segert, dieter

The Need in Competition in State Socialist Society as a Precondition for the Transition to a Modern Society

State socialism was in its own understanding a society beyond capitalist market society. However state socialism emerged in backward societies and communists were therefore admiring the dynamics of modern capitalism. One of the main problems of a state socialist economy was the deficit in incentives for the amelioration of efficiency. It was visible just from the beginning. Lenin’s attempt to meet the challenge was the implementation of a system of competition. (“Velikiĭ pochin”) The economic reforms of the 60s and of the 80s with its performance-linked payments on individual and enterprise level constitute a second attempt to solve the problem. In the program of the “Prague Spring” there was even competition on national level (on variants of the national plan).

The proposed paper will develop the thesis on the state socialism as another (but only partly successful) way towards a modern society. It will discuss the topic in which way the understanding of competition was present in the reform attempts of the 60s. It will do it on the example of the reform conception of Prague Spring and the published papers of the group of economists around Ota Šik.

A second expression of the idea of competition as necessary part of the own society was the growing awareness within the political leadership that state socialism had to compete with capitalist societies in the field of the way of live. In the more developed societies of East Central Europe the concept of “consumer socialism” was an expression of this awareness. The paper will discussed whether the reform discussion within GDR-intelligentsia in the 1970s and 1980s had touched this point and especially the problem of disappearance of socialism as an alternative conception to capitalist consumer society. (Lothar Kühne, Robert Havemann and others)

Thursday 25 October 17:00-18:30 Panels VI, Panel 15 Competition in Socialism - Theoretical Approaches (Hall 7)