Modernization Crisis: The Transformation of Poland

Modernization Crisis: The Transformation of Poland

Modernization Crisis: The Transformation of Poland

Modernization Crisis: The Transformation of Poland

Synopsis

This book is an enlightening, inspiring, and sobering account of the social and economic transformation of Poland. A multinational and interdisciplinary group of scholars examine the historical precursors that gave shape to the Solidarity movement, then focus on the institutional change that today presents challenges even more daunting than those of the earlier drama of resistance. The contributors have uncovered episodes of political domination, debt, and dependency that are not well known or well understood. These have important implications for economic development in general and for the reconstruction of the deindustrializing economies of Eastern Europe in particular. If Poland is to survive the crisis of the early 1990s, a new and authentic program of economic and human development must be adopted by West and East alike. The book concludes with a "new discourse on development."

Excerpt

In the autumn of 1991, after a conference on United Nations Reform at the U.N. complex in Vienna, I took the eight-hour train ride through the still unified Republic of Czechoslovalda and back to Krakow. Once again, I was struck by the sharp contrasts emerging in the region. The train was filled with young people, jammed into second class, exercising a wanderlust born of youth and the wish to explore a wider world. When I reached my destination, the picturesque streets of old Krakow--designated by UNESCO as a "culturally significant city"--were filled with people. The shops were brimming with goods and the legendary Slavic warmth of my hosts and friends touched me once more. At the university, fax machines and computers were growing in number. International telephone service had greatly improved in the eight months that had passed since my last visit in December of 1990, the heady time when Lech Walesa was elected president of the Republic of Poland. The improvement of the communications infrastructure bore the imprimature of new relations and contracts with the West.

Some two years had passed since the historic Round Table negotiations of 1989 signaled the beginning of a quick end for the Polish Party/State. But with the passage of the euphoria of national liberation, it was already apparent that uncertainty and anxiety had emerged as the darker side of hope. Towering over this welter of anticipation and fear, of crisis and change, was the toxic cloud from the massive metallurgical works at Nowa Huta, a Stalinist-model factory town adjoining Krakow, with its tens of thousands of industrial workers. Emissions continued to eat away at the architectural treasures of this jewel by the Vistula River, threatening the cultural legacy of centuries. The practices . . .

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