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«S ta n is ła w M. K o m o ro w s k i POLISH ECONOMY AND ITS FUTURE W A R S A W 1990 Editors of the Series: Antoni K u k l iń s k i Piotr D u t k ...»

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Faculty o f G eography and R egional Studies


S ta n is ła w M. K o m o ro w s k i



W A R S A W 1990

Editors of the Series:

Antoni K u k l iń s k i Piotr D u t k ie w ic z Jadwiga K o b u s z e w s k a Address: Warsaw University Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies Institute of Space Economy Krakowskie Przedmieście 30 00-927 Warsaw, Poland Contents Preface - Antoni Kuklinski

1. Time of reconstruction

2. Time of mismanaged growth

3. Time of apparent reform

4. Time of break

5. Time to face the future

6. Time for some explanations

About the Author

P reface In 1989 and 1990, the system of real socialism has totally collapsed in East-Central Europe. Nobody with somesense of reality andhumour has assumed it was a strong system. Butveryfew haveseen that the weaknesses of that system were so deep and great and that it would collapse so quickly and easily. I think six sources of this weakness can

be outlined in this context:

1. The exogenous character of the system (Oskar Lange - each country was a small copy of the Soviet Union)]

2. The totalitarian or semitotalitarian character of the political pro­ cess;

3. The grosso modo low quality of the ruling elites - the partially external legitimization of the elite;

4. The low productivity of labour and capital;

5. The high burden of armaments;

6. The high burden of indebtedness.

One could develop very interesting comparative studies on the profiles and styles of bankruptcy of real socialism in different countries of EastCentral Europe. Similarities and differences among Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia could be a fascinating subject for research.

The process of bankruptcy may be analysed along comparative fines, concentrating attention on the scope and intensity of bankruptcy, its velocity, cost, and “elegance”.

The profiles of the bankruptcy are important not only from the point of view of rerum cognoscere causas. The profiles are a valid starting point for any prognoses of the future of parliamentary democracy and market economy in those countries.

There axe two approaches in the studies on the bankruptcy of real socialism in Poland - the external approach and the internal approach.

The external approach accepts the value judgement that real social­ ism was ex definitione a wrong and bad system doomed to failure in any conditions. In the framework of this approach there is an ample place for nihilistic attitudes expressing the point of view that the record of real socialism in Poland is totally negative as a set of consecutive crimes, errors and disasters.

The internal approach is accepting the value judgement that real so­ cialism was potentially a good system with great chances of survival and success. That potential and those chances were destroyed by internal forces and especially by totally misguided socio-economic policies, mis­ management of growth and deeply WTong approaches to the theory and practice of planning.

In this context the study of S.M.Komorowski - The Drama of Poland’s Economy after World War II - is a particularly interesting, chal­ lenging and controversial contribution. Let me present five comments in this context.

1. It is not a study written by a professional historian with all rigours of this discipline. It has been written by an actor of the Polish economic scene with all passions of his colourful life as the manager, civil servant, planner, and scholar (see the note about the Author). The critical mind, vast interdisciplinary knowledge, multiplicity of participation and obser­ vation points have created a good background for the Author to write this book on the Drama of Poland’s Economy.

This book has a very strong personal dimension presenting the drama of an officer who spent all his Ufe on the battlefield of the Polish Economy and only for a few years working in the subjective climate of euphoria (1945-1949).

Let us quote S.M.Komorowski in this place.

This is a book based on personal recollections, analyses, reflections, im ­ pressions, and opinions of the author and may in many ways differ from opinions widely held by people somehow related to the facts described as well as other people who rather seldom realized what is going on around them, but willy-nilly have been obliged to bear the consequences. The au­ thor’s view-point is, of course, professionally biased - his approach and opinions are managerial and tend to look after solutions feasible in given conditions when they cannot be altered favourably. The author does not try to convince anybody, however he asks everybody to consider neutrally his arguments1.

2. The book of S.M.Komorowski is a good example of the internal approach. It is impossible to suggest the Author to accept the external approach, this would be against his fundamental value judgements and

- what is even more important - would be a destruction of the sense and mission of his life.

If we respect the principle of academic liberty we should publish some contributions like this book, following the rule audiatur et altera pars.

To my mind, the belief of S.M.Komorowski that real socialism was a potentially good system has increased the passion of his bitter critique of the stupidity and incompetence of the bureaucracy that has led the system to bankruptcy.

In this context, one may express the opinion that the internal critique of bureaucracy is sometimes more convincing than the nihilistic external approaches.

3. The book of S.M.Komorowski should be seen as a follow-up of the valuable contribution of Jan Szczepański “Poland Facing the Future”2.

Both books are an inducement to analyse the Polish experiences of the XX century - as a confrontation of external and internal approaches.

Such a confrontation would be interesting and useful for scholars - in both Poland and abroad - involved in the analyses of the bankruptcy of reíd socialism in our country.

4.1n the critical evaluation of the study of S.M.Komorowski we may formulate the question how the six weaknesses of real socialism, men­ tioned in the beginning of this Preface, are perceived by the Author.

In brief, two points axe almost totally missing in the book:

(1) the evaluation of the negative consequences of the Soviet influence on the structure and efficiency of Polish Economy, (2) the negative impact of the very high burden of armaments.

There is also a disagreement concerning Hilary Mine, one of the most prominent figures of the Polish economic history in the decade 1944-1954.

For Komorowski - Hilary Mine was a brilliant hero of the reconstruc­ tion period. For me - Hilary Mine was, first of all, a man of Stalin, implementing in Poland the mission to incorporate the Polish Economy into the economy of the Soviet Empire. I agree with Komorowski that 1See: item 6th “Tim e for some explanations”.

2J.Szczepański, Poland: Facing the Future, 1989, University of Warsaw, Regional and Local Studies, Vol.3 Hilary Minc was an able man and a strong personality. The real role of Mine should be a subject of a historical monography.

5. The manuscript of this book was concluded in early spring 1989.

It will be published in autumn 1990. So the book was written in the old times of real socialism and is published in the new times of Independent Polish Republic - of Polonia Restituta.

The critical reader will answer the basic question - if the interpreta­ tions of S.M.Komorowski still have some historical and prognostic valid­ ity. I tink the answer is “yes” if we accept the attitude of pluralistic and comprehensive interpretation of the Polish reality.

* * * This is a controversial book. The decision whether to print or not to print this book is a very difficult one. Many formulations and approaches of S.M.Komorowski will induce very critical reactions especially by schol­ ars following external approaches.

I think, however, that we should be really faithful to the principles of academic liberty - and publish contributions that enrich our intellec­ tual experience and stimulate the really pluralistic approaches in studies concerning the past and the future of Poland.

I hope that many scholars in Poland and abroad will share my judge­ ment concerning the publication of this really unconventional book.

–  –  –


T im e o f R e c o n s tru c tio n The years 1944 and 1945 put an end to the Nazi occupation of Polish territories. With the Soviet Army advancing on Berlin, a new governing establishment dependent on the U.S.S.R., came to power in Poland.

The economy was in a shambles and winter was in sight.

There was not much discussion; either at the beginning or during the next two to three yeaxs.There was too much to do and thus there was no time for sterile preoccupations. The organization was simple. There was the Economic Committee, later the Economic Committee Council of Ministers (Komitet Ekonomiczny Rady Ministrow - K.E.R.M.) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (established on the 1st December

1944) both headed by Hilary Mine, a well-educated and ingenious man with a lot of common sense and organizational ability who trusted people and had a talent for picking the right man for a job; he quickly became enormously popular among industrial managers.

Land reform was decreed in September 1944. A more difficult prob­ lem was that of non-agricultural enterprises, particularly the extractive and manufacturing industries. Some believed that they should be social­ ized (the Polish Socialist Party’s view-point) other voted for nationaliza­ tion. The difference is very important, socialization implies the so-called group-ownership. The dispute lasted more than one year and was fi­ nally resolved in January 1946 by the decree on nationalization. There are people who are of opinion that the land reform contributed very lit­ tle politically and economically, and was an anachronistic and regressive solution with no positive future - all other East-European socialist coun­ tries, with the exception of Poland, did nationalize land sooner or later.

However, today discussion of this issue is ridiculous; more relevant are the measures leading to the modernization of agricultural activities, in­ ter alia, through an important extension of the size of individual farming units. Others consider today that socialization was a better solution, and under cover introduced the state enterprises to the pattern of, de facto, group ownership (a disaster which will be discussed later within the context of the so-called “economic reform”).

Current problems were pressing and calling for immediate interven­ tion. Although exhausted by its efforts, and itself dependent on substan­ tial external deliveries, the U.S.S.R. offered material assistance, deliv­ ering several essentials: some raw materials (particularly cotton), fuels, food, trucks etc. within the framework of the first post-war trade agree­ ment. Of course, the Polish side supplied in exchange sugar, spirits, brewery barley, flax, cement, steel, and some machinery - commodities manufactured in the liberated area of Poland in plants which had been taken too quickly to be dismantled or demolished by the Germans. Much success was achieved thanks to the Polish talent for improvisation; how­ ever, behind this lay the organizational talent and effort displayed by people who were now solving problems hitherto completely unfamiliar to them.

And the situation was difficult. The eastern part of Poland was agri­ cultural rather than industrial, and those industries which did exist were mainly of the agro-allied type. This focused on the importance of the food producing sector of the economy which was essential both for the war effort and for the population brought by the Germans to the brink of starvation. Thus this sector’s activities had to be quickly organized and developed, bearing in mind the needs of the western part of the country in the next year. It was Lublin and the eastern part of the country that had always been its granary.

The other basic problem was the organization and the preparation for future activities in the western part of Poland, beyond the pre-war west­ ern borders, i. e. up to the Odra and Nysa Łużycka rivers which following the Yalta conference (February 1945) were regarded as the future Polish western borders.The Polish authorities in Lublin (later in Warsaw) did not have at their disposal at this time adequate economic information about these territories. The armies stop-over on the Vistula line, which lasted almost six months, and more generally the frontier line between the Baltic sea and the Turkish/Greek border - that is, the time needed to prepare logistically the final offensive which started in January 1945 divided Poland into two parts. Little was known on each side of the fron­ tier about what was going on. The focus of intelligence was concentrated on military movements and to some extent on political issues.

* * * The Polish underground movement, although split by and large into two parts, was well organized and was prepared for the liberation coming from the East, brought by the Red Army, on the side of which the 1st and later the 1st and the 2nd Polish Armies were fighting. Technically and numerically, the military, para-military civilian underground orga­ nizations connected with the Polish Government in London were more important and larger. However, the political problems and differences which played an important role in determining the behaviour and ac­ tions of the underground’s leadership remained largely unknown to most

of the rank and file, the attention of whom was focused on the Germans:

waiting for the day when they would fight them and push them out of the country.

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