Poland

Strajk! An interview with Ewa Pospieszynska

On 27th January, a near-total ban on abortion came into effect across Poland, three months after a ruling by the country ’s constitutional court. Poland already had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, but the new law - which removed severe foetal abnormalities from the list of exemptions - was seen as totemic, and part of a more generalised assault by the ruling Law and Justice Party (or PiS - short for Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) against Poland’s democratic institutions and minorities. In response to it, over the course of October and November, gigantic demonstrations gripped the...

Polish cops face protesters

Polish Women’s Strike reports that 14 people were detained Thursday 29 January, on the second night of protests against Poland’s near total ban on abortion, held despite a prohibition on public gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Poland’s constitutional court ruled in October to ban abortions in cases of foetuses with fatal abnormalities. The implementation of the court ruling was delayed by the October-November wave of protest. The ruling finally became law on Wednesday 28 January, triggering a new wave of protests. The constitutional court argued that allowing abortion when there are...

Kino Eye: Molotov-Ribbentrop and the Katyn massacre

There are probably no films (except documentaries) that directly engage with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. However, its devastating effect on Poland, when the country was carved up between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, can be starkly seen in Katyn (2007) by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. As Polish refugees flee eastward from the Nazis they attempt to cross a bridge, only to meet refugees fleeing in the opposite direction from Russian troops. In the mayhem a reservist Polish officer is separated from his family. He joins his unit but is captured by the Nazis and handed over to the...

Poland: too early to celebrate

Poland’s right wing Law and Justice party (PiS) government has delayed implementation of the court ruling that would outlaw almost all abortion, after a wave of protests and direct action. Michał Dworczyk, the head of the prime minister’s office, told Polish media: “There is a discussion going on, and it would be good to take some time for dialogue and for finding a new position in this situation, which is difficult and stirs high emotions”. This is not the first time Polish activists have had to defend Poland’s limited abortion rights. In 2016, when the government attempted to push similar...

Poland's fight for abortion rights

Thousands of people have marched in cities across Poland in protests against a near-total ban on abortion. Poland already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world. There are fewer than 2,000 legal abortions a year in Poland, and the vast majority take place because of malformed foetuses, which would be illegal following the court ruling such abortions were unconstitutional. The new ruling restricts abortions to circumstances of rape, incest, or if there is a threat to the woman’s life. Women’s groups estimate that as many as 200,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad each...

40th anniversary of the Gdańsk shipyard strike

The 14 August 2020 is the fortieth anniversary of the strike at Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, beginning a mass struggle against Polish Stalinism. This short video introduces the story and its significance today. Get the book/audio book of 'Solidarność: the workers' movement and the rebirth of Poland 1980-81' here

Solidarity with women, LGBTIQ people, minorities in Poland!

Andrzej Duda of the radical right Law and Justice party has been re-elected as Poland’s president. Activists in London and beyond are showing solidarity with people persecuted and attacked by the Polish hard-right regime; for human rights, freedom, and dignity; and with those resisting and fighting back. See more information about a protest here: Saturday 15, 1pm, Polish Embassy in London.

Solidarnosc: an honest account

Forty years on, Mark Osborn's book Solidarnosc: the workers' movement and the rebirth of Poland in 1980-1 is a timely celebration of the dramatic events in Poland which created the first independent trade union in the Soviet empire. It’s a story that needs telling, not least because Solidarity has been misrepresented and its leaders traduced by the country’s present-day rulers, and has been largely forgotten by the wider world. Here it is excitingly retold in short chapters and good pictures. Mark Osborn has also produced an honest book, free of pieties about Trotsky or apologetics for Stalin...

The story of the Polish workers

Buy the book referenced, or listen to the audio, here. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Solidarność (Solidarity), the Polish independent trade union, at what was then the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk. Solidarność both emerged from and provided the organisational infrastructure for the mass strikes of August 1980. This intense period of struggle thrust strike leaders like Lech Wałęsa and Anna Walentynowicz into the international limelight. With the signing of the Gdańsk Agreement on 31 August 1980, Solidarność became the first independent union to be recognised by a...

Poland and Trotsky's theory of bureaucracy

August Grabski's obituary of Karol Modzelewski (Solidarity 511, bit.ly/ag-km) was interesting, but I want to take issue with what he says about Trotsky's theory of the Stalinist bureaucracy. "Without the analysis of the bureaucracy by Trotsky expressed in his Revolution Betrayed from 1936", write August, we can't understand what happened in Poland. Trotsky's Revolution Betrayed was about the bureaucracy in the USSR. Essential to his idea of the bureaucracy as a fragile stratum, without the solidity and historical clout of a class, was that part of the bureaucracy was linked back to the...

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