Bill Moyers Essay: Polish Workers Movement

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Bill Moyers considers the Soviet Union’s oppression of the Polish Workers Movement.


RATHER: Bill Moyers is here with us tonight with a commentary on the Polish situation. Bill?

BILL MOYERS: You will hear it said a lot these days that the Polish workers’ movement pushed its luck too far, overstepped itself, forced the government to crack down by making impossible demands. All of that may be true. You will also hear it said that Polish officials knew they had to put a stop to things because the Soviet Union cannot tolerate an independent political force like Solidarity, and that may be true too.

But there is something simpler and more human in all this. Men and women are in jail in Poland tonight because they wanted to put food on their families’ tables. Workers have been arrested because they tried to organize to improve their standard of living. They were supposed to be dwelling in a workers’ paradise, but what kind of paradise is it that allows families to go without food While the party faithful grow fat? Just last Saturday, a friend of mine received this letter from a secretary he met in Poland last summer. She writes, “The government wants to deprive Solidarity’s authority. They do it by leaving people not only hungry but dirty, allowing us one piece of soap every two months. Everything now comes from the black market and is very expensive.”

Marxism has long clasped a time bomb to the bosom of its ideology. If you invite the workers of the world to arise, what is to keep them from beginning in your own backyard? Nothing, it seems, except brute force.

This transcript was entered on June 18, 2015.

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