Social Scientist. v 3, no. 29 (Dec 1974) p. 38.


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An Answer to the Theory of Convergence

THE term ^convergence^ is borrowed from natural science. In biology it means the acquisiton or development of similar characters by different groups of organisms due to similarity inhabits or environment. By analogy a number of bourgeois economists and sociologists apply the idea of convergence to the capitalist and socialist systems, which are supposed to be gradually losing their former contradictory character and acquiring certain common features that make them increasingly resemble each other.

Convergence theory bears a certain resemblance to other bourgeois conceptions, notably, Walt Rostow's teaching on the stages of economic development and the "single industrial society" theory which has gained acceptance in the West. But they are not identical. Admittedly, the advocates of all these theories strive to detect similarities between the socialist and capitalist economies and to relate them to one and the same ^stage' (in the case of Rostow—to the "movement towards maturity55 stage) or to one and the same "industrial system". Nevertheless the convergence theory should not be confused with the general thesis that certain similarities exist between the socialist and capitalist systems. While many bourgeois economists maintain that such similarities do exist, by no means may all of them be called adherents of the convergence idea. Alien G Gruchy, the American economist, for example, says that "although economic systems reveal many special features there are many common trends in their development5''. Yet he sees no convergence of the two systems and believes that "there is now no prospect of any ultimate convergence between economic systems with these basically contradictory ideologies.53 Three Propositions

There are three main propositions which distinguish the convergence theory. One is the proposed existence of a growing similarity between the two economic systems, with a particular accent on its growth. If there were similarities while the fundamental differences persisted there could be no question of any convergence. No biologist will speak of convergence in regard to the lion and the sheep just because both are mammals. Thus the convergence theory emphasizes not any static similarity but the pro-, gressive accumulation of common features.



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