Originally posted 31 August 2003
On this day in 1980 the Polish communist government agreed to the demands of the striking workers in the Gdansk shipyard. Workers would have the right to organize freely and independently
The strike marked the beginning of the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are, rightly, given the greatest share of credit for winning the Cold War. But Lech Walesa and John Paul II played indispensable roles.
In the 70s many experts believed that continuing the Cold War was pointless-- the Communists weren't so bad, not every society valued Western style freedom, cowed populations accepted what they could not change. Solidarity and the Poles put the lie to such talk.
In the long twilight struggle against Stalinism, the workers of Poland were the first light of sunrise.