Social Scientist. v 24, no. 272-74 (Jan-Mar 1996) p. 112.


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112 SOCIAL SCIENTIST

throughout the work. In an interview given by Kornaij in May 1993, his opinion was that socialism failed because it .ttied to surpass capitalism: 'The kind of socialism which finally materialised became distorted and failed because it tried to avoid three fundamental social institutions: pluralist democracy, private ownership, and the market'.3

In the Hungarian foreword it becomes obvious that the author offers purely 'conceptual models' and that the true experiences 6f various countries are mentioned in order to 'provide illustrations'.4 These 'models', however, are not too convincing in the light of recent research, as we shall see. Sterile 'models' stripped of concrete historical foundations are conceptual constructions which draw mainly 'tried' commonplaces and interpret them using quite varied theoretical and methodological sources.

Janos Kornai defines his theoretical-method as eclectic in the foreword of the English version, in that he experiments with the 'synthesis' of representatives of radically differing scientific and contemplative trends such as Marx, Schumpeter, Keynes, and Hayek. Yet concerning historiographic methodology, Kornai has no such defined 'sources'. His usage of quotes from various historiographic works, with which he tries to replace the actual historiographic approach, is often arbitrary and fortuitous.

From a historical perspective, however, the most basic methodological deficiency of Kornai's work is not of a technical nature, but rather the fact that he does not view the world economy as a structured and unified whole in which the ruling structure factors were formed on a historical basis (for example, the structure of relations connecting countries of the centrum, semi-periphery and periphery, the structure of the division of labour, relations between exclusion and exploitation, unequal trade and political power relations, etc.). As a result, historical regions which 'lend colour' to the development of the world disappear and historical development is depicted as a colourless process with no alternatives.5 Great ideologies descend from the heights of 'the Concept' to materialise on earth. The realm of the 'good' and the 'bad' appeal1 as a battle of the two basic principles in the work: economic reality, pure market logic on the one hand, .and irrational state exploitation on the other. History has been transformed into a teleological process once again. The myth of an attainable capitalist paradise, a 'democratic market economy' steps in the place of the 'realisation' of world socialism, and aside of the elimination of socialism practically nothing stands in its way.

Kornai makes an effort to place the concept of the book's central category, Socialism, in the context of the history of theory, which in our anti-theoretical world of 'micro-economies', seems fluke 'pre-modern'. In this aspect the work is not a fashionable one. On the other hand, the essence of the work is determined by the fact that the



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