An unexpected twist of Ideology
Neoliberalism and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc

The statue of Lenin on the main square of Nowa Huta decorated for the 1st of May in 1978. The article addresses the process of neoliberal transformation of the Soviet Bloc in the late 1980-ties and early 1990-ties as analyzed on the example of Poland. Its trajectory generally confirms Loïc Wacquant’s thesis put forward in his article Three steps to a historical anthropology of actually existing neoliberalism, that neoliberalism tends to rather capture and use than simply dismantle and weaken state structures and power mechanisms. The author shows that the transition from planned to market economy in the former Soviet Bloc was also accompanied, backed and made possible by powerful ideological operations that reshaped the construction of subjectivity and made it compatible with the neoliberal capitalism. This proves that two modes of analyzing neoliberalism – structural analysis of state power and focus on governmentality – should be treated as complimentary tools of understanding neoliberal transitions. However, contrary to Wacquant, the author claims that in this respect there is nothing new about neoliberalism as a practice, since capitalism has always required a help from the state to maintain a seemingly autonomous rule of the market.

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Text wrotten by Jan Sowa for the catalog