The Solidarity movement was an anti-Communist labor movement in the shipyards of Gdansk, Poland in the 1980's. It was one of the first and most important moves in toppling Communism in Eastern Europe. The movement was led by electrician Lech Walesa.

Solidarity is the willingness to divide resources in such a way that people attain freedom and equality. Everyone should perform according to their ability, and the resources should be divided so that those who start out with least are given.

The workers at Gdansk shipyard to demanded the right to form an independent trade union, and with this right they formed the labor union called Solidarity. Under Lech Walesa, for 15 months, Solidarity grew into virtually a rival Polish government to the crumbling communist regime. Ten million workers, nearly a third of the population, joined Solidarity. It united the discontent of the Polish intellectuals, peasants, and workers, and was able to force increasing concessions from the government which appeared to have lost control.

However, under new communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski, in December of 1981, martial law was declared, and Solidarity leaders were jailed, forcing Solidarity underground where it could not be as effective.

In 1988, with another wave of strikes and Gorbachev's encouragement, Jaruzelski, realizing he could not destroy it, decided that striking a deal with the labor union would allow for Poland's survival. In the spring of 1989, Solidarity was restored to legal status.

Ironically, during the summer of 1992, the Solidarity backed government put down strikes by workers whose earlier strikes allowed for Solidarity. Polls showed that Walesa, now president, had become even less popular than Jaruzelski.

Solidarity is a general concept well-defined by Durkheim. He describes it as coming in two flavors: Mechanical and Organic.

Mechanical solidarity arises between people on account of their similarities. Workers, for example, in the specific Solidarity movement mentioned above, had similar needs and thus banded together to meet them. Mechanical solidarity is thus strengthened by perception of external threat. For lesser examples, sports fans and New Jerseyans also exhibit mechanical solidarity: sports fans perceive their team as threatened by another team; New Jersey is unjustly ridiculed often, and so its inhabitants can form a solidarity in proportion to the ridicule when among others. Sometimes this is Granfallooning, but usually it is not.

Organic solidarity arises between people on account of their differences. Usually this is because they are in some form of symbiosis. The reason to stand by something on which you depend is obvious. However, it can exist without true dependence - enjoying something different is enough. The strength of the solidarity is based on the strength of the perception of dependence.

There are hybrid solidarities, where a group embraces a markedly different group on account of an underlying similarity, but the attitudes are still one of difference.

Sol`i*dar"i*ty (?), n. [F. solidarit'e, fr. solide. See Solid.]

An entire union or consolidation of interests and responsibilities; fellowship; community.

Solidarity [a word which we owe to the French Communists], signifies a fellowship in gain and loss, in honor and dishonor, in victory and defeat, a being, so to speak, all in the same boat. Trench.

The solidarity . . . of Breton and Welsh poetry. M. Arnold.


© Webster 1913.

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