Social Scientist. v 29, no. 336-337 (May-June 2001) p. 63.


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REVIEW ARTICLE / VIJAY PRASHAD*

Collective Mastery in Kerala

T. M. Thomas Isaac (with Richard W. Franke), Local Democracy and Development, People's Campaign for Decentralized Planning in Kerala, New Delhi: LeftWord Books, pp. 353

The arc of triumph for the global Right-wing was the disintegration of the USSR and the concomitant loss of nerve of a section of the international communist movement. On the heels of 1991 emerged such poorly argued accounts as Frances Fukuyama's The End of History in which the author took one of Hegel's ideas in order to proclaim the victory of capitalism.1 Soon, magazines such as The Economist began to retail periodical articles on what they saw as the collapse of the socialist agenda in states such as Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. West Bengal also earned the scorn of the international bourgeois press, which tried its level best to point out what it saw as Marxism's compromises with the inexorable reach of capitalism's logic.2 Eventually, we are told all these states will conform to the logic of the free market as they find their economic systems relegated to the dustbin of history. The free market will determine the lives of isolated individuals, even as issues of justice will be closely planned and monitored by the benevolence of the US and its confreres. The triumphialism of 1991 adopts a false opposition (plan/market) to make its point. Socialist countries rely upon the plan to determine their economic relations, we are told, while capitalist countries rely upon the free market for the same purpose. In the late 1960s, Paul Sweezy and Charles Bettelheim conducted a fruitful dialogue that demonstrated the error in using this opposition to determine the character of the socialist experiment. Socialist states do plan the overall direction of the economy, but they relied and still

' Associate Professor & Director, International Studies Programme, Trinity College, Hartford, JSA

Social Scientist, Vol. 29, Nos. 5 - 6, May-June 2001



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