The Poverty of 'Anti-Politics'

Robert Shenton, David Ost
1991 Labour (Halifax)  
David Ost, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press 1990). NEAR THE END of this book David Ost remarks mat, "AD those who talk about the 'death of communism' miss the essential point: as reform proceeds apace, the slogans of Marxism will come into vogue once again." (213) Such has not come to pass -at least no yet The "reforms" have certainly proceeded apace. Since coming to power the Solidarity government,
more » ... alliance with the International Monetary Fund, has implemented monetarism, fought to outlaw abortion, and made religious education all but compulsory in Poland's schools to mention just a few of its more notable policies. The 'slogans of Marxism', however, have not come into 'vogue'. Rather, the Polish people have disposed of one of the central figures of Solidarity, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and have elevated a Canadian non-entity, Stanislaw Tyminski, whose previous political experience included the fringe right Canadian Libertarian Party, to the status of Lech Walesa's main political rival. Given this remarkable turn of events, the question that must be asked of Ost's writings, (or, indeed, any number of works written on the subject of Solidarity and the transformation of Poland over the past decade) is how well they allow us to understand the events which have taken place in that country since March of 1989. In order to fairly answer this question a rather lengthy exposition of Ost's thesis is in order. Belying its title, the central concern of David Ost's book is not the history of Solidary per se but rather the evolution of the movement's intellectual mentors, especially the members of the Workers Defense Committee, KOR. David Ost's central argument is that in the late 1960s and early 1970s Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuron and their KOR colleagues created a new kind of politics, a "postmodern left" In Ost's words, Robert Shenton, "The Poverty of 'Anti-Politics'," Labourite Travail, 28 (Fall 1991), 303-309.
doi:10.2307/25143518 fatcat:7dkkyvtghvbyjklibpry3ilieu