A Precarious Stalemate
In the years following their countries' linked crises of 1956, the political trajectories of Poland's Władysłw Gomułka and Hungary's Janos Kádár crossed each other. Whereas Kádár, who was originally loathed by his countrymen for having betrayed Imre Nagy and endorsed the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian Revolution, eventually earned their appreciation for initiating economic improvements and easing political constraints, Gomułka squandered the reservoirs of popularity and legitimation that had both sustained and been deepened by his return to power in the teeth of Soviet disapproval in October 1956.
A broad national consensus had enveloped Gomułka on the morrow of his resumption of power. Though ideologically anti-Communist and sentimentally anti-Russian, the Polish people understood that any challenge to their country's alignment with the Soviet Union, though it might be emotionally gratifying, was rationally precluded by the sheer facts of geography and power, the need for continued Soviet underwriting of Poland's postwar western and northern borders, and their country's economic dependence on the Soviet Union and the other countries of the Soviet bloc. Hence they were ready to mute their visceral skepticism about Gomułka's foreign policy and to acknowledge its correspondence to Polish raison d"état. They were even prepared to accept his insistence on the Communist party's continued monopolization of power, since this was, in the given circumstances of 1956, an inevitable corollary of Poland's membership in the Soviet bloc. But beyond these necessary accommodations to an ineluctable reality, the