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Democracy In A Communist Party: The Polish Experience Since 1980
Democracy In A Communist Party: The Polish Experience Since 1980
By Werner G. Hahn
Columbia University Press, 1987, 368 pp
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A remarkable aspect of the Polish events of 1980-81 was what happened to the Polish United Workers (Communist) Party itself. It did not stand firm for the status quo, nor did it totally disintegrate as the Hungarian party did in 1956, but underwent a change of character through a process of democratization under pressure from below, largely from Solidarity. The story is told here through extensive use of the provincial press in addition to the central party publications. The party congress of July 1981, in the way delegates were chosen and decisions were made, was like no other such gathering in any communist country. Since December 1981, of course, that is all over although, as the book shows, some traces remain. Whether the party can ever again be an effective instrument of governance is another question.