Poland's common purpose
The Solidarity anniversary demonstrations in Poland have been seen largely as a zero-sum game in which one side's gain is the other's loss. This is too limited a view when the question of ''who won'' is less important than another question: how to seal the grievous fissures between the Polish people and their governmental leaders. A start can be made by recognizing that, at bottom, all Poles are on the same side.What benefits one benefits all; what hurts anyone hurts everyone.
This is something that nations seem to have to learn repeatedly. The United States, for example, reached a watershed in civil rights legislation when enough Americans looked beyond the demonstrations that were at first violently put down. They saw progress for the whole nation in extending civil rights to those who had been excluded from them. They now are challenged to reaffirm this conviction against various efforts to dilute it.
The Poles have showed in the past how they can overcome divisiveness for the national good. From the current heated turmoil, too, they can derive an annealing rather than splintering process. For in their essences the Solidarity goal of freedom and the governmental goal of order are not opposed but complementary.
By maintaining order in its fight for freedom, Solidarity can help Poland in the face of governmental force it can hardly hope tothreaten anyway. By increasing freedom as it maintains order, the government can help Poland in the face of the Solidarity spirit it can hardly expect to quench. Thus a zero-sum game could be shifted to the kind of constructive contention in which everyone wins.
No one would call it easy. The Polish government wants not only the order that every government wants but the pervasive control characteristic of communist governments. The situation is further skewed by the external pressures of Soviet dominance. But until two years ago anything like Solidarity itself seemed incredible. Its suppression now does not mean no further change will come.
Even in zero-sum terms, it might be noted, there is disagreement over the results of the demonstrations, which turned tragic when government forces fired fatal shots into a crowd. The masses of riot police were seen to prevail over thousands of demonstrators. But the very fact of such enormous government preparations was taken as a boost for Solidarity in that it was still regarded so seriously even with its leaders in detention.
Someday it will be seen that, like fighters for freedom anywhere, they were struggling not only for themselves but for all of us.