Logically one should have expected that the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites would liberate ideas of democratic control of our economic destiny from the onus of association with the milita- rized despotism that the Soviets called “really existing socialism.” In fact the opposite has happened. Ideas of socialism even in its broadest sense of public control of economic activity have never been in such disrepute.
Why have things turned out like this? There are numerous recent developments that might con- tribute to an answer, both direct and indirect. By the direct discrediting of socialism and socialistic policies I have in mind two possible elements— naive or deliberate misrepresentation of the So- viet debacle by promoters of private business, and self-defeating misunderstanding by socialists and social democrats themselves of the commu- nist system and the alternatives to it. The indirect factors range from the globalization of econom- ics and social change in the advanced countries to the inner dessication of most social democratic movements and what I might call the 1968 effect on the politics of the left.
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