Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe

Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe

by David Ost

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Overview

How did the fall of communism and the subsequent transition to capitalism in Eastern Europe affect the people who experienced it? And how did their anger affect the quality of the democratic systems that have emerged? Poland offers a particularly provocative case, for it was here where workers most famously seemed to have won, thanks to the role of the Solidarity trade union. And yet, within a few short years, they had clearly lost. An oppressive communist regime gave way to a capitalist society that embraced economic and political inequality, leaving many workers frustrated and angry. Their leaders first ignored them, then began to fear them, and finally tried to marginalize them. In turn, workers rejected their liberal leaders, opening the way for right-wing nationalists to take control of Solidarity.

Ost tells a fascinating story about the evolution of postcommunist society in Eastern Europe. Informed by years of fieldwork in Polish factory towns, scores of interviews with workers, labor activists, and politicians, and an exhaustive reading of primary sources, his new book gives voice to those who have not been heard. But even more, Ost proposes a novel theory about the role of anger in politics to show why such voices matter, and how they profoundly affect political outcomes. Drawing on Poland's experiences, Ost describes lessons relevant to democratization throughout Eastern Europe and to democratic theory in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801473432
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/25/2006
Pages: 500
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Ost is Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He is the author of Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Reform and Opposition in Poland Since 1968 and coeditor of Workers after Workers' States: Labor and Politics in Postcommunist Eastern Europe. Ost also publishes articles in magazines including The Nation, Dissent, and Tikkun.

What People are Saying About This

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Philippe C. Schmitter, European University Institute
The Defeat of Solidarity is a vigorous plea for bringing labor back into the study of post-communist politics. Well documented and based exclusively on the 'special' case of Poland, this book by David Ost nevertheless raises crucial issues affecting all of Eastern Central Europe. The stark contrast he draws between the politics of class interest and alien identity as alternative means for congealing anger' in the course of democratization may not convince everyone, but it does make an original and provocative contribution to the literature.

Mark Kramer

"David Ost draws upon his thorough research to make many important points. The Defeat of Solidarity will be of interest not only to those who study Poland (and other former Communist countries) but also to those who study social movements and the political role of blue-collar workers."

Jan Kubik

"The relationship between labor and democracy is very important but often insufficiently examined and understood, as David Ost shows. In The Defeat of Solidarity, which is based on his detailed knowledge of the Polish case, he also argues that class should be brought back to the forefront of political analysis."

Bela Greskovits

"This theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich new book focuses on workers, liberal intellectuals, and the prospects of post-communist democracy. David Ost long ago established himself as a truly original thinker on labor politics in Eastern Europe. His argument that the mobilization of anger along class lines—as opposed to ethnic or religious lines—is the best way to secure liberal democracy will provoke intense discussion in the field for years to come."

Philippe C. Schmitter

"The Defeat of Solidarity is a vigorous plea for bringing labor back into the study of post-communist politics. Well documented and based exclusively on the 'special' case of Poland, this book by David Ost nevertheless raises crucial issues affecting all of Eastern Central Europe. The stark contrast he draws between the politics of class interest and alien identity—as alternative means for—congealing anger' in the course of democratization may not convince everyone, but it does make an original and provocative contribution to the literature."

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