CEEC economies

Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at jmu.edu
Fri Jul 24 09:58:39 PDT 1998

Have just resubbed after several days off and want to follow up on earlier remarks under the thread "Soviet vs US economy" or whatever that was called. In short I wish to be more precise about who was better or worse off as a result of Soviet domination of the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs).

Brad De Long excluded all of Europe as being places that were better off, including explicitly Tito's Yugoslavia (not under Soviet domination after 1948, although communist). I have already discussed that case for which I think it is hard to say it was worse off, at least prior to Tito's death in 1980 (or was it 1981?).

Let me pose two extreme cases among the CEECs. One is the Czech Republic (or the former Czechoslovakia). This is a country that almost surely was worse off as a result of Soviet rule, although some people were better off than they might otherwise have been. In 1938 Czechoslovakia was tenth in world per capita income, ahead of Austria, and was the one CEEC that had maintained a functioning bourgeois parliamentary democracy since WW I, until it was conquered by Hitler. In 1989 it was 54th in per capita income in the world and well behind Austria on almost all counts except income equality and the position of women (rather similar to the comparison of East and West Germany, actually). In the immediate post-WW II period Czechoslovakia had what looked like a fairly progressive regime and might well have evolved something like the mixed, semi-socialist and corporatist economy that Austria has had, that is until Masaryk mysteriously "fell" off a balcony in 1948. Of course the post-1968 Czechoslovak Communists were such a bunch of neo-Stalinist thugs and slugs that their party remains highly unpopular to this day.

OTOH we have Bulgaria which was a poor and dictatorial monarchy prior to WW II. Although it looks in pretty bad shape right now, and is saddled with a Chernobyl-style nuclear reactor, there were certainly great strides made economically after WW II. I note that Bulgaria was the one CEEC under Soviet rule that seemed to be relatively enthusiastic about it. But, of course, this reflects older ethnic history, the fact that Tsar Alexander II freed the Bulgarians from Turkish rule in 1878. His statue stands to this day in the central square of Sofia.

BTW, to whomever it was who said that statues of Lenin are down all over Russia. Well, many are, but not all. There is a very big one in October Square in Moscow that is the gathering place for the Communists and their supporters during (or before or after) demonstrations. Expect Lenin to be reburied before that one comes down. Barkley Rosser

-- Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at jmu.edu

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