Goulash Communism, 1968–1980

  • Thomas W. SimonsJr.


The Stalinist system remained in place after 1968, but it was drained of emotional and intellectual content in a part of the world where politics was still very much a question of emotions and ideas. After 1953 Stalinism could no longer be maintained by naked force alone, and after 1968 reform of socialism was discredited as an alternative or makeweight. As the Polish intellectual and former Communist Leszek Kołakowski said after he left Poland in 1969, talking about democratic socialism became like talking about fried snowballs.1 As the 1970s progressed, the theory of the two camps and fear of German revanchism joined ideology as former sources of support that were no longer available. Increasingly, the regimes justified their rule in terms of goulash: steady increases in the standard of living in a context of comprehensive social security.


Economic Reform Systemic Reform Hard Currency Soviet Leadership Administrative Decentralization 
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  1. 1.
    Quoted in Timothy Garton Ash, The Polish Revolution: Solidarity (New York: Scribner’s, 1983), 22.Google Scholar
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  4. 4.
    For this period and for what follows I have found Gerhard Wettig’s Community and Conflict in the Socialist Camp. The Soviet Union, East Germany and the German Problem 1965–1972 (London: C. Hurst, 1975), 20–47 and passim, very specific and helpful.Google Scholar
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© Thomas W. Simons, Jr. 1993

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