Poland's best-known dissident organization, the Committee for Social Self-Defense (KOR), announced today it is disbanding since its aims have been taken over by the independent trade union Solidarity.
The announcement was made at the Solidarity federation's national congress here by Edward Lipinski, a founder of KOR and, at 93, widely regarded as one of Poland's most eminent living economists. A small, wizened figure with a booming voice, he read out what he described as "a last will and testament" signed by KOR's 32 members.
With a network of thousands of active supporters and many more sympathizers, KOR was a dissident organization unique in Eastern Europe. Founded in September 1976 to defend workers persecuted by police following food riots the previous summer, it laid much of the organizational groundwork for Solidarity's emergence as the first independent trade union in the communist world.
Lipinski, who was looked upon as KOR's spiritual leader rather than one of its main organizers, drew loud applause from the delegates when he said that KOR had served the cause of Poland's freedom.
"We wanted our work to contribute to the great national cause: the creation of an independent, just and democratic Poland," he said.
News of KOR's demise, which had been the subject of rumors for weeks, did not provide much satisfaction for Poland's communist authorities. A commentary in the Communist Party daily Trybuna Ludu said it amounted more to a "fusion" than a "funeral."
The newspaper said the disbanding would be fine had KOR decided to commit suicide after deciding that its plan for overthrowing the communist system was unreachable or "to die quietly out of a high sense of public responsibility." In fact, it said, the opposite was true.
"KOR is planning to declare that it has given birth to an enormous child in the person of Solidarity. KOR activists will continue their mission inside the union," the editorial added.
Ironically, much the same point was made by Lipinski who said that many of KOR's members and collaborators belonged to Solidarity and worked as advisers to the union. Solidarity, he added, had created many agencies and commissions that were pushing the same goals as KOR: an end to political repression, assistance to the persecuted and the institutional protection of civil rights.
Former KOR leaders active in Solidarity include Jacek Kuron, who is an adviser to union leader Lech Walesa, and Andrzej Celinski, the secretary to the union's national coordinating commission. In addition, many hundreds of KOR supporters now help to run union offices around the country doing such jobs as producing newspapers or conducting social research.
Several KOR members, including Kuron, face legal charges for antistate activity. It was not known how today's decision would affect these cases.
KOR's philosophy, developed during years of struggle, helped mold Solidarity's political strategy. It is based on the idea that society should not expect anything from the communist government, but should organize itself to put constant pressure on the authorities to make concessions.
KOR tacticians believed that the party should remain a kind of ideological fig leaf, acceptable to the Soviet Union, providing a cover for the emergence of independent national institutions such as Solidarity.
In his speech, Lipinski said KOR believed society was now ready "to instigate changes in our country which has been devastated by totalitarianism, corruption, and the lawlessness of the authorities."
Lipinski's appearance before the congress marked a moment of triumph for the man who was one of the architects of Poland's postwar economic policies and later became one of the government's bitterest critics. He told the delegates that he had been a socialist since 1906 but that, as practiced in Poland, socialism had led to an economic catastrophe unequaled in the last 100 or 200 years.
"The socialism of the waste economy, the socialism of prisons, censorship and the police has been destroying us for 36 years just as it is destroying other countries now . . . . It is this socialism, not ours, which is antisocialist and counterrevolutionary," he said.
Lipinski attacked both the party secretary, Stanislaw Kania, and the premier, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, for "threatening bloodshed" against the workers.
Further criticism of the government came from a representative of the unofficial independent trade union of police officers which is still seeking legal recognition. Zbigniew Zmudziak, a member of the union's founding committee, said the aim of the new organization was to rebuild social trust in the police.
"We demand that the police should not be used to stamp out the justified protests of the working class," he said.