Economic Ideas in the Transition from Communism
Chapter 7: Western Economics and Local Responses: A Closer Look
The story of the spread of free-market economics has always been rife with speculation regarding the motivations and intentions of the individuals and epistemic communities adopting and diﬀusing pro-market ideas. In many cases the rhetoric has came close to questioning either the moral integrity or the intellectual acumen of those adopting free-market views. Therefore it is no surprise that the ‘neoliberal revolution’ taking place in the world in the 1980s and 1990s has received a similar treatment. And understandably, the remarkable Eastern European episode of radical switch from socialist to Western economics was not at all immune in this respect. But the natural impulse to discredit what one ﬁnds objectionable should not be a substitute for facts and analysis. That is the reason why probably the best way to take a step further beyond the speculative stage of the discussion (in which facts and arguments make room too easily for broad strokes and blurred images in which social actors and their motivation and beliefs are lost in the mist) is to simply get down and talk to the economists of the region themselves. Instead of speculating about their reasons, one may simply listen to them. Giving them voice and letting them speak their mind is the most straightforward way to deal with the questions surrounding their beliefs, reactions, opinions and motivations in adopting Western views. It is true that one may still have doubts about the face-value of their responses or one may try to depict them as bearers...
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