THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THE POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS in Poland are innumerable and difficult to unravel. Rightly the Western press has focused on the ideological aspects and on the prominent part played by the Catholic Church. This article chooses to focus more on social factors and on the manner in which traditional forces in Polish society have persisted into the state-socialist period.
While the recent bout of industrial protest in Poland was initially concerned with meat prices, it raised the question of control over much wider aspects of social consumption, and of dissatisfaction on the part of some workers with work-force democracy, and of others with the consequences of economic reform. The Polish industrial manual working class has a complex structure but the gap between it and the white-collar intelligentsia is not wide, and the pull and push of events in the work place can result in a pattern of shifting alliances. This has serious implications for the claim that the long-awaited union of intelligentsia and working class in Poland is at last beginning to appear. In order to put these problems in the right perspective one has to examine three different factors: the economic policy of the Polish Communist government, the new composition of the work force and the new structure of the intelligentsia.
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