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Poland, Committee for Workers (KOR)

Amy Linch

Subject Social History » Labor History
Sociology » Social Movements

Place Eastern Europe » Poland

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics civil rights, democracy, labor movements, reform movements, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01195.x


From 1976 until the legalization of Solidarność (Solidarity) in 1981 the Committee for Workers (Komitet Obrony Robotników) (KOR) inspired and nurtured oppositional politics within Poland. Although its actual membership was relatively small, and initially drawn exclusively from the Warsaw intelligentsia, KOR became a focal point and organizing force for social resources across class and milieu. Its philosophy and practice of opposition challenged totalitarian rule by promoting social solidarity and creating realms of independent social action. It sought to transform social values and liberate public space by reclaiming the language and ideals of community appropriated by what Lipinski called “this socialism of mismanagement and inefficiency … this socialism of prisons, censorship and police” ( Celt & Sabbat 1981 : 2). Over its five years of existence KOR propagated a disciplined, cohesive, non-violent oppositional practice that was critical to the formation and success of the Solidarity movement. As Anna Walentynowicz , one of the leaders of Solidarity, asserted in March 1981, “without KOR there would be no Solidarity in Poland” ( Celt & Sabbat 1981 : 6). KOR's members saw the material and conceptual centrality of the state as an obstacle to the development of opposition in Poland. Fear, inertia, and individual opportunism were further challenges to generating the sort ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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