Since the birth of Solidarity twenty-five years ago, scholars have examined this unique Polish apparatus of defiance from nearly every institutional perspective known to the social sciences. Yet very little attention has been paid to the role of the human agency that gave rise to this powerful force of national resistance. Even less attention has been devoted to the influence of emotion, and of laughter in particular, in mobilizing this unprecedented scale of subversive activities against the Soviet empire. By deploying discursive devices offered through avant-garde performance, Solidarity's regional art student faction known as the “Orange Alternative” helped to dismantle Soviet aggression by unifying Poles under the rubric of culturally specific nostalgic humour. Low state capacity, recognition claims for optimizing human potential, and other microdynamics of oppositional consciousness are some of the factors discussed which enabled humour to strengthen the movement and prevent exogenous special interests from altering its objectives.
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