The Neoliberal Revolution in Eastern Europe

The Neoliberal Revolution in Eastern Europe

Economic Ideas in the Transition from Communism

New Thinking in Political Economy series

Paul Dragos Aligica and Anthony J. Evans

This unique book develops two different but related research agendas: the study of the spread of ‘neoliberalism’ – as seen from the perspective of Eastern European post-communist evolutions; and the study of Eastern European transition – as seen from an ideas-centred perspective. It challenges a series of misunderstandings and myths about the spread of neoliberal economic ideas in Eastern Europe and offers a clearer understanding of progress since market reform began.

Chapter 2: Western Economic Ideas and the Fragile Hegemony of Marxism: The Pre-1989 Setting

Paul Dragos Aligica and Anthony J. Evans

Subjects: economics and finance, austrian economics


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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