This cross-disciplinary special issue focuses on economic knowledge in socialist countries during the second half of the twentieth century. Through a series of historical case studies, the issue embraces a wide variety of perspectives on the ways economy and society were conceptualized behind the Iron Curtain. Contributors explore the entanglement of ideology and economic discourse, the political dimensions of cybernetic technocracy, and the various faces of Cold War rationality of socialism.
“How does a socialist economy function and how can it best be managed? The essays in this rich and fascinating volume excavate how economists throughout the socialist world worked to create the conceptual and institutional tools they needed to approach these questions. By uncovering the diverse legacies of economic thought under socialism, the authors in this collection not only contribute to our understanding of the socialist past, but encourage us to question contemporary economic orthodoxies.”—Melissa Feinberg, Rutgers University
“This volume explodes the protective shield that has long kept the history of socialist experts a world apart, seemingly unrelated to anything outside it. The articles collected in this excellent volume draw upon exciting advances in science studies and intellectual history to demonstrate that the forms of economic knowledge seemingly peculiar to socialist governance were, in fact, strongly influenced by the pre-socialist tradition of economic expertise in Eastern Europe, as well as by reciprocal exchanges with Western capitalist experts. In the process, the volume also paints a fascinating gallery of flesh-and-blood socialist experts, neither subservient mouthpieces of official dogma nor courageous dissidents, but ordinary individuals caught up in an extraordinary ideological machinery.”—Gil Eyal, Columbia University
"The authors insightfully discuss the planning issues as well as the distinguished economists who introduced and championed reform ideas in these countries...The papers are well written and translated. Individuals who have researched the Marxist-Leninist central planning of the Soviet Union and the bloc countries will find the contributions interesting and informative. The elaboration of the planning era’s historical developments and the ideas motivating them provides an interesting review and offers a comprehensive set of impressions."—Phillip J. Bryson in Œconomia – Histoire/Epistémologie/Philosophie
Contributors: Oleg Ananyin, Johanna Bockman, Ivan Boldyrev, Till Düppe, Richard Ericson, Yakov Feygin, Olessia Kirtchik, Martha Lampland, Adam Leeds, Denis Melnik, Chris Miller, György Peteri, Egle Rindzeviciute, Vítezslav Sommer, Joachim Zweynert