How has Poland changed since the 1980-81 Solidarity era? Here are the views of some prominent Poles representing a cross section of opinion:

Lech Walesa, Solidarity leader 1980-81, now electrician at Lenin Shipyard, Gdansk: Something happened that cannot be reversed. Society woke up -- and Poland became a different country. We were not defeated. We showed what it was possible to achieve, the values that unite this nation. Freedom is a state of mind. I am the freest person in the world and Poles are the freest people in the world.

Jerzy Urban, government spokesman: Polish society was disappointed by Solidarity, its methods of action, the behavior of its leaders. This sense of disappointment was crucial to the success of martial law. Had there not been a disappointment with Solidarity, and a yearning for stability, it would not have been possible for the government to impose martial law without bloodshed.

Stefan Bratkowski, formerly president Polish Journalists' Union, now retired: Communist ideology has died -- and it is impossible to revive it. The gap between the power elite and society is deepening. The process of deepening national self-consciousness was interrupted by martial law -- but not destroyed. Hope has always been the Polish raison d'etre.

Jerzy Wiatr, political science professor and communist party member: The mood in the country is more democratic than before 1980. Autonomy has been extended to many fields of activity. Take the university for example. Our rector was elected by a bloc of delegates opposed to the party. This shows that the present government can tolerate various forms of pluralistic expression.

Jacek Kuron, leading dissident: Over the past 40 years, Poland has alternated between periods when it has found its own voice and periods when its voice has been suppressed. Each period of independent existence leaves something behind. Today, we have a society that knows how to organize itself independently of the authorities. It has its own channels of information, its own decision-makers and activists, and its own internal debate.

Bronislaw Geremek, medieval historian and former Solidarity adviser: The 16-month Solidarity period reminded Poles that they have a historical tradition of democracy and liberty. Right now there is a stalemate. The regime has learned to govern by using force -- but force cannot ensure an effectively functioning economy. Nobody has an interest in economic reform.

Wojciech Lamentowicz, university lecturer expelled from the communist party after advocating sweeping internal reforms: Poland is marked by a tragic optimism. Our situation is tragic because we cannot win what we want. The only way out is through optimism. Without hope, our public life is empty. Our history has shown that miracles can happen.