Essays

The Genesis of Solidarity: The Trinity of Wałęsa, the Workers, and the Church

Lech Wałęsa’s autobiography, A Way of Hope,offers a unique first-person perspective from one who has shaped the history of modern Poland. It traces the emergence of a moral dimension and authority by Wałęsa, and explains the distinctive structure, principles, and success of Solidarity. As the titular “Genesis” might suggest, Solidarity is seen here through a distinctively Christian lens. The Catholic Church offered an inclusive and universal structure based on morality and solidarity, one that Wałęsa was quick to associate with and could use to reconcile the workers’ divisions and surmount the state’s authoritarianism. Catholicism had the powerful benefits of an omnipresence and omnibenevolence, of an alluring virtue in both past and future. There is then, an amorphous and indistinguishable trinity between Wałęsa, the workers, and the Church that explains the particular genesis of Solidarity as it arose.

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