SOLIDARITY, a year old, is holding the first of
two sections of its first national congress. The mood is one of celebration for having created and consolidated an authentic democratic mass organization that is leading a stunning renewal of Poland's national life. It is a marvelous achievement, not to say a high wire act still. All friends of freedom and of Poland and of peace in Europe can salute Solidarity.
Solidarity's future is far from assured. With its debut over, however, it is worth asking if its foreign admirers do not owe it something more than the hearty protective cheers they have provided unstintingly so far. The threat of direct Soviet-sponsored intervention, while it has not altogether lifted, no longer seems imminent. Moscow has not ended menacing maneuvers and words, but it is allowing the Poles to work out their affairs, and it is ahead of the West in participating in a financial bail-out. Solidarity's priority is not just to survive but equally to help resolve the problems, especially the economic problems, that brought it into being.
Now consider the resolutions at the Solidarity congress. Yesterday's call for opening up elections to the heretofore rubber-stamp parliament is a logical--if daring--extension of Solidarity's basic democratic impulse. In addition, the calls for freedom of the press are totally right and necessary. Solidarity must be able to communicate with all Poles and have its ideas received by an informed public opinion. It is not so clear, however, what useful purpose is served by encouraging the formation of free unions in other Soviet-bloc countries. This leans toward the provocative. It does not touch directly enough what Solidarity is trying to accomplish within Poland. In any event, its example speaks more meaningfully than any resolution.
At a second meeting later this month, Solidarity intends to hammer out an economic program. That's what counts, because its political achievements are not likely to endure if it does not confront Poland's economic crisis.
In this regard, Solidarity has just passed a resolution challenging the government to hold a referendum on worker self-management. It is a fair question how the economy should be organized. It is unavoidable that the content of reform will become a principal arena of conflict with the government and Communist Party; this is one of the ways the authorities will try to tie up Solidarity. But Solidarity cannot allow itself to be drawn into endless disputation on points of economic theory. Some kind of reform freeing the Polish economy from rigid centralization is important, but the best kind will be the kind on which the workers and the authorities can agree soon. And no reformwill be of use if, after a year of drama and distraction, the country does not get down to work.