Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Michnik, Adam (1946–)

Polish writer and anticommunist dissident. Born in Warsaw on 17 October 1946, Adam Michnik as a teenager became engaged in oppositionist political activities when he established the Contradiction Seekers Club in 1962. During 1964–1968 he studied history at Warsaw University, although he did not graduate until 1975. In 1965 he was jailed for two months, and in 1968 he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for dissident activities.

Upon his release, Michnik became one of Poland's most outspoken political activists. In 1976 he wrote an influential article in which he proposed the application of steady pressure on government authorities to force democratic reform. In his most influential book, The Church and the Left (1976), he modified the leftist anti-Church stand in favor of a plan of cooperation between the anticommunist Left and the Catholic Church, which ultimately gave rise in 1980 to the Solidarity movement.

During 1981–1986, Michnik was twice arrested and spent almost four years in prison. In 1985 he penned an essay in which he proposed a rapprochement with the communists. A longtime advisor to the Solidarity movement and a participant in the 1989 Round Table discussions, he supported a coalition government with Solidarity and Communist Party members. He served as a deputy in the Sejm (Diet) during 1989–1991, and from May 1989 he has been editor of the Gazeta Wyborcza, arguably the most influential daily newspaper in Poland.

Andrzej Paczkowski


Further Reading
Michnik, Adam. The Church and the Left. Edited and translated by David Ost. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
 

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