Transitional Economic Systems: The Polish-Czech Example

By Dorothy W. Douglas | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
REFORMS AND REVOLUTIONS

I. LAND REFORM AND NATIONALIZATION, FIRST AND SECOND STAGES

The National Front

N ationalization in reconstituted Czechoslovakia at first did not go so far as in Poland. Although the Czechs referred to their 1945 situation as a 'revolution', the degree of continuity between their pre-war and post-war régimes was far greater than in Poland. Their pre-war régime had, of course, been far more democratic, middle-class, advanced, and prosperous than that of the Poles: there was less of a striking nature for them to flee from. Besides, the Czechs had never gone through the revolutionizing experience as a nation of fighting the Germans with arms in hand, nor had they met the full force of the German's eastern policy. Destruction for them had been purposely selective and on a moderate scale.

To meet the economic crisis of the post-war therefore required no such extraordinary means as it did of the Poles. Government intervention, yes. Some government ownership, undoubtedly. But there was not the same appalling wreckage everywhere, not the same absolute dearth of capital, means of production, business ownership even. More particularly, the vacuum created by the war in the ranks of the business class was much less. Therefore, on the one hand there was no such crying need to take over medium-sized business, and on the other by the same token there remained a much larger group of highly vocal business and upper professional men to be reckoned with in framing national policies.

Political factors in the Government itself were also different. As suggested earlier, the government-in-exile group headed by Benesš never constituted an intransigeant opposition, ultimately defeated and individually absorbed, as happened finally in Poland. It itself accepted a radical programme and Benesš was unopposed for the presidency.

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