From Socialism to Capitalism

From Socialism to Capitalism: Eight Essays

János Kornai
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 258
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  • Book Info
    From Socialism to Capitalism
    Book Description:

    Eight essays connected by various common strands. The most important one is the community of the main subject-matter: socialism, capitalism, democracy, change of system. These four expressions cover four phenomena of great and comprehensive importance. Each piece in the book deals with these and the connections between them.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-51-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    János Kornai
  5. 1 The Coherence of the Classical System
    (pp. 1-24)

    My book titled The Socialist System distinguishes three prototypes of the system:

    1. the revolutionary-transitional system (the transition from capitalism to socialism);

    2. the classical system (or classical socialism);

    3. the reform system (or reform socialism).

    These are three prototypes or models. At no time in the history of any specific country has its system corresponded exactly to any of these three prototypes. Even so, these models are not descriptions of ideal, Utopian socialism. They set out to provide abstract generalizations of historical realizations of socialism.

    Even though it may be quite easy to date the duration of a particular...

  6. 2 The Inner Contradictions of Reform Socialism
    (pp. 25-46)

    Let me begin my remarks by defining the concept of “reform socialism.” I ascribe it to the socialist regimes that differ from the Stalinist model of classical socialism in several important respects, made some steps toward liberalization in the political sphere, somewhat decentralized the control of their state-owned sector, and allowed somewhat larger scope for the private sector. These changes warrant the attribute “reform.” At the same time, these countries still maintained the fundamental attributes of a socialist system: the Communist party did not share power with any other political force, the state-owned sector still played a dominant role in...

  7. 3 Market Socialism? Socialist Market Economy?
    (pp. 47-60)

    The linking of the two terms socialism and market has a long history. Various combinations and ties between them have emerged in long-lasting, sometimes rather heated debates, in academic circles and in the political sphere, including “market socialism” and “socialist market economy,” to mention but two frequent ones.[1]

    To look at recent experience in China and Vietnam and the study of their actual history may help in a reconsideration of the relationship between socialism and the market. An opposite approach may also prove useful. Recalling past political and academic debates may contribute to a better understanding of the realities of...

  8. 4 The Speed of Transformation
    (pp. 61-80)

    Ten years have passed since the publication of my book The Road to a Free Economy: Shifting from a Socialist Systemthe Example of Hungary (referred to hereafter as Road.) It was the first book in the international literature to put forward comprehensive proposals for the post-socialist transition. This study sets out to assess the book as the author sees it ten years later.¹ Is this not an extremely self-centered undertaking? An advertisement for an old book nobody is buying these days? No, there are good ethical and intellectual reasons for reassessing the book, and I hope the motivation will...

  9. 5 The Great Transformation of Central Eastern Europe: Success and Disappointment
    (pp. 81-122)

    The study examines eight particular countries that became members of the European Union in 2004: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia.[1] I will take the liberty of referring collectively to these countries as Central Eastern Europe or the Central East European region, although of course that is a bit geographically imprecise. As I am writing these lines, the European Union is undergoing trying times, and it is impossible to guess what the future will bring. Whatever influence the eventual fate of the European Union will exert on the eight countries under consideration is a distinct...

  10. 6 What Does “Change of System” Mean?
    (pp. 123-150)

    The inspiration to write this study came from some of the speeches held at demonstrations in Kossuth tér, in front of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, in the autumn of 2006. According to one speaker, the aim was to be “a new change of system, a fourth republic.” Similar passionate, angry demands were made in other speeches as well.¹

    These words cannot be dismissed offhand, for an important problem is involved. What does the expression “change of system” mean? Has that change occurred, or has it perhaps not even started yet? This study sets out to answer these questions, in...

  11. 7 What Can Countries Embarking on Post-Socialist Transformation Learn from the Experiences So Far?
    (pp. 151-182)

    Table 1 in my book The Socialist System (Kornai 1992b) lists 26 countries where the “socialist system” was operating at the end of the 1980s.¹ The first two columns of the table at the end of this paper, Table 7.1, repeat the relevant data, listing the same 26 then-Communist countries. Columns 3 and 4 show an important difference, however. Three formerly unitary countries (Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia) have since been divided into a number of successor states.

    Several other essential changes have also taken place in the Communist world. When I was writing the book just mentioned, I...

  12. 8 The System Paradigm
    (pp. 183-208)

    This study applies the concept of a paradigm, as the title makes clear. The concept was introduced into the philosophy of science in a classic work by Kuhn ([1962] 1970). Kuhn did not offer a clear definition of the concept, which has itself been the subject of much debate.

    As I was preparing for this study, I reread several works on the philosophy of science, and in particular on the methodology of economics. It was a remarkable reading experience, which warned me, if nothing else, to be cautious. For there is no trace of consensus among authors, even on how...

  13. Previous Publications of the Studies in this Volume
    (pp. 209-210)
  14. References
    (pp. 211-224)
  15. Name Index
    (pp. 225-228)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 229-240)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-241)