East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

4
Two Incidents on the Plains
in Southern Transylvania:
Pitfalls of Privatization in a
Romanian Community

David A. Kideckel


Privatization: East and West Compared

Agricultural privatization and the related phenomenon of decollectivization are two of the most significant influences on rural East European communities today. However, to understand the nature and significance of privatization we need to delve beneath the very different meanings of the process as conceived in the West and lived in the East. Western development agencies, on one hand, consider agricultural privatization more as an end point of a process, i.e., the operation of a full-fledged system of private agricultural production ( World Bank 1990, 1993), but pay less attention to the manner by which it unfolds. In particular, issues that develop in communities after land has been privatized are disregarded except as they impact on the amortization of aid debt. Furthermore, reflected through the rose-colored haze of end-of-communism triumphalism, Western observers tend to consider East European privatization a universal good because it is thought a necessary concomitant of a free market, a harbinger of civil society and democratic politics, and one more factor easing the adversarial relations of the Cold War.

Where Westerners bother to note the problems with the process they consider them as temporary and more a condition left over from the unrealistic economic relations and practices of the now-defunct socialist states. For Western institutions and individuals involved in the distribution of aid to East Europe, it is simply a matter of developing the right mix of laws and policies for

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