Poland 1956–1976: Seeking a Paradigm Cover Image

Polska 1956–1976: w poszukiwaniu paradygmatu
Poland 1956–1976: Seeking a Paradigm

Author(s): Marcin Zaremba, Błażej Brzostek
Subject(s): History
Published by: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej

Summary/Abstract: Research into the history of the PRL (People’s Republic of Poland) tends to present the past in the rather simple terms of society versus regime, with the opposing sides being contradictory in their interests and values. Three types of concept prevail: „From One Conflict to the Next”, „Socialist State, Rebellious Nation”, and the „Totalitarian” perspective. These viewpoints are as superficial as their imposed ideological anti-communist perspective. The assumed goal of such historical research is to reveal (to expose, to redress) rather than to understand (to clarify, to explain). To view the modern history of Poland simply in terms of conflict results in a significant imbalance in examining particular issues. There are examples of monographic work regarding the major social conflicts which occurred during the lifespan of the PRL, but the periods between these incidents have been less popular. Although the distinguishable and academically popular Stalinist period in Poland seems to have been sufficiently researched, the same cannot be said of subsequent decades. It is the years 1956–1976 which deserve attention, for not only was this a „period of conflict” but it was also a time of significant change within Polish society which affected the political system and its perception, the period’s changes impacting on the well documented conflicts. Important issues regarding Polish society in the second half of the 20th Century have yet to be researched. These include the forming of materialist aspirations, sources of information on the outside world – in particular the possibilities and extent of travel – and the influence of the mass media on people’s attitudes. Without an adequate investigation into such issues, bold statements about the system and its dynamics cannot be justified. There remain three main issues – regarding the mechanics of power still widely understood only at a local level – which deserve particular attention: the political culture of the PRL, the importance of ideology and pragmatism in the decision making process, as well as the activity of interest groups on various levels of authority.

  • Issue Year: 10/2006
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 25-37
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Polish