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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective


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 13: Sketches of the Present Day: Clienteles after Communism


In history, unlike biology, one must not ask too much of roots. They cannot explain everything. It is enough to understand how deep they go and what they have contributed.

Moses Finley1039

This chapter, more than any of the others in this book, has the character of an essay, a set of reflections. I have not attempted to gather material that is by any stretch of the imagination “complete”; I base my comments mainly on press clippings, especially from the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, articles which have given me a great deal of food for thought.1040

The media is constantly bringing us more information on this subject. The pace of political change in recent decades has opened up new possibilities for the development of informal forms of power, often representing a leap back into the past. This era is an open one, there is a constant flow of information. Which is why this chapter has a somewhat different character, one that highlights my personal doubts and raises questions.

1. Patrons and Clients in Poland after the PRL

The fall of communism did not automatically eliminate clientelistic systems.

Jacek Tarkowski1041

Once again, in a new context, it is appropriate to return to Polish issues. More than a decade has passed since the fall of the totalitarian systems of “real socialism,” and there is no doubt that, even though that system in Poland is now a...

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