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New Left Review I/222, March-April 1997


Gil Eyal

The Theory of Post-Communist Managerialism

The most distinctive characteristic of post-communist social structure in East Central Europe is the absence of a capitalist class. [1] We would like to acknowledge the help of several colleagues in developing the ideas for this article: Elemér Hankiss, Miklós Haraszti, János Kornai, Matilda Sági, and the East Europe group at the Department of Sociology, ucla, Eva Fodor, Eric Hanley, Larry King, and Matthew MacKeever. Private property rights are in place, markets in labour and capital exist, these economies are open to world markets, and they have strong relationships with international financial institutions. However, there is no organized group of major capitalists. There are no interlocking corporate directorates based on ownership, and there is no class organization through networks of family property. Indeed, the result of privatization in most of the region has been highly diffused property rights. This is the puzzle we seek to understand: what explains the distinctive class structure of the fledgling capitalist economies of East Central Europe? In the absence of a capitalist class, who has power, and on what basis do they exercise it? How stable is the current balance of class forces? Can it reproduce itself for the foreseeable future?

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