The Workers' Movement and the Rebirth of Poland in 1980-81

Book Cover "Solidarność" in red displayed over a photo of striking dockers
Mark Osborn
Short book
116 pages

Published in 2020 for the fortieth anniversary of the explosive birth of the Polish independent workers’ movement, Solidarność. This book explains why the movement emerged when, where and how it did; and why it was eventually crushed by the anti-working-class Polish state. With photographs, scans of publications and maps, and more.

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2020 is the fortieth anniversary of the explosive birth of the Polish independent workers’ movement, Solidarność (Solidarity).

The Polish workers’ struggle of 1980-1, from the creation of Solidarność in the mass strikes of August 1980 to the military coup of 1981, shook the so-called “socialist” ruling classes of Eastern Europe. The history of the movement is also full of lessons for the genuine socialist left of 2020. The story of Solidarność is a history of working-class courage, creativity, self-organisation and mass militancy against a despotic, bureaucratic Stalinist ruling class.

This book aims to explain why the movement emerged in Poland, in 1980, why Solidarność took the political shape it did, and why, in the end, the movement became a victim of the anti-working-class Polish state.

Additional articles deal with the history of Poland since the 1980s and the poisonous and disorientating effects of Stalinism inside the British labour movement.

Table of Contents
  • After the
  • War Stalinist Rule
  • 1956, Poznań
  • The Party in turmoil
  • Open Letter to the Party
  • 1968: Antisemitism
  • 1968: The Student Protests
  • 1970 on the Northern Coast
  • The aftermaths of the events of 1970
  • The explosion, June 1976
  • 1976: the aftermath
  • The workers’ voice
  • The August events, 1980
  • The 21 Demands
  • After August
  • Politics, the Party, intervention, and the “self-limiting revolution”
  • The Party
  • March 1981
  • The Party’s IX Congress
  • The workers’ press
  • The hunger marches
  • Solidarność’s Congress
  • The Party works towards crushing the workers’ movement
  • December 1981: the coup


  • From the Polish coup to the present day
  • As we were saying...
  • An open letter to Frank Chapple
  • Arthur Scargill, Lech Wałęsa: militants in distorting mirrors.

Features photographs of events, scans of publications and maps, and more.

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