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trade union | John Feffer
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The Disappointment of Fulfilled Dreams

“May your dreams come true” is purportedly an ancient Chinese curse. Although it is probably apocryphal – just as the Chinese never say “may you live in interesting times” — the phrase does contain an element of truth. It is often the longing and anticipation that we crave, not the realization of our hopes. Nothing can possibly compare to the fulfillment we imagine. Many Poles...
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Solidarity Underground

Before its triumph in 1989, the Solidarity trade union spent more of its existence in the shadows than as an official movement. It started in August 1980 in Gdansk and remained legal until December 1981 when the Polish government declared Martial Law. For the next seven years, Solidarity went underground. Ewa Kulik was one of the key Solidarity leaders who kept the organization functioning...
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Poland’s Unplanned Transition

Compared to the other countries in the region, Poland’s transition to democracy and a market economy seemed to involve a great deal of negotiation. The country embarked on Round Table negotiations in spring 1989 that prepared the way for semi-free parliamentary elections on June 4 of that year. The negotiations also included discussions on economic transformation, and the representatives from...
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The Republic of Writers

Under Communism, the government cared a great deal about what you wrote. If you were part of the system, the government promoted your work. If you were against the system, the government censored you or possibly jailed you. In either case, though, the Communist governments took your words seriously — as useful propaganda or potential threat. In Hungary, in the 1970s and 1980s, the system...
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Solidarity After Solidarity

Solidarity was not just an opposition movement. With 10 million members – more than one quarter of the population of Poland in 1980 – it was an unprecedented phenomenon. The Communist governments had faced protests from individual dissidents and even from small groups like Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. There had also been reform efforts launched from within the Party, as in Hungary in 1956....
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