You are here

Poland

, Forging Links in Ozarow, In Notes from Nowhere, We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism London, Verso, , 2004, pp. 450-455

On Polish worker occupation to prevent closure of a factory, supported by local community and anarchist groups.

, How was the March 8 International Women’s Strike woven together, Viewpoint Magazine, 2017

Highlights the organisation and impact of the October 19, 2016 Strike in Argentina - the first women’s strike in the history of the country (and Latin America), which alone mobilised 250,000 people in Buenos Aires. The strike inspired by the same initiative taken by Polish women, which extended to many countries in the world thanks to the coordination of groups activities, petitions sent to the UN and manifestos.

, A European Green Deal: Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent, Brussels, European Commission , 2019

The EU Commission presented its plan for updating its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in December 2019. The goal of net zero emissions by 2050 was to be given legal force by a climate law in 2020, and its target for 2030 was a 50-55" cut (lifting its previous 40" target). The plan links these targets to a call for a new growth strategy, decoupled from resource use, and sets out a time line and more detailed aims.

See also: Simon, Frederic, 'The EU releases its Green Deal. Here are the key points' 12 Dec. 2019:  https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/12/12/eu-releases-green-deal-key-...

Ascherson, Neal, The Polish August: The Self-Limiting Revolution, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1981, pp. 320

Account up to mid-1981 by British journalist familiar with Eastern Europe, with text of Gdansk and Szeczecin Agreements between strikers and government and postscript on December 1981.

Barker, Colin, Festival of the Oppressed: Solidarity, Reform, and Revolution in Poland, 1980-81, London, Bookmarks, 1986, pp. 192

and also his essay ‘Fear, Laughter, and Collective Power: The Making of Solidarity at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, August 1980’, pp. 175-194, Goodwin; Jasper; Polletta, Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements) .

Bernhard, Michael H., The Origins of Democratization in Poland: Workers, Intellectuals and Opposition Politics, 1976-1980, New York, Columbia University Press, 1994, pp. 298

Bielinska-Kowalewska, Katarzyna, #czarnyprotest: The Black Protest for Abortion Rights in Poland, New Politics, Vol. 16 , no. 2, 2017, pp. 53-60

This article explores the ‘Black Protest’ demonstration in Poland against a proposed abortion law, which would have been one of the most restrictive in the European Union. 

Brumberg, Abraham, Poland, Genesis of a Revolution, ed. Brumberg, Abraham, New York, Vintage Books, 1983, pp. 336

Engler, Mark ; Engler, Paul, This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, New York, Nation Books, 2016, pp. 368

The book examines how contemporary movements are using strategic nonviolent action to promote social change, covering a range of protests including climate change, immigrant rights, gay rights, Occupy and Black Lives Matter. The authors argue that nonviolent uprisings are becoming more common than violent rebellion, and look back to twentieth century antecedents in the Indian Independence and US Civil Rights movements, examine the nature of effective strategy and discuss organizational discipline. Their analysis includes the Arab Spring, but notes its discouraging implications.

Falk, Barbara, Rethinking the Revolutionary Recipe: 1989 and the Idea of Non-Violent Revolution', Visegrad Insight, 2020

Falk assesses the nature of the 1989 revolutions, which she delineates as the collapse of communist regimes across Eastern Europe in a context of commitment to nonviolence by key players (with the exception of Romania) and of restraint by both Gorbachev in the USSR and western leaders. Year 1989 appeared to usher in a new concept of peaceful revolution, which could be applied to challenge other repressive regimes. But, Falk argues, these attempts, as in the '2009 Green Revolution' in Iran and the 'Arab Spring' in 2011 in Egypt and elsewhere, have resulted in defeat.  The author also notes other factors, which militate against successful nonviolent revolution. These include the greater ruthlessness (compared with the East European Communist regimes of the 1980s) of many of today's dictatorships, the declining respect for the US and for liberal democracy as an ideal, a rise in barbaric violence (represented by ISIS) and the complex role of today's communication technologies, which can mobilize protest but promote lack of leadership capable of formulating negotiable demands. The article references a number of other interesting recent perspectives on revolution today.   

Fejto, Francois, A History of the People’s Democracies, [1969], 2nd edn, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1974, pp. 565

Examines destalinization in Poland and why the Polish 1956 uprising avoided bloodshed, making comparisons with Hungary and its 1956 Revolution, see pp. 79-80 and 87-123. These events are set in the wider context of Soviet and bloc politics.

Flam, Helena, Mosaic of Fear: Poland and East Germany before 1989, New York and Boulder CO, Columbia University Press and East European Monographs, 1998, pp. 283

Flam draws on newly available archives and over 100 interviews with Communist officials, dissidents and ‘bystanders’. (See also Flam, Anger in Repressive Regimes: A Footnote to Domination and the Arts of Resistance by James Scott (A. 1.c. Small Scale, Hidden, Indirect and 'Everyday' Resistance) ).

Flam, Helena, Pink, Purple, Green: Women’s Religious, Environmental, and Gay/Lesbian Movements in Central Europe Today, New York, Columbia University Press, 2001, pp. 175

Covers variety of movements, but three chapters on problems of gay/lesbian groups in Hungary, Poland and the eastern part of Germany.

Franceschet, Susan ; Krook, Mona Lena ; Tan, Netina, The Palgrave Handbook of Women’s Political Rights, ed. Ennaji, Moha, Sadiqi, Fatima, Vintges, Karen, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, pp. 784

Covers women’s political rights across all major regions of the world, focusing both on women’s right to vote and women’s right to run for political office. The countries explored are Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, South Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States, Uganda, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

Garton Ash, Timothy, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity 1980-82, London, Jonathan Cape, 1983, pp. 386

Highly regarded first hand analysis by scholar of Central Europe and commentator on other civil resistance struggles.

Garton Ash, Timothy, We the People: The Revolution of 89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague, London, Granta Books in association con Penguin, 1990, pp. 156

(Published in New York by Random House as The Magic Lantern).

Graff, Agnieszka, A Different Chronology: Reflections on Feminism in Contemporary Poland, In Gillis; Howie; Munford, Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration (F.4.a. The Third Wave of the 1990s-2000s), New York, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 142-165

Argues ‘wave’ chronology does not apply to Poland.

Hall, Bogumilla, Gendering Resistance to Right-Wing Populism: Black Protest and a New Wave of Feminist Activism in Poland?, American Behavioral Scientists, Vol. 63, no. 10, 2019, pp. 1497-1515

The election of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2015, and its growing authoritarianism, has politicized thousands of Poles and stimulated large-scale protests. Women have been at the forefront, linking the demand for reproductive rights with the wider resistance to the ruling party. In particular, the proposal to restrict the abortion law sparked mass mobilization in 2016. These Black Protests became a formative experience for many previously inactive. This article examines this latest wave of feminist activism in Poland and its methods, from a generational perspective. It scrutinises in detail the narrative of a “new generation of activists,” who claim they are making Polish feminism more inclusive, creative and bolder.

Hall, David ; Lobina, Emanuele ; de la Motte, Robin, Public Resistance to Privatisation in Water and Energy, ed. Food Empowerment Project, , Development in Practice, Vol. 15, no. 3-4 (June), 2005

Examines role of different types of opposition in ‘delaying, cancelling or reversing the privatization of water and energy’, including success in Nkondobe (South Africa), Paraguay where parliament voted in 2002 to suspend indefinitely privatization of state-owned water and Poznan in Poland in 2002, and failure of campaigns in UK, Chile and Philippines.

Hicks, Barbara, Environmental Politics in Poland: A Social Movement between Regime and Opposition, New York, Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 263

Hiscocks, Richard, Poland: Bridge for the Abyss?, London, Oxford University Press, 1963, pp. 359

Hussein, Julia ; Cottingham, Jane ; Nowicka, Wanda ; Kismodi, Eszter, Abortion in Poland: politics, progression and regression, Reproductive Health Matters, Vol. 26, no. 52, 2018, pp. 11-14

On the 23rd March 2018, tens of thousands of Polish citizens demonstrated against the right-wing populist government’s renewed attempt (after its defeat in 2016) to make the existing abortion laws even more restrictive. In what has become known as the #BlackProtest movement, people dressed in black to show their opposition to attempts to restrict abortion. This paper explores the laws, regulations and policies related to abortion in Poland within a wider global context.

Karol, K. S., Visa for Poland, London, MacGibbon and Kee, 1959, pp. 259

Account by a Polish journalist (who left in 1949) of the evolution of destalinization from above and demands for democratization from below in 1955-56, and the October 1956 revolution. Karol explains the background context of Poland’s wartime experiences and the Communist seizure of power and in Part Two assesses Poland a year after October 1956.

Kenney, Padraic, A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989, 352, Princeton NJ, Princetown University Press, 2003

Youthful personal impressions combined with later historical research on Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. Especially strong on the playful resistance of groups such as the Orange Alternative in Wroclaw.

Król, Agnieszka ; Pustułka, Paula, Women on strike: mobilizing against reproductive injustice in Poland, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Vol. 20, no. 3, 2018, pp. 366-384

This paper discusses the events of the 2016 mobilization against a proposed total abortion ban proposal through a lens of reproductive justice, and explains the context of the struggle. The authors examine the Strike as a ‘tumultuous act of women’s solidarity’, while simultaneously assessing its implications for RJ issues. They also discuss the aftermath and the social unwillingness to acknowledge the complexities of women’s lives and reproductive choices. They also provide arguments for applying the RJ framework to illuminate the concept of ideal citizens, and to explore gendered social control in Poland. This study has a global relevance, reflecting the impact of worldwide trends in women’s rights activism, and the relevance of RJ in the context of resurfacing nationalisms and populism.

Laba, Roman, The Roots of Solidarity: A Political Sociology of Poland’s Working Class Democratization, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1992, pp. 264

Between arriving in Poland in 1980 and being expelled in 1982, the author engaged in firsthand research and gathered relevant documents to question the emphasis on the role of intellectuals, and develop his thesis on the central role of working class activism and their talent for democratic organization.

Lewis, Flora, A Case History of Hope: The Story of Poland’s Peaceful Revolutions, G Garden City NY, Doubleday, 1958, pp. 281

Covers developments in 1956, especially the June and October public protests.

Long, Kristi S., We All Fought for Freedom: Women in Poland’s Solidarity Movement, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1996, pp. 208

Explores women’s consciousness of the period through interviews, many with local Gdansk activists, notes women’s marginalisation in union structures and discusses implications for post-Communist period.

Machcewicz, Pawel ; Latynski, Maya, Rebellious Satellite: Poland 1956, Washington DC, Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2009, pp. 280

Marsh, Rosalind, Polish feminism in an east-west context, Women Writing Online, no. 1, 2009, pp. 26-48

Michnik, Adam, Letters from Prison and Other Essays, Berkeley CA, University of California Press, 1985, pp. 354

Influential intellectual oppositionist in Poland from the 1960s to the 1980s argues for adhering to nonviolent methods for moral and political as well as pragmatic reasons (i.e. threat of Soviet military response to a violent uprising).

Mishtal, Joanna, The Politics of Morality: The Church, the State, and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland, Athens, Ohio, Ohio University Press, 2015, pp. 272

After the initial hopes for democracy and freedom after the fall of the state socialist regime in 1989, political forces that had been dormant during the state socialist era began to emerge, and to establish a new religious-nationalist orthodoxy. Solidarity, which played a key role in ending the communist regime, had worked quietly with the Catholic Church. Most Poles were at least nominally Catholics. As the Church emerged as a political force in the Polish Sejm and Senate, it promoted a rapid erosion of women’s reproductive rights, especially the right to abortion established under the former regime. This book is an anthropological study of this expansion of power by the religious right and its effects on individual rights and social attitudes. It explores the contradictions of postsocialist democratization in Poland and provides the background to the advance on abortion rights activism in Poland.

Muller, Jean-Marie, Stratégie De L'Action Non-violente, Paris, Le Seuil, Col. Points Politique, 1981, pp. 256

This book has become a key reference on the subject of nonviolent action, and notably was circulated clandestinely in Poland after 1981. It has been translated in Italian, Spanish, Polish, Croatian and Arabic.

Narkowicz, Kasia, Before the Czarny Protest: Feminist activism in Poland, Cultivate: The Feminist Journal of the Centre for Women's Studies, 2018

Abortion in Poland was legal under Communism and became illegal (with a few exceptions) after the political shift to multi-party democracy. Feminists opposing the abortion law had little impact. This changed in 2016, when hundreds of thousands of Poles across the country took to the streets in the Czarny Protest, or Black Protest. They opposed a bill that would remove some of the exceptions in the existing legislation and impose criminal sanctions on abortion. The scale of the protest meant that the proposal was stalled, despite the newly elected right-wing populist government. It was a surprising victory for the feminist movement, especially after a similar proposal in 2011 received almost no public attention and failed to mobilise resistance even among feminists. This paper looks back at the pro-choice movement before the mass mobilisation in 2016. It draws on interviews and focus groups conducted with pro-choice activists in Poland between 2011 and 2012, when the feminist movement was predominantly active online rather than on the streets. The paper concludes with questions about the success of the mass mobilisation that took place five years later in 2016, which was largely mobilised from online platforms. It asks whether there has been a shift within the pro-choice feminist movement or a sudden interest in feminist politics among the Polish public or whether the 2016 protest reflected a broader dissatisfaction with the current regime. If the third exploration is correct, what are the implications for feminist activism in Poland and the wider resistance to right-wing politics?

Osa, Maryjane, Solidarity and Contention: Networks of Polish Opposition, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2003, pp. 296

Places participation in Solidarity in context of engagement in previous Polish ‘protest cycles’.

Paprzycka, Emilia ; Dec-Pietrowska, Joanna ; Lech, Medard, The limits of compromise: the range of perspectives on women's reproductive rights in Poland, The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, Vol. 24, no. 2, 2019, pp. 117-123

Explores how women's reproductive rights and needs are reflected in pro-life and pro-choice public debate in Poland.

Penn, Shana, Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism In Poland, Ann Arbor MI, University of Michigan Press, 2005, pp. 372

Piotrowski, Grzegorz, Grassroots Groups and Civil Society Actors in Pro-democratic Transitions in Poland, Florence, European University Institute, 2012, pp. 34

Potel, Jean-Yves, The Summer Before the Frost: Solidarity in Poland, London, Pluto Press, 1982, pp. 229

Eye-witness account of early stages, combined with broader analysis. Includes notes on key individuals and organizations and a chronology.

Prins, Gwyn, Spring in Winter: The 1989 Revolutions, ed. Prins, Gwyn, (Preface by Vaclav Havel), Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1990, pp. 251

Includes reflections by leading participants in revolutions from Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, a journalist’s view of ‘Why Romania could not avoid bloodshed’, and an essay by J.K. Galbraith on dangers of the triumph of a simplistic economic ideology, and a comparative chronology of 1988-1990.

Reading, Anna ; Katriel, Tamar, Cultural Memories of nonviolent Struggles: Powerful Times, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 260

This is an acadmeic contribution to memory studies, but shows how preserving knowledge and stories of past movements affects present politics, and how nonviolent activists can learn from past campaigns. Examples examined include the suffragettes, Greenham Common, Polish Solidarity, US struggles against racism and Australian aboriginal campaigns. The authors also illustrate how one movement can influence others and stress the need to make archival and other sources (films, music, etc.) available.

Ridriguez, Samuel, Global Resistance to Fracking: Communities Rise Up to Fight Climate Crisis and Democratic Deficit, Madrid, Libros en Accion, 2015, pp. 153

This book, edited by the international coordinator of Ecologistas en Accion, covers 15 varied struggles against fracking around the world, and is intended to be a source of inspiration for continued resistance. Many are first person accounts, by those involved. Chapters cover personal opposition fracking in the courts or at the municipal level, resistance by local farmers to corporations backed by the government, as in Poland and Romania and the campaign for 'frack free' municipalities in the Basque territory of Spain. There are also accounts of resistance from Argentina, Algeria, South Africa, Australia, the UK (against drilling in Sussex) and Northern Ireland, and on the role of ATTA C in France. Includes a timeline and 'some snapshots' of the resistance, as well as some conclusions drawn by the editor.  

Saxonberg, Steven, The Fall: A Comparative Study of the End of Communism in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and Poland, London, Routledge, 2004, pp. 434

Chapter 10 ‘Nonviolent Revolutions’ compares Czechoslovakia and East Germany

Selma, James, Four decades on, our strike is still growing, The Guardian, 2018

Looks back at the 1975 Iceland women's strike at the start of the UN Decade for Women; the 8 March 2000 Global Women's Strike, the 2016 Polish women's strike to resist successfully anti-abortion legislation, the 2017 Argentina women's mass demonstration against the rape and murder of women, and the cooperation between women in Poland and Argentina in 2017 to coordinate the International Women's Strike.

Snochowska-Gonzalez, Claudia ; Ramme, Claudia ; Ramme, Jennifer, Solidarity despite and because of diversity. Activists of the Polish Women’s Strike, Praktyka teoretyczna, no. 30, 2018, pp. 75-100

This work comprises almost 100 interviews with local coordinators of Polish Women’s Strike (OSK) groups throughout the country designed to reveal the people behind a countrywide network that organized the successful 2016 protests against attempts to tighten the already restrictive abortion law. The authors also explore what drove them to activism and how they understood the concept of an ‘ordinary woman’.

Srebotjnak, Hana, #MeToo in the East? Women's rights in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe, OpenDemocracy, 2019

The article discusses the high levels of harassment endured by women in South-East and Eastern Europe, revealed in a 2019 OSCE survey, and the difficulty of speaking out. It gives the example Marija Lukic, who accused the former president of a  municipality in Serbia and was insulted by 50 of his supporters when she went to court. The author also comments very briefly on short but ultimately unsuccessful social media MeToo campaigns in Poland and Romania and suggests that in Hungary the response has been confined to 'liberal and cultural circles'. She records that the Council of Europe's 2011 Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women was ratified by Serbia in November 2017 and Croatia in 2018, but has not been ratified by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Moldova, Ukraine or Russia.   

Stevenson, Robin, My Body, My Choice. The Fight For Abortion Rights, ed. Sethna, Christabelle, Davis, Gayle, Victoria, Canada, OrCA book Publishing, 2019, pp. 176

The book notes the long history of pro-choice activism, and explores new limits on abortion in the United States under the Trump/Pence Administration, as well as the global impact of US policy. The author then charts the pro-choice movements led by women in Canada, Ireland, and Poland; the interconnection between diversity and abortion; and the fight against abortion stigma. It also includes testimonies of women who have had abortions.

Syrop, Konrad, Spring in October: The Story of the Polish Revolution 1956, London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1957, pp. 219

Sémelin, Jacques, Unarmed Against Hitler: Civilian Resistance in Europe, 1939-43, [1989 in French], Westport CT, Praeger, 1993, pp. 198

Examines the main traits of Nazi occupation of Europe, the complexities of non-cooperation, and the role of social cohesion and public opinion in mounting effective opposition. Chapter on civilian resistance to genocide considers why the Final Solution was hampered, or even prevented, in certain countries.

Translations: German | French
Sémelin, Jaques, Freedom Over the Airwaves: From the Czech Coup to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Washington, D.C., International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, 2017, pp. 312 (pb)

Eminent French historian and theorist of nonviolent resistance explores the links  between media of communication and nonviolent campaigns, focusing on key examples of resistance in Communist Eastern Europe from 1948-1989.

Tickle, Andrew ; Welsh, Ian, Environment and Society in Eastern Europe, ed. Tickle, Andrew, Welsh, Ian, London, Longman, 1998, pp. 192

Examines contribution of environmental activism to ‘an immanent civil society’. Chapters on Hungary, Poland, Romania and Russia.

Tokes, Rudolf L., Opposition in Eastern Europe, ed. Tokes, Rudolf L., London, Macmillan, 1979, pp. 306

Includes surveys of human rights and political change, worker resistance and potential for peasant opposition, and essays on Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland and Hungary from 1968-1978.

Touraine, Alain ; Dubet, François ; Wieviorka, Michel ; Strzelecki, Jan, Solidarity: The Analysis of a Social Movement; Poland 1980-1981, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983, pp. 203

Leading theorist of social movements explores research into opinions of ordinary members of Solidarity, and examines strategic decisions.

Vollnhal, Clemens, Jahre des Umbruchs: Friedliche Revolution in der DDR und Transition in Ostmitteleuropa, Goettingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012

The disintegration of the Soviet bloc led to different kinds of peaceful transformation in Central Eastern Europe at the end of the 1980s.  In spite of many differences, common tendencies became apparent. Leading experts elaborate on similarities and differences in the GDR, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Walesa, Lech, A Way of Hope, New York and London, Henry Holt and Pan Books, 0, pp. 325

Memoir by central (but increasingly controversial) figure in Solidarity.

Woodward, Alison E. ; Bonvin, Jean-Michel ; Renom, Merce, Transforming Gendered Well-Being in Europe, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2011, pp. 308

Primarily examines role of women activists. Part I includes some historical studies from 18th and 19th centuries. But Part II covers period from 1970s -2000s in Netherlands and Poland and examines claims and projects of European movement. Part III examines how women’s movements have embraced global issues and role of minority groups within Europe.

Zielonka, Jan, Strengths and weaknesses of nonviolent action: The Polish case, Orbis, Vol. 30, no. Spring, 1986, pp. 91-110

Includes interesting material on Solidarity’s underground period after December 1981.

Żuk, Piotr ; Żuk, Paweł, 'Murderers of the unborn’ and ‘sexual degenerates’: analysis of the ‘anti-gender’ discourse of the Catholic Church and the nationalist right in Poland, Critical Discourse Studies, 2019, pp. 1-24

The article analyses the language used by the Polish nationalist right in relation to LGBT communities and women’s right to abortion. The authors show links between the language of Church officials hierarchs and right-wing columnists. The attack on gender uses the same methods of political mobilisation and power management as the campaign against refugees and immigrants. The anti-gender discourse may strengthen the narrative against the ‘liberal EU’ and create substitute ‘scapegoats’ inside Poland. The dispersed anti-gender discourse does have a real impact on social attitudes – on the one hand, it polarises social sympathies and, on the other hand, it strengthens right-wing attitudes. The analysis is based on right-wing press articles, Church officials’ statements, videos on YouTube and a parliamentary debate about the right to abortion.