The Round Table Agreement in Poland as a Case of Class Compromise. An Attempt at a Model

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Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

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This article aims to conceptualize the political compromise made at the Round Table in 1989 Poland, in light of the theory of power in non-Marxian historical materialism. Although, the above-mentioned theory was successfully applied to the evolution of the communist system in Poland, it does not serve well as an explanation of this part of Polish history. There are two reasons for this state of affairs. First, the above-mentioned theory of power is a materialistic one. It means that all fundamental social changes are explained by the activity of ordinary citizens and rank and file members of the ruling class. Whereas, the authors of the Round Table agreement belonged to the elite of both classes. Second, non-Marxian historical materialism is a conflict theory which means that all fundamental social changes are introduced by mass revolutions and protests. Whereas, the political changes leading to the decline of communism were initiated by class compromises made in conditions of relative social peace. I will expand this theory in order to capture mechanisms of social compromise. Namely, I build the model of class balance which led to a choice in the adequate strategies by leaders of both classes (rulers and citizens). Finally, the political development of Poland during the years 1988-1991 will be analyzed in the light of the presented model of class compromise.


Author Posting. (c) 'Copyright Holder', 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of 'Copyright Holder' for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, Volume 18 Issue 2, August 2010. doi:10.1080/0965156X.2010.509095 (



Round Table, Decline of communism, Class compromise, Theory of elites, Non-Marxian historical materialism, Solidarity


Debatte. Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, 2010, vol. 18, no. 2 (August), pp. 185-204



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego