On the Centrally Planned Economies


  • Joyce Kolko




Political Economy


Restructuring is now a global effort. In the centrally planned economies (CPEs) of Eastern Europe and of Asia, as in the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) states and the less-developed capitalist countries, the states are engaged in certain fundamental structural changes. Mikhail Gorbachev in his address to the party congress in 1986 called for a full "restructuring" of the Soviet economy. This insistence was but a continuation of an effort of over two decades to try to compensate for the economic failures in the centrally planned economies. In each of these countries during the 1980s there were both economic and political reasons for restructuring in some fashion, and many of them paralleled those in the rest of the world economy. While not minimizing the importance of Gorbachev's policy of cultural "openness" as a welcome contrast to the oppressive conditions of the preceding decades, here I will focus on a number of questions on the direction of the economy and the contradictions in restructuring. This focus in no way implies that, in my view, the traditional form of Soviet economic organization was a preferable one.