Economic Ideas in the Transition from Communism
New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 5: Frameworks for Analysis and Interpretation: From Personal Commitment to Functional Rationality
Even a brief look at the literature dealing with the issue of neoliberalism reveals that some of the most tempting ways of discussing the spread and change of pro-market economic ideas are those based on the assumption that the rationality of the standard logic of science is only slightly relevant and the role of deliberation and interpretation is secondary or even marginal in the change of such economic belief systems or paradigms. One doesn’t need to espouse a sophisticated social theory to develop such an interpretation. For instance, such claims are made systematically by those that suggest that the spread of neoliberal ideas was the result of indoctrination or the induction of a form of ‘false consciousness’. The argument is simple: the ‘interests’ of a ‘class’ (i.e. the ‘capitalists’) are cloaked in an economic ideology that gets accepted by the rest of the society not so much by logic and empirical validation but by other psychological mechanisms. However, setting aside the cogence of an argument involving the doings of an abstract ‘capitalist class’ able to mount sustained and devastating mass-level, ‘false-consciousness’-creating ideological operations in the heart of the Soviet part of the world, this type of argument is often asserted but rarely presented in explicit forms conceptualizing coherently the process claimed to be at work and never convincingly illustrated in detailed empirical case studies. One has to look for better grounded starting points for the discussion of the Eastern European developments. That is, one has to look beyond the literature...
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