Institute in Warsaw, where she organised the conference It Can’t Stay This Way! Polish Punk. She is currently working on a monograph titled Partycypacje, emancypacje, transformacje – teatr intelektualnej wspólnoty.