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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective

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Antoni Mączak

This book analyzes the patron-client relationship over both space and time. It covers such areas of the globe as Europe, Africa and Latin America, and such periods in time as ancient Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Poland, as well as twentieth-century America. It also analyzes clientelism in U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War and in Richard J. Daley’s mayoral rule over Chicago. In his comparative approach the author makes broad use of theories from such fields as history, sociology, anthropology and linguistics while considering the global scale of the patron-client relationship and the immense role that clientelism has played in world history.

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Chapter 6: The Old-Poland Clientele

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Patronage explains how in the context of laws of equality, the great families always kept their power […] The clientele was not in the laws […] but it reigned in society.

N.D. Fustel de Coulanges406

Pre-partition Poland (the next focus of my book) deserves a special place in any general study of clientelism. I have devoted several small articles to the topic of the informal aspects of the system of rule in the Rzeczpospolita.407 Since I also wrote a great deal on this topic in Klienteli, it is difficult for me to avoid repeating my own arguments or to omit citing the original sources, which most compellingly represent the style, climate, or – as Karol Górski put it – the “emotionality” of the era. Voices critical of Klienteli and associated articles were not put into print or spoken during discussions carried out in my presence, but I feel them nonetheless when a given author omits or is silent about my theses and conclusions. It would be difficult for me to argue that this is a correct way to proceed; indeed I believe that it is a losing proposition for both sides.

That having been said, I do not hide the fact that I have sometimes changed my opinions in certain regards, and that in other regards I have kept my conclusions at the level of hypotheses. Indeed my latest reading of A Relation of the State of Polonia408 inspired new associations and observations that should...

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