2015

The Three Mistakes of Transition

Start with a failing economy. Throw in a team of inexperienced politicians, people in fact who had spent their careers deliberately avoiding official politics. Add a population with the highest possible expectations. And, as a wild card, introduce an international community that was not offering very much in the way of financial assistance. This was… Continue reading The Three Mistakes of Transition

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2014

Poland’s Politics of Dissatisfaction

Poland has a proud history of protest, dating back to the multiple insurrections and uprisings against colonial rule in the 18th and 19th century. During the Cold War period, Poles mounted several challenges to the Communist system, culminating in the 10-million-strong Solidarity movement of 1980. Since the fall of Communism, Polish dissatisfaction with the political status quo… Continue reading Poland’s Politics of Dissatisfaction

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The Fetishism of Economic Growth

Capitalism and Communism shared one important principle in common: an almost religious devotion to economic growth. If a Five Year Plan didn’t produce the expected “great leap forward,” Communist officials fudged the figures. If a capitalist economy dipped into recession, economists tried to put the best face on the resulting “creative destruction,” arguing that it… Continue reading The Fetishism of Economic Growth

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2013

Solidarity After Solidarity

Solidarity was not just an opposition movement. With 10 million members – more than one quarter of the population of Poland in 1980 – it was an unprecedented phenomenon. The Communist governments had faced protests from individual dissidents and even from small groups like Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. There had also been reform efforts launched… Continue reading Solidarity After Solidarity

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