Fighting the Dragon... The Activities of the Central Antispeculation Commission (1981–1987)
The period 1944/1945–1989 in Polish history is characterised by constant, although varying in intensity, relatively low availability of industrial consumer goods and foodstuffs on the internal market. In result, apart from difficulties in purchasing various products, people tended to buy them out from the shops and resell illegally (under communist law) for higher prices. The authorities considered such activities as aimed against the stability of the state and contended them by introducing legal measures and by especially constituted to this end commissions, encompassing employees of the administration, police functionaries and the so called “representatives of the society” — chiefly industrial workers who, according to the communist doctrine, were the leading social element. Such commissions functioned during the years 1945–1954 and 1957–1959. For the third time this institution (under the name: Central Antispeculation Commission) was called into being on 10 August 1981, in response to the breakdown of the market supplies system with respect to products indispensable for normal living like: foodstuffs, clothing, personal hygiene products, motorcar petrol and household appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, irons, etc.). The forming and functioning of this Commission was accompanied by introduction of severe antispeculation laws, while the government instructed judges to sentence the offenders to highest penalties provided by the new regulations. Inevitably, the main reason for the failure of the Commission was constant lack of goods on the market during the whole of the nineteen–eighties. Hence, in 1987, this body was dissolved.