Transitional Economic Systems: The Polish-Czech Example

By Dorothy W. Douglas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
'SOCIALIST INDUSTRIALIZATION'

B y the time the planned economies had entered the final, 'building of Socialism' stage of their transition, their attempts to follow Soviet economic methods had reached a new level. They looked back along their own past and forward to its end results in terms of detailed likenesses and differences to Soviet experience. They shared the same ideology. And they sought to absorb Soviet methods and Soviet technology in their most recent form in order to speed their own economic programmes.

The note of Communist ideology and the sense of forward pressure to still more rapid economic change was very evident in their latest Plans. 'The people have taken power', read the preface to the final version of Poland's Six-Year Plan, 'in a country devastated by war and Hitler's occupation.... The Polish masses led by the working class...have taken over the government in Poland, establishing and consolidating the State of People's Democracy, which is carrying out the basic function of the dictatorship of the proletariat.' On the economic side, '...Our country has been able to...burst the capitalist fetters which were hindering the development of productive forces.... The results achieved in the reconstruction period make possible the transition to a new stage: the building of Socialism....' And a year later it was stated, 'The characteristic feature of our economic system is the steady and systematic general offensive of Socialism.'1

Soviet aid in speeding these countries' development plans was marked. Long-term trade and investment agreements in rising amounts bore directly upon a heightened technology. In the case of Poland,2 an important part of the technical aid furnished con

____________________
1
Oskar Lange, 'Polish National Economy in the Second Year of the Six- Year Plan', Warsaw, 1951, p. 12 (in Polish). Dr. Lange at the time was rapporteur for the Parliamentary Commission on Economic Planning.
2
As was noted in Chapter XIV, the second Soviet-Polish loan and trade agreement, entered into in 1950, had provided for a sharp rise in heavy investment goods for the next four years, with the same arrangement for payment in the future products of those industries that Poland had already had chiefly with Czechoslovakia.

In the case of Czechoslovakia, raw industrial materials rather than development goods per se formed a major portion of her imports from the Soviet. In turn Czechoslovakia found in the Soviet a market for finished products of light industry, while her own heavy production chiefly went to build up her own industry and that of her smaller neighbours.

It was to be noted, however, that so far as Poland and Czechoslovakia's total pattern of east European trade went, it had become less centred upon the Soviet Union in the latest period: trade with eastern Germany and with the smaller planned economics had grown even faster. (Cf. United Nations, Economic Commission for Europe, Economic Survey of Europe in 1950, Geneva, 1951, p. 41.)

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