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Solidarity: Can the Tea Party and Occupy Wall St find common cause?


Mar 13, 2010
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Many libertarians will point out that the definition of “liberal” has changed. What used to be a philosophy of small government and economic freedom is now the hallmark busy-body regulations and central economic planning. To elucidate this distinction many call themselves, “classical liberals.” What’s less often discussed is the history of “Solidarity.” Today “Solidarity” is often used to mean unity among international socialists and communist organizations. Although at rallies they espouse massages of peace, diversity and freedom, which I stand behind, their literature usually preaches a kind of class war, and big government solution.

The history of “Solidarity” is quite different however. The term comes from the Polish “Solidarność” which was a non-governmental trade union, or more accurately a black market resistance movement operating within the Soviet-bloc in the 1980s. Solidarity was a non-violent, anti-communist movement that was instrumental to the fall of the Soviet Union, and it could easily be described as a “classical liberal” movement. In 1986 free market economist Murray Rothbard visited Poland with warm reception from Solidarity, and the movement was flush with translations of Mises and Hayek, which were contraband.

One lesson to be learned from this is the folly of Utopianism. Prior to the Solidarity movement many anti-Soviet groups held the belief that an activist must hold a Utopian ideal to keep them motivated. The result was infighting between groups who shared the same goal. In short, Utopianism made them easy to divide and conquer. Solidarity proposed a different strategy whereby the emphasis was not on what activists favored, but instead a broad agreement on what they opposed. This was equally motivating, but without the divisiveness.

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