chapter  2
34 Pages

The Communist Era: The System and Its Crises

WithMarjorie Castle, Ray Taras

This chapter traces the evolution of mass alignments and the mobilization of opposition forces that were the product of a transformed, less agrarian social structure. Cleavages based on ethnicity or religion, which in many other societies have hamstrung democratic mobilization, were virtually absent in Poland. The organizational framework of the Polish communist regime followed the Soviet model. Poland's foreign policy objective was the same as the Soviet objective: full integration into the various institutions created by the Soviet Union. Long-standing worker activism triggered the birth of the Solidarity movement, but it was undergirded by a consensus crystallizing across all groups in society about the terminal crisis of communism. Solidarity's was based on redefining political rules and procedures in Poland, the regime's on the substantive claim of guaranteeing welfarism and delivering material goods to society, in line with the society of plenty that communist ideology promised.