The work concerns Polish communist government policy towards private businesses (prywatna inicjatywa) between 1944 and 1971. The obvious lack of acceptance for private ownership during the period spanning form the end of the Second World War to the beginning of Gierek's time, almost eliminated privately owned firms in Poland. As there was no clear and consistent policy towards ownership, both businessmen and their employees were left confused - subjects of an ongoing ideological conflict between the so-called 'repressive' and 'rational policies. Supporters of the 'repressive' camp claimed that privately owned companies should be eliminated completely, being entirely superfluous to the functioning of the socialist economy, while the 'rationalists' argued that companies were necessary as long as communism was still 'under construction' and would be phased out in due course. Unfortunately, the 'repressive approach dominated most of the period in question; there were only brief moments of weakness called 'green lights for private owners'. These 'green-light' periods almost always appeared during economic and political downtimes and were used by the communists to appease the society and calm manifestations of social disturbance. As a result of these short periods of relative freedom, whatever the motivation, private trade and production (mostly hand-made articles) was never totally eliminated, but was, of course, greatly reduced. This paper discusses the role of privately owned firms in the supply of scarce goods and services, as well as the role of socialist propaganda in creating a negative image for private company owners (prywaciarze).
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.