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What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? (Princeton Studies in Culture/Power/History)
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As the system of state socialist governance began to disintegrate in the late 80's says Verdery, the first casualties were the classic Marxist-Leninist theoretical constructions about the role of vangardist cadres, production, the true meaning of economic and political liberty, and the role of the state in society. Verdery gives careful and detailed explanation of this conflict of theory with practice.
Verdery creates her own nomenclature for her explanations of these processes and their actors in the decline and fall of state socialism in Russia and the rest of the Soviet bloc. For example:
"Entrepratchiks" explains Verdery, are well connected party members who collude with managers and bureaucrats who gamed the reformist programs of the late 80's for their own pecuniary and political gain [page 33]. A useful term has been coined here.
"Etatization" says Verdery, are "ways in the which the Romanian state [in this case] seized time from the purposes which many wanted to pursue", by means such as creating shortages of electricity, food, consumer goods (and so which required long waiting in queues), and irregular transportation and work hours [page 40].Read more ›
If socialism subjected "hundreds of thousands to terror and death," then its professed concern with "hunger, inequality and poverty" is absurd on its face. If socialism produced hunger, and killed millions, why see it as a "liberation movement"? While surely death brings liberation from suffering, that could hardly be thought a sufficient response "to major problems (of) capitalist liberal democracies."
The author attempts "to broaden a critique of Western economic and political forms." At the same time, she does not critique her own critique. While she purports to see these "forms" through Eastern Europeans' eyes, she totally ignores that the dead have no eyes with which to see; they are dead. And the number of dead caused by socialism exceeds "hundreds of thousands."