by Tamás Krausz
Towards a historical interpretation of the change of regimes in Eastern Europe
The title summarizes the main argument that I will develop in my presentation. Eastern European mainstream literature sacrificed the historical approach in order to shamelessly glorify the events of 1989-1991. In the theoretical, historical, economic and political literature on the history and consequences of the change of regimes, there is a fierce struggle among the different schools (labeled as discourses and narratives) for the “right” terminology. Nonetheless, the free competition of ideas seems to me illusory. The mainstream literature dismissed Marx’s theory of social formation as an unverifiable “grand narrative”, and excluded it from the set of competing paradigms. This exclusion can be closely linked with a previous development.
In the 1980s, Marxist theory was equated with the legitimating ideology of the state socialist system, which was widely criticized at the time by Eastern European dissident intellectuals. After the change of regimes this criticism developed into a new legitimizing ideology, which was used to justify the rule of the new elite. The real aim of the attempts to discredit Marxist theory in general in Eastern Europe was to divert attention from the crucial issue of the transformation of property relations. The distribution of state property, which in the old times was called the property of the people, was inseparable from the issue of power relations. Therefore, the issue of the distribution of state property had a decisive role in the formation of the new nation states as well. Read the rest of this entry »