“Here a prosecutor fraternizes with a smuggler.” Complicated Links Between the Mountains, Economics and Ideology


The conclusion of the state commissioned report addressed to Zakopane in 1972 was: “in Zakopane, the state is in a position worse than in capitalism. It has been reduced to the role of not even a night-watchman, but that of an unpaid street-sweeper”. This peculiar “autonomy” of the Podhale Region was affected by historical, social, cultural and geographical conditions that are commonly mentioned, though on the other hand, the state was also an important actor and nowise ambiguous. The tendency to take up strict supervision of sectors decisive for the image and importance of Zakopane and the Tatra region—tourism and sport—existed at the central level from the mid-1950s to the 1980s, but at the regional level, these policies encountered strong resistance. The reason was an emergence of specific social networks linking the private sector with the structures of local government, state and party, or even with the police and judicial departments, however, only thanks to them was it possible—due to the organizational inefficiency of the state—to fulfil a societal need for the modernization of leisure and related services, which grew suddenly after 1956. Only in the first half of the 1970s was the socialist state able to provide a relatively rational program thanks to being an influential factor in modernization, mostly due to maintaining control of material resources. However, in the period of disintegration of the system, the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s, the state’s program was no longer a barrier or alternative for the social actors.