The Promise of the Third Way: Globalization and Social Justice

By Otto Newman | Go to book overview

3
The End of Socialism?

The ex-communist world is in some ways a caricature of the vicious capitalism the old communist propagandists warned the masses about. Money, for many, is the new master.

‘Europe after Communism’, The Economist, 6 November 1999, p. 26.


1. Introduction

The end of socialism, including the age-old distinction between left and right, has been widely proclaimed by scholars and pundits of all political hues ( Dahrendorf, 1990; Boggs, 1995; Bobbio, 1997). On the face of it this is somewhat premature, as socialist traces survive not only in nominally communist states (such as China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam), but also in other parts of the world including Europe, where in what was once part of the Soviet empire ex-communists of varying hues have made a startling comeback since the heady days of 1989.

Notably, the People's Republic of China survives in a somewhat mutated form since the days of Mao, offering an alternative model of development based on the gradual extension of economic freedom, including entry into the World Trade Organization(WTO) and its discipline, coupled with political centralization. Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, ‘open door freedoms’ a general relaxation of social life with the introduction of western ideas were mixed with a more pragmatic commitment to free-market initiatives, highlighted by the dismantling of collective agriculture in the 1980s. The China Daily attributes the success of the policy to ‘relatively cautious steps in reform, establishment of a legal framework, decentralization moves and rapid development of the rural industry’. The next great challenge

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