The classical theory of totalitarianism provided unequalled insights into the nature of the Stalinist system. Its prevailing interpretation, however, proved grossly inadequate to conceptualize and explain the changes of the post-Stalinist period. Because of this, there appeared a strong tendency to reject the “totalitarian model” and, in addition, to discredit it politically, as serving the aims of the cold war. The present article tries to show that emphasizing the importance of changes did not require a wholesale dismantling of the totalitarian theory. On the contrary: the notion of totalitarianism should be preserved as an ideal-typical construct, adequately explaining the militantly ideological phase in the development of communism; the evolution of the system in its postideological phase should be explained as detotalitarization, that is, essentially, as a disintegrating process, paving the way for the so-called collapse of communism. The author analyzes the consecutive stages of the detotalitarization process in post-Stalinist Poland and thus explains the collapse of Polish communism not as a sudden, miraculous change, but as the last link in a long chain of events. He rejects the view that Polish People's Republic was “totalitarian to the end” as having no theoretical justification at all—although still being useful in the political struggle against postcommunist forces.