Poland's prospects look just a bit brighter -- thanks to the willingness of both the government and Solidarity to compromise. Signals of this willingness have eased tensions that had been building steadily since the first national convention of the independent trade union opened at the start of the month. The convention resumes this weekend.
Stefan Olszowski, a senior member of the Communist Party Politburo, has made perhaps the most conciliatory and statesmanlike speech to come from to government during the whole crisis.
And Solidarity has shifted closer to the government's proposals on the critical issue of worker self-management.
So, once again poland has hesitated on the very brink of a confrontation that almost everyone feared could only end in disaster.
In his Sept. 22 speech Mr. Olszowski, a senior Politburo member who is tipped as a future party leader, appealed for a "national unon" of all patriotic Poles -- regardless of ideology or moral and religious convictions.
He stressed that there could be no retreat or departure from a "socialist Poland." There could be no challenge to Poland's reliance and dependence on its alliance with the Soviet Union. "It is on this alliance that our independent existence within secure borders depends, our economic existence also is dependent on it."
(The Current visit of the Kremlin's planning chief underlines this concern.)
The party, he said, wanted an alliance of "all and everybody who is not apposed to socialism and to whom the cause of the fatherland and its salvation is a dear one."
It urged " all partiotic forces" to collaborate in turning the now virtually disregarded National Unity Front into a platform of agreement and coperation among party, trade unions (i.e., Solidarity and the remnants of the old government-run unions), the Roman Catholic Church, and the nation at large.
Solidarity's compromise move -- made at its national committee meeting at Gdansk Wednesday -- seemed similarly encouraging.
It concerned one of the toughest issues between the government and Solidarity: the new law on workers' and employees' self-government in economic enterprises. Parliament is to consider this legislation today.
The fight has centered on the appointment (and dismissal) of enterprise directors and on definition of ownership of enterprise property and the means of production.
During the first stage of its convention, the union laid claim to full autonomy, including "hire and fire" rights over directors and worker ownership of each factory or unit.
The government draft grants the workers a sizable voice in managerial appointments but insists the party will have final say in naming directors for some 200 enterprises deemed vital to the national interest.
Predictably, it makes no concession over "social ownership." It seems to fear that direct worker ownership of an enterprise might lead to too much independence and even reopen doors to foreign capital.
The tussle over self-management is not over. Some regional branches of Solidarity have reacted angrily to Wednesday's compromise move. Militants talking of a "sellout" will raise loud voices at Gdansk next week.
But they may find that public opinion is against them. Poles at large are growing more and more tried, frustrated, and Fearful about their plight.