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CASE REPORT
The restitution of capitalism in Poland
 
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Wyższa Szkoła Ekonomiczna, Białystok
Publication date: 2020-06-08
 
Problemy Polityki Społecznej 2000;2:9–23
 
ABSTRACT
The author defined transformation processes in Poland as the restitution of capitalism, which, in his opinion, best reflects basic features of change. A neo-liberal model of economic system reform was chosen. The introduction of a free market and the privatization of public property were the causes of deep recession - the decrease of GNP and of production, also the decrease of the level of life of the majority of population. Though recession, deeper and longer than expected, was overcome and contemporary Poland is characterized by a quick growth of GNP - segmentation of population grew; on one extreme there is wealth, on the other poverty and destitution. Basic transformation of political system took place, the basis of democracy was re-created, however a set of negative phenomena made the democracy very frail. Polish society is characterized by political passiveness, distrust in political parties and among polititians. There were fundamental changes in social structure; a new, expansive class of capitalists emerged, working class lost its political significance. A multiplying middle class approves system transformation, yet there is a persistent dissatisfaction, frustration and disappointment on the part of lower classes and strata, whose social position worsened; it became a serious threat to social order and social peace. The phenomena of of disintegration and the crisis of social links, anomy, became extensive. Social pathology grew, also brutalization of life and aggression. The feeling of threat and fear became universally spread in society. Insufficient social activeness, though evidently growing, means more the criticism of the practice, not the rejection of democracy. The majority of population approves the system of market economy, though simultaneously speaks for the responsibility of state for social security. Only the minority is for a free market and limiting state intervention. Polish society is deeply divided by the system of values, religious attitudes and in relation to the role of Roman-Catholic church in public life. The influence of the church is minor in moral sphere, yet it has a strong impact on political bahaviours. Even a stronger factor of social division is the relation to the past and the period of real socialism. A high level of frustration and disappointment is a cause of protests and strikes. Though their intensity is decreasing, the growth of social dissatisfaction in future should be taken into consideration. In the situation of cuts in social benefits, increasing sphere of poverty and worsening of social services, social policy limited its role to oferring still diminishing social relief and could not influence shaping the direction of development. The reforms (of education system, health care and pensions) were introduced without due preparations, numerous mistakes were made while realizing them. The ‘reform’ of the reforms should than be considered. The process of restituting capitalism and transmission from state socialism to democracy and free market economy, in spite of many positive effects, has not been ended. There is a lack of harmonious co-operation of three elements: the state, the market and the activeness of the very society. Our preparations to EU membership, which is unavoidable for Poland in her geographical position and the interest of our future, will force deep modernization in all spheres of collective life as well as narrowing technological, economic and social gaps in relation to developed countries. Such a progress and harmonious development can only be secured by a indispensable enforcement of pro-social orientation of the state.
ISSN:1640-1808