chapter  3
22 Pages

WHAT WAS SOCIALISM, AND WHY DID IT FALL?

ByKatherine Verdery

The socialist societies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union differed from one another in significant respects-for instance, in the intensity, span, and effectiveness of central control, in the extent of popular support or resistance, and in the degree and timing of efforts at reform. Notwithstanding these differences within “formerly existing socialism,”1 I follow theorists such as Kornai in opting for a single analytical model of it.2 The family resemblances among socialist countries were more important than their variety, for analytic purposes, much as we can best comprehend French, Japanese, West German, and North American societies as variants of a single capitalist system. Acknowledging, then, that my description applies more fully to certain countries and time periods than to others, I treat them all under one umbrella.