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

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12

SHOCK THERAPY

In 2012 a survey was conducted among Poles who were born in 1963 or earlier – that is, people who were old enough to have adult memories of the last decade of communism and the tumult that followed. When asked how their family was personally affected by “the changes in our country,” 19 percent said that they were better off, 19 percent said that they were worse off, and 59 percent said that their situation was about the same. Slightly more than half remembered the material conditions of their lives as good in 1988, but only 31 percent described their current situation that way. Only half felt that there was “more justice” in today’s Poland than in the PRL, and only 40 percent were satisfied with “the way democracy functions in our country.” On the other hand, when asked directly if they would like to return to “life under socialism, as it appeared in the last 10–20 years of the PRL,” only 26 percent said that they would. Digging a bit deeper into these numbers, we find little difference in satisfaction or prosperity between former members of the PZPR and former members of Solidarity, though people who described themselves as opposition activists (as opposed to rank-and-file Solidarity members) felt much better about the present. Those with college degrees felt about as well off in 1988 as in 2012. Among those with only a primary education, however, 41 percent considered their lives 25 years ago to have been good whereas only 20 percent would say the same today. ...

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