- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Market Maoism in Eastern Europe

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on July 26, 1999 at 17:28:58:

...much of the driving force behind this set of policy recommendations ("structural adjustment" programs designed to create financial elites in Eastern Europe through "privatisation" -- sdf) was primarily political. There was a widespread fear among Western policy makers that unless economic reform was made 'irreversible' then the communist system could be reconstructed from the roots -- a curious contrast with the equally widespread belief after 1989 that the old order was terminally unsustainable. Thus, many of the economic policies which were suggested and implemented had fundamentally non-economic political and cultural goals. So pervasive and all-encompassing was this phenomenon that we might characterize it as putting 'politics in command': a phrase used by Mao to describe the policy adopted by China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which he initiated with a wave of carefully orchestrated youthful enthusiasm in 1966. In other respects, the economic policies in Eastern Europe (after the end of the Eastern Bloc -- sdf) corresponded to those adopted during the earlier stages of Maoist rule in China in the 1940s when a whole new class of property owners was created in order to provide a political basis for the revolutionary regime. Mao achieved his goal of revolutionary consolidation by dispossessing a substantial minority of the Chinese population. The Market Maoists of the Great Bourgeois Cultural Revolution would achieve theirs by dispossessing the overwhelming majority of the populations of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
from Laszlo Andor and Martin Summers' MARKET FAILURE (London: Pluto Press, 1998), pp. 34-35.

Thus perhaps we can say that Maoism isn't really dead, but it's alive as well, only today the Maoists champion their favorite segment of the capitalist class, and their fundamentalism exalts the idol of the "free market" instead of "actually existing socialism." They yell their procapitalist slogans in an attempt to drown out opposing points of view, as the Chinese Maoists did with "communism" in the 1960s. And when their policies are shown to have caused widespread misery, as Andor and Summers point out, they hide behind their academic ivory towers and explain that "pure capitalism" was never really established.

Some more sample quotes from Andor and Summers' book:

Even Ceaucescu fed his people better than the New World Order
-p. 102

As Peter Gowan has pointed out the IMF economists Rollo and Stern have calculated that 'even in the most promising country of the region, Poland, living standards will not return to their 1989 levels until the year 2010 at the earliest'...
--p. 181

From a political point of view the Market Maoists may believe that it is possible to create a Latin America-style society in Eastern Europe which will be stable because the poor will accept their lot and are prepared to tolerate huge differences lin life chances. They should be reminded that it required two decades of savage repression to inculcate that defeatist psychology in Latin America and that even now it is not clear that the semi-democratic political systems in this region have been stabilized.
--p. 184

... and so the former Eastern Bloc world was reduced to economic destitution by "fire-sale privatization" for the sake of the new financier class to be blessed by the idolaters of the free market...

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