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This book, consisting of eight related articles, deals with several dimensions of socialism in the 1980s just before the beginning of the great changes which took place in Eastern Europe. Profound changes in the political economy of the world in the 1970s led to a decline of over-confidence and over-optimism characteristic of the earlier times both in the West and in the East. The painful experience of stagnation ended the grand Keynesian dream and led to the return of neo-conservatism in the West. The disappointing pace of industrial and technological progress during the Brezhnev era and increasing shortages of productivity of communism in the East. With both sides in the grip of political and economic uncertainties, the ideological confrontation seemed to have lost much of its sharp edge. No longer did the accepted dogmas and ideologies of the past appear either valid or convincing. The presupposition of the debate on comparative economic systems were in need of fundamental revisions. It was in this perspective that the Political Economy Workshop at York University undertook to feature a series of lectures on socialism in its 1988 sessions. Of about a dozen presentations by York University scholars and invited speakers, eight were subsequently made available in the form of articles and are published in this volume. These articles cover a wide range of issues, both theoretical and practical, and from both the Western and the Eastern perspective. It is recognized by all authors that neither the East European experiments in communism nor the Western process into social democracy have been a great success. The clue to what might lie beyond the socialist dilemmas in the age of perestroika will be found only by going through once again to the circumstances which led to the failure of socialism thus far.
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