O'Reilly logo

Poland in the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom by Brian Porter-Sz̋cs

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

10

COMMUNISM AND CONSUMERISM

The economy of the PRL was quite different from anything we know today, but not in the ways that most people think. As with so many other topics related to the communist era, it can be hard to see the contours of economic life through the dense fog of Cold War mythology and propaganda (from both sides). In fact, it is misleading to speak about a singular communist economy, because the variations over time and from one Eastern bloc country to another were considerable. Many key elements of the Stalinist economy were abandoned after 1956, and a great deal changed later as the global context slid from the relatively prosperous postwar boom to the recessionary era of the late 1970s and 1980s. Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia took very different paths, and they differed in turn from Bulgaria or Romania (not to mention the Asian, African, and Latin American communist states). Things that were impossible in the Soviet Union were commonplace in the PRL, and vice versa. There is certainly value to studying communism and capitalism as abstractions (in fact, I’m going to do a bit of that in this chapter), but just as we would immediately recognize a difference between the welfare-state capitalism of Western Europe and the kleptocratic capitalism of some less successful countries, so should we be attentive to the huge variations among different communist countries, and over time within each of them.1

Another problem we face as we try to understand economic life ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required