Solidarity unveils its ideal: Poland a la Yugoslavia

Solidarity has unveiled its program for a future Poland in which the Communist Party and government would have to share power with a fully "self-governing" society much like the Yugoslav model.

The program is an impressive but often vague document that calls for action without defining the means and methods by which its almost utopian ideals would be achieved.

Even though it expresses a readiness for more dialogue with the government, on most counts it will fuel criticism from the Polish leadership and the Russians. The current Polish leaders see the union as a formidable rival having more credibility with the nation at large than they do. The Soviets will find in this program yet more evidence that Solidarity's real aim is political power.

In this sensitive area, the program makes only the most indirect reference to the "socialist" system as such. There is none at all to the "leading role" of the Communist Party, which the union acknowledged in last year's strike settlements and in the charter on which its registration as an independent organization was based.

There is a gesture to the regime, however, on the even-more-delicate issue of Poland's links with the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The union does not give an unqualified affirmation, but it does acknowledge Poland's geopolitical position in Europe following World War II.

The document states that "national responsibility requires us to respect the balance of forces set up after the war in Europe and our place in that balance.

"We want to realize necessary changes that Poland's role in the pact could be strengthened. "Our nation is inspired today by a deep feeling of dignity, patriotism, and its own tradition. It can be a more valuable partner only when our obligations are undertaken freely by ourselves and in full consciousness."

The program places all the blame for the current crisis on the communist governments that have run Poland's affairs since the war. It cites the monopoly control over all national institutions, saying that is what "has brought the country to ruin."

The present authorities' failure to implement the changes agreed on last year had accelerated the process "to the drink of catastrophe." The people had shown enormous patience and determination, but now they were "tired, desperate, and impatient," and the union could no longer sit back and "leave it to the government." Solidarity had become the nation's "only guarantee" that the social agreements between it and the authorities will be fulfilled.

The union program contains 34 points. It would change Poland radically, but would notalter the communist system's basis on the public ownership of the means of production. Rather it would extend throughout Polish society the self-management just conceded to workers in industry.

The union, the document asserts, is not seeking to take over political and economic power but is conscious of a duty to society. Union leader Lech Walesa took that line in a speech to the convention Sept. 29.

"So long as I am leader of this movement," he said, "it will bear a workers' character." Not all the delegates applauded, and the radicals will have a lot to say before the document is finally approved. Solidarity does not offer any detailed plan of action for handling the economic aspects of the crisis. It has consistently said that job belongs to the government.

The proposals the union does make reflect the same contradictions that have slowed government efforts to come to grips with the crisis. Inseparable from any economic reform are a train of problems that range from higher prices to unemployment arising from the closure of nonviable plants and a general streamlining to cut costs.

This alone may mean that between now and 1983 half a million Poles will lose their jobs. Some will be compelled to become "guest workers" in other East-bloc countries, which have a labor shortage (some programs are already under way). Others will train for different jobs or retire.

For Poles at large -- especially the 20 percent Solidarity says exist on less than the socially acceptable minimum specified in its program -- the situation will worsen through the winter. Power stations and major industries are prepared for power cuts -- and resulting losses in production. The union says even steel plants should be closed down to ensure priority for home heating.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.