The book constitutes a sociological analysis of the origins of the Polish-German antagonism in the nineteenth and twentieth century and of the process of overcoming it. The author discusses the role played by the religious and political leaders as well as intellectuals of both nations and presents survey research data showing the marked improvement in mutual relations.
After a long history of alternating relations, things between Poland and Germany were as bad as never before after World War II. The Nazi attack on Poland in 1939 and the atrocities committed during the occupation resulted in intense Polish hostility towards Germany. On the German side, the loss of territories created a feeling of harm and contributed to deepen anti-Polish stereotypes. The process of reconciliation emanated from initiatives taken by the Christian churches and courageous individuals on both sides, but the crucial step was taken by Chancellor Willy Brandt and the Polish communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka, who in 1970 worked out a comprehensive agreement for normalizing relations between Poland and the Federal Republic. Following the collapse of communist regimes and unification of Germany mutual relations took the form of co-operation and partnership within the structures of democratic Europe. Today, both sides are about to overcome former stereotypes. While some differences of interests still remain, the overall picture of the current relations between Germany and Poland is one proof that even deepest wounds of the past do not prevent nations from overcoming antagonism and from building friendly relations.
The authos deal with comparative aspects of contemporary authoritarianism. Authoritarian tendencies have appeared in several "old democracies" but their main successes take place in several states which departed from dictatorial regimes recently. The book contains case-studies of contemporary Hungarian, Kenyan, Polish, Russian and Turkish regimes.
Political scientists discussed the role of the smaller states in several studies published in the 1960s and 70s. They focused on policy choices a small power faced when joining multinational alliances and within them. Recently, attention has focused on how many a small powers can influence political developments both within the alliances they belong to and outside them. Poland's involvement in the negotiated solution of the Ukrainian political crisis of 2004 shows that a smaller power can use its assets to influence events. When the political scene in Ukraine polarized between two camps (respectively represented by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych and the opposition leader Victor Yushchenko) Russia tried to influence the outcome by giving support to Yanukovych. The United States and the European Union remained neutral in the crisis, mostly due to their unwillingness to damage their relations with Russia. When the run-off election had been rigged and Yushchenko's supporters began street protests, Polish public opinion solidly sided with the Ukrainian opposition. Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski, in a series of visits to Kiev, helped both sides of the Ukrainian crisis to reach a negotiated compromise. The run-off results were declared void by the Supreme Court and in the repeated vote Yushchenko won the presidency. Poland was able to help her neighbour to chose a democratic solution to the crisis and continues to support Ukraine's efforts to join the European Union. In the long run such policy serves Poland's interests but its immediate consequence has been a deterioration in Polish-Russian relations.
The threat of new forms of authoritarian government in Central & Eastern Europe is discussed in relation to means of achieving a more just & long-lasting democracy. Although the collapse of communism inspired tremendous hope regarding the future of democracy, a number of conditions have created doubts about democracy & concerns regarding the potential for noncommunist, authoritarian seizure of power. These conditions include the inefficiency of current democratic structures, economic recession & unemployment, the revival of nationalist & ethnic movement, & conflicts of values between freedom of expression advocates & moral & religious groups seeking state enforcement of moral/religious standards. Despite these dangers, it is concluded that democratic regimes can be stabilized & made more efficient through a variety of means: more equitable distribution of the economic burdens resulting from political/edconomic restructuring; creation of jobs by the state; a social accord policy based on negotiation between the government, special interest groups, trade unions, & peasant organizations; greater cooperation between Left groups/parties; & parliamentary democracy based on moderate representation, rather than presidentialism. T. Sevier
The author thinks that the consensus that used to exist in Poland regarding its membership in the European Union (EU) no longer exists after the parliamentary elections in Sept 2001. Two anti-European parties entered the parliament: the radical-populist Self-defense & the League of Polish Families, representing the fundamentalist Catholic Right. The author claims that the opponents of the Polish integration into the EU are too weak in the parliament to stop this process. Though Poland enjoys the support of the states such as Germany, France, & GB the outcome of the Polish referendum on joining the EU, scheduled for the end of 2003, is far from certain. The reason for this is an intensified political campaign of the parliamentary parties opposed to Poland's EU membership & the unfavorable economic situation. The author concludes that the success of the referendum to a large extent depends on the efficiency of the government's economic policy in the first two years of its term. 3 References. Adapted from the source document.
The burden of history -- The Oder-Neisse controversy -- The seeds of reconciliation -- Partnership in democratic Europe -- Building the social neighborhood -- The change of heart : how do neighbors see each other? -- Perspectives of Polish-German relations -- Conclusion
Part of the package of the democratic changes accepted at the Polish Round Table in 1989 was the reintroduction of the presidency, abolished in 1952 by the Constitution of the communist era. Since then, Poland has had three presidents & four presidential elections. General Wojciech Jaruzelski ran unopposed in the only presidential elections by the National Assembly in July 1989. In 1990, the Constitution was amended to introduce presidential election by universal ballot. "Solidarity" leader Lech Walesa was elected for a five-year period (1990-1995). In 1995 he lost the elections to the then leader of the Alliance of Democratic Left Aleksander Kwasniewski, who in 2000 successfully ran for reelection. During this period, the position of the President of the Republic evolved. The new Constitution of 1997 defines the system of the Polish Republic as a parliamentary-cabinet one but with broad prerogatives of the president. The actual position of the president depends not only on the norms of law but also on the political support he has in the society & on his relations with parliamentary parties. The Polish experience of the last ten years shows the possibility of a relatively strong presidency without the presidential control of the executive branch of government. It also argues against both extremes: presidentialism (the president being the chief executive or controlling the prime minister) & a weak, symbolic presidency. 8 References. Adapted from the source document.
Political scientists discussed the role of the smaller states in several studies published in the 1960s and 70s. They focused on policy choices a small power faced when joining multinational alliances and within them. Recently, attention has focused on how many a small powers can influence political developments both within the alliances they belong to and outside them. Poland’s involvement in the negotiated solution of the Ukrainian political crisis of 2004 shows that a smaller power can use its assets to influence events. When the political scene in Ukraine polarized between two camps (respectively represented by Prime Minister Victor Yanukovych and the opposition leader Victor Yushchenko) Russia tried to influence the outcome by giving support to Yanukovych. The United States and the European Union remained neutral in the crisis, mostly due to their unwillingness to damage their relations with Russia. When the run-off election had been rigged and Yushchenko’s supporters began street protests, Polish public opinion solidly sided with the Ukrainian opposition. Poland’s President Aleksander Kwasniewski, in a series of visits to Kiev, helped both sides of the Ukrainian crisis to reach a negotiated compromise. The run-off results were declared void by the Supreme Court and in the repeated vote Yushchenko won the presidency. Poland was able to help her neighbour to chose a democratic solution to the crisis and continues to support Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union. In the long run such policy serves Poland’s interests but its immediate consequence has been a deterioration in Polish-Russian relations.
The interrelation between the development of political institutions & the processes of scientific-technical revolution is 2-fold. Political preconditions for the rapid change in science & technology must exist, & the processes of rapid scientific & technical change produce important consequences in political life. Economically, Poland has reached the threshold of scientific-technical revolution; whether the country will be able to achieve the stage of high technological development in a reasonably short time depends on the political conditions. 3 changes in the functioning of political institutions are directly related to the processes of scientific-technical revolution: (1) changes in all levels of management, (2) changes in flow of information, & (3) development of automatic structures of decision-making. Other changes in political institutions influence the process of scientific change indirectly. In this context 2 variants of future developments are discussed: rationalized centralism & democratic self-government. Favored is a strategy of combining the strong elements of both. The consequences of the scientific-technological revolution for the political institutions is discussed. 5 major factors could be hypothetically identified: (A) changes in class structure & social stratification, particularly in the direction of increased roles for professionals & an increased educational level for the Wc; (B) further political integration of the nation; (C) changes in the culture of work, increase of social discipline, & higher assessment of collective & individual efficacy of the Poles; (D) achievement of a higher standard of living & leveling of economic inequalities; & (E) increase of the amount of leisure time. All these changes will result in a better & more harmonious society, which in turn makes it both necessary & possible to increase the scope of democratic self-management. Potential restraints to this process may result from the inertia of old political institutions &/or from technocratic tendencies. Greater self-management will mean more direct democracy, better representation, further democratization of the political authorities, & deepening of the leading role of the Communist party. Modified HA.
There are 2 ways in which sociology can be useful for the study of international relations: as a theory, & as a set of research concepts & methods. The potential uses of sociological theory are directly related to the fact that in the study of international relations states are treated as a basic units of observation & their behavior towards each other constitutes the central analytical variable. The field of international relations has expanded in the last 2 decades; the central concept around which the whole structure has come to revolve is the foreign policy of sovereign states. The following propositions are offered: (1) Foreign policy formulation & execution depend on domestic conditions, external constraints, the perceptions of policy makers, influential circles, & the public regarding the 1st 2 items, & the foreign policies of other nations. (2) Foreign policy execution results in changes in the foreign policy environment, domestic feedback of foreign policy, & modifications or strengthening of previous perceptions. It is particularly from the point of view of Marxist sociological theory (foreign policy is determined by domestic policy), that the importance of the sociological approach to the study of international relations can be fully grasped. There are 4 areas in which the Marxist hypothesis needs to be elaborated. (I) The need to define the extent to which domestic SE structure determines foreign policy, & identification of other factors which may restrict or modify its impact. (II) Attention should be paid to lasting features of national life, especially national character. (III) The microfactors of foreign policy formulation & execution must be considered in their relationship to macrofactors. (IV) Ideological & psychological conditions must be accounted for, both insofar as their relationship with the SE structure can be demonstrated & to the extent to which they can be considered as autonomous forces in international relations. Thus, sociological theories can contribute to the study of international relations both directly & indirectly. One aspect of contemporary sociological research--comparative cross-national research--has prepared the ground for comparative studies of the sociological aspects of international relations. A. Leon.