The Polish trade union Solidarity (Polish title: Solidarność, full name: Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity”) is one of the most significant, and ultimately successful, popular reactions against an authoritarian state in modern history. Solidarity was the culmination of protests and uprisings in 1956, 1968, 1970, and 1976, which required constant suppression by the Polish government. A genuinely grassroots social moment against Communist Party rule in Poland, Solidarity’s frequent strikes throughout the 1980s were remarkable due to their coordinated nature, long duration, and broad support both across Poland and within all strata of Polish society.

Initially spurred by the election of John Paul II as pope in 1978, as well as a severe economic crisis within Poland, Solidarity rapidly grew to over 9 million members and proved ...

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