Institutionalisation and Political Change in Poland

  • Paul G. Lewis
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


State power, its accumulation and exercise, has long been seen as one of the strengths of the communist political system. When Western political scientists were busily ‘rediscovering politics’ in the 1960s they expressed considerable respect for communist leaders and the systems they had created. It may be, wrote Paige, ‘that we shall have to credit the rediscovery of politics to the totalitarians such as Lenin in Russia, Mao in China, and Kim Ilsong in North Korea’.1 Huntington equally expressed admiration for the effectiveness of the political systems that such leaders had constructed: ‘the one thing communist governments can do is govern; they do provide effective authority. Their ideology furnishes a basis of legitimacy, and their party organisation provides the institutional mechanism for mobilizing support and executing policy.’2 It is strange that, precisely as American analysts were being impressed by communist political achievements, the durability and effectiveness of the communist machine was being sharply questioned by those engaged in running it. Indeed, with benefit of hindsight, Cocks wrote: The 1960s had a sobering, if not shattering effect on minds and models in Communist studies… Interest in social engineering and system change subsided as ruling Communist elites struggled anxiously to preserve existing structures and methods.


Central Committee Political Development Political Order Party Leadership Socialist Society 
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© St Antony’s College, Oxford 1984

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  • Paul G. Lewis

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