chapter  4
17 Pages

Gass, Politics, and Economic Stress: Eastern Europe After 1984

WithWalter D. Connor

After a period of post-World War II reconstruction, and a rise in living standards from the 1944–45 nadir, the full Stalinization of life in Eastern Europe in 1948–49 signalled massive reinvestment of resources as the “plan era” began. Economic growth and the consequent structural shifts in the labor force, constitute the “engine” of intergenerational (upward) mobility. Working-class sons who would otherwise be in some measure upwardly mobile find the way “blocked” by slow growth and hence small demand, and by their relative disadvantage in the competition for places in higher education versus children of the intelligentsia and professional classes. If it be objected that slowing growth rates in Western economies also signal potential bases of disaffection, one can allow that this is so. Time is running against East European leaders in a more direct sense as well.