The Polish Crisis of 1980 and The Politics of Survival

Document Type


Publication Date



The Rand Corporation


The collapse of the Gierek leadership in Poland after two months of workers' strikes reflected the political, social, and economic bankruptcy of the Communist Party and the state in Poland. Other Soviet Bloc countries share the same problems, but they are more acute in Poland. The current population remembers few of the sacrifices of World War II or hardships of postwar reconstruction. The dissident movement in Poland is more open and active than its counterparts elsewhere in the Bloc. The Catholic Church is stronger and more politicized. Finally, Poland has moved more fully into the European community. These changes in society, the Party, and the international climate leave few options for real change and for the resolution of the problems endemic to the society. The background for current events in Poland is traced, the present situation analyzed, and questions posed regarding Poland's future.