In addition to the anniversary of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings, this August marks another, much happier, anniversary. It was on August 14, 1980, that the workers of the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, began a strike that was eventually joined by most of that country's industrial workers and resulted in the recognition of Solidarity as the first independent labor union in a Soviet bloc nation.
In the last year, events in Poland have moved much faster than anyone could have imagined. Every sector of the society, even the rank and file of the Communist Party, has become mobilized in a struggle for social, economic, and political democracy that the Poles have come to call their "renewal" movement.
The initiative for the renewal movement has consistently moved from the bottom up; the leaders have had to hustle to avoid falling behind their followers. And the movement's demands have gone beyond immediate economic issues to strike at the very roots of a system based on privilege. The Polish people don't have a theory to explain what they are doing, but it is clear that the guiding impulse of their movement is a radical, but non-ideological, populism that is revolutionary in Poland and probably would be here too.
The amazing success of this grassroots, nonviolent uprising has often been the only good news in the papers in the last year. But not all the news from Poland has been good; for almost a year the Polish people have lived under the threat of a Soviet invasion.