KIEV: A contradictory development is taking place in the post-communist world. While Marxist ideas are considered outdated, one post-communist party after another wins elections. Even if other factors play a role, ideas are fundamental in politics. To the detriment of the reform process in Eastern Europe, Marxist ideas are not as dead as they may seem.
Often, secondary Marxist thoughts linger on and are accepted as universal prejudices. Even more treacherous is “reverse Marxism”: since the communists did so, the exact opposite must be true. In other instances, people wrongly believe the communists achieved their propagated aims. Finally, many remain intellectual prisoners in the analytical framework of Marxism.
One fundamental Marxist idea has been the need for the socialization of the means of production. Hence, liberals have argued that private property is the key to economic reform. For instance, the Russian writer Boris Mozhaev argued in 1992: “No market economy and no liberalization of prices is possible as long as land is fully owned by the state”. Yet at that time markets in certain sectors already existed - for example in food: one third of Russia’s food is distributed through private markets - but this reality was hidden under reverse Marxist dogma.
Hence, the Russian reformers focused on land reform - which is very difficult - rather than the total liberalization of agricultural trade - which is much easier. As a result the reformers are long lost in the strife over agriculture.