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Why did communism in Poland fail?


SeanBM 35 | 5,808
17 Apr 2011 #1
As a foreigner, from the other side of the Iron Curtain, I still find it difficult to get my head around communism even after all these years of living in ex-communist countries.

So no doubt some of our more cynical Polish members will laugh at me trying to look at communism but I am quite happy to be corrected in any misunderstandings I may have about what it was like.

So why did communism fail?

I will have a stab at it, I invite you to add your own or just rip mine to shreds.

- No private companies (technically next to none) and therefore no competition which led to poor services and no reason to work.
- No incentives, did people study for years just to get paid the same as others who didn't? seems unfair to me.
- The economy was completely fabricated i.e. had no basis in reality. I was told that the beautiful oak parquet flooring that you find in the crummiest of flats was due to it being A.) the only thing available and B.) cheap. It was cheap becuase the price was not based on a market or supply and demand but just made up.

- With everything in the hands of the state and no competition it led to the inevitable mismanagement of pretty much everything. So nothing in the shops, 100% employment meant job creation which meant more bureaucracy resulting in ineffectiveness. In Lithuania they have a saying "The Lithuanian pretended to work and the Russians pretended to pay them".

- it didn't allow people freedoms such as of individuality, expression, political criticism, religion and pursuit of personal gain.

This post got me thinking about this topic:

the very word Communism just spreads dread throughout the mind of the person thinking of it and who can blame them. When most Caucasian people think of that social state they would immediately imagine the Soviet Union and probably former Easter block countries with their endless rows of grey blocks of small flats. Miserable people all standing in cues waiting for their measly rations of cheese, milk, bread and if their lucky a small pack of coffee. Traditional communism would mean not being free, not being able to speak your mind, being blinded by state controlled media and fear.

This, to me, is the effect but what was the cause of Communism failing?

Also if you are interested in Poland and communism make sure you look at this thread, it's one of the best on here: Communism fell 20 years ago, Poland led the fight since WW2
OP SeanBM 35 | 5,808
17 Apr 2011 #3
I had started a similar thread.Generally Polaci never seemed fond for adopting communism.

Ah, I didn't see that.
I will have a read through, thanks.

Edit*
Feck I even posted in it...
My grey matter isn't firing up the old neurons the way it used to :)
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,444
17 Apr 2011 #4
My grey matter isn't firing up the old neurons the way it used to :)

it is a good thing at times, not remembering things you might wanted to forget in the first place;)
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
17 Apr 2011 #5
So why did communism fail?

Because the central planned economy was ineffective and people were not so stupid anymore to allow genocide like in 30's in the Soviet Union. Without that terror, the next revolution (anti-communist this time) was a matter of time, so commies preffered to give it up peacefully (of course first securing their interests). Besides in Poland and other "satellite states" (and many soviet republics) communism was a foreign concept imposed upon them by the enemy.
Nathan 18 | 1,363
17 Apr 2011 #6
So why did communism fail?

It will fail anywhere and only by force can be kept alive, because one of the main premises of its existance is elimination of private property. No human will ever care about something not his more than about his/her own. Another thing is "correctness" of one party, one policy written by some drunkard in 1848 who was neither economist, nor a person who adheres to what he writes about. Also, there is no sex in Communism ;) and you HAVE to believe that a leader in some remote Russian (sorry for my bias) village is thinking how to make your life better, day and night. He might even not eat just to make sure that everything is Ok at your crammed apartment. You simply have to BELIEVE, reality doesn't matter - it is a lie anyway.
BBman - | 344
18 Apr 2011 #7
People living under communism knew that life was better in the west.
Zman
18 Apr 2011 #8
They may have believed that, but they were wrong because they were fooled.

I erred somehow in my previous post ... and so please disregard my previous post. Indeed communism was loathed by most of my countrymen and it had to fail. People do not like to be constraint by their government and so communism had to fail. I am glad that it did.
Babinich 1 | 455
18 Apr 2011 #9
The better question would be why did Communism fail.

Why? Because it failed to provide its citizens the quality and quantity of consumption that had become the standard of modernity over the last third of the twentieth century.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
18 Apr 2011 #10
It will fail anywhere and only by force can be kept alive

same is true for any and every system in place today ,yesterday or tommorow.
Some of us are kept on longer ,thinner leashes but there is always someone willing to yank on them if we step beyond what is "acceptable" in whatever sociaty we find ourselves.

Seems to me,Red,white or polka dot coloured banners its all the same,its always the few ,the rich and powerfull who controll the many whether thats the rich and powerfull communist in a Volga or the rich and powerfull capitalist in a Maybach.
Nathan 18 | 1,363
18 Apr 2011 #11
Some of us are kept on longer ,thinner leashes but there is always someone willing to yank on them if we step beyond what is "acceptable" in whatever sociaty we find ourselves.

I agree, life in a community demands giving up certain powers which we feel to be entitled to. But it is a general will to give up a bit of one's unrestrained power in order to not suffer later from someone who is more powerful than us. I consider it beneficial. Don't you?

Seems to me,Red,white or polka dot coloured banners its all the same,its always the few,the rich and powerfull who controll the many rich and powerfull communist in a Volga or the rich and powerfull capitalist in a Maybach

This is the way it goes. Someone has to be at the top. Look in the nature - not a single society lives otherwise (as far as I know). But the major point is the law, which was non-existant for the Communist party members (except, small fry) and the choice which I think makes one a human was absent in the Communism. As Lenin said: one is a nut or a screw in a general mechanism. The Communists proved it - people were nothing, but replaceable screws. And again it is not about cars - if one earned it and drives it - everyone may as well be happy for him. The worst is when you see the worthless scum on the post-communist horizon driving on stolen money while some others haven't got their salary for a few months.
OP SeanBM 35 | 5,808
18 Apr 2011 #12
Without that terror,

Was the terror not just a way to reinforce the failing system?
I mean, it doesn't appear to be the root cause of the failing of communism but just a way to maintain it through brute force and terror, as you say.

communism was a foreign concept imposed upon them by the enemy.

This is a great point that I think many people from the other side of the iron curtain miss.

one of the main premises of its existance is elimination of private property. No human will ever care about something not his more than about his/her own.

I agree, reminds me of the free bikes they had in Holland.
The idea was that white bikes were to be used by everyone, you just pick them up cycle wherever you want and leave it outside for the next person.

They were painted black and sold off.

"correctness" of one party

It can also be argued that there is a correctness in two parties (as we have now in many countries) that are no different from each other, so it really makes no difference who you vote for.

there is no sex in Communism ;)

? No? ;)

you HAVE to believe that a leader in some remote Russian (sorry for my bias) village is thinking how to make your life better, day and night. He might even not eat just to make sure that everything is Ok at your crammed apartment. You simply have to BELIEVE, reality doesn't matter - it is a lie anyway.

The state will look after you personally.... never gonna happen.
I don't think it is biased to say Russian, it was the U.S.S.R after all.

People do not like to be constraint by their government and so communism had to fail.

Again was the constraints not trying to desperately hold on to a failing system, it wasn't the cause of the initial problem itself, was it? but just a way of keeping it going?

The better question would be why did Communism fail.

That was the thread title, someone must have edited it but that's okay :)

Because it failed to provide its citizens the quality and quantity of consumption that had become the standard of modernity over the last third of the twentieth century.

Why did it fail to provide the quality and quantity of consumption?

I will suggest a hypothetical to dispel what I am led to understand if I am incorrect, if it was managed more efficiently would it have succeed?

I ask because it is not discussed much outside of countries that were effected by it and to understand it so it doesn't happen again.

Seems to me,Red,white or polka dot coloured banners its all the same,its always the few ,the rich and powerfull who controll the many whether thats the rich and powerfull communist in a Volga or the rich and powerfull capitalist in a Maybach.

The democratic Capitalist system we have today, for all it's disappointments, still the people could (theoretically) vote in whoever they want and what they want.

Ironically, the monopolization of banks and multinational corporations, along with "two" party elections that are not much different from each other seems more and more like a kind of Neo-communism.

The worst is when you see the worthless scum on the post-communist horizon driving on stolen money while some others haven't got their salary for a few months.

I find this to be a very good point, it seems to me that communism did not allow people's natural behaviour.
As in stark contrast to The American Dream: "if I have a good idea and work hard enough, I too can drive a nice big car."

Whereas in communism, it just seemed to build resentment and was just really unfair, no chance of material success, a comfortable life, holidays anywhere you wanted every year and simple things like sugar or bananas in the shops.

On a personal note, I dislike it when people say "Poles were not so materialistic during communism" because the exact same thing was said about Ireland when we were poor.

I find that remark condescending because it is always someone from a rich country who visits Poland or Ireland for short periods and finds the people ''friendly'' and ''quaint''.

"Oh how lovely, Look at the people ploughing the fields with a horse and plough."
And then feck off back to their home entertainment systems and convertible cars.
Whereas the people stuck in the field are meant to continue "happily" with their back breaking work.

Feck that, give these people half a chance and they would work and live a much more comfortable life, why wouldn't they?
And then we get told how materialistic we have become?!?
We were always materialistic, it's just we had no materials!!!

Okay, the 'consumer culture' has gone too far, even for me but when you are poor or you can't get the things that make your life easier, it isn't quaint, it's a day to day struggle.

Rant over* :)
FlaglessPole 4 | 669
18 Apr 2011 #13
We were always materialistic, it's just we had no materials!!!

So true, I never knew I was sadistic till I got sad… It’s all good now, I’ve just had a laugh seeing my hamster explode inside the microwave.
Nojas 4 | 110
18 Apr 2011 #14
Because it fails to provide with the even most basics of human needs. Food. The main reason is export. What would Germany, US or China be without export? Absolutely nothing. A bit of soil and that's it. Cuba exported sugar to the Soviet well above market price, a fake export if you will.

Can communism ever work? Maybe. If all other countries on the planet had the same system, and if there basicly was no thing like economy or money and everybody settled for basic needs, food and shelter. Pre-industrial era so to speak.

To invent new things, like cars, rockets, frozen foods, energy you need incentetives to do so. Under communism there's nothing like that. Personal gain is the biggest incentetive a human has, whether it be fortune or social status. A planned economy will not give new ideas, because it is of course against "planned". To make product "A" you need the subparts "B" and "C". What if your country don't have or can't make "B"? You must get it from someone else, import/export. Which again is why communism never worked. Because in order to trade you need value (which communism fails to create) and the only other option for it to work is what I said earlier, every country then needs to have the same system and there can be no such thing as an "economy".

Making communism work means sacrificing yourself for the greater good of the collective. Which only works if everybody believes in the same thing and want to achieve to same goal.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
18 Apr 2011 #15
This is a great point that I think many people from the other side of the iron curtain miss.

Not if they know how many Poles were happy communists .......

It seems Communism offered no escape valve for people but when it did,restricted religious freedoms,then the cracks began to appear too so they were on a lose lose there in regards human nature. Basicaly they got there sums wrong. Sure,in theory it would seem a huge proportion of any population is happy to be sheep like and herded from cradle to grave but the population percentage not happy with that would be made up of the more inteligent sections of sociaty and only a set number would be prepered to work for the system or indeed the system would only have room for a limited number of people at the top.

stream of conciousness while distracted,if it made no sense...sorry folks :)
Wroclaw Boy
18 Apr 2011 #16
Why did communism in Poland fail?

to much state control
lack of food choice
lack of food
biased media
no internet
lack of holidays
not easy to travel to none communist countries
fear of establishment
no freedom of speech
everyone and no one was an informant
Russia was at the head of it
curfews
prisons
communist police
social startification
stalin was a murderer
it was forced on Poland

Ironically though i have heard stories of older generation Poles who actually preferred communism, i guess those are only the ones that have absolutely nothing.
isthatu2 4 | 2,704
18 Apr 2011 #17
no internet

this probably helped it rather than acted towards its decline....besides,I dont remember much internat over here in 89 either:)
Matt32 4 | 83
18 Apr 2011 #18
After Stalin dead there were no purges. Communism cannot not survive without terror.
Varsovian 92 | 634
18 Apr 2011 #19
The men in power stole, told everyone else to shut up if they knew what was good for them and gave some a few freebies stolen from other people ... and the normal people had to get on with their lives as best they could. Then, when the rich decided they couldn't get away with it any longer they stole some more and handed over power on condition they wouldn't be prosecuted.

The owner of Polsat is a superb case of how a former security force nobody from nowhere has made a fortune. Think Abramowicz - ditto. Most people try not to notice, others go mad and start listening to loonies.
Nathan 18 | 1,363
18 Apr 2011 #20
We were always materialistic, it's just we had no materials!!!

Nicely put. So true.

It can also be argued that there is a correctness in two parties

At least there is a balance, a chance of having a bit less idiots on one side to choose from. In one party system there is no natural selection.

They were painted black and sold off.

Humans are humans ;)

and if there basicly was no thing like economy or money and everybody settled for basic needs

Isn't it a hardcore statement of Communism: from anyone by his abilities and to anyone according to his needs? This is even against physics!

To make product "A" you need the subparts "B" and "C". What if your country don't have or can't make "B"? You must get it from someone else, import/export.

Great point. Another one is that even if you could produce all the parts on your own, you were not allowed to, because it would make you individual, independant - anti-Communist. For example, while in SU Ukraine's tank factory used to produce tanks without barrels; they were exported from Russia. Is there a logic, except to make sure that in case of anything it would take some time to produce tanks on its own or always keep track on functional tanks in a neighboring republic by counting how much barrels you sent those under your control?

After Stalin dead there were no purges.

There were, but not on such a scale.

Then, when the rich decided they couldn't get away with it any longer they stole some more and handed over power on condition they wouldn't be prosecuted.

Yep. And in some cases they are now creating "democracy" for us too.
poland_
18 Apr 2011 #21
This post got me thinking about this topic:

I have not read through all the posts on this thread so I will add to the debate.

During socialist times especially the 80's Pl was so indebted to the west, the country was finding it very difficult to make people happy. In the late 80's hyper inflation took hold. They had no other option the socialist system had failed and the country was moving towards bankruptcy. So there was a mechanism for change, Poles abroad contacted there families back here in PL and reported the good life, every was under the illusion that west was best. Even the Polish intelligentsia considered the backbone of PL, looked for a new option.

Interesting subject SeanBM- the makings of a good thread about past and present.
nune
19 Apr 2011 #22
As a college student who loves history, I am inclined to say that that's a brilliant summation of why Communism has failed everywhere it has been forced up people.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
19 Apr 2011 #23
Ultimately, the Soviet Bloc ran out of money; it ran out of will. On the other hand, there's China(plenty of money) and North Korea(plenty of will).
Havok 10 | 912
19 Apr 2011 #24
In your post you've mentioned the economic aspects of communism which caused the system to fail. I would agree with you and also I would like to expand on that. (skipping the politics of it because it's boring)

Communism was Marx and Engels's stab at social utopia for all. Let me remind you that both of them were well-off entrepreneurs and highly educated Germans, who apparently were fascinated with poor conditions of working class in England...

Like with everything else out there, the idea of Communism was somewhat noble but the execution was terrible and it turned into a nightmare as we all know it.

Why did communism fall?

In my opinion, Marx and Engels did not take into account what Adam Smith did. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations."

Greed and competitive nature of the human race can effectively and quickly generate wealth for everyone without government involvement - "the forces of self-interest, competition, and supply and demand are capable of allocating resources in society"

I think it's fascinating that China found a way of applying both ideologies at the same time.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
19 Apr 2011 #25
Don't kid yourself. The Chinese people have made a pact with the devil. They will put up with the Communist nonsense (censorship, one-party rule, etc) as long as the Party keeps all engines burning. When that stops, all bets are off!
f stop 25 | 2,513
19 Apr 2011 #26
Let's not forget the cold war and all the efforts undertaken by the 'west' to discredit the communism.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
19 Apr 2011 #27
that certainly laid the groundwork.
Havok 10 | 912
19 Apr 2011 #28
Don't kid yourself. The Chinese people have made a pact with the devil. They will put up with the Communist nonsense (censorship, one-party rule, etc) as long as the Party keeps all engines burning. When that stops, all bets are off!

you're probably right.

I really wish them well but i would not want to live there.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
19 Apr 2011 #29
what's scary is to what lengths will China go to sustain its growth and what will they do if/when that growth is over? revert back to Mao days? Do a Myanmar?
Chicago Pollock 7 | 504
19 Apr 2011 #30
So why did communism fail?

Communism is based on the theory that money is the root of all evil. If money is the root of all evil, communism would have succeeded.


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