Socialist System The Political Economy of Communism

ISBN-10: 0691003939

ISBN-13: 9780691003931

Edition: 1992

Authors: J�nos Kornai

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To understand the dramatic collapse of the socialist order and the current turmoil in the formerly communist world, this comprehensive work examines the most important common properties of all socialist societies. JNBnos Kornai brings a life-long study of the problems of the socialist system to his explanation of why inherent attributes of socialism inevitably produced in-efficiency. In his past work he has focused on the economic sphere, maintaining consistently that the weak economic performance of socialist countries resulted from the system itself, not from the personalities of top leaders or mistakes made by leading organizations and planners. This book synthesizes themes from his earlier investigations, while broadening the discussion to include the role of the political power structure and of communist ideology. Kornai distinguishes between two types, or historical phases, of socialism. The "classical socialism" of Stalin, Mao, and their followers is totalitarian and brutally repressive, but its components fit together and make up a coherent edifice. Associated with names like Tito, KNBdar, Deng-Xiaoping, and Gorbachev, "reform socialism" relaxes repression, but brings about a sharpening of inner contradictions and the eventual dissolution of the system. Kornai examines the classical system in the first half of the book, and moves on to explore the complex process of reform in the second half. The Socialist System is addressed to economists in the first place, but also to political scientists, sociologists, and historians. In addition, it will appeal to policymakers, business analysts, and government officials who need to understand either formerly or presently communist countries.
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Book details

List price: $125.00
Copyright year: 1992
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 4/12/1992
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 672
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.50" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 2.090
Language: English

List of Figures
List of Tables
Points of Departure
The Subject and Method
Specific Lines of Historical Development and General Features
Socialist Countries
Interpretation of the Term "Socialism"
Political Economy
Positive Analysis
Antecedents and Prototypes of the System
Marx's Image of Socialism
System Prototypes
The System before the Socialist Revolution
The Revolutionary Transition toward the Classical System
The Anatomy of the Classical System
The Party
The State
The Mass Organizations
Cohesive Forces
Internal Conflicts
Repression and the Totalitarian Nature of Power
The Official Ideology
The Socialist System's Sense of Superiority
The Basic Promises
The Self-Legitimation and Paternalistic Nature of Power
Discipline, Willing Sacrifice, and Vigilance
Power and Ideology
Explanation of the Concepts
Some Characteristic Property Forms before the Advent of the Socialist System
The State-Owned Firm
Other State Property Forms
The Cooperative
Private Property and Production Activity of a Private Nature
Capitalism, Socialism, and Property
Coordination Mechanisms
Main Types
Some Observations on the Main Types
Bureaucratic Coordination
Market Coordination
Self-Governing Coordination
Ethical Coordination
Family Coordination
Spontaneous and Artificial Changes
Planning and Direct Bureaucratic Control
The Precursors of Socialism on the Subject of Planning
Initial Approach: Elaboration of the Plan
Initial Approach: Plan Implementation and Management
The Motivation of Leaders in the Economic Bureaucracy
Bargaining and Inner Conflict
Planning, Management, and Politics
The Problem of Information
Money and Price
The State Budget
Survey of Money Flows
Soft and Hard Budget Constraint
Income and Price Responsiveness
Administrative Producer Prices
Administrative Consumer Prices
Market Prices
Nonprice Signals
Investment and Growth
Expansion Drive and Investment Hunger
Central Allocation and Investment Tension
Investment and Consumption
Extensive and Intensive Methods
Fluctuations in Growth; Cycles
Measurement of Aggregate Output
The System-Specific Growth Type: Forced Growth
Growth Performance
Employment and Wages
The Road to Full Employment
The Development of Chronic Labor Shortage
Direct Bureaucratic Control of Employment and Wages
Employer-Employee Relations in the Factory
Bureaucratic and Market Influences on Wages
Shortage and Inflation: The Phenomena
Shortage Phenomena and the Shortage Economy
The Process of Demand Adjustment
Horizontal and Vertical Shortage
Shortage and Surplus
Market Regimes: The Buyers' and the Sellers' Market
Normal Shortage and Normal Surplus
Open, Declared, and Hidden Inflation
Shortage and Inflation: The Causes
The Behavior of the Firm: Short-Term Decisions
The Behavior of the Firm: Long-Term Decisions
The Behavior of the Bureaucracy Managing Production
Relative Prices
Repressed Inflation in Interfirm Relations
Repressed Inflation in the Consumer Sphere
Excess Demand on the Macro Level
The Propensity to Inflation; the Relationship between Shortage and Inflation
The Self-Inducement and Reproduction of Shortage
The System-Specific Nature of the Causes
Economic Efficiency and Technical Progress
Consumption and Distribution
The Growth of Consumption
Other Factors in Material Welfare
Economic Security
First Approach: Distribution of Money Income
The Distribution of Material Welfare: Other Manifestations
The Explanation for the Distribution
Tendencies toward Equalization and Differentiation
External Economic Relations
The External Political Environment
The Institutional System of External Economic Relations
Capitalist Relations: Import Hunger, Export Aversion, and Propensity to Indebtedness
Socialist Relations: Tie-Ins, Export Preferences, and the Pursuit of a Zero Balance
An Attempt at Integration: The Council of Mutual Economic Assistance
The Coherence of the Classical System
The Main Line of Causality
The Affinity among Elements of the System
The Prototype and the National Variations
The Soviet Effect
The Viability of the Classical System
Shifting from the Classical System
The Dynamics of the Changes
The Inducements for Change
The Depth and Radicalism of the Changes
Reform and Revolution
A Chronological Survey of Reforms and Revolutions
The "Perfection" of Control
General Description of the Tendency
Reorganizations on the Upper Level
Merger of Firms
The Development of Planning and Direct Control
Preview: The Organizational Structure under the Postsocialist System
Political Liberalization
The Monopoly of Power
The Easing of Repression
The Constant and Variable Elements in the Official Ideology
The Seeds of Pluralism
Opening toward the Capitalist World
Change in the Scale of Publicity and Candor
The Limits to Political Reform
Preview: The Political Structure of the Postsocialist System
The Rise of the Private Sector
The Inducements behind the Development of the Private Sector
A Survey of the Private Sector
The Private Sector and the Official Ideology
The Affinity of Private Ownership and Market Coordination
The Private Sector and the Bureaucracy
The Economic Role of the Family
Preview: The Private Sector under the Postsocialist System
Self-Management as an Intellectual and Political Trend
Political Relations
Economic Effects
Relations between Manager and Workers
Ethical Coordination
Preview: Self-Management under the Postsocialist System
Market Socialism
Ideological Antecedents
Generalization from the Historical Applications
Classification of Alternative Strategies for Deregulation
The Firm's Vertical Dependence
The Softness and Hardness of the Budget Constraint, and the Firm's Responsiveness to Prices
The Affinity between Public Ownership and Bureaucratic Coordination
Horizontal Relations of Firms in Public Ownership
Proportions of the Two Kinds of Dependence
The Relation between Publicly Owned Firms and the Private Sector
Interaction between the Mechanisms; Assessment of the Changes
Preview: The State Sector under the Postsocialist System
Price Reforms
Determination of Product Prices
The Principles and Practice of State Price Determination and Fiscal Redistribution
The Scope and Limits of Price Reforms
Preview: Prices under the Postsocialist System
Macro Tensions
Employment and Wages
Growth and Investment
The State Budget and Fiscal Policy
The Credit System and Monetary Policy
Shortage and Inflation: Internal Economic Relations
Foreign Trade and Foreign Debt
Shortage, Inflation, and Indebtedness
The Standard of Living
Preview: Macro Tensions in the Postsocialist System
Concluding Remarks
The Depth and Radicalism of the Changes, and the Main Line of Causality
The Incoherence of the Tendencies to Reform
Reforms and Public Sentiment
Preview: The Socialist System's Legacy and Postsocialism
Bibliography on Postsocialist Transition
Author Index
Subject Index
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