Czesław Bielecki

Czesław Bielecki - Polish architect and publicist. He was active member of anticommunist opposition in communist Poland. Author of many books including "Freedom A Do-It-Yourself Manual"

Also, no one planned that the "Solidarity" revolution would last nine long years, from the signing of the Gdańsk Accords on August 31, 1980, to the agreement reached on June 4, 1989, at the Roundtable. As it turns out the Poles outright rejection...- writes Czesław Bielecki

A political idea is the spark that ignites hidden potential. When in 1976 spontaneous protests exploded in two Polish towns, Ursus and Radom, and were brutally crushed by the police, intellectuals and young people founded the Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR). It collected money to help the persecuted and found lawyers prepared to defend them, created the germs of solidarity, whose activities at first included a few dozen, then a few hundred citizens. KOR began to publish its Information Bulletin. A year later, the Independent Publishing House (NOWa) was launched and began to publish uncensored literature and essays. And this is how a single political idea aimed at concrete action gave birth to the next idea. People chose with whom to work according to their passions and characters, and a group of leaders of those organizations also formed in a natural way. Political ideas gave life to the civil society organizing itself. When KOR met its initial goals, it transformed itself into the KOR Committee for Society's Self-Defense (KSS-KOR) and started new initiatives, such as the Free Labor Unions and the Flying University; the latter picking up the nineteenth-century tradition of self-education from the years when Poland had been civided and held captive by the three partitioning powers. A political idea needs to fit into its social context and cannot be invented outside the customs and mentality of its society. Before the world heard about Ukraine's Orange Revolution, in the mid-1980s Poland had its Orange Alternative. It challenged communism with mockery and jokes, organizing street demonstrations and happenings, against which the Police were powerless. After all, could they, for example, ban a street celebration of an anniversary of the October Revolution in a communist country? Or arrest young people dressed up as red gnomes who were handing out money to passers by? The fact that they were handing out one-dollar bills - the only illegal aspect of this street event - was an additional attraction (…)

 It is impossible to plan a freedom revolution, but one can prepare for one and work  for it. It is possible to create scenarios and to develop social reflexes. It is possible to train for freedom, just like for any other discipline. One must only keep in mind that it is a high-risk sport. The Polish "Solidarity" revolution, which overthrew communism, began with the creation of a labor union. The communist regime, for ideological reasons, could not recognize an openly political organization. The Independent Self-Governing "Solidarity" Labor Union was called this only because it could not include the word "free" in its name. This would have been unacceptable to a government, the gun of the August 1980 general strike to its head, as it negotiated with an organized workers' movement. No one had planned in advance how the negotiations between the government and the strike committee in the Gdansk Shipyard would progress. Similarly, no one in the opposition could describe in detail the imposition in December 1981 of martial law aimed at “Solidarity" and the nighttime arrests of the legal activists of the Union, 16 months after it was officially registered. There were those who warned that some like this might happen, but no one listened (…)

Martial law in Poland in 1981 was put in place using Polish hands serving the Soviet interest of burying the freedom that had been born in August 1980. The government, even when it sent tanks and armored vehicles into the streets, did not manage to destroy a movement of millions, supported by the whole nation, in one night. The nine million "Solidarity" members included two million ordinary communist party members (a few thousand secret police agents and informers among them). Yes, these agents were placed in the most important underground organizations, and there were many of them. But "Solidarity’s" history has shown that regardless of the quantity and quality of the potential manipulators, a true mass movement cannot be manipulated.  Several hundred thousand activists and sympathizers of the underground movement managed to survive for eight years, until the peaceful confrontation at the Roundtable. The determination of these hundreds of thousands of people, bolstered by the moral support of millions, won. If in Poland the Polish communists could not arrest the entire leadership of underground "Solidarity," despite all their agents, bugs, hidden cameras and computers, Big Brother had to evolve in the direction of glasnost and perestroika. And the act that they turned out to be the destroyka of the system was a logical consequence of this long war (…)

Also, no one planned that the "Solidarity" revolution would last nine long years, from the signing of the Gdansk Accords on August 31, 1980, to the agreement reached on June 4, 1989, at the Roundtable. As it turns out  the Poles outright rejection of communism caught both sides negotiating at the Roundtable by surprise. On June 4, 1989, communism suffered a spectacular collapse in Poland, which is right to say that it ended (…)

What has happened since then is a case study of a bad ending that follows a good bidding and a good gambit. The success caught the leaders of the group that won the elections by surprise. It surpassed them. So instead of catching the wind in their sails and allowing people to celebrate their victory, the leaders began to extinguish the fire of public enthusiasm so as not to annoy the government, which had only just surprised both sides by losing the elections, which had turned into a plebiscite for or against real socialism in which the people spoke out against it.

To this day, people are busy discussing whether after the revolution wins it is possible to adopt the zero option, to build up a new power structure from scratch, especially in the most important areas of security, intelligence and police. It seems that a new state structure in the broadest sense - of mentality, law and personnel - needs to be built in part with existing elements. But the classic Leninist question is still relevant: Kto kogo? Who checks up on whom? Who listens to whom? Who serves whom? Who manipulates whom?

In a word, at the instant when the revolution takes place, it is necessary to make a cue break between the past and the future and to mark new goals and methods for freedom, according to which people can be qualified to govern on every level. We cannot assume that the communist nomenklatura, people who served the military junta or black or white racist satraps qualify to govern in the areas of freedom, the economy or security. Every new government, and especially one that has just crossed from captivity to freedom, must extract a maximum of information about the state of the affairs it is taking over from the people who served the old government. After all, the majority of these affairs are apolitical, even if totalitarianism had politicized them. As the democrats take over from the totalitarians, they may not allow themselves to land in an information vacuum. The victors may not naively give the vanquished the answer to the question: Whose plans for running the state and the society will we put into practice?

Source: "Freedom A Do-It-Yourself Manual"