A Feasible Socialism?

Roland Lew


Is socialism a contemporary issue? Judging by what one reads in the newspapers, by the general climate of opinion and by the heavy spread by the media, the answer would appear to be 'no'. People certainly talk about socialism, but only in order to denounce or discredit it. 'Authentic socialism' is a dangerous utopia or at best an illusion. 'Actually existing socialism' is a nightmare. The recent experience of socialist governments in Western Europe, proves that socialism is a sham, since they cannot or will not avoid adopting a harsh economic liberalism. Yet here we have one of the leading figures in Soviet studies proposing a 'feasible socialism'. A writer who specialises in the economics of the USSR and the Eastern bloc and who has never been noted for his support for socialism now puts forward his own version of socialism. One's first impression-though, given the present anti-socialist climate, perhaps it is merely a hope-is that the author is coming to the aid of at least a certain socialism. The favourable comments made by Perry Anderson in his latest book tend to strengthen that impression: "In a work of luminous freshness and clarity, common sense and good humour, analytic logic and empirical detail, Nove has put to rest a century of unexamined preconceptions and illusions about what might be on the other side of capital, and awoken us to our first real vision of what a socialist economy, under democratic control, might look like."

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