13 June 2019 will go down in history as the date when Poland, eventually, joined the coterie of authoritarian states. States that deprive their citizens of fundamental democratic rights like freedom of speech, thought and scientific inquiry, and penalise them for their views. On that day, the Polish Lower House of Parliament (Sejm) passed the bill updating the Penal Code, changing the wording of Article 256 – which now includes a prohibition on propagandising communist ideas. This is now punishable by prison.

“From Saturday 27th of April, the ZNP (Teachers’ Union) suspends the national strike. It suspends it, but it does not end it! I shall add: Starting today, we are entering a new, much more important period.” With these words, Sławomir Broniarz, the leader of the ZNP, has bent to the pressures of bourgeois public opinion and put a lid on the cauldron of struggle that has been developing over the past three weeks. For this, the government representatives in the dispute, led by ex-PM Ewa Kopacz, thanked him warmly.

The Polish teachers’ strike, which started on 8 April, marks a fundamental change in the situation in Poland, once hailed as the success story for the transition to capitalism after the collapse of the Stalinist regime in 1989. The class struggle is back on the agenda. Now the greatest teachers’ strike in Polish history has entered its second week and is becoming the catalyst for the pent-up anger of youth and workers.

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