Front Page Titles (by Subject) Polish State Bureaucracy - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3
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Polish State Bureaucracy - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Polish State Bureaucracy
“On Some Contradictions of Socialist Society: The Case of Poland.” Soviet Studies 31(April 1979): 167–187.
As a Marxist living in Eastern Europe, Prof. Staniszkis has had a lifetime in which to observe the institutionalized inanities of life in a socialized society. In an unusually frank essay written in Warsaw for the University of Glasgow, this Polish intellectual presents a minute analysis of the self-defeating practices which characterize the often halting operations of her country's social, political, and economic system.
At the root of Poland's contradictory way of life, Prof. Staniszkis finds a bureaucracy which lacks legitimacy in the Weberian sense of the term. Instead of following disinterested rules and procedures by which it might acquire the sanction of the population, Polish bureacracy operates largely through charisma, constantly violating announced policy to take account of “exceptional cases.”
At the top of the administrative pyramid, the ruling group has arrogated to itself a secular infallibility, so that each new program is presented as “objectively true” and linked with “objective social laws.” Armed with this dogmatism, the ruling group has eliminated all self-regulatory mechanisms for testing its policies (such as the free market or other feedback loops). In cases where mistakes occur, they are often not corrected, since admission of error would compromise the omniscience of the bureaucracy and of the Communist party. Thus, official emphasis on the development of the production goods sector stubbornly persists even when a large percentage of Polish industrial equipment lays idle. The ever-expanding structure of enforced miscalculations has become an “artificial reality” to which everyone must pay lip service.
As a result of a system based partly on illusion, crisis has become a recurrent motif of life in Poland. Economic or political up-heavals induce the intransigent leadership and bureaucracy to “make reforms.” However, these are usually palliatives (such as clemency for protest leaders), which allow “artificial reality” to regain its absurd sway over the country.
Since the Polish state requires tangible signs of allegeance to a manifestly irrational system, an all-perfading hypocrisy saps the spiritual vitality of the nation. Among the middle class in this “classless” society”, superior language abilities have spawned a curious game. A manager or scientist may mouth the official, ritualized rhetoric, but with a certain debonnair irony which tells those in-the-know that he does not take these clichés seriously. This practice fosters the illusion of preserving one's personal integrity, but at the cost of depriving political and individual expression of the force of sincerity. The strange inarticulate quality of protest in Poland reveals the impotence of irony as a tool for achieving political reform.
Workers also recognize the emptiness of the official political vocabulary, but they lack the linguistic skill for the subtleties of irony. As a result, they often vent their frustrations by gratuitous acts of violence against the symbols and representatives of power. Despising the only political language they know, striking workers present mostly economic demands, which skirt the real problems of the working class.
Professor Staniszki's clumsily maintained status quo “leads not only to waste of the human and ecomonic potential of the system, but also to deep inner corruption and the corrosion of...ideology and the regime's legitimacy.” “My prognosis for the future,” she writes, “is not very optimistic.”