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The Political Economy of State-Society Relations in Hungary and Poland: From Communism to the European Union
The Political Economy of State-Society Relations in Hungary and Poland: From Communism to the European Union
By Anna Seleny
Cambridge University Press, 2006, 294 pp
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The analytic framework is unnecessarily cluttered, and the initial phrasing could have used a simple, direct hand, but the main thrust of this valuable study adds considerably to an understanding of what, in the biography of Hungarian and Polish socialism, accounts for the strikingly different way state and society met, tangled, and evolved in the two countries, and with what implications for the new era. For Seleny, the different paths to 1989 (let alone to European Union membership) are long, tracing back in Hungary to the New Economic Mechanism of the 1950s and in Poland to 1956. For it was then that the Hungarians began fashioning a worker-regime modus vivendi underpinned by a disguised, incremental but de facto reform of the system driven by elites ready to work outside orthodox pieties. Meanwhile, the Polish elites, unready for the same, fashioned standards and hopes that they were incapable of achieving, leaving the field to aggrieved intellectuals, the church, and, eventually, labor, who came together around the Solidarity movement, producing the confrontational politics of the country's past two decades.