(Why) Did Socialism Fail in Poland?

(Why) Did Socialism Fail in Poland?

Prof. Brian Porter-Szűcs 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 at 6:00PM

Lecture on line via ZOOM Registration required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the lecture.

ABOUT THE LECTURE: Many economists in Poland, after spending decades trying to build socialism, ended up embracing neoliberalism in the 1980s and 1990s. This seemingly radical ideological conversion was based on the growing conviction that the system could not be reformed.  This, however, begs the question: what did they think they were trying to accomplish in the first place, and what does this tell us about the historical success or failure of socialism more broadly?  At a time when an increasing number of young people are rediscovering socialism, the Soviet Bloc countries are either held up as proof that socialism is impossible, or dismissed as aberrations that were never really socialist to begin with.  To figure out which is correct, we need to determine what sort of society and economy they thought they were building, what was or was not distinctly socialist about those goals, and why so many came to agree that these objectives could not be met. 

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Brian Porter-Szűcs is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of History at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He is the author of Poland and the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom (Wiley Blackwell, 2014), Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland (Oxford University Press, 2010), and When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in 19th Century Poland (Oxford University Press, 2000), which was translated into Polish in 2011. Together with Bruce Berglund, he co-edited Christianity and Modernity in East-Central Europe (Central European University Press, 2010). His most recent book will appear in Polish in early 2021: Całkiem zwyczajny kraj: Historia Polski bez martyrologii (Wydawnictwo Filtr).  Porter-Szűcs has been a professor at the University of Michigan since 1994, teaching classes on economic history, the intellectual history of capitalism and socialism, the history of Roman Catholicism, and the history of Poland.