Mightier than the Sword: Polish Independent Publishing, 1976-1989
This dissertation analyzes the rapid growth of Polish independent publishing between 1976 and 1989, examining the ways in which publications were produced as well as their content. Widespread, long-lasting independent publishing efforts were first produced by individuals connected to the democratic opposition; particularly those associated with KOR and ROPCiO. Independent publishing expanded dramatically during the Solidarity-era when most publications were linked to Solidarity, Rural Solidarity or NZS. By the mid-1980s, independent publishing obtained new levels of pluralism and diversity as publications were produced through a bevy of independent social milieus across every segment of society.Between 1976 and 1989, thousands of independent titles were produced in Poland. Rather than employing samizdat printing techniques, independent publishers relied on printing machines which allowed for independent publication print-runs in the thousands and even tens of thousands, placing Polish independent publishing on an incomparably greater scale than in any other country in the Communist bloc. By breaking through social atomization and linking up individuals and milieus across class, geographic and political divides, independent publications became the backbone of the opposition; distribution networks provided the organizational structure for the Polish underground. With time, independent publishing also provided Polish society with experience with a proto-market. Independent publications therefore became one of the most important mechanisms accelerating the growth of Polish civil society.This dissertation demonstrates that the success of Polish independent publishing was predicated on the unique nature of Polish civil society in which a mythologized national history and tradition played a vital role in encouraging opposition. Independent publications bore testament not only to the ways in which these traditions were reinterpreted and reinvented thereby encouraging the growth of Polish civil society, but also to Polish civil society's pluralism, diversity and activism. This dissertation therefore proves not only the decisive role of independent publishing in the creation of Poland's vibrant civil society, but also its role in the achievements of Solidarity in 1980-1981 and the overthrow of the Communist regime in 1989.
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