Poland is a country of paradoxes, myths, and self-illusions and proud of it. At one time or another since the fall of communism, it has had a ministry of privatization that could stop it but not initiate it; it has also had full-time and part-time members of parliament, a trade union that is a political party with deputies in parliament as well as ruling the country since the 1997 general election, and university professors appointed by politicians or academics. Ibis is a country where the term consistency is alien to its people and where anarchy has been misinterpreted for centuries as democracy. It is a country that appeared and disappeared from Europe's map several times in its modern political history due to weak governments, a nonexistent standing army, and an outdated economy. It is also a country where political dissent was strongest amidst communist states and where the collapse of communism began. Indeed, the first meaningful attempts to move from a command economy and dictatorial rule to a market economy and democracy were initiated there with partially free parliamentary elections in 1989, soon to be followed by other East European states. It is, too, a country that not only paved the way to the demise of communism in Europe and elsewhere but also contributed, albeit indirectly, to the disintegration of the last imperial power, the Soviet Union.
As time passed by, however, the process of fundamental systemic change in Poland slowed down significantly, and the country was overtaken by