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From Socialism to Capitalism

Eight Essays

János Kornai, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and author of Economics of Shortage (1980), has been the most influential critic of the political economy of Socialism from within the block.

Eight essays connected by various common strands. The most important one is the community of the main subject-matter: socialism, capitalism, democracy, change of system. These four expressions cover four phenomena of great and comprehensive importance. Each piece in the book deals with these and the connections between them.

One of the Leitmotifs is the “capitalism/socialism” pair of opposites. Capitalism has a history of several hundred years, while the socialist regime existed only for a few decades. But this pair of opposites was central to the history of the twentieth century. This antagonism put its stamp on political thinking, on the foreign policy and military preparedness of every country, and on some appallingly destructive armed conflicts. All these had great secondary influence on each country’s economic development and the standard of living and disposition of its inhabitants.

None of the studies is confined to one country—not to Hungary or to any other. Each tries to embrace the problems common to greater units. However, the greater unit comprehended is not the same in each study. One may deal with the capitalist or socialist system in general, another will all the post-socialist countries, and a third the Central East European region. But all extend the analysis beyond the borders of one country.


Introduction Chapter 1 The Coherence of the Classical System Chapter 2 The inner contradictions of reform socialism Chapter 3 Market socialism? Socialist market economy? Chapter 4 The speed of transformation Chapter 5 The great transformation of Central Eastern Europe: Success and disappointment Chapter 6 What does “change of system” mean? Chapter 7 What can countries embarking on post-socialist transformation learn from the experiences so far? Chapter 8 The System Paradigm References Index

"A book which could be recommended to intellectuals interested in regime change, to economists wishing to learn on the genesis of transition, and to anybody who simply wants to understand why economics is a very complex science going very much beyond modeling little chunks of reality with much technical but quite exploratory ambition.
Very lucid and thought provoking with a great explanatory power regarding the future of economics, social sciences... and probably critical thinking as well. It is the latter aspect of the genuine scientific research on which Kornai's new collection of essays provides its readership with a great number of examples and insights." - Acta Oeconomica

256 pages
ISBN 978-963-9776-16-6 cloth $50.00/ €45.00 / £40.00