Lech Walesa Quits Solidarity Union

Lech Walesa has parted ways with the Solidarity union he founded in 1980.

Lech Walesa said Tuesday he has quit the Solidarity trade union that he founded and which helped bring down communism in Eastern Europe. “I have given up my membership last year because Solidarity and I have gone separate ways,” he told The Associated Press.

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The 62-year-old Nobel Peace laureate said he left after Solidarity members ignored his criticism of their supPOLport for the Law and Justice Party and its leaders, twin brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, during last fall’s election campaign. Lech Kaczynski won the presidency and Jaroslaw is now prime minister. “When my arguments were not reaching them, I gave instructions to terminate my membership,” Walesa said. “It is not over the Kaczynskis, but that was the last straw.” “I am not paying my fees any more,” he added.

Walesa founded Solidarity in 1980 at the shipyards in Gdansk. It was a broad social movement made up of workers and intellectuals that opposed communism. Despite being forced underground in the harsh martial law crackdown begun in 1981, it persevered and eventually succeeded in helping to bring down the communist regime in 1989. Since then, it has become a trade union like any other, representing a range of workers. Although it has lost much of its original influence, it is the second-largest trade union in the country and its members are a visible presence during worker protests.

Lech Walesa Time Man of Year While I wouldn’t go as far as Bill Jempty and say “the Cold War may still be ongoing without him,” Walesa’s courageous stance against the Communists was one of many pivotal moments in the collapse of that system.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.