You know, despite what you've seen in the movies, being a political activist, no less a communist activist, isn't all fun and games. What they are is an infinitely endless series of meetings. Here we have a bunch of managers and workers who run this particular factory discuss how they can improve their production and the quality of their product, both of which have been abysmal. They discuss this in front of Kieslowski's traditional fly-on-the-wall-documentary style camera. Each problem is traced back to its origin which inevitably involves an incredibly wrongheaded bureaucratic decision and subsequent directive with about as much touch with reality as Lewis Carol. At one point one worker refuses to include items built by another factory to inflate their quota because it would be dishonest. The big manager points out that the quotas are deliberately set too high and that it's expected that they would use outside products in their quota fulfillment. Incredible. Do the pipes still need to be insulated or are they merely inadequately lagged? It was a real, and ultimately insoluble problem of socialism. What should be a bottom up social system becomes a top down farce.
Several positive things can be distilled from this 1. As bad as things get at the factory everyone still has a job and is paid. (When management fails in capitalism, the managers get golden parachutes and the workers get 32 weeks of unemployment insurance.) 2. The factories really were self managing enterprises. It was as if the engine was working but the gears were slipping. 3. People really are sincere and trying to make the thing work, but what an absolute moralist might consider corruption, in socialism would be called realism by the older comrade who merely shrugs his shoulders and acknowledges that this is just the way things work. Or don't work. Still they're not totally cynical. They are going to meetings in the hope of getting everything right, only what should be a consciousness raising experience is ultimately deeply demoralizing. Multiply this by any number of times and you'll have the answer to why Communism fell.
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