Apocalypse ’89

Jarosław Maślanek
Apocalypse ’89
  • W.A.B.
    Warszawa 2010
    256 pp
    ISBN: 978-83-7414-846-7

Apocalypse’89 is a novel about the downfall of society under capitalism and about the self-destruction of one man in particular. Maślanek leads us from socialism to the free market, showing what sort of man created each system. 
The perversion of socialism hinged upon the creation of a world in which the masses could derive pleasure from powerlessness. The socialist prison offered its residents the possibility of being content with who they were, which was an opportunity to expend the minimum amount of vital energy. "The added value" of socialism was the collective pleasure of acting out a show called "If Only We Had Our Freedom". The appearance of capitalism was an apocalyptic moment of truth, when no one could hide anymore behind the repressive nature of the old regime. In the world of unlimited possibilities, though, the lives of the characters are rapidly transformed from feverish activity into immobility. Everyone starts out in a state of euphoria, only to fall into a catatonic slump some time afterwards. The initial patterns people followed of  "producer, possessor, politician" were not so much careers, and not only fables of freedom, but rather a pathetic imitation that had no real effects in people, nor in accomplishments, nor in society. This is why energy dissipated as it did. Right before our eyes, socialism, which had allowed us to act out our frozen lives, was transformed into capitalism, which demanded that we act dynamically.  The first allowed us to save up our vital energy, the second demanded that we waste it all.
In this book the first theme is interwoven with the second. It presents the story of a man who, through alcohol, self-neglect and cruelty towards those closest to him, has ruined his own life. At the bottom of his self-destructive madness lies the idea of total freedom. The hero is testing to see whether independence is really possible in capitalism. Capitalism is after all a problematic time, when anyone can be anything.
In the final moments of the main character’s ruin, the connection between the two themes becomes clear.  The main character turns out to be a real product of capitalism. Not a businessman, not a “self-made man,” but empty being, hollow existence, a man who, in response to the capitalist mandate to consume has consumed himself and squandered everything.

- Przemysław Czapliński

Jarosław Maślanek (born 1974) is a journalist and the editor of a weekly magazine on the investment market. In 2009 he published his fiction debut, the novel Hashishopiners.