Workers' movement - "Solidarity" - plays a partially counter-revolutionary role in Poland:

"1 июля 1980 года правительство из-за необходимости выплаты долгов ввело режим всемерной экономии и повысило цены на мясо. Прокатившаяся волна забастовок фактически парализовала к концу августа балтийское побережье, впервые закрылись угольные шахты Силезии. Правительство вынуждено было пойти на уступки бастующим. 31 августа 1980 года рабочие верфи им. Ленина в Гданьске, которых возглавлял электрик Лех Валенса, подписали с правительством «соглашение из 21 пункта», после этого забастовка была прекращена; аналогичные соглашения были подписаны в Щецине и Силезии. Ключевыми условиями этих соглашений была гарантия прав рабочих на создание независимых профсоюзов и на забастовки. После этого возникло и приобрело огромное влияние новое общенациональное движение «Солидарность», лидером которого стал Валенса"

Animated history of Poland - no language, just music and dates

The CEE countries underwent a huge economic decline after the end of Communism, although this decline was much shallower than in many of the countries of the ex-USSR. These countries' economies were deindustrialised, creating huge pools of poverty, large social inequalities and deep structural unemployment. In Poland prior to joining the EU its economy was in stagnation and unemployment had reached almost 20%. 

This neo-liberal transition to capitalism brought huge benefits to the stronger economies in the west. Western companies began to buy up and monopolise large sections of the CEE economy. They had a new and expanded market for their products in the east and access to a fresh supply of highly skilled and cheap labour. 

In the wake of the economic recession and years of austerity,  UKiP and the Conservative Party have found a receptive audience for their xenophobic and reactionary ideas. 

Although the countries of CEE are still poorer than those in the west, since joining the EU these countries have drawn closer to the living standards in Western Europe. The graph below shows GDP per capita in the CEE countries (100 = the average of the whole EU). As we can see, in almost all of the CEE countries (excluding Slovenia) GDP per capita has grown closer to the EU average over the past decade or so. This has been particularly marked in countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. In some CEE states (particularly the Baltic countries) this  stalled following the outbreak of the economic crisis in 2008, but the trend towards convergence has once again continued. 

Brief history of Poland from Visegrad group

In 2001, the private sector produced over 75% of the Gross Domestic Product, employing over 70% of all the professionally active persons.

The process of privatisation of large companies in the steel, chemical and heavy engineering industries is underway; so is the privatisation of the power industry (with a quickly rising interest on the part of foreign investors), the gas industry, transportation (mostly Polish Railways), and the mining industry

Extending NATO eastwards meant changing Poland's geo-political position. Its admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 12 March 1999 constitutes one of the most important events in its contemporary history.

Military maneuvers in Poland in 2016-7: U.S., German and Dutch tanks, aimed against Russia. Potential battle ground: Ukraine.

"Class Struggles in Poland" by Paul Costello, 1980

Gomulka told the peasantry that there would no longer be state coercion in collectivization and that existing collective farms were free to dissolve if their members so desired. The results were dramatic. Although only 8.6% of agricultural land had been collectivized by 1956, by 1957 80% of it had returned to individual cultivation in the process of which 8,280 of the 9,790 collective farms were disbanded.

Since features of both capitalism and communism exist throughout the transition period, a transitional society’s direction of development is determined by the degree to which one set of features is developed to the detriment of the other. The development of any society proceeds through the unfolding of contradictions and their resolution. If a transitional society responds to its contradictions through the strengthening of communist features (social appropriation, increasing role of the masses) then its direction of development is toward communism. Put another way, a society can be said to be moving toward communism when “a general unity of economic, political and ideological transformations ensures a growing control by the laborers over the means of production and products.”[26] On the other hand, where a socialist society responds to its contradictions by strengthening capitalist elements (law of value, commodity production, strengthened role of the state apparatus over the masses) then we say that its motion is in the direction of capitalism.

In the past ten years the import of capitalist equipment and goods has significantly increased while the export of socialist goods has not matched this pace. The result has been an imbalance in east-west trade to the detriment of the socialist countries. This imbalance has been further aggravated by inflation, which was exported to Eastern Europe by means of the increased price of capitalist imports. Since the socialist countries were not making enough on their exports to finance the further importation of imperialist products, they turned to Western banks to obtain credit for their foreign purchases. By 1976 the Chase Manhatten Bank estimated that the total debt of the socialist countries belonging to the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) was $35 billion.

Poland’s position was one of the worst. Its foreign debt in 1976 was $10.2 billion while its trade deficit was $3.2 billion. Its debt to the imperialist world today has reached $20 billion, with the result that debt service (interest payments plus repayments on the principal) is now some $7.2 billion or 90% of export earning.[37]

A member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, explains it this way: “Repayment for western credits and debt servicing has become a heavy burden obliging us to increase our exports at the expense of the home market, where there are shortages.[38]

While the Polish People’s Republic was able to nationalize the means of production in industry in the years following liberation, agricultural land has always remained overwhelmingly in private hands. In 1975, 77% of agricultural land was privately owned, while state farms accounted for only 21% and cooperatives 1.7%.

(Restoration of capitalism must be spearheaded by the Polish "kulaks", as well as "Catholicism")

To stimulate peasant production the state was obliged to pay higher and higher prices for agricultural goods, while it was required to sell these same goods at prices which had been fixed back in 1966. An increasing amount of state revenues were required to make up the difference. By 1976 the state subsidy for farm prices was a full 12% of the gross domestic product.[39]

The failure of the state and the party to develop a non-coercive yet effective program for the collectivization and modernization of Polish farming is an essential factor in the longstanding crisis of Polish socialism.

The greatest danger of capitalist restoration is posed not by the workingclass, but by this bureaucracy, by a state-party system independent of workingclass control, corrupted by privileges, indebted to imperialist banks, and blackmailed by a landowning peasantry. 

Polish socialism is different from that in the USSR only in degree, not in kind. Both share this fundamental characteristic: the absence of proletarian democracy in politics and economics and the absence of developed socialization of the means of production and the social product

"The Problem with Poland"

Few noticed the seeming paradox that the more state socialism receded in time, the more intense the anti-Communist crusades of leaders like (Hungarian) Orbán and (Polish) Kaczyński became.

in both Poland and Hungary the largest parties are on the right, and many losers of the transition to capitalism, who would have been a natural constituency for a proper social democratic party, have ended up supporting the more extreme version of the right on offer: the racist Jobbik party in Hungary and PiS in Poland. - These are fascist parties, just like in Ukraine, "Svoboda"

It is hard to avoid the feeling that Central Europe is living 1989 in reverse. In that year, peaceful revolutions in the name of liberal democracy spread from one Communist country to another. Today we witness the emergence of a new Authoritarian International in the region, with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and possibly Croatia as potential future members alongside Hungary and Poland. It is a comforting illusion that liberal democracies do lots of things wrong, but ultimately always self-correct, while authoritarian regimes cannot admit mistakes and are eventually brought down by the stubborn pursuit of misguided policies.

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