In the discussion thread: Poland's Solidarity Union Rebukes Romney Upon Former Leader's Endorsement [View all]
Response to Laurian (Reply #3)
Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:30 AM
Igel (21,450 posts)
21. He didn't.
Polish politics are not US politics. Such ethnocentrism is misplaced.
Many liberals in the former Soviet bloc were conservatives. "Liberal" was still more like what it meant 150 years ago in the West. To be liberal was to be for laissez-faire, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, for some say of the little man in public policy and against forced collectivism.
Heck, even when I got to grad school in the late '80s a lot of people had trouble saying bad things about the USSR, and it wasn't just because of scholarly and travel links. Esp. among undergrads and non-linguists. Say "Solidarity" and they'd roll their eyes. The troublemaker Walesa with his outrageous, pointless demands.
American labor unions had a problem in Russia. They'd been staunchly pro-USSR for a while. Then a bit less so, but they usually waffled. Solzhenitsyn made the US uncomfortable. In the 1970s US labor unions had trouble with a sharply anti-Soviet position, even under Carter. The best they did was have little opinion on the matter. When Reagan was anti-soviet, domestic politics still meant more than human rights. That was Solidarnosc's time. The union's were not about to stand by Reagan as he supported Solidarnosc. Solidarnosc was the labor movement's orphan.
The worker's demands at the time were old-school liberal. Solidarnosc was never really conservative because the term made no sense. It also wasn't "progressive". It was liberal. What it wanted as big compared to most labor union demands.
It was only more than a decade later, when Polish became more western that the West managed, in large measure, to transplant its politics to Poland. Solidarnosc's demands became more picayune. At the same time, their rhetoric became more old-school communist, and the rebranded communists, the same in new packaging, found a home there. Think of it as social pole reversal. Or Pole reversal. Walesa had a major falling out by then. He moved on. He'd won, and if somebody else wanted to move into his pillbox, he didn't care too incredibly much.
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