Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc


Although the final demise of Communism in Poland was by far the most dramatic of the crises that punctuated Communist rule there, it was not the beginning or the end of Poland's transformation process. Virtually all the studies of transformations in Latin America and Southern Europe, as well as the developing literature on the changes in the communist world, have focused on the events and problems that just preceded the ending of one form of rule and the beginning of another. In the Polish case, at least, the transformation cannot be explained by the popular disaffection and the negotiations between the opponents of the regime and the Communist leaders. The "roots" of post-Communist rule are not to be found in the "topsoil" of Communism's collapse. Instead, they reach through four decades of Communist rule, the periodic "voting with their feet" Poles did when decisions and policies were far more than they could stomach, and the seeming variety of methods the leaders tried to use to compromise with their disaffected nation. It was these decades that were real parts of the transformation. They were also the molders of a "new socialist man" who would rule and be ruled in ways very different from those men and women reared in Western-style democracies. Moreover, since only Poland underwent this many revolts and periods of instability in the decades of Communist rule, its failure to develop a viable balance between elite policy and popular demands in crisis after crisis raises critical questions about how systems and populations "learn" about politics and how to work their systems. The "Polish Road to Socialism" was forged out of the cumulation of these crises. So, too, were the paths for transformation.

This book traces those upheavals and their causes and consequences. From the time this book began in 1981 until it went to press in 1995, Communist rule returned in full force and then collapsed. These essays were revised time and again to take in the new facts and revelations that came out as once-closed archives and silent leaders opened up or wrote memoirs. What we resisted doing was seeing the past in the light of the present. Instead, we hope that, in our overview, these analyses of Poland's various periods of dramatic instability are instructive not only in understanding communism but also in understanding the transition process in which the Poles are now engaged.

Chapter of

Poland's Permanent Revolution: People Vs. Elites, 1956 to the Present


Jane L. Curry
Luba Fajfer


Copyright © 1995. Reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield. All rights reserved. Please contact the publisher for permission to copy, distribute or reprint.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.