Opposing neoliberalism? Poland's renewed populism and post-communist transition

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Abstract

This article interrogates the social impact of neoliberalisation and the counter-hegemonic forces this has engendered by exploring Poland's recent populist turn. It rejects methodologically nationalist attempts to isolate events in Poland from wider processes of structural change and the accompanying realignment within the global capitalist economy, analyzing the implications of a number of alternative and counter-hegemonic projects to the neoliberal mainstream. The article considers whether the populist turn signals a decisive rejection of neoliberalism, despite the absence of a coherent left alternative and the fact that the anti-neoliberal alternative has come from the nationalist right, dominated by politically regressive conservative social forces who have aimed to arrest welfare cuts and end the austerity associated with Poland's seemingly endless forms of reform. While no clear anti-neoliberal strategy exists, pragmatic responses have occurred but within the structurally delimited environs of state intervention. Utilising a Gramscian critical political economy the article shows how populist counter-hegemonic forces have been co-opted and are best understood in terms of the relationship to specific conjunctural projects for the reorientation of the reproduction of capitalist social relations. The conclusion reflects on the potential for a progressive politics of a renewed Polish left to emerge. © 2012 Southseries Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-381
Number of pages22
JournalThird World Quarterly
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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