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Author(s): Linda Fuller Reviewed work(s): Source: Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 (2000), pp. 585-609 Published by: Annual Reviews Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/223458 . Accessed: 22/06/2012 03:28
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Annu. Rev. Sociol. 2000. 26:585-609 Copyright? 2000 by AnnualReviews. All rightsreserved
SOCIALISMAND THE TRANSITION IN EAST AND
EUROPE: The Homogeneity Paradigm, CENTRAL
Class, and Economic Inefficiency
Departmentof Sociology, Universityof Oregon,Eugene, Oregon97403-1291; edu e-mail: lofuller@ oregon.uoregon.
transition politics,epistemology, Key Words workingclass, intelligentsia,
* Abstract The homogeneity(mass-elite)paradigmexerts inordinate influence I oversocialresearch EastandCentral on socialismandits transition. explore European theepistemological methodological and of and underpinnings thisparadigm arguethat it has maskedthe importance class relationsfor graspingthe dynamicsof these of from societies. I help retrieveclass in general,and the workingclass in particular, the analyticobscurityto which the homogeneityparadigmhas relegatedthem by of workers'andintellectuals' Finally, juxtaposing perceptions economicinefficiency. I suggestways thatinattention class undersocialismhas retarded of to understanding the politicalstrugglesthathaveaccompanied demise. its
Much of the scholarshipon East and CentralEuropebegins, whetherexplicitly or implicitly,froman assumptionof social homogeneity.In sayingthis I meanto draw attentionto the fact that, aside from a minuscule political elite who thoroughly to monopolizeall formsof power,these societies areunderstood be composedof an and largelyundifferentiated mass, a sociologically lifeless abstraction. amorphous Originally associated with totalitariananalyses of socialism (Ekiert 1999:300; Lane 1996:136, 139), this oversimplifiedview has survivedperiodic theoretical andempiricalchallengesandindeedseems to havebeen revivedin theirwake(Lane 1996:136-37; Crowley 1997:209,n. 14). The homogeneousparadigmcontinuesto exert,if sometimesmore subtly,a perceptibleinfluenceon the burgeoningnumber of studies of the wrenching post-socialist transitionsin which countries of the region now find themselves. While the hegemony of the paradigmhas neverbeen total, its imprints on our social understandingof the area are deeper and more plentiful than is often acknowledged.
FULLER Although the perceptionof uniformityhas always obscuredmany significant social fissuresand complexities within East and CentralEurope,I limit my focus to class. In the generalspiritof Konrad Szelenyi's (1979) argument, understand & I the fundamentalclass division plaguing socialism in these countries, which has not disappeared successorformations,to runbetweenworkersandintellectuals. in I define the intelligentsia as all those with college or universitydegrees and all those with top and mid-level decision-makingand managementposts in governand ment,administrative, economic, educational,political,andmass organizations units. For some years before socialism disintegrated,the overlap between these two groups was considerablethroughout East and CentralEurope.In the followsection I examine how the homogeneoushabit of thoughtis associatedwith a ing researchapproach begins and ends with the epistemologicalandmethodologthat ical standpointof the region's intellectualclass. A principalintent of this section is to suggest that the cause of sound social knowledge about East and Central Europewould be better served were researchersmore modest in their use of the homogeneousparadigmand more cognizantof its influenceon their scholarship. The second and third sections draw on disparatestrandsin the literatureon socialism and its transitionto help retrieveclass in general,and the working-class in particular, from the analyticobscurityto which the homogeneousparadigmhas relegatedthem. These discussions centeraroundeconomic inefficiency,a topic at the centerof manydebatesaboutEast andCentralEuropeansocialism andits transition in the countrieson which I concentrate: as Bulgaria,Romania,and Hungary, well as the Soviet Union, the GermanDemocraticRepublic,and Czechoslovakia, and their successors. These sections underscorehow differentfrom, and at times diametricallyopposedto one another,the views of workersand intellectualswere on this subject.My largerpurposein highlightingthis contrastis neitherto adjudicate whose perceptionsare closer to realitynor to minimize the many differences within each class, but ratherto offer one clear illustrationof the significanceand persistenceof the socialist class divide. The final two sections suggest thatthe damagedone by the reigning paradigm goes beyond mere inattention to and ignorance of class in East and Central of Europeansocialist societies. These deficiencies in our understanding socialism have, in turn, hobbled analyses of one question sure to occupy scholars for In some time: How and why did these social systems disintegrate? concluding, I addressworking-classpolitical involvementin the simultaneousprocesses of soin cial, economic, and political collapse and reconfiguration the region, one facet of this complex and multidimensional question.
HOMOGENEITY AND CLASS, EPISTEMOLOGY AND METHODOLOGY That the homogeneous paradigmhas been producedlargely from the epistemological standpointof intellectuals does not, in and of itself, distinguish it from most other knowledge about social life. Yet in light of the substantivecontent
SOCIALISM TRANSITION IN
of this paradigm, it is inadvisable to dismiss the relationship between knowand ledge producersand knowledge produced as unextraordinary thus befitting no furthercomment. According to the homogeneous paradigm,East and Central as Europeansocieties arebest regarded places wherevirtuallyeveryone,save a tiny political elite, belongs to the same sociologically faceless and nondescriptassemblage. Consideredanotherway-and this is the basis of my majorepistemological worry-many East and CentralEuropeanintellectuals who have created knowthat encourages ledge about the area have generateda particularunderstanding us to think of knowledge producersthemselves as largely indistinguishablefrom nearly everyone else. Many scholars from outside the area have joined the same chorus-indeed some mustbe countedamongits founders-thereby paradigmatic the flattenedview of the region's social landscape. reinforcing The hegemony of the undifferentiated depictionof East and CentralEuropeis and reproducedin a variety of covert and overt, simple and more accomplished complicatedways. Oftenthe notionof homogeneityis advancedthroughthejuxtaposition of undefinedandunexamineddescriptors,which serve as semanticstandins for this unvariegated vision of society, andeven scholarswhose workotherwise casts some doubt on the utility of the homogeneous paradigm,sometimes revert to the use of labels that reinforce it (Lane 1996:124; Curry 1988:495; Bonnell 1989:311, 313, 314; Kennedy 1992:38, 39). "Elite"and "mass"are the most common of these, though authorswho focus on the socialist period on occasion opt for alternative terms,which nonethelessconvey the same uniformmeaning."Beneficiaries"and "victims,""nomenclature" "others," and "partypeople" and "nonon this list (Tokes 1996:11;Pano 1997:304;Curry1988:490, partypeople"belong 495; Cook 1993:3; Kostecki & Mrela 1984:138; Staniszkis 1979:182, 183, 187; Parrott1997:13). The use of terminologyconnotinghomogeneitydid not end with socialism. Transitionscholarship,however,demonstratesgrowing preferencefor "the public,""citizens,""publicopinion",and, most recently, "the electorate"as referentsthat unite the overwhelmingmajorityof the region's inhabitantsinto a single, sociologically undifferentiated group(Schopflin 1991:235;Parrott1997:2; Offe 1997:38, 73, 83; Kluegel & Mason 1999:41; Wolicki 1995:75; Jasiewicz 1995:149; Tokes 1997:380). The cause of social homogeneity is advanced in other ways as well. Many studies of political culture,a concept in which Dawisha (1997:51) reportsa resurgence of interest,fall into this trap(McFalls 1995:Ch4, Parrott1997:21-22). This happensbecause political culturesare commonly perceived as conglomeratesof politically relevantattitudes,value systems, and behaviorsheld more or less uniunit. In terms of the ease with which it lumps nearly versally within a particular everyone into a single social heap, a concept like "EastGermanpolitical culture" is thusjust as successful as the "EastGermanmasses."Institutionalists not necdo essarily fare any better.Rona-Tas,for instance, despite his stated desire to move his beyond a simplistic elite-mass analysis of Hungary,ends up perpetuating own brandof homogeneous socialism by centeringhis inquiryarounduniversalstate employment,"thecentralfact of life for almost all adults undercommunistrule," which reduced "the entire population to wage labor"(R6na-Tas 1997:4, 5; my
FULLER italics). As with many analyses based on political culture,his glazes over a great deal of social differencewith a frostingof homogeneity. For a numberof reasons civil society, "one of the more fashionableconcepts in the context of Centraland EasternEurope"(Sch6pflin 1991:240), bears a more complex and ambiguousrelationshipto the homogeneityparadigm.This is partly because, when it comes to the social identity of those who actually create and comprisecivil society, a topic often avoidedentirely,the literature displays a conbifurcation.On the one hand, civil society is seen as the province of tradictory narrowbands, small pockets, and tiny circles of dissident intellectuals(Kennedy 1992:51, 54; Sch6pflin 1991:224; Torpey 1995:186; Parrott1997:13, 38, n. 99; Tismaneanu1997:409; 427-43). On the other, authorsuse the term as another proxy for the monotonoussocial mass, of which the homogeneousparadigmunderstands As nearlyeveryonein EastandCentralEuropeto be a member. examples, we find civil society consideredto be the articulationof society's interestsindeof rather pendentof the stateand the representative "ahigherethics and morality," than "anyparticularfraction,or class of society" (Sch6pflin 1991:241; Szelenyi et al 1997:207; lankova 1998:240; Meininger & Radoeva 1996:47). Kennedy's (1990) discussion highlights the pitfalls likely to await any attemptto reconcile these two highly inconsistent conceptions of "civil society as virtually no one" and "civil society as virtually everyone."For Kennedy,civil society in Eastern Europedependsfor its formationand democraticvitality on critical intellectuals. He furtherreinforces,thoughunintentionally, exclusive conceptionof civil soan ciety by detailing how Polish physicians and peace activists, small minoritiesof the population,become critical intellectuals.But at the same time, in describing individuals"and mere "people" these new membersof civil society as "ordinary (Kennedy 1990:281, 300), Kennedyrevertsto the mass notion of East and Central Europeancivil societies as comprisedof a wide swatchof citizens of equal social prospect. Given my discussion thus far, it should come as little surprisethat many intellectuals who produce knowledge about East and CentralEurope assume the right to speak for everyone in the region with far less hesitationthan they might have, had the content of the elite-mass paradigmnot encouragedthem to view the lives, experiences,opinions, and interestsof the region's intellectualsas analogous to those of almost everyone else. The logic here is unassailable.So long as nearly everyone is in the same social boat, what should it matter that it is only from the intelligentsiathat we learn about the area, or that outside scholars dutifullyreproducethese same voices as those of society in general?Because intellectualsare principalproducersof academic social knowledge of all types, the dangerof overexposureto their renditionsof complex social formationsis never completely absent.In otherinstances,however,the contentof guidingparadigms can help temperthis epistemological danger.But in the case of East and Central throughourknowledge Europe,the threadof homogeneityweaving so prominently base magnifies this risk (Burawoy 1989:32, n. 40; Daskalov 1996:80; Burawoy 1996:97).
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
A numberof troubling,even contradictory, practicesaccompanythe paradigmassumethe rightto speakfor everyoneelse in inducedease with which intellectuals analysesof East andCentralEurope.Sometimes,authorssimplyredefineinclusive terms like "people"to be synonymouswith the much narrowersocial categoryof ... intellectuals."Hungary's political transformation was facilitatedby people and their ideas for change. By 'people' I mean professionalpolitical, academic, and literaryelites and unattachedintellectuals"(Tokes 1996:167; Frentzel-Zag6rska & Zag6rski 1989:96). We hear scholars, under cover of the paradigm, overeagerly delivering all manner of pronouncementson what "the masses" think, feel, do, want, need, and care about, which are at least debatable and at most challenged by some credible evidence (Schopflin 1991:249; Kennedy 1992:65; Torpey 1995:10; Offe 1997:38; Judt 1988:207; Djilas 1998:301). Finally, we detect an air of superiorityin some statementsaboutintellectualsand a patronizing of tone in manyof those referringto everyoneelse. "Thatthe introduction property and marketmechanisms,"Offe (1997:38) informs us, "is in the interestof rights society as a whole is, however,typically not reliably recognized and appreciated by the empiricalwill of the majorityof the population"(Kennedy 1990:287, 299; Kostecki & Mrela 1984:137, quoting Sztompka;Baylis 1998:299; Kurczewska 179, n. 11). Of course, the political intelligentsiaunder socialism has long been criticized for speakingon behalf of the rest of society (Kennedy 1990:282;Djilas 1998:179, 296-297; Stark& Bruszt 1998:27, 40, 41). But, as the precedingreveals, many scholars who have publishedbefore and after the transition,who study different countries,and who harbora variety of political persuasions,many critical of the socialist political elite of the region, have followed suit. Nor has this inclination to speak for everyone been limited to the socialist political intelligentsiaand the heterogeneousgroupof scholarswho write aboutthe area.East CentralEuropean dissidentintellectualactivistsoftendo the same."What distinguishesall these [East German,Czech, andSlovakchurchleaders,scholars,lawyers,formercommunists, bankers,etc.]," accordingto Baylis (1998:298-99), "is their ability to speak for very different needs and feelings in their population"(Tokes 1996:306; Stark & Bruszt 1998:28, 40, 214, n. 41; Tismaneanu1997:428; Meininger& Radovea 1996:60;Kennedy1992:38,51). And, insofaras opinionpolls capturethe thinking of additionalintellectualswho have not necessarily producedwrittenknowledge of or been politically active in the area, we encountera similarproclivity.Thus, accordingto Kurczewska(1995:179, n. 11), 37% of a nationalsample of collegeeducatedPoles "believedthatintellectualsshouldact in behalf of society andoffer values on society's behalf." Although such epistemologial concerns are always intertwinedwith methodological ones, it is worth focusing more specifically on the latter for a moment. Here my principaldiscomfortis the remarkably high proportionof scholarshipon East and CentralEurope that relies exclusively, or near exclusively, on primary evidence gatheredfrom or aboutthe minorityof individualsI have defined as intellectuals. Goodwyn (1991:xxiv), at least, has detected an even more worrisome
FULLER evidence at all in some cases, since "in views tendencyto offer no substantiating from afar,supportingevidence is not presumedto be needed." Explanationsfor the narrownessof the evidence vary.The most disconcerting revolve aroundthe epistemological mattersbroachedabove. If intellectuals feel to especially entitledby the substanceof the paradigm speakon behalfof everyone, shouldthe collection of datafrombeyondtheirown class circle be of pressing why concern?In addition,it is usually easier and simplerfor intellectualsto establish researchcontactswith otherintellectuals,whethersupporters opponentsof the or In my experiencein the GDR these people sought me out, indeed were powerful. sometimesdifficultto shake,whereasworkerswere usually far less curiousabout who I was and what I was up to. Moreover,despite my determination gather to data from nonintellectualsources, I found thatbeing among people with whom I sharedthe most was troublinglyseductive.Unfortunately, while in otherresearch situations,reigning knowledge paradigmscan provide a strong antidoteto such predilections,the homogenousparadigmserves to encouragethem. A morefamiliarexplanation offeredforthe socially restrictive character much of dataon socialist countriesis thatthese societies were closed, heavily policed, and tightly censored (Siegelbaum & Walkowitz 1995:1; Crowley 1997:3; Goodwyn 1991:vii-xxx). Access to evidence from non-party, and non-party-approved, nonintellectual sources, when it could be had at all, was severely limited. Yet this difficulty,which I do not minimize, cannotexplain why, once socialism collapsed andevidence from expandedsectorsof the populationbecame more accessible, so many analyses continueto be craftedfrom a scaffold of intellectualdata. Thankfully, this seems to be changing;post-communiststudies of workersand scholarship self-consciously based on informationemanatingfrom beyond the socially narrowconfines of the intelligentsia are more common (Goodwyn 1991; Laba 1991; Crowley 1997; Blaszkiewicz et al 1999; Creed 1998; Burawoy & Lukacs and 1992). But the deaththroesof scholars'data-gathering methodologicalhabits have been prolonged.Forexample,two majorworkson Hungaryby Tok6s (1996) of and R6na-Tas(1997) are based largely on transcripts CentralCommittee and Politburodeliberations,partyand ministerialarchives,parliamentary minutes,interviews with policy makers,top partyleaders,and privateentrepreneurs, and, in the case of Tokes (1996:xiii, xiv), meetings with the "cremede la creme"of the reformintelligentsiaand his work as a senior advisorto the foreign minister.Data for three importantvolumes on the GDR by Torpey(1995), Joppke (1995), and Maier (1997) come from socially analogous sources, and, even though McFalls' (1995:13-15, 191) work on the GDR utilizes data from over two hundredsurvey East Germans," nearly60% of these people turnout to responsesfrom "ordinary havecollege or universitydegrees,a suresign of a sampleheavily weightedtoward the intelligentsia.Finally, so far as I can tell, a significantportionof the primary Lane's (1996) study of the rise and fall of socialism relies evidence undergirding on interviewswith communist-era political intellectuals. Objectionsmay be raisedthat such researchprojectsintendto produceknowledge about intellectuals or that they deal with topics about which intellectual
SOCIALISM TRANSITION IN
sources simply have the most to tell us. Yet wherever scholars hint at broader foci, for example, throughtheir titles [TheRise and Fall of State Socialism (Lane and 1996), TheDissolution: The Crisis of Communism the End of East Germany (Maier 1997)], this argumentdoes not satisfy me. Whetherintendedor not, such titles based on such dataadvance,howeverimplicitly,the cause of the uniformity to paradigmandemboldenknowledgeproducers promotetheirown interpretations as those of everyone else, which is one of the paradigm'smost discomfortingbyWe products.All the while, the principalpoint is worthremembering: can never on mattersaboutwhichwe havegathered evidence. no producecrediblescholarship the following otherwise provocativepiece of scholarshipexempliFinally, as fies, even when the researchagendahas moreto do with workersthanintellectuals, and even when authorsthemselves are awarethat informationon worker-related topics is sorely lacking, evidence can still end up heavily skewed toward what Goodwyn (1991:xxvi) terms the "evidentialdesert"of intellectualsources. Thus Polish Ost & Weinstein's(1999) articleon governancechangesin post-communist workplacesis based largely on surveysof managers,workerselected or appointed workersaremostly to management bodies, andtradeunionofficials.Rank-and-file as a data source. Even in the one subsection that does focus on "Polish ignored workers,in general, not union activists"(Ost & Weinstein 1999:7), the authors, despite the revelationthatthey had engaged in field researchin over twenty enterfromtwo attitudinal prises,rely on information surveysconductedby otherpeople. In making such methodologicalchoices, Ost & Weinsteinpass up an all-too-rare opportunityto broadenour knowledge of East CentralEuropeansocieties, based on close-in and unmediatedevidence from the working-classmajority.
ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY FROM THE STANDPOINT OF INTELLECTUALS
From the perspectivesof a great many intellectuals,those hailing from East and CentralEurope and those analyzing the area from the outside, those who have writtenabout the region and those who have not, socialist economies were monstrously inefficient, and most detect vestiges of this inefficiency in the transition period. On this mattereven partialdissentersare few (Burawoy& Lukacs 1985; Szelenyi & Szelenyi 1994:218-21; Spenneret al 1988:604). Many times intellectuals convey this judgmenthaphazardlyand without amplificationby qualifying nouns like "economy" and "enterprise" with a string of uncomplimentaryadFavoritesinclude not only inefficient but also irrational,unsustainable, jectives. dismal, decaying, closed, corrupt,distorted,bloated, uncompetitive,submarginal, subsidy-dependent,crisis-ridden,self-suffocating, obsolete, and unsophisticated (Georgescu1988:69,75,77; Judt1988:201;Pantev1996:18;Offe 1997:13;Gerber &Hout 1998:36;Clarkeetal 1994:182;Staniszkis1979:167, 170, 171,186; Clarke & Donova 1999:214;Dawisha 1997:47;Pano 1997:297;Glasman1994:69;Ekiert 1997:304).
FULLER Othertimes the meaningof inefficiencyemergesin morethoroughandsystemic discussions. Some intellectuals, for instance, associate it with low productivity, outdatedand inferiortechnology,unbalancedand declining growth,lack of innovation, high debt, waste, misallocationof resources,and poor quality.For others, inefficiency acquiresmore organizational meanings, such as lack of coordination between economic units and actors, undersupplyof productioninputs, centralization, bureaucratization, monopolization,and the inability to self-monitor.But such understandings socialist and post-socialisteconomic inefficiency, of beyond intellectualsoften stressone other-bad workers.Thereis anobviouscontradiction here.To associatebad workerswith economic inefficiencyis, on some level, to acknowledge the existence of class, somethingthe homogenousparadigmdisputes. The point I mean to emphasize here, however,is that, despite this contradiction, the connection intellectualsoften drawbetween bad workersand economic inefficiency stands as strongtestimony to the importanceof the class divide, for, as we soon discover, it contrastssharply with working-classperspectives on what efficiency means. For some intellectuals, five Soviet factory workerscome to typify the shortcomings of the socialist workingclass: Ivanovleft withoutpermissionbefore work had finished;Grigor'evfollowed Ivanov's example;Gretyukovcame 10 minuteslate twice in September; Piskunov,a fitter,goes walking aroundthe shop duringwork hours. He does this on average40 to 60 minutes a day. Pashkevichloves to stroll aroundthe shop with 'his handsin his pockets'. This is puttingit mildly: one of his strolls lasts 10 to 20 minutes. (Filtzer 1996:26 quotinga factorynewspaper) list The intellectual-derived of workerfailings does not end here, however.Regueven viscerally,accountsreferto workersas dependent,dawdling,irresponsilarly, drunks and ble, egoistic, unmotivated, undisciplined,insubordinate, uncontrollable and thieves. Intellectualsseem rarelyto tire of portrayinghow workerslikewise withhold effort, go shopping duringthe work day, lack regardfor the quality of to theirwork, and arequite prepared take leisurelylunches when they show up for work at all (Kotkin 1996:6;Filtzer 1996:9, 10, 17, 18, 26, n. 12; Creed 1998:176, 198, 217, 257; Crowley 1997:15, 56, 64, 96, 164, 167, 168; Clarkeet al 1994:197; Burawoy1989:23;R6na-Tas1997:55-57,59,154-55; Laba1991:123).According alertto workers'defects, "Negligence to Filtzer (1996:20), a scholarparticularly of also took its toll." Given the prevalence of such characterizations workers' attitudesand behaviors, one sometimes wonders how socialist economies ever producedor deliveredany productsor services at all, let alone inefficiently. While there is no question that students of East and Central Europe have made immense contributionsto our knowledge of the structuralunderpinnings of inefficiency in socialist and transitioneconomies (Nove 1983; Koral 1986, 1992), it should come as no surprise,given theirreadinessto associate economic inefficiencywithbadworkers,thatmanyintellectualsalso view workersas, to some
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
degree, responsiblefor the problem.Certainlynot a few have qualifiedthis stance, perceivingthe causal connectionbetween bad workersand economic inefficiency as indirect, partial, or neither deliberate nor irrationalon workers' part (Tokes 1996:109; Creed 1998:198; Crowley 1997:55; Pano 1997:304; Filtzer 1996:16, 26, quotingPravda). Still, in the course of assigning workerssome liability,intellectuals have expandedthe previous list of ways workerbehaviorsand qualities might result in economic inefficiency. As examples, Spennerand his co-authors (1998:107), puzzled by their finding that layoffs have a negative impact on efficiency in some Bulgarianfirms undergoingtransition,suggest partof the reason may be workers' uncertaintyabout their future employment,which could lower And the fact thatworkersexercisedeven a "limited"amountof theirproductivity. control over their own labor under socialism becomes, for Filtzer (1996:12, 19), "a source of the myriaddysfunctions and disruptionswhich plagued production and distribution." Intellectualsare far less eager to assign themselves any blame for economic inefficiency,and,when they do, theirdiscussionsarenotablefor theircomparative lack of both elaborationand vehemence (Georgescu 1988;76;Burawoy 1996:8687; Lane 1996:101; R6na-Tas 1997:33; Dimitrov 1996:107; Filtzer 1996:20). In otherinstances,intellectualculpabilityis chalkedup to guilt by association.Thus, Tokes (1996:261) notes that some socialist economists view managers'negative in as to effects on economic performance attributable theirmembership an "unholy to alliance"with workersandunionists.Ratherthanmakinga palpablecontribution to economic inefficiency,as workersareoftenunderstood do, intellectualsaremore themselvesas the ones who struggleto keepthe economy afloat. likely to apprehend Yet the sharpestdisagreementbetween intellectualsand workerson the causes of economic inefficiency,bothbeforeandafterthe socialistera,revolvesnot around bad workersbut aroundremunerative equalequality.Again, to posit remunerative as a cause of inefficiency reveals a contradiction, in orderto make such an for ity intellectualsmustto some extentacknowledgeclass, therebyrenouncing argument, the homogeneity proposition.This contradictionnotwithstanding, because intellectuals' andworkers'views on this matterareso discordant, intellectualstance the on remunerative equality and economic inefficiency simultaneouslysuggests the of the class divide. depth The intellectual argumentregardingeconomic inefficiency and remunerative equality has severalvariants,but most begin from the premise that, undersocialin ism, intellectualswere decidedly underpaid comparisonto workers.Some even in were underrewarded absoluteterms, and that, despite mounting complain they claims to the contrary(R6na-Tas1997:205; Clarkeet al 1994:197, 201-6, 214 n. 36; Spenneret al 1998:605; Mateju 1999:18; Slomczyniski& Shabad 1997:170), the "pauperization" the intelligentsia has continued into the subsequentera of & (Frentzel-Zag6rska Zag6rski 1989:94; Daskalov 1996:83). Intellectual complaints on this score are periodically punctuatedwith what, in their judgment, are humiliatingexamples of the absurditiesto which remunerative equalityleadstheoreticalphysicistsearningless thanguttercleanersandresearchscientistsforced
into prostitution(Gerber& Hout 1998:37; Siegelbaum & Walkowitz 1995:164; Crowley 1997:246, n. 11). As in otherclass societies, intellectualsoften employ humancapitalreasoning to supporttheircase for higherrelativepay. They invest more in acquiringor they possess moreskills, training,andeducationthanworkers,andthey deservea return commensuratewith their troubleand accomplishments.In a less genteel version of the claim, intellectualssimply understand themselvesto workharder, takemore and be more critical than workersand thereforeto be worthyof higher initiative, pay. The generaldirectorof a Russian chemical factoryeven attemptedto justify widening wage differentialswith a sort of pervertedaffirmativeaction logic. For years, he claimed, workers had earned much more than their supervisors,who had "sufferedin silence." "Now it is your turn to suffer in silence," he told an undoubtedlyskepticalwork force (Clarkeet al 1994:214, n. 38). Some intellectualsreinforcetheirargument a widerpay gap betweenclasses for thattheirgreaterstock of humancapitaltranslates into greaterproby maintaining and hence greatereconomic efficiency (Ruble 1986:44). Vastly underductivity researchedin the literatureon socialist and transitioneconomies, this linkage between humancapital attributes, and productivity, efficiency requiresintellectuals to embarkupon a journey of faith on which few workerswould accompany them. I would expect, however, that this last argumentfor the inegalitarianbasis of economic efficiency undergirdsthe often vociferous intellectual support for actions that countered"dysfunctional" wage-levelling policies under socialism. Many intellectuals assume an analogous stance toward transitionpolicies, supportingthose that "accordpriorityto respondingto the needs of the rich and successful" (Zloch-Christy1996:153), and opposing inefficient "populist"policies associated with egalitarianmoves such as income redistribution, collective and working-classwage increases (Zloch-Christy1996:160; Crowley ownership, 1997:162;Clarkeetal 1994:198,201,205; Lane 1996:161,162,168,169; Comisso 1988:462-63; Fuller 1999:87-88; Stomczynski& Shabad1997:186). ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY AS WORKERS SAW IT Workersin East and CentralEuropeunderstoodsocialist economies to be inefficient in some of the same ways intellectualsdid, and like intellectualsthey have witnessed the persistenceof many of these same inefficiencies into the transition period. In major ways, however, their perspectives on the relationshipbetween economic inefficiency and effort, and of management,technology,discipline, remunerationsystems, and other topics divergednotably from those of the intelligentsia, and recognition of the depth and breadthof these differences proves a good illustrationof the social prominenceof the class divide in the region. We have seen how many intellectualsview bad workersboth as an illustration and a cause of economic inefficiency. Yet neither the intellectual position that many workersjudged it their "social right" not to work hard under socialism
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
by (Connor1991:147)northe idea thatworkersarenow daunted the "grimprospect of competitive hard work" (Lasky 1991:22) jibes with workers' experiences or judgments.Both before and duringthe transitionmany workershave insisted, and that observerswith some knowledgeof workers'lives havecorroborated, theywork hard,sometimesvery hard,at theirpaidjobs andthatperiodsof idleness embarrass and angerratherthan please them (Creed 1998:247; Szlajfer 1995:18-20; Clarke & Donova 1999; Burawoy and Lukacs 1985:727, 734; Fuller 1999:42-44; Laba 1991:122-123; Ferguson 1998:460-61). There are a numberof reasons why workersoften experiencedtheir paidjobs as demandingundersocialism. Not only had normalwork weeks often been 20% longer thanthose in the West,but also overtimewas commonly expected of many workers(Laba 1991:123;Fuller 1999:43;R6na-Tas1997:59, 101,154; Georgescu 1998:79; Jankowska1995:317). Workerswho were paid on a piece-rate system faced continuous norm increases. "Establisha record today, and it will be the mineronce told Siegelbaum& Walkowitz(1995:28). a normtomorrow," Ukrainian Not a few workersperformedmore than one job, whetherat the same worksite, for example simultaneouslytending multiple machines, or at a different worksite, sometimes in the second economy (Fuller 1999:190, n. 8; Burawoy 1996:81; R6na-Tas 1997:118, 154; Creed 1998:4, 104, 176; T6kes 1996:159). Shortages, the bane of the workdayfor many producers,were often implicatedin these and many other experiences of hard work. They lay behind the uneven rhythm of labor,which workersfound particularly tiring and stressful, and behind the phewhich was the normal state of affairs for up to half the nomenon of "storming," month in some workplaces,leaving workersin urgent need of "rest and repair" (Goodwyn 1991:56, 60; Filtzer 1996:126; Stark 1986:494). The absence of necessary and proper tools, machinery,materials, and labor made completing any job far more difficult. Electricianswith insufficientwire, office workerswithout typewriterribbons,sewage plantworkerslacking properprotectiveclothing, steel because automaticchutes were workersforced to transport alloys by wheelbarrow withoutenoughproducecrates,were commonplace even farmworkers inoperable, situationsthroughoutEast and CentralEurope (Fuller 1999:42; Creed 1998:87; in Burawoy 1989:12). A GDR machinist explained it best: "Workers the shops have always workedhard.On top of that, their work requiredmuch more energy thanin the West, because they had to make gold out of shit"(Philipsen 1993:287). More often than not, workersplaced the blame for economic inefficiency not with themselves but with the intelligentsia.For workers,the critical link between the intellectualsand inefficiency,both duringand especially before the transition, is the disorganization the workprocess.Fromtheirperspectives,disorganization of is the epitome of economic inefficiency,and they often judge bosses and bureaucrats,both at their worksitesand above them, as responsiblefor this chaos. Especially under socialism, workerscould see that the confusion at their workplaces sometimes stemmedas much from managerialpowerlessnessas managerialblunder. Nonetheless, workersregularlysuggested, and at times adamantlyinsisted, otherwise.
FULLER We can infer this from their general comments on work and their superiors workersbegan to wonderwhetherwe had idiots organizing ("Manyrank-and-file our production.If we as workersunderstood[how badly things were organized], one would assume that someone who went to college shouldbe able to graspthat as well" [Philipsen 1993:128]), and we know that such assessmentshave not automaticallyevaporated duringthe transition(Crowley 1997:233;Laba 1991:122& Walkowitz 1995:4; Clarke & Donova 1999:225; Clarke et al 23; Siegelbaum 1994:206; Curry 1988:501-503; Btaszkiewicz et al 1994:129). Workersalso offered more specific formulationsof the socialist link between the intelligentsia, and disorganization, economic inefficiency.Forinstance,they saw disorganization as a consequence of superiorswho drew plans incorrectlyor refused to schedule preventative equipmentmaintenance,who changedeconomic targetsin mid-year, who hoardedlabor, and who put little effort into marketingor design improvements. As a result of such managementmistakes and miscalculations,workers witnessedproductionslow downs,job ordersandprojectsabandoned half comor and the translationof their hard work into useful and desired products pleted, and services thwarted(Filtzer 1996:16, 21; Clarke & Donova 1999:237; Clarke et al 1994:199;Creed 1998:156, 181, 239). Workersalso faultedthe authoritarian and arbitrary managementstyle of many bosses, which rarely solved production and often made them worse, for the turmoilat work (Burawoy 1989:18, problems 26; Curry1988:503). While socialist managementregularlyshiftedthe blame for disorganizationonto shortages,workersoften did not buy this excuse. Bulgarian hay collectors instructedto show up to work with plum-pickingbuckets, GDR constructionworkersdemolishing new constructionbecause they received conflicting orders from multiple supervisors,Polish colonels telling plumbershow to fix broken pipes, party secretaries overwateringstrawberriesuntil they rotted, all these were examples of the maddening disorderthat prevailed at their workplaces for which workers often judged their superiors,not shortages, responsible (Creed 1998:88, 103, 104; Laba 1991:122; Fuller 1999:46; Szlajfer 1995:21). An additionalexample furtherillustrateshow far apartworkersand intellectuals were in their thinkingon the causes of socialist economic inefficiency.Many intellectualswere unabashedtechnophiles.They associatedthe lack of up-to-date technology with inefficiency and regardedmore advancedtechnology as one solution to socialist economic woes. Workers' outlook on this matter was more complicated.There were many instances in which they would like to have seen at technologicalimprovements theirworkplaces.Yet,in manyworkers'judgment, decisions abouttechnologymanytimes exacerbated, rather thanallemanagement oftenconsideredtechnologiesridiculouslyexpensive, viated,inefficiency.Workers and, given the real-life workplaceenvironmentsin which they knew they would operate,immenselyimpractical. High-techcooling systems left rustingin the open robot technology, not estimatedto pay for itself in 500 years, abandonedfor air, lack of parts,steel mill technology requiring highly accurate,but impossibleto atin calibrations orderto functionproperly, even a doughmixing machine tain, input
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
that did not function correctlyyet was inexplicablynever returned,all seemed to workersfoolhardyin the extreme(Fuller 1999:46;Filtzer 1996:27,n. 36; Burawoy 1996:86; Creed 1998:156-157; Burawoy 1989:17-18; Philipsen 1992:128). Such examples taught them that technology alone was too simple a prescriptionfor reversingthe spiralof inefficiency in which their economies were trapped. Workersalso understand disciplinarysystems to contributeto economic ineffiandhere too differencesbetweentheirviewpointsandthose of intellectuals ciency, are discernible.Many of the bad behaviorsfor which intellectualshave impugned workers, from the earliest decades of socialism throughthe transition,fall into the category of indiscipline (R6na-Tas 1997:56-57; Siegelbaum & Walkowitz 1995:100; Crowley 1997:96, 167, 168). From the perspectivesof many intellectuals, socialist disciplinarysystems were partiallyresponsiblefor the widespread problem of indiscipline. Laws were full of loopholes; procedureswere cumbersome;cases againstworkerswereinitiatedtoo rarely,andwhentheywere,penalties were lax and prosecutionsfew (Voskamp& Wittke 1991:359; Creed 1998:256, 257; Clarke et al 1994:180; R6na-Tas 1997:55-56, 101, 161; Crowley 1997:73, 164, 168, 169; BurawoyandLukacs 1985:732).Disciplinarysystemsneededdrastic overhaul.The scope of offenses had to be broadened,and penalties had to be stiffened.Economic efficiency demandedit. Workers,on the other hand, expressed a more nuancedview. As workerssaw it, not only did most of them labor hard and well under far less than optimal circumstancesbut also many workers whom intellectuals labeled undisciplined had little choice about how they worked. How could they not be occasionally late to work when the only living quartersthey could find were miles from their workplaces?Could playing cards at work really be consideredindiscipline when there were either no orders to fill or necessary productioninputs had not been delivered? How could they afford not to leave work early or take unauthorized mid-day breaks when shops were out of everythingby the time work was over? (Filtzer 1996:18, 19; Crowley 1997:168;Fuller 1999:220, n. 31). More important, producersfelt intellectuals did not acknowledge that workers themselves were extremelydistressedby the few egregious violatorswho were a greatburdenand a danger to their co-workersbut who were never fired. Drunks were merely reassigned to less desirablejobs; thieves only had their wages cut; even workers who were actually let go, somethingmost everyone agreed was virtuallyimpossible, usually found anotherjob quickly, sometimes at the same factory,often for higherpay,andoccasionallywith compensationforunusedvacationtime (Crowley 1997:85, 168; Creed 1998:177;Philipsen 1992:291;Voskamp& Wittke1991:359; Filtzer 1996:28, n. 48; Rona-Tas 1997:59). Individualworkersundoubtedlydisagreedover where to drawthe line between indisciplineand indiscipline extreme termination. to recognize no line at all, which is whatmany But enough to warrant workerssaw happeningat their workplaces,was quite simply inefficient.The few amountsof their workoutrageous,yet atypical, offenders wasted extraordinary mates' and their bosses' time and energy.Workerseven complainedthat unions, when forced to devote so much time to defending total laggards, were unable
FULLER to attendto the pressing needs of the remainderof workers,whose productivity sufferedas a result. Given these concerns,workerscould not agree thatindiscriminately tightening workplacedisciplinarysystems would do much to improveeconomic efficiency. Periodic attempts to do so during the socialist era, which have become more frequent and zealous during the transition,not only miss the point but also are becausethey provokeworkerresentment resistance(Filtzer and counterproductive n. 12; Lane 1996:101;Offe 1997:223, n. 33; Crowley 1997:164, 168, 1996:11, 26, 169; Clarkeet al 1994:186, 191, 198; Szlajfer 1995:20, 61-62, n. 22). Workers' lived experienceof socialismhadtaughtthemthatthe cause of economic efficiency was far better served in any system by disciplinaryproceduresthat differentiate betweenunavoidable intentionalindisciplineandthatfocus the spotlighton the and few chronic and flagrantoffenders who truly interferewith efficient production, ratherthan turninga floodlight on the majorityof conscientious workers, upon whose best efforts and ongoing cooperationeconomic efficiency depends. How pay differentialsrelateto socialist, and laterpost-socialist,economic efficiency is anothertopic on which the thinkingof workersandintellectualsdiverges. Workers not concurwith many intellectuals'humancapitalargumentslinking did wage equality to socialist economic inefficiency. In their view, such arguments obscureda more important issue. Workers were not primarily concernedaboutthe to economicefficiencyof remuneration thatdidnot sufficientlyredamage systems wardpeople for prestigiousjob titles, highereducationcredentials,entrepreneurial traits, and so forth. Their principalapprehensionwas that socialist remuneration systems glossed over distinctionsbetween any job well done and any job poorly done. Workersfocused on how productivelypeople actually used their labor,on the quantity and quality of the contributionsthey made at work, and for them economic efficiency was enhancedto the extent thatthose who contributed more were paid more. between huMany workers,however,saw no straightforward correspondence man capital attributesand how much and how well someone producedat work. Quite the contrary,they expressed deep reservationsabout the economic contributions of many intellectuals occupying managerialand professional positions, often describing them as ineffective, superfluous,and unproductive.Thus one Bulgarianclaimed the agro-industrial complex in his village had over thirtyoffinone of whom really did cials, a "specialistfor every type of agricultural activity," much (Creed 1998:77). Crowley (1997:44, 134) discoveredSoviet coal minersto harbora similarview that"bosses,afterall producednothing," while a partof each miner'slaborwent to supportfive to seven "parasites" the managerial in apparatus (Crowley 1997:135, 136; Burawoy 1996:86; Comisso 1988:464; Fuller 1999:29, 55; Bahro 1978:209; Siegelbaum & Walkowitz 1995:121-22). In other words, workerslocated an importantsource of inefficiency in remunerative systems that the highest rewardsto intellectualswho, thoughthey had more formal guaranteed education,higher statusjob descriptions,and so forth, did not appearto produce as much, or as much of value, as workers did. In workers' vision of economic
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
of efficiency, these things were no substitutefor accomplishmentas determinants socialist This position helps explain workers'frequentcriticism of remuneration. and post-socialist era schemes to promoteincome inequality,their repeatedcalls and for reductions in the number and the remunerationlevels of administrative anecmanagerialstaff duringthe transition,and perhapseven the empirical and dotal evidence from throughoutthe region that reveals widely held post-socialist preferences for reducing the gap between rich and poor (Crowley 1997:41, 57 243, n. 65; Clarkeet al 1994:206;Laba 1991:40, 68, 162, 165; Fuller 1999:87-88, 200, n. 35; Siegelbaum& Walkowitz1995:115;Szelenyi et al 1996:472;Schopflin 1991:247). Perspectiveson socialist economic functioning differed by class on one final count as well. Wheremanyintellectualswere unlikelyor unwillingto attribute any mannerof efficiency to socialist economies, manyworkers'saw thingsdifferently. Along with incisive economic critiques,workersalso spoke with pride about innovationsat their workplaces,their ongoing acquisitionof new skills, the quality of production,and high productivitylevels at particular plants and on particular of job-relatedbenefits,for examplepaid projects.They likewise praiseda panoply sick andmaternityleave, cheap meals, vacationspots, andemergencyfinancialassistance,not to mentionsystem-widebenefits such as high employmentlevels and the availabilityof affordableand variedpublic services (Siegelbaum& Walkowitz 1995:35-36; Fuller 1999:44, 60, 194-95, n. 7). For many workersthese things constitutedsome evidence of socialist economic efficiency, even as intellectuals regularlyargued such benefits and outcomes "coddled"and "controlled"workers, relegatingthem to a position of perpetualdependencyon the state (R6na-Tas 1997:84; Glasman1994; Fuller 1999:29). It was, in otherwords, socialism's most who were most inclinedto dismiss socialist economies as unmitigated advantaged disasters,"disproven history"(Offe 1997:189), andwho areunableto conceive by of changes wroughtduringthe transitionas "anythingother than improvement" (R6na-Tas1997:8; Sch6pflin 1991:239). From workers'experiencematterswere not so clear cut. As suggestedin Crowley's (1997:180) observationthat socialism and both "protected enraged"them, many workersentertainedmore mixed, more and less narrowviews of what economic efficiency was all about. complicated, Workers'equivocal reactionsto developmentsduringthe transitionare undoubtedly grounded in their ambivalentopinions of what their economies were like under socialism (Creed 1998:29, 73, 278; Fuller 1999:152-53; Stomczyniski& Shabad 1997:188). Workersdetectedefficiency in an economic system they otherwiseunderstood as plagued by inefficiencies in one more importantway. In contrastto some intellectuals, many workersperceived the amountof control they enjoyed over the socialist laborprocess, despite its limits and despite scholarlydisagreementsover its nature, as a cornerstoneof efficiency, not inefficiency, in socialist economic systems (Filtzer 1996:17, 19; Burawoy 1989:18, 20; Clarkeet al 1994:181, 182; Fuller 1999:123-26). On the one hand,workers'controlmeantthat,for production to continue, producerswere continuously requiredsuccessfully to make, repair,
FULLER and improve machineryand equipmentwithout standardparts or preformulated plans, often acceptableproductsand services could not be producedor delivered at all unless resourcefulworkers,lacking sufficient or properproductioninputs, could invent a way to do so. Exercise of this brandof workers' control varied by economic sector,gender,and skill level. Yet in the GDR at least, white-collar workersrecounted "makingeverythingfrom scratch"and "figuringout how to finish a reportwithout the typewriterribbonor the duplicatingmachine," just as blue-collar workerstold of "makingnew things from old things or keeping old things going fromnew things"(Fuller 1999:123-24; Filtzer 1996:14,21; Wierling 1996:54; Clarke & Donova 1999:228). In other words, day in and day out for decades, many workershad engaged in a numberof the very same flexible, crework practices that ative, enterprising,frugal, imaginative,and solution-oriented many intellectualsassociate with economic efficiency. A second brandof control socialist producersexercised was the self-management of their own labor.Workers'self-managementmeant that many producers continuallymade decisions about work and productionthat are routinely left to managersin capitalistsettings.Thuswe findreferencesto socialistworkersformulating their own job classifications,concocting theirown division and integration of tasks, establishing and maintainingcooperativenetworks inside and outside the shop, overseeing discipline, determiningproductionspeeds and job assignments, deciding work and delivery schedules, arrangingproductionsequences, determiningthe quality and mix of production,hiring co-workers, determining how pay should be divided, and even assuming some control over the amountof goods and services they producedand delivered.Surelyit was in specializedwork groups like the HungarianVGMKs and in brigades, which elsewhere proliferatedas socialism matured, workers'self-management that reachedits apex (Creed Lane 1996:100;R6na-Tas1997:149;Burawoy 1989:15). But 1998:153, 154, 180; had self-management long been partof the daily workexperienceof manywho did not participatein such forms of work organizationas well (Fuller 1999:125-26; Mitchell 1992:693; Filtzer 1996:14, 19, 23). Burawoy (1996:92) even maintains thatworkers'self-management increasedin some places duringthe transition, has andothersreportforcefulworkerattempts protectandincreaseself-management to the struggles that have everywhereaccompaniedthe demise of socialism during (Fuller 1999:114-20; Kennedy 1992:40). Soviet and Russian coal miners, some of whom expandedtheirconceptionof self-management includeworkers'ownto ershipand election of enterprisemanagement,are a case in point (Crowley 1997). From workers' perspectives, self-managementwas not just an obligatoryresponse to an inefficient economy. It was also a noteworthysign of system efficiency. Workersjudged self-managementeconomically rationaland productive. control and They saw how it allowed for smooth,non-bureaucratized, coordinated and monitoringof work, and how it conservedtime and resourcesand minimized conflict at the point of production.While manyintellectualsdefinedprecisely such outcomes as efficient,most neveradmittedany such connectionbetween workers' self-managementand socialist economic efficiency.
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
HOMOGENEITY AND WORKING-CLASS POLITICAL ACTIVISM
It is certainlya truism,though one of which it is good to remainmindful, that to the must understand past. Despite their comprehendthe presentsocial researchers the mattersfor understanding present, different views on how the socialist past made with regardto East and CentralEurope(S0rensen this point has often been 1997:47;Stark& Bruszt1998:5-7; lankova1998:257-58; Gerber& Hout 1998:37; Ekiert 1997:300, 337-38; Btaszkiewicz et al 1994:126-27). But the past can only help illuminate what succeeds it if we have gotten the past right, and, as I have argued,insofaras scholarshipon East and CentralEuropehas been dominatedby the homogenous view of socialism, we have not gotten the past right. concern has been how the attachmentto homogeneity has conMy particular a deep social fissurebetweenworkersandintellectualsin socialist societies. cealed class fissurehas been inadequatelyexplored,indeed The fact thatthis fundamental has often ignoredaltogether, meantseriousmisreadingsand significantblind spots of in our understanding how and why East and CentralEuropeansocialism unraveled. I fear the numberof these to be potentially quite large, but in this and the following section I highlight only two. Both concern working-classpolitics, in particularly the earliestphases of socialism's collapse. To begin with, comparedto the voluminousanalysesof what intellectualswere up to duringthis period,we know desperatelylittle aboutany active political roles workers assumed. Too many scholars dismiss workers in a sentence or two as marginalto these historic struggles,mentiontheir involvementin strikes,demonstrations,and so forth with little attemptto integrateworking-classpolitics into theirbroaderanalyses, or seem willing to ascribeworkersan influentialrole only by denying their class identity (Lane 1996:143; Dimitrov 1996:112; Georgescu 1988:93; Stomczyniski& Shabad 1997:171; Tismaneanu 1997:414-15; Pantev 1996:21; Michnik 1995:234-35; Stark & Bruzst 1998:34). Even in the scholarship on Poland, the countrywhere working-classactivism is hardestto overlook, that the homogenousparadigmencouragesinterpretations de-emphasizeworkingclass and highlight intellectualactivism (Schopflin 1991:244; Kennedy 1992:40). Insofaras scholarsrely on versions of reality forwardedby dissidentPolish intelHence, Jacek Kuron,one of the betterknown of lectuals, this is understandable. and this lot, has let it be known that he considers Solidarityhis "brainchild" that StrikeCommittee(Jankowska he was the one who "dreamed the Interfactory up" 1995:293, 296; Goodwyn 1991:324; Kennedy 1990:289). The homogeneity paradigminterfereswith the ability to uncover political activism among East and CentralEuropeanworkersin at least two ways. First, it deflects our researchgaze away from the social nooks and cranniesin which we would likely find it. If history is any guide, a major site of working-classpolitics duringcrisis periods is the workplace,where workersaroundthe globe have taken advantageof power vacuums to refashion and expand their control over productionand the economy. Such actions occurredas socialism disintegratedin
FULLER Poland, the GDR, and the Soviet Union (Fuller 1999:ch 6; Philipsen 1993:289; Crowley 1997), andit is probablethat,were moreresearchers disposedto consider this obvious working-classspace,we would know morethanwe do aboutworkers' activismelsewhere in the region. Working-classfamilies and neighborhoodsmay also prove fruitful spaces in which to unearthmore informationabout the forms and dynamics of working-classpolitical activism duringthis era (Siegelbaum & Walkowitz1995). We need also to broadenour vision beyond what counts as politics for intellectuals, if we are to comprehendhow workingpeople's actions affect processes the of political change. In the case of political struggles surrounding demise of socialism, workers' efforts to reformpre-existingunions might be one example, as might activities reminiscentof socialist-era"silent boycotts" in Hungary.So too might be many people's refusal to vote once elections became regularized (Siegelbaum & Walkowitz 1995:125; Szelenyi & Szelenyi 1994:228-29; Fuller 1999:101, 110-14; Szelenyi et al 1996:466, 469, 473, 476; Szelenyi & Szelenyi 1991:128-29; Ferguson 1998:462). In sum, to come upon evidence of workingmustbe willing to scrutinizedifferentsocial class politicalinvolvementresearchers and differentactivities than those commonly associatedwith the political spaces activism of intellectuals.
HOMOGENEITY AND WORKING-CLASS POLITICAL DEMOBILIZATION Some may object to what I have said above on the groundsthatin most countries workerswere simply not very involvedin politics at the beginningof the transition. Researchers'emphasis on intellectualpolitics thereforereflects reality. While I out remainskepticalof this argument, of suspicionthatit revealsas muchaboutthe substantive,epistemological,and methodologicallimits of the reigningparadigm as it does about workers' politics, it is clear that many workerswere not active in these events. This, however, is not a reason for continued attachmentto the in The Quitethecontrary. homogeneityparadigm, blinding homogeneityparadigm. us to class relationships,bears much responsibilityfor how little effort has gone towardexplaining the political demobilizationof so many workers.There are a potentiallylarge numberof investigativepaths we might pursuein searchingfor clues about how class relations under socialism are implicatedin working-class political withdrawalduringthe transition.Below I mentionthree. First,it is impossibleto ignoretheamountof tensionandhostilitybetweenworkon ers and intellectualsreportedin the literature East CentralEuropeansocialism. betweenthe two classes is frequentlydescribedas estranged,forThe relationship mal, anduneasyat best andas tense, deeply antagonistic,and sharplycontradictory at worst(Djilas 1998:140;Connelly 1997:313;Judt1988:188;Szelenyi & Szelenyi 1994:229; Filtzer 1996:11). While we might wonder that the overwhelmingly of negativeportrayal this relationshipdid not raise more doubtsaboutthe utility of
IN SOCIALISM TRANSITION
the homogeneousparadigm,when we review the opinions intellectualsand workthat ers held of each othermoreclosely, it is not surprising theirrelationshipwould come to be describedin such dismal terms. Workersoften considered intellectuals, both party-identifiedand not, as parasites and spongers, and as arrogant,authoritarian, manipulative,and genuinely dangerous bullies. Add to this list weak-kneed and obsequious in the face of authority,hypocritical, condescending, and even laughable, and the none-toopretty impression many workersharboredof the intelligentsia is near complete (Crowley 1997:72, 119, 228, n. 15; Creed 1998:235, 244; Curry 1988:492, 501, 502, 506; Torpey 1995:161, 162, 164; Kennedy 1992:39; Fuller 1999:30; Btaszkiewiczet al 1994:129, 132;Clarkeet al 1994:203;Siegelbaum& Walkowitz 1995:190, 194, 199). Thanksto the homogenousparadigm,we know much more about how intellectualsviewed workers,and their perceptionsappearequally, if To not more, unflattering. many intellectualsworkersseemed childrenin the most the term. They were immature,irresponsible,easily duped, pejorativesense of and not all that sharpeither (Schopflin 1991:238, 242, 249; Djilas 1998:117, 127; Szlajfer 1995:3040, 33; Staniszkis 1979:178-79; Kostecki & Mrela 1984:138; Connelly 1997:327, 329; Wolicki 1995:78;Fuller 1999:30;Clarkeet al 1994:204; Curry 1988:501; Tismaneanu1997:44, n. 35; Creed 1998:219; Freed 1996:175; Torpey1995:156, 163; R6na-Tas1997:159). Althoughthey sometimes saw workers as cowardly,timid, and politically ineffective, at othertimes intellectualsworried that workers were, at least potentially,too active and too influential.This and "discipline," "civappearsOffe's (1997:4546) fearas he counsels "patience," less fortunate,duringthe transition ilized behaviour," especially among society's (Ost & Weinstein1999:22;Kennedy1992:65;Crowley 1997:13;Ekiert1997:305, 311; Stark& Bruzst 1998:20-24; Freed 1996:172; Tokes 1996:167). A second matterthat holds promise for the developmentof explanationsfor workers'political demobilizationexpandsthe theme of the second and thirdsections of this paper.There I arguedthat,in terms of theirperceptionsof economic inefficiency, workers and intellectuals were miles apart.Their divergent views stemmedfrom the fact thattheirlived experiencesof socialism were so dissimilar, though the homogeneous paradigmsucceeded in disguising the extent to which this was so. There are numerousways in which workersand intellectualscould be said to have inhabitedseparatesocialist worlds, a numberreminiscentof those familiar in otherclass societies (Konrad& Szelenyi 1979:172-74; Andorkaet al 1984:36, 40; Szelenyi 1978:67; Schopflin 1991:246-48; Tokes 1996:122, 123, 414; Fuller & 1999:19-20, 88-97; Connelly 1997; Ferguson 1998:466; Stomczyniski Shabad 1997:181, 183). But in termsof explainingthe dearthof working-classinvolvement in the demise of socialism, one of the most importantis that they had rarelydone any sort of transformative politics together.They did not, in other words, share a joint oppositionalhistoryundersocialism. In Romania,Czechoslovakia,the GDR, and Hungary, they engagedin very differentkinds of activities,andneitheroffered supportto norsolicitedit fromthose on the otherside of the class divide (Georgescu
1988:88, 89; Tismaneanu 1997:427; Offe 1997:141; Sch6pflin 1991:244; Judt 1988:189;Torpey1995:chs 1-3, 208; Joppke 1995:57-65; Tokes 1996:175, 188; Kennedy 1992:46-51). At certain times and places, they even publicly opposed the political undertakingsof the other class. In the early days of Czechoslovak called socialism,for example,workersandunionschastisedstudentdemonstrators, for investigations of their activities, urged that no mercy be shown them, and attacked in property atleastone university(Connelly 1997:313-15). Inlike fashion, the workers' rebellion of 1953, the secretaryof the GDR writers' union during published a letter castigating workers, smugly warningthem, "You will have to lay a great deal of brick and very well ... before you will be forgotten [for] this disgrace" (Torpey 1995:30). Even in the rare instances when workers and intellectuals undertookopposition politics together,Poland between 1976-1981 being the most notableexample, their efforts were replete with difficultmoments and provedimpossible to sustainover the long run (Kostecki & Mrela 1984:138, 139; Jankowska1995:306, 313, 322, 324; Kennedy 1992;Judt 1988:228;lankova 1998: 248-49). The homogeneousparadigm obscureda finalfeatureof the class relationship has in East and CentralEuropeansocialist societies thatmight also yield insights into the lack of politicalparticipation amongworkersduringthe strugglessurrounding the end of socialism. Put simply, workers tended to perceive all intellectuals, whether party or governmentofficials, bosses, engineers, artists, educators, or dissidents, as socially similar.From the bottom of the class ladder looking up, all these people shareda good deal. Whetherwe think workersaccuratein their unvariegatedassessment of the intelligentsia,it is worth reviewing some of the reasons they embraced such a view. Here I focus on the overlap between the socialist political intelligentsiaandthe rest of the intellectualstratum, which many adherentsof the homogeneousparadigmconsiderof minorconsequence. To begin with, as socialismmatured, intellectualsof all kindscame increasingly to dominatethe membershipand leadershipof the communistpartiesin numbers far exceeding theirproportionof the generalpopulation.While some intellectual in partymemberswere surely reluctantparticipants partylife and exercised little such subtletieswere easily lost on most workers, powerwithinthese organizations, who were neitherpartymembersthemselves nor privy to internalpartyprocesses (Kennedy1991:264;Lane 1996:163,164,169; Mateju 1999:31;Pravda1979:233; Fuller 1999:25-26; T6kes 1996:134, 135). Whatwas moreobvious to manyworkers was how frequentlyrepresentatives the academic, technical, cultural,and of even dissident intelligentsialent open supportto the political intelligentsia,often in moments of crisis (Offe 1997:2; Lane 1996:169; Torpey 1995:74-75; Tokes 1996:175; Kennedy 1992:49; see also Gerber& Hout 1998:9; Korai 1992:325; Fuller 1999:26-27; Creed 1998:167). The conspicuous reluctanceof many intellectuals ever to challenge or oppose the political intelligentsialess overtlyin more ordinarytimes furtherreinforcedworkers' impressionof proximitybetween the two subgroupsof intellectuals (Fuller 1999:26; Torpey 1995:40, 51, 123, 143; Daskalov 1996:75-76; T6kes 1996:187).
SOCIALISM TRANSITION IN
The otherside of the coin was thatthe political intelligentsiaoften coddled and rewarded,humoredand courtedtheir intellectualbrethren.Whetherbest considered calculated moves at cooptation or reflections of a less conscious prejudice in favor of those for whom they felt a certain social affinity, the political intelligentsia afforded others of their stratumpreferentialtreatmentso often and so obviously that Daskalov (1996:74) declares it one-sided and incorrect "(t)o see the career of the intelligentsiaunder state socialism only or even predominantly in termsof 'oppression'." Ratherthanpersecutingotherintellectuals,the political was often as likely to grant them visas, cede them degrees of perintelligentsia sonal, professional,and organizationalfreedom unmatchedelsewhere in society, shower them with prestigiouspublic awardsand positions, channel hefty public resources in their direction, and safeguardtheir ability to take disproportionate advantageof certainsocial opportunities,such as higher educationand participation in the private sector of the economy (Ekiert 1997:314; Connelly 1997:309, 321, 323, 325, 332; Fuller 1999:27-28; Schopflin 1991:246-47; Creed 1998:167; Rona-Tas1997:131-32; Torpey1995:17, 24; Szelenyi & Szelenyi 1994:226-27). Beyond this, in many countries the political intelligentsia treated workers who opposed them more harshly than they did other intellectuals who did so. While intellectualopponentsof the regimewere sometimesignored,allowed to emigrate, grantedconcessions, drafted,or expelled from school, oppositionalworkerswere more likely arrestedand jailed, disappeared,beaten, wounded, and even killed (Georgescu 1988:89; Torpey 1995:38; Kennedy 1992:55-56; Kostecki & Mrela 1984:139, 140, n. 10; Ekiert 1997:310, 318, 320, 325). When we assign these three featuresof the relationshipbetween workersand intellectuals a prominentplace in our sociological conception of what East and Central Europeansocialism was like-a task never easily accomplished in the shadowof the homogeneousparadigm-working-class withdrawal from the political maelstromaccompanyingthe end of socialism seems less a mystery.Merely to pose the logical questions promptedby the recognition that the relationship between workersand intellectualswas marredby tension and antagonism,thatthe two had virtuallyno joint history of oppositionalpolitical engagement,and that workerstended to view all intellectualsas socially similar,is to suggest how we might begin to explain the political passivity of many East and CentralEuropean workersat this criticalhistoricaljuncture. Why would workers,who had hithertonot rushedto the supportof opposition intellectuals,all of a sudden,historicallyspeaking,have done so? Given theirlack of a joint political history,not to mention otherways in which they could be said to live in separatesocial worlds, on what sharedunderstandings experiences and could workers and intellectuals have built the trust essential for joint politics in risky times? Would not their low opinions of intellectualshave made it unlikely workerswould have been attracted or takenthe initiativeto form, allianceswith to, them?Equallyimportant, given thatworkers'negativeperceptionsof intellectuals were reciprocated,why would activist intellectuals have gone out of their way to recruit workersto their political cause, be that supportingor challenging the
socialist statusquo? Wouldn'tthis have simply been too difficultand unrewarding a task, abandonedin favor of the easier one of reachingout to one's own kind? Might the few intellectualswho tried anyway not have flounderedon clumsy and ineffective attemptsto enterworlds and to reachpeople they did not know? Might it not have been more likely that intellectual activists did things and said things with an arroganceguaranteeing workerswould rebufftheirovertures? Viewing all intellectuals as close social kin, why would workershave been much interested in the struggles of the day? Why wouldn't they instead have seen them as none of their affair,as quarrelsbetween membersof a privilegedfamily of which they were not a part,as socialist politics as usual? Why would the eventualelections, an outstandingfeatureof which has been the circulationof powerbetween parties of the old political intelligentsiaandthose led by othersegmentsof the intellectual stratum,have inspiredworking-classpolitical activism?Would the issues raised by the all-intellectualprotagonistsin these struggles and electoral contests, the analysesthey offered,andthe solutionsthey proposedhavefoundmuchresonance with the workingclass? have suggestedanswersto such questionsthatclarify On occasion, researchers how socialistclass relationsarean important to explainingworking-classpolitkey ical demobilizationin the transitionperiod(Judt1988:226;Clarkeet al 1994:194; Baylis 1998:294; Szelenyi et al 1996; Jankowska1995:323;Fuller 1999:97-105; Crowley 1997:29, 190,204,218, n. 26 and27; Stark& Bruszt 1998:ch 1; Kennedy 1992:51-52, 56; Schopflin 1991:24446; Ferguson 1998:459; Tokes 1996:394;
Lane 1996:162, 185, 196; Goodwyn 1991:328; R6na-Tas 1997:197). But as a consequence of the continuing, if hopefully diminishing, adherence to the ho-
this mogenousparadigm, key has too seldom been noticed andmorerarelyturned. In my view, unlocking the many doors now closed throughboth unwitting and enthusiasticacceptanceof homogeneity is precisely what is requiredto uncover new evidence,reopenlong settledquestions,andgenerallydeepen andexpandour knowledgeof East andCentralEurope'ssocialistpast,in orderthatit betterinform our analyses of what succeeds it.
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