August 19, 2005


One of the most interesting parts of the new Power Line News site is their world news map - a point and click widget for finding key newspapers around the world.

One of my favorite discoveries has been the Warsaw Voice, an english-language site for general news from Poland.

They currently feature an interview with Lech Walesa, on the 25th anniversary of the Solidarity movement's great protests - which in many ways presaged the fall of the Soviet empire.

Walesa, of course, is one of my favorite figures of the 20th century, and that rarest of figures - a populist whose effect on history in the final reckoning was good for the people.

Read the whole piece (by Marcin Mierzejewski), of course. Some of it is very much inside Polish political baseball - but for those who follow that part of history and its consequences, it's fascinating stuff.

Mierzejewski asks:

Today, 25 years after the establishment of Solidarity, do you feel primarily a trade union leader, politician and statesman or simply a worker?
I feel like a man who has been fated to live in a relay race of generations at a particular moment in time, a man who has tried in his ways to show that certain things are possible and to take part in the development of events. So at one time I was a trade union leader, then a politician and finally an ex-politician. The most important thing to me is that generally in Poland everything is working out the way I hoped. Sometimes I am more active in arranging these political puzzles, at other times-I'm less active. If everything continues to work out the way it has so far-which means not that bad-there's no place for me in politics, but if something were to go bad, then I'm ready to join the game again and take care of certain matters. When it comes to my background as a worker, I have always been and will remain one.
As to the future - well, there are some American unions that might need to stay in tune with Wałęsa:
The world today needs a different Solidarity, no longer a trade union, but something new. Neither capitalists nor politicians want to cooperate with a union. Unions have specific goals and scope of activities. The ideals of solidarity are something that not only Poland needs, but also the EU and the world, which has entered a new era of development-an era of globalization when old divisions are vanishing. It was Polish Solidarity and its victory that put an end to the old era when what mattered were borders and rival blocs. Today, the world needs new solutions, and I offer such solutions when I meet with people and politicians around the world. However, from this point of view the past somehow supports us when we are building the present, as the ideals of solidarity are still associated with the trade union, the old days. Therefore after the 25th anniversary celebrations, I am going to leave Solidarity in order to begin a new phase of my activities, independent of the union.
Get to it.

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