The thesis that the institutional arrangements, social organizations, and ideology in Eastern Europe are not conducive to the establishment of capitalism, and certainly not the laissez-faire variety, with Poland cited as the illustrative case. Karl Polanyi's necessary conditions for laissez-faire capitalism in the nineteenth century represent the point of origin for the analysis, i.e. the maintenance of rules to permit the self-regulating market. The focus is on the ongoing process of privatization, citing the primary institutional shortcomings. Also examines governmental structural problems in addition to historical institutional developments. Considers the history of property rights from legal and cultural perspectives. The final concern is to offer a different interpretation of markets, i.e. markets as cultural and political institutions.