East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

prone to making foolish decisions as to agriculture or privatization. Some respondents consider politics to be for people who want to make it to the top, or who "see to their own business". They suggest that for them to seek positions of authority would have little positive impact for improving the their region's agricultural situation. Thus they deprecate farmers who have become involved in politics: "They aren't farmers, they're fighters"

All respondents realize the current difficulty of improving the situation in agriculture. They know they can form associations and farmer lobbies to promote their own interests; but they know just as well that a change or return to the situation of the early 1980s is impossible today. Transformations in global agriculture involve a distinct shrinking of rural communities. Neither traditional nor highly specialized farmers can find a place for themselves in modern agriculture, and in any case all their numbers are bound to decrease with time. If it is to achieve some kind of market rationality agriculture will become more and more of an industry in Poland and there will be fewer and fewer persons employed in it. And with the rapid modernization of agriculture and its mass production of surplus the food producer's dignity will lose its former importance.

This situation implies a number of questions about my respondents' new role in society and the rules of conduct this will demand. Perhaps they will form a more clearly defined "business class" in the future; yet their business will not be the same kind of rural one which, from time immemorial, conferred the respect of one's neighbor and provided at least a small degree of satisfaction at the performance of your duties.

The context of this new situation is much broader than that discussed by respondents in interviews. Thus one can also discern other qualitative and quantitative changes not only in Poland but throughout east Europe. The production of surplus mentioned above, for example, has resulted in a few cases in farmers being paid for letting their land lie fallow, similar to the situation found in America. It has also contributed to the growth of mono-crop corporatelike production practices. These changes are naturally first perceived by leading traditional farmers such as our emerging business class and they are generally the first group to attempt to adjust to these new situations. It is therefore only natural when a prosperous fruit grower opens a denim stone-washing plant, and a potato magnate starts a transport firm. This in-between status of "farmer-cumsomething else" is likely to remain until such trends as those above crystallize. What will follow, however, is open to speculation.


Notes
1.
A renowned Polish furniture factory, using oak as its principal material.
2.
DESA is a chain of antique stores.
3.
Main School of Agriculture - Agricultural Academy.

-247-

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