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  • Post-Socialist Contradictions: The Social Question in Central and Eastern Europe and the Making of the Illiberal Right

    Don Kalb

    Chapter from the book: Breman, J et al. 2019. The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century: A Global View.

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    This chapter argues that capitalist transition in Central and Eastern Europe has meant deep dispossession for large working populations, in particular in the Eastern areas of the region and the gradual emergence of a vindictive popular politics of “class without class.” A neoliberal-paternalist policy mix in the first decade installed early pensions and family benefits to make exit from the labor market possible. But Central and East European states turned themselves swiftly into Schumpeterian competition states: luring transnational capital by offering low or almost absent taxes while pushing down the reproduction costs of labor. Poverty, existential threats to reproduction, and ongoing assaults by liberal elites on the cultural merits of peasants and working classes under the new capitalist value regime opened long repressed internal divisions and hierarchies among segments of labor. This was the deeper cause for both the dramatic fall of labor after 1989 and the consequent rise of illiberal politics in the region. I distinguish two types of illiberal projects: a neoliberal one, dominant until the mid 2000s, and an illiberal one, emerging as a Right wing Polanyian countermovement against the ‘free market’, dominant from the 2010s onwards.

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    Kalb, D. 2019. Post-Socialist Contradictions: The Social Question in Central and Eastern Europe and the Making of the Illiberal Right. In: Breman, J et al, The Social Question in the Twenty-First Century. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.74.m
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    Additional Information

    Published on July 30, 2019

    DOI
    https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.74.m


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