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Enduring Socialism

Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation

Harry G. West
Parvathi Raman
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 286
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  • Book Info
    Enduring Socialism
    Book Description:

    Against the historical backdrop of successive socialist and post-socialist claims to have completely remade society, the contributors to this volume explore the complex and often paradoxical continuities between diverse post-socialist presents and their corresponding socialist and pre-socialist pasts. The chapters focus on ways in which: pre-socialist economic, political, and cultural forms in fact endured an era of socialism and have found new life in the post-socialist present, notwithstanding revolutionary socialist claims; continuities with a pre-socialist past have been produced within the historical imaginary of post-socialism; and socialist economic, political, and cultural forms have in fact endured in a purportedly postsocialist era, despite the claims of neo-liberal reformers.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-872-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Poetries of the Past in a Socialist World Remade
    (pp. 1-28)
    Parvathi Raman and Harry G. West

    InThe Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx not only suggested that revolutions tended to ‘conjure up the spirits of the past’, but also expressed his hope and expectation that revolutionary socialism would not do so – not ‘draw its poetry from the past’, but instead, ‘only from the future’. From the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to China and Vietnam, from Ethiopia and Tanzania to Cuba and Nicaragua, the socialist revolutions of the twentieth century purportedly embraced Marx’s mandate, endeavouring through varied means to thoroughly rewrite the landscapes upon which they occurred. Upon coming to power, socialist or...

  5. CHAPTER 1 From Socialist Chiefs to Postsocialist Cadres: Neotraditional Authority in Neoliberal Mozambique
    (pp. 29-43)
    Harry G. West

    In October of 1992, after sixteen years of brutal civil war in Mozambique, the ruling FRELIMO party and RENAMO insurgents signed a peace accord, laying the groundwork for elections to be staged in October of 1994. FRELIMO – the socialist revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, which waged war between 1964 and 1974 to achieve independence from the Portuguese and to establish a postcolonial state–had acceded to IMF-sponsored structural adjustment in 1987, renounced its commitment to Marxism-Leninism in 1989, legalized opposition political parties in 1990, and redrafted the constitution to protect rights of religious and political expression in 1991....

  6. CHAPTER 2 ‘For Eating, It’s Guangzhou’: Regional Culinary Traditions and Chinese Socialism
    (pp. 44-76)
    Jakob A. Klein

    It is standard practice among Western observers to divide mainland China’s recent history into three periods: ‘presocialist’ (or ‘pre-communist’, ‘pre-revolutionary’, sometimes ‘traditional’), ‘revolutionary’ (or ‘Maoist’) and ‘reform’ (or ‘post-Mao’, increasingly ‘postsocialist’). This is, in part, a convenient way of making complex historical processes more manageable by classifying them with the help of a limited number of key events – the communist victory of 1949, the announcement of economic reforms in 1978, and so forth. It is not easy to avoid this periodization when writing about contemporary Chinese society. Nor is it always desirable to do so; it would be absurd to...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Searching for the Time of Beautiful Madness: Of Ruins and Revolution in Post-Sandinista Nicaragua
    (pp. 77-102)
    Dennis Rodgers

    I first travelled to Nicaragua in July 1996, as an anthropology graduate student searching for what the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has evocatively described as ‘the time of beautiful madness’(‘el tiempo de hermosa locura ’).¹ The celebrated Sandinista revolution that his expression refers to held sway in Nicaragua between 1979 and 1990, and had been an important contributing factor to the development of my political consciousness as a teenager. Although I was six years too late to experience at firsthand what seemed from afar to have been an exceptional moment of social effervescence and experimentation, unlike the ‘revolutionary widows’...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Object of Morality: Rethinking Informal Networks in Central Europe
    (pp. 103-124)
    Nicolette Makovicky

    Walking through the small mountain village of špania Dolina, Central Slovakia, on warm summer days, I often found elderly lace makers sitting on their verandas or in their front gardens on low stools, their pillows placed in front of them. As we chatted, I could see how they kept a sharp eye out for all movements – other villagers walking to and from the village store, hikers on their way up the mountain, the cars of cottagers maneuvering their way through the narrow streets – and often had juicy gossip to share about those who happened to come by. Their position, however,...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Vietnamese Narratives of Tradition, Exchange and Friendship in the Worlds of the Global Socialist Ecumene
    (pp. 125-147)
    Susan Bayly

    Building on recent fieldwork in Vietnam and official accounts of the country’s move to ‘ market socialism’, this chapter explores the ways in which Vietnamese officials, technical specialists and other socialist moderns reflect on the country’s longstanding participation in the life of what I am calling the international socialist ecumene. My key concern is with both official and personal understandings of that ecumene’s distinctive forms of long-distance exchange and ‘friendship’.

    In the case of Vietnam, these relations and interactions have involved the large-scale provision of aid and development expertise to a wide variety of labour-and skill-hungry countries both before and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Waste under Socialism and After: A Case Study from Almaty
    (pp. 148-168)
    Catherine Alexander

    InRussian Talk,Nancy Ries (1997) describes the threnody that typified discourse during the period of perestroika in Russia: tales of collapse and decay, of quotidian heroic exploits in the face of overwhelming odds, and the mythic notes that gave structure to accounts. Placed in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, this chapter also considers disintegration but moves things both forwards and backwards from the period of perestroika.¹ After briefly discussing the socialist urban aesthetic, which is still used as the ideal other against which current decay is implicitly or explicitly positioned, I go on to examine narratives of degeneration...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Corruption and the One-party State in Tanzania: The View from Dar es Salaam, 1964–2000
    (pp. 169-189)
    John R. Campbell

    Opinions on the socialist experiment in Tanzania diverge sharply between those who celebrated the politics and policies ofujamaa(‘socialism’) , and its critics. In this paper I am interested in a neglected aspect of the political processes of the period, namely the role played by bureaucratic ‘corruption’ under socialism and the one-party state. With few exceptions, commentators on Tanzania have had little to say about corruption until the mid-1990s, when donor pressure to implement neoliberal reforms converged with popular perceptions to make corruption a central electoral issue (Heilman and Ndumbaro 2002). In fact, during the 1995 national elections corruption became...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Media and the Limits of Cynicism in Postsocialist China
    (pp. 190-213)
    Kevin Latham

    In socialist China, media and communications have always been closely related to social change. The Maoist project aimed to transform the country and its people in order to create a communist utopia out of the weary, divided and war-stricken country that the Chinese Communist party (CCP) claimed victory over in 1949. This project and this transformation were to be realized in no small part through communicative processes (see for example Chu 1979; Blecher 1983; Cell 1983). The media – in those days principally radio, newspapers, posters, street banners, political meetings and lectures – played a crucial role in the implementation of mass...

  13. CHAPTER 9 The Rooted Anthropologies of East-Central Europe
    (pp. 214-230)
    Chris Hann

    A good deal of the anthropological literature on postsocialist societies has been concerned with highlighting continuity in change, in other words with modifying the notion of sharp break or rupture that is implicit in the notion of postsocialism. For example, reliance upon kinship networks and traditional patterns of informal cooperation can help people to cope with the problems created by the collapse of socialist rural institutions (Ventsel 2005; see also Hann et al. 2003, Hann 2005). Of course even the most traditional features of the ‘moral economy’ (Thompson 1991) may also undergo changes as the institutional environment evolves. The disintegration...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Historical Analogies and the Commune: The Case of Putin/Stolypin
    (pp. 231-249)
    Caroline Humphrey

    The theme of ‘enduring socialism’ asks us to consider the equivocal relation of socialist thought to the past. This chapter will address the representational practices through which continuities and transformations of rural Russia are being conceived. I suggest that there are strains of socialist thought abroad in Russia that take their inspiration from pre revolutionary Russian social forms. And I shall argue that an important rhetorical nexus in which we can discover this undertow of inveterate socialism is historical analogy. In fact, as a popular way of thinking about history, analogy has swamped and taken over from conventional Marxism – to...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Signifying Something: Che Guevara and Neoliberal Alienation in London
    (pp. 250-270)
    Parvathi Raman

    Matilde Zimmermann has suggested that any discussion on Che Guevara is really a discussion on the Cuban revolution (Zimmermann 1999). But such discussions can also be seen as an ongoing debate on the nature of socialism in general at certain moments over the last fifty years. The things that Che and his image have come to represent, to both left and right, reveal wider thoughts on the current thinking, and representation, of socialism. Taken from this perspective, the man and his myth can be used as a starting point from which to explore aspects of the idea of socialism under...

  16. Index
    (pp. 271-278)