The "intelligentsia in power" and the development of civil society : Mazowiecki's Poland
The subject of this thesis is Poland's first post communist government (September 1989 - December 1990), formed under the premiership of the veteran 'Solidarity' activist Tadousz Mazowiecki. The threat of economic collapse and social disorder had prompted the communist authorities to grant the non-communist elements organised around the 'Solidarity' movement limited access to the Polish parliament through partially free elections. In June 1989 the results of these elections delivered a fatal blow to communist rule in Poland. 'Solidarity' triumphed in practically all the parliamentary seats the communist authorities had permitted it to contest. Bereft of ideological confidence and Soviet support, the Polish Communist Party rapidly disintegrated and the task of forming an administration fell to 'Solidarity'. The new government, led by Mazowiecki and dominated by representatives of Solidarity's intellectual elite, was appointed in September 1989. In the months that followed, the new government took advantage of strong social support and popularity to introduce comprehensive political and economic reforms. The reforms introduced irrevocably dismantled the country's disastrous command economy and introduced a radical shift to market based criteria. Although they entailed austerity for much of Polish society, at least initially, the personal prestige of the new elite and its promise of the future benefits which would flow from the introduction of market rules seemed to guarantee an ongoing state of acquiescence. The political reform process was admittedly slower but the removal of the last vestiges of communist power from the system progressed steadily. Within nine months the government had taken great strides in ending communist control of the police and military and was tackling the continued influence of the nomenklatura in the state bureaucracy. State control of the media and previous prohibitions on freedom of conscience, association and speech were ended. Completely free parliamentary and presidential elections were planned for the near future. It seemed that for the duration of the transition Poland would be led to a 'Western style' liberal-democratic polity and free market economy by a government composed of Solidarity's 'best and brightest'. Apolitical intellectuals would patriotically put the higher needs of the nation before the distractions of everyday political competitiveness. They would be supported in this by the Solidarity movement which would also act as a nursery for fledgling political parties. Over time these organisations would gather the societal support and organisational strength necessary to form a conventional, stable political system.