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Memoirs of a (Highly) Political Economist

Jan Winiecki

These memoirs portray an individual coping with the adversities and surrealistic qualities of life and work under communism. The author recollects his adolescence, next, how he tried to avoid head-on conflicts, dissented, and how he finally became a known critic of the system. As such, he belonged to a group of advisers to the underground «Solidarity» leadership. His memoirs help to understand the collapse of the communist system and the stormy period of systemic change from a personal perspective. The author participated in these changes as an already well known Sovietologist, as well as through his own on- and off involvements in post-communist transition politics, participating in various advisory bodies (including that advising President Walesa).
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Chapter 8: Coming to the Rescue of Transition: The Power of the Market…

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Chapter 8: Coming to the Rescue of Transition: The Power of the Market …

I ended the preceding Chapter on a sober, some would even call it pessimistic, note, pointing to the barrage of criticism of post-communist transition in the face of the registered drastic declines in output, sharp increase in inflation, and some other revealed characteristics of early period of shifting from central planning to capitalist market. The criticism in that period, in fact till 1993–94, was coming not only from those hostile to or distrustful of economic freedom, but no less often from the numerous doubting Thomases, who might have supported transition in principle, but for a variety of reasons (most often due to misunderstanding the role of stabilization in transition) began to doubt in its success. Adding an issue of the corroded moral order increased the range of the pessimistic arguments on the high costs and uncertain prospects of the ultimate success.

In fact, I could add my own family experience as other examples of the presumably intractable problems of transition, had I believed that such interpretation was justified. For the stories just to be reported were only superficially presenting problems. In actual fact, they were pointing to their -s-o-l-u-t-i-o-n-s.

The first family story begins at our new house near Warsaw, we moved into in summer of 1994. It was barely the second week of living there. We have just finished breakfast at the dining room on the...

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