Social Scientist. v 20, no. 235 (Dec 1992) p. 19.

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Reflections on the Experience of the Last Decade of Existence of Soviet and East European Socialism

The purpose of this paper is to review the experiences of the last decade of the existence of Soviet and East European socialism, that is, for Eastern Europe upto 1989 and for the Soviet Union, upto 1991 beginning in both cases from 1980. The year 1980 is extremely important because Solidarity in Poland led its struggle in this year to a height unattained before, questions were asked on the legitimacy of the nature of economic management and the political structure although socialism was not challenged at this time. In Hungary also similar issues started to come in milder form from the same period after the euphoria for the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) had died down. Then the lightning of Novosibirsk struck in 1983 which not only shook the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe for that matter but the entire world. Within a span of another three years, two other debates became important centre of theoretical attraction. In between came the 27th Party Congress of CPSU and then a year later the most significant meeting of the Plenum of the CC on 25th June 1987 when the decisions of perestroika were announced and the whole programme was launched. A critical analysis of perestroika has been attempted to understand whether the disintegration of socialism in the Soviet Union could be traced to its failure alone. A brief critical analysis of the situation with reforms in Poland and Hungary has beeii attempted as well to understand whether it is possible to identify any powerful force not discernible at the phenomenal level but active at the substructure of the society which perhaps made a significant contribution to the decline and fall of socialism in Europe.


As is well-known, criticisms in the west regarding the Soviet and East European socialist economies used to almost centre around weak and inefficient market mechanism, lukewarm response to the economic necessity of sweeping reforms of the price structure and its rationale of formation, command nature of management and planning, overvalued

Formerly Professor of Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics

Social Scientist, Vol. 20, No. 12, December 1992

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