The economics of communism

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The economics of communism

maj 25, 2020, 4:41 pm

Hi. I've recently become interested in communism and trying to work out how/ if it can work in practice. Does anyone have any recommendations of books about the economic structures of past communist states, or realistic proposals for how communism - and the transition to it - would look?

maj 25, 2020, 6:17 pm

I recommend looking into Branko Horvat, a theoretician of self-governing socialism (the model developed in post-1945 Yugoslavia).

But before anything else, note that "communism" has been interpreted and applied in many different ways in different places and at different times. All future communist systems will arise according to the needs and contingencies of their context--just like they did in the past.

maj 26, 2020, 2:25 pm

Thanks, I've ordered a copy of Self-governing Socialism. I'm particularly interested in Yugoslavia, as it happens, as I've seen that pointed to as the example of where socialism worked best.

Redigerat: maj 26, 2020, 4:40 pm

>3 leigonj:

You may also want to explore the history and practices of the state of Kerala in India, which has been led (most of the time) by an elected Communist party for more than sixty years now.

The Paris Commune, while short-lived, is nevertheless an essential example of what was perhaps the only true communist society in modern history.

jun 4, 2020, 4:49 pm

I don't think any single book will offer you a complete understanding of how communism would work in practice. What I'd recommend are reading multiple books detailing what communists have done and/or achieved in their respective territories/countries, even if in times of extreme U.S.-led imperialist intervention. I think reading enough of these will provide useful background to understanding the political and economic approaches of communists around the world.


"Afghanistan: Washington's Secret War" -- Philip Bonosky (offers a lot of useful information on the PDPA in Afghanistan)
"A History of Afghanistan" -- Yu. Gankovsky, et. al. (again, a lot of useful information on the PDPA in Afghanistan)

"Dispatches From the People's War in Nepal" -- Li Onesto (lots of good information on the Maoist guerrillas in Nepal in the 1990s, and how they approached the transition to communism)

"How Socialism Came to Central Asia" -- A. Roslyakov (a small pamphlet, with some useful information on early Soviet policies in Central Asia)
"The October Revolution and the East: The Transition of the Soviet Central Asian Republics to Socialism" -- Yu. M. Ivanov (an even better pamphlet, with some excellent information on early Soviet policies in Central Asia, as well as major errors in Soviet policy and how they were rectified)
"Social and Economic Change in the Pamirs (Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan)" -- Frank Bliss (more of a reference work, but objectively examines the achievements of Soviet economic policy in remote Badakhshan)
"Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan" -- Artemy M. Kalinovsky (examines Soviet economic policy in Tajikistan)

"By-Passing Capitalism" -- B. Shirendyb (a good introduction to communist policies in Mongolia)

"Workers' Self-Management in Algeria" -- Ian Clegg (what worker's control of factories looked like in Algeria)

"The Development of Socialist Yugoslavia" -- Professor M. George Zaninovich (a slightly tedious, but useful, outline of communist policies in Yugoslavia)
"Women in Yugoslav Society and Economy" -- Suzana Duric

"Chinese Road to Socialism: Economics of the Cultural Revolution" -- E. L. Wheelwrigh (haven't read yet but have it on my shelf)
"Canton Under Communism: Programs and politics in a Provincial Capital, 1949-1968" -- Ezra Vogel ((haven't read yet but have it on my shelf)

Just some examples off the top of my head.