Market Socialism in the East

Market Socialism in the East

As far back as the “New Economic Policy” initiated by Lenin in the early 1920s to set the war-torn Soviet economy back on its feet, the idea of combining markets with socialist forms of property ownership has had considerable appeal for Communist party (CP) leaders. Indeed, in most of the many historical instances in which a centralized CP-dominated system encountered serious economic problems, reforms were undertaken to reduce the degree of centralization and increase the scope of markets. These reforms rarely went so far as to create a system that could be called “market socialism” —though the experiences of Yugoslavia since the early 1950s, Hungary since the late 1960s, and China more recently do warrant that label. In these latter cases, of course, the CP maintained authoritarian political control and a substantial degree of bureaucratic economic control as well—so these examples were still a far cry from the kind of market socialism proposed by advocates of a democratic “third

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