Solidarity: Wikis


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Astilleros de Gdansk.jpg
Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity"
Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"
Founded September 1980
Members 1,185,000 (2006)[1]
Country Poland
Affiliation ITUC, ETUC, TUAC
Key people Lech Wałęsa, Janusz Śniadek
Office location Gdańsk, Poland
(In English)

Solidarity (Polish: Solidarność, pronounced [sɔliˈdarnɔɕtɕ]  ( listen); full name: Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity"Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność" [ɲezaˈlɛʐnɨ samɔːˈʐɔndnɨ ˈzvjɔ̃zɛk zavɔːˈdɔvɨ sɔliˈdarnɔɕtɕ]) is a Polish trade union federation founded in September 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard, and originally led by Lech Wałęsa.

Solidarity was the first non-communist party controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country.[citation needed] In the 1980s it constituted a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement. The government attempted to destroy the union during the period of martial law in the early 1980s and several years of political repression, but in the end it was forced to start negotiating with the union. The Round Table Talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December 1990 Wałęsa was elected President of Poland. Since then it has become a more traditional trade union.



1980 strike at Gdańsk Shipyard, birthplace of Solidarity.

Solidarity was founded in Gdansk in September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, where Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-Soviet social movement ranging from people associated with the Catholic Church[2] to members of the anti-Soviet Left. Solidarity advocated non-violence in its members' activities.[3][4] In September 1981 Solidarity's first national congress elected Lech Wałęsa as a president[5] and adopted a republican program, the "Self-governing Republic"[6]. The government attempted to destroy the union with the martial law of 1981 and several years of repression, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union.

In Poland, the Roundtable Talks between the government and Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected Prime Minister. Since 1989 Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won the parliamentary election in 1997, but lost the following 2001 election. Currently, as a political party Solidarity has little influence on modern Polish politics.

Catholic social teaching

In Solicitudo Rei Socialis, a major document of Catholic Social Teaching, Pope John Paul II identifies the concept of solidarity with the poor and marginalized as a constitutive element of the Gospel and human participation in the common good. The Roman Catholic Church, under the leadership of Pope John Paul II, was a very powerful supporter of the union and was greatly responsible for its success. Lech Wałęsa, who himself publicly displayed Catholic piety, confirmed the Pope's influence, saying: The Holy Father, through his meetings, demonstrated how numerous we were. He told us not to be afraid[7].

In addition, the priest Jerzy Popiełuszko, who regularly gave sermons to the striking workers, was eventually killed by the Communist regime for his association with Solidarity. Polish workers themselves were closely associated with the Church, which can be seen in the photographs taken during strikes in the 1980s. On the walls of several factories, portraits of the Virgin Mary or John Paul II were visible.

Influence abroad

The survival of Solidarity was an unprecedented event not only in Poland, a satellite state of the USSR ruled (in practice) by a one-party Communist regime, but the whole of the Eastern bloc. It meant a break in the hard-line stance of the communist Polish United Workers' Party, which had bloodily ended a 1970 protest with machine gun fire (killing dozens and injuring over 1,000), and the broader Soviet communist regime in the Eastern Bloc, which had quelled both the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and the 1968 Prague Spring with Soviet-led invasions.

Solidarity's influence led to the intensification and spread of anti-communist ideals and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments. The 4 June 1989 elections in Poland where anti-communist candidates won a striking victory sparked off a succession of peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe[2] known as the Revolutions of 1989 (Jesień Ludów). Solidarity's example was repeated in various ways by opposition groups throughout the Eastern Bloc, eventually leading to the Eastern Bloc's effective dismantling, and contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the early 1990s.

In late 2008, several democratic opposition groups in the Russian Federation formed a Solidarity movement.[8]

Secular philosophical underpinnings

Although Leszek Kolakowski's works were officially banned in Poland, underground copies of them influenced the opinions of the Polish intellectual opposition. His 1971 essay Theses on Hope and Hopelessness, which suggested that self-organized social groups could gradually expand the spheres of civil society in a totalitarian state, helped inspire the dissident movements of the 1970s that led to the creation of Solidarity and provided a philosophical underpinning for the movement.


Formed on 31 August 1980,[9] the union's supreme powers were vested in a legislative body, the Convention of Delegates (Zjazd Delegatów). The executive branch was the National Coordinating Commission (Krajowa Komisja Porozumiewawcza), later renamed the National Commission (Komisja Krajowa). The Union had a regional structure, comprising 38 regions (region) and two districts (okręg). During the communist era the 38 regional delegates were arrested and jailed when martial law came into effect 1983 under General Wojciech Jaruzelski. After a one year prison term the high-ranking members of the union were offered one way trips to any country accepting them (including Canada, the United States, and nations in the Middle East).

Solidarity was organized as an industrial union, or more specifically according to the One Big Union principle, along the lines of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (workers in every trade were organized by region, rather than by craft).[10]

Currently, Solidarity has more than 1.1 million members. National Commission of Independent Self-Governing Trade Union is located in Gdańsk and is composed of Delegates from Regional General Congresses.


Regional structure

Solidarity is divided into 37 regions, and the territorial structure to a large degree reflects the shape of Polish voivodeships, established in 1975 and annulled in 1998 (see: Administrative division of People's Republic of Poland). The regions are:

The network of key factories

The network of Solidarity branches of the key factories of Poland was created on 14 April 1981 in Gdansk. It was made of representatives of seventeen factories; each stood for the most important factory of every voivodeship of the pre-1975 Poland (see: Administrative division of People's Republic of Poland). However, there were two exceptions. There was no representative of the Koszalin Voivodeship, and the Katowice Voivodeship was represented by two factories:

Voivodeship Represented by
Gdansk Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk
Szczecin Szczecin Shipyard
Poznan H. Cegielski - Poznan S.A.
Bydgoszcz Rail Vehicles Repair Shop in Bydgoszcz
Zielona Gora Rolling Stock and Steel Works Zastal in Zielona Gora
Katowice Wujek Coal Mine in Katowice and the Spare Parts Factory Zgoda in Swietochlowice,
Krakow Vladimir Lenin Steelworks in Nowa Huta
Wroclaw Rail Carriage Factory Pafawag in Wroclaw
Rzeszow Factory of Communication Equipment WSK in Rzeszow
Bialystok Cotton Works Fasty in Bialystok
Kielce Ball Bearings Factory Iskra in Kielce
Olsztyn Tire Company Stomil in Olsztyn
Lublin Factory of Communication Equipment PZL in Swidnik
Lodz Julian Marchlewski Cotton Works in Lodz
Warsaw Ursus Factory in Warsaw
Opole Malapanew Steelworks in Ozimek


See also


  1. ^ "WHAT IS THE NSZZ SOLIDARNOSC ?". Retrieved 6 July 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Steger, Manfred B (January 2004) (ebook). Judging Nonviolence: The Dispute Between Realists and Idealists. Routledge (UK). p. 114. ISBN 0-415-93397-8. Retrieved 9 July 2006. 
  3. ^ Paul Wehr, Guy Burgess, Heidi Burgess, ed (February 1993) (ebook). Justice Without Violence. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 28. ISBN 1-55587-491-6. Retrieved 6 July 2006. 
  4. ^ Cavanaugh-O'Keefe, John (January 2001) (ebook). Emmanuel, Solidarity: God's Act, Our Response. Xlibris Corporation. p. 68. ISBN 0-7388-3864-0. Retrieved 6 July 2006. 
  5. ^ KALENDARIUM NSZZ „SOLIDARNOŚĆ” 1980–1989PDF (185 KiB). Last accessed on 15 October 2006 (Polish)
  6. ^ Piotr Gliński, The Self-governing Republic in the Third Republic, “Polish Sociological Review”, 2006, no.1
  7. ^ BBC World, Analysis: Solidarity's legacy
  8. ^ Kasparov starts new Russian opposition movement. The Associated Press. 13 December 2008.
  9. ^ Guardian newspaper report Retrieved 22 June 2009
  10. ^ (Polish) Solidarność NSZZ in WIEM Encyklopedia. Last accessed on 10 October 2006

Further reading

  • Eringer, Robert (1982). Strike for Freedom: The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity. Dodd Mead. ISBN 0-396-08065-0. 
  • Garton Ash, Timothy (2002). The Polish Revolution: Solidarity. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09568-6. 
  • Kaminski, Marek M. (2004). Games Prisoners Play. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11721-7. 
  • Kenney, Patrick (2003). A Carnival of Revolution : Central Europe 1989. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11627-X. 
  • Kenney, Patrick (2006). The Burdens of Freedom. Zed Books Ltd.. ISBN 1-84277-662-2. 
  • Kubik, Jan (1994). The Power of Symbols Against the Symbols of Power: The rise of Solidarity and the fall of state socialism in Poland. The Pennsylvania State University. ISBN 0-271-01084-3. 
  • Osa, Maryjane (2003). Solidarity and Contention: Networks of Polish Opposition. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-3874-8. 
  • Ost, David (2005) (ebook). The Defeat Of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-4318-0. 
  • Penn, Shana (2005). Solidarity's Secret : The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11385-2. 
  • Perdue, William D. (1995). Paradox of Change: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity in the New Poland. Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-95295-9. 
  • Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, on Vatican website
  • Staniszkis, Jadwiga (1984). Poland's Self-Limiting Revolution. Princeton University Press. 
  • Weigel, George (1992). The Final Revolution: The Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516664-7. 

External links

Solidarity is the integration, and degree and type of integration, shown by a society or group with people and their neighbours.[1] It refers to the ties in a society - social relations - that bind people to one another. The term is generally employed in sociology and the other social sciences.

What forms the basis of solidarity varies between societies. In simple societies it may be mainly based around kinship and shared values. In more complex societies there are various theories as to what contributes to a sense of social solidarity.[1]


Ibn Khaldun

`Asabiyyah refers to social solidarity with an emphasis on unity, group consciousness, and social cohesion, originally in a context of "tribalism" and "clanism", but sometimes used for modern nationalism as well. Ibn Khaldun's Muqaddimah described it as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motive force of history. `Asabiyyah is neither necessarily nomadic nor based on blood relations. In the modern period, the term is generally analogous to solidarity.[2][3]

Ibn Khaldun argues, effectively, that each dynasty has within itself the seeds of its own downfall. He explains that ruling houses tend to emerge on the peripheries of great empires and use the unity presented by those areas to their advantage in order to bring about a change in leadership. As the new rulers establish themselves at the center of their empire, they become increasingly lax and more concerned with maintaining their lifestyles. Thus, a new dynasty can emerge at the periphery of their control and effect a change in leadership, beginning the cycle anew.[2]

It can be compared to Émile Durkheim's mechanical solidarity as opposed to the organic solidarity which he suggests can be found in modern societies.[3]


According to Émile Durkheim, the types of social solidarity correlate with types of society. Durkheim introduced the terms "mechanical" and "organic solidarity" as part of his theory of the development of societies in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). In a society exhibiting mechanical solidarity, its cohesion and integration comes from the homogeneity of individuals—people feel connected through similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle. Mechanical solidarity normally operates in "traditional" and small scale societies.[4] In simpler societies (e.g., tribal), solidarity is usually based on kinship ties of familial networks. Organic solidarity comes from the interdependence that arises from specialization of work and the complementarities between people—a development which occurs in "modern" and "industrial" societies.[4] Definition: it is social cohesion based upon the dependence individuals have on each other in more advanced societies. Although individuals perform different tasks and often have different values and interest, the order and very solidarity of society depends on their reliance on each other to perform their specified tasks. Organic here is referring to the interdependence of the component parts. Thus, social solidarity is maintained in more complex societies through the interdependence of its component parts (e.g., farmers produce the food to feed the factory workers who produce the tractors that allow the farmer to produce the food).

The two types of solidarity can be distinguished by morphological and demographic features, type of norms in existence, and the intensity and content of the conscience collective.[4]

Mechanical and organic solidarity[5]
Feature Mechanical solidarity Organic solidarity
Morphological (structural) basis Based on resemblances (predominant in less advanced societies)
Segmental type (first clan-based, later territorial)
Little interdependence (social bonds relatively weak)
Relatively low volume of population
Relatively low material and moral density
Based on division of labour (predominately in more advanced societies)
Organized type (fusion of markets and growth of cities)
Much interdependency (social bonds relatively strong)
Relatively high volume of population
Relatively high material and moral density
Types of norms (typified by law) Rules with repressive sanctions
Prevalence of penal law
Rules with restitutive sanctions
Prevalence of cooperative law (civil, commercial, procedural, administrative and constitutional law)
Formal features of conscience collective High volume
High intensity
High determinateness
Collective authority absolute
Low volume
Low intensity
Low determinateness
More room for individual initiative and reflection
Content of conscience collective Highly religious
Transcendental (superior to human interests and beyond discussion)
Attaching supreme value to society and interests of society as a whole
Concrete and specific
Increasingly secular
Human-orientated (concerned with human interests and open to discussion)
Attaching supreme value to individual dignity, equality of opportunity, work ethic and social justice
Abstract and general

"...if I have properly understood gesellschaft is supposed to be characterised by a progressive development of individualism, the dispersive effects of which can only be prevented for a time, and by artificial means by the action of the state, it is essentially a mechanical aggregate."

  • Durkheim believed that Ferdinand Tönnies saw individualism as working against moral order, people become unattached like atoms flowing in space suggesting that the only thing holding people together, prevented relationships from fracturing, and holds people to society was the imposition of order and coherence of the state.
  • Durkheim asserted that the life of social agglomerates is just as natural, and is no less internal as that of small groupings.
  • He characterised preindustrial societies as mechanical and industrial societies as organic (thus opposing Toennies theories by using opposite terminology)
  • Although the bonds of mechanical solidarity were based on "a more or less organized totality of beliefs and sentiments common to all the members of the group," this gave way in industrial society to potent new forces that were characterised by heightened complexity and differentiation, an increased dependence on society, and, seemingly paradoxically at first glance, a growing level of individual autonomy.[6]


International solidarity is “not an act of charity but an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objectives.” - Samora Machel

“Unlike solidarity, which is horizontal and takes place between equals, charity is top-down, humiliating those who receive it and never challenging the implicit power relations.”[7] - Eduardo Galeano

"Solidarity is not a matter of altruism. Solidarity comes from the inability to tolerate the affront to our own integrity of passive or active collaboration in the oppression of others, and from the deep recognition of our most expansive self-interest. From the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet, and that politically, spiritually, in our heart of hearts we know anything else is unaffordable."[8] - Aurora Levins Morales

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security." John Donne, Meditation XVII

See also


  1. ^ a b Collins Dictionary of Sociology, p621.
  2. ^ a b Alatas, Syed Farid (2006), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "A Khaldunian Exemplar for a Historical Sociology for the South"], Current Sociology 54 (3): 397–411, doi:10.1177/0011392106063189 
  3. ^ a b Gellner, Ernest (2007), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Cohesion and Identity: the Maghreb from Ibn Khaldun to Emile Durkheim"], Government and Opposition 10 (2): 203–18, doi:10.1111/j.1477-7053.1975.tb00637.x 
  4. ^ a b c Collins Dictionary of Sociology, p405-6.
  5. ^ Collins Dictionary of Sociology, p406 adapted from S. Lukes, Emile Durkheim: His life and Work (1973) London:Allen Lane
  6. ^ Kivisto, Peter, Key Ideas in Sociology, 2nd ed. Pine Forge Press 2004
  7. ^ Galeano, E. 2000 Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking Glass World. Picador, p. 312
  8. ^ Aurora Levins Morales, 1998 Medicine Stories. Boston: South End Press.


  • Jary, David; Julia Jary (1991), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Collins Dictionary of Sociology], Glasgow: Harper Collins, p. 774, ISBN 0-00-470804-0 

Other reading

  • Ankerl, Guy: Toward a social contract on worldwide scale: Solidarity contract. Geneva, ILO, 1980, ISBN 92-9014-165-4


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

  • Solidarity is not a matter of altruism. Solidarity comes from the inability to tolerate the affront to our own integrity of passive or active collaboration in the oppression of others, and from the deep recognition of our most expansive self-interest. From the recognition that, like it or not, our liberation is bound up with that of every other being on the planet, and that politically, spiritually, in our heart of hearts we know anything else is unaffordable.
    • Aurora Levins Morales, Medicine Stories, 1998, Boston: South End Press.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also solidarity


Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun




  1. A political movement begun in the labor unions of Poland that contributed to the fall of Communism in that country.


Simple English

Solidarity can refer to:

  • a Polish trade union originally led by Lech Wałęsa
  • a United States trade union from the fusion of the International Socialists, Socialist Unity, and Workers' Power,
  • a newspaper published by the Alliance for Workers Liberty in the UK.


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