ABSTRACT

This article argues that we need to see the utopian dimension of the early days of the “Solidarność” independent workers' union, created in August 1980 in Gdańsk, Poland, not as a nostalgically recalled event of the distant past, exceptional and therefore petrified as a remnant of past generations, but as a lively political inspiration for our theory and practice for the future. In order to discuss Solidarność as utopia, the article revisits the “proletarian counterpublics” of Kluge and Negt, seeking in their analysis an alternative to the highly elitist analysis of the bourgeois public sphere offered by Jürgen Habermas, which still constitutes the main reference for public articulation of oppositional political will. This article asserts that between the Solidarność counterpublic practice and today there is an intergenerational pact, a weak messianism, to explore: not merely a nostalgic one but with a vision of the future.

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