Poland is a non-member of the Eurozone and its labour movement is one which
is weak and politically divided. In the Polish case, a particular issue was
the extent to which unions were able to use a central and eastern European
(CEE) tripartite institution to respond to pressures associated with
Europeanization. Challenges encountered by unions, which resulted from
political division and constraints on their ability to plan, suggest that a
coherent response is also difficult in these circumstances. The onset of
crisis raised the question of the extent to which a labour movement in a
non-Eurozone country was likely to exhibit solidarity with periphery
countries. Despite the difficulties of their domestic position, the reaction
of Polish labour was not insignificant. The left-wing SLD was rather
uninterested, yet trade unions engaged in a series of actions in support of
Southern Europe; this was remarkable given organizational weaknesses.
This chapter explores the reasons for the state of surprise, sketching them out from the starting point of the significant impact of the collapse of the USSR on Western understandings of Russia. It also explores the practical ramifications for the decline of Russia as a political priority on the wider political stage. The chapter outlines some of the problems of the current mainstream discussion of Russia, which is drowning in a discourse of speculation and rumour, 'Putinology' and historical analogies. Despite the dominance of transitological/regime question approach and the perceived eccentricity of Kremlinology, for many it has remained a truism of Russian political life that the final decisions are made behind the closed doors of the Kremlin. In fact, the collapse of the USSR has had serious ramifications for the study of Russia in the West, resulting in a major reassessment of Soviet studies, often bitter and acrimonious.