The history of systemic changes in East-Europe began in Poland. The negotiated transformation that was often presented as an ideal case has been celebrated at its 20th anniversary both by the political elite and mainstream media. The article highlights the less known background events that in fact set the path for the Polish systemic change. The self-transformation of Solidarity, the fall of the idea of workers' self-governance and the parallel advance of the neoliberal model is at centre. How could the neoliberal scenario of the IMF and World Bank triumph in a country where a mass movement of predominantly workers with ten million members was also on the stage?