Why did Hungarian socialism - the most innovative in the Eastern Europe - fade away so easily? Why were Hungarians, including those who would be considered radical in the West, happy to see the introduction of a market economy? Why was there no real opposition to the dismantling of socialist achievements like universal free education and health care? Nigel Swain's topical book answers these questions through one of the most thorough analyses to date of a socialist economy in practice and dissolution. Carefully tracing Hungary's postwar economic history, Swain shows why both Stalinist central planning and 'feasible' market socialism failed. He argues that these failures were caused not by imperfections in the Hungarian model, but by crucial problems inherent in the socialist project itself. Far from a eulogy to free-market capitalism, yet offering a sobering account of the consequences of socialist economic errors - technological backwardness, corruption and declining morale - Hungary will be a major contribution to political and economic debate on the left.
Nigel Swain is Deputy Director of the Centre for Central and Eastern European Studies at the University of Liverpool. His previous publications include Collective Farms Which Work? And (with P.G. Hareand H.K. Radice) Hungary: A Decade of Economic Reform.