Economic Ideas in the Transition from Communism
New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 2: Western Economic Ideas and the Fragile Hegemony of Marxism: The Pre-1989 Setting
Despite the fact that oﬃcially most East European economists were supposed to share the standard interpretation of Marxism, in reality, the dominance of the Marxist paradigm was not uniform. There were large variations from country to country in both the degree of commitment to the oﬃcial interpretation and the willingness to elaborate or bypass Marxist doctrine. The comparative overview of the countries of the region oﬀered by the comprehensive national reports on the state of economics in Eastern Europe published by Kaase et al. (2002) reveals that a clear spectrum of positions could be identiﬁed: from those that engaged and challenged the paradigm within its own terms and then tried to go beyond it, to those that cohabitated with it either complacently or resentfully subdued. Moreover, as aptly reminded by several scholars, there were also signiﬁcant diﬀerences in the way Marxism–Leninism was approached in the work of each separated economist (Spulber, 1979; Wagener, 2002). As a result, Marxism–Leninism left diﬀerent imprints on the economic thought of the Soviet period (Gamamikow, 1968; Gabrisch, 1988; Brus and Kazimierz, 1990). As Cekanavicius (2002) explains, ﬁrst was a dogmatic approach in which the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin were considered ‘the ultimate wisdom in economics’, all theories and methodological approaches having to be tested and conﬁrmed with their yardstick; Second was an approach in which honest but naive authors had to ﬁght against the straitjacket of Marxism both to overcome the limits of...
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