Poland’s post-communist development is often depicted as a contrast between a unified, engaged society of pre-1989 and a passive, divisive society of post-1989. What explains the displacement of political solidarity with a fragmented political scene? A factor specific to Poland is rooted in the struggle of Solidarity against communist power. The consequences are subsequent attempts to appropriate the values of Solidarnoścacute as political capital by competing political voices, leading to contestation about the nature of the country. This normative discourse was evident first in the post-communist divide, between forces stemming from the former communist regime and those affiliated with the opposition. More recently, the saliency of the post-communist division has receded, and a new contested discourse has surfaced among voices coming out of the Solidarity tradition. This rhetoric seeks to define a contrast between a “Solidaristic Poland” dedicated to traditional and Christian values affirming notions of exclusivity and superiority, and a “liberal Poland” dedicated to market and pluralist principles based on competition and individualism. In both political divides, the legacy of Solidarity provides useful political capital to advance distinctive visions of Poland.
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