I found myself particularly interested with Katherine Verdery’s description of consumption. I do not have much previous knowledge about socialism and why it fell. As she begins to explain consumption in socialist context, she refers back to her discussion of production. The problem of socialism all began with its system of “centralized planning”. “Socialism’s fragility begins with the system of “centralized planning” which the center neither adequately planned nor controlled” (Verdery, 20). The central planners would come up with targets and come up with a means to reach their target goal in production. The problem was, “a result of all the padding of budgets and hoarding of materials was widespread shortages, for which reason socialist economies are called economies of shortage” (Verdery, 21). The other side of production is the consumption. I personally feel that the fall of socialism was more because of the consumption end than the production end. The centralized planning of production never had potential to be stable because “once a consumer got hold of something, the center no longer controlled it; central power was less served by giving things away than by producing things it could continue to control” (verdery, 26). Verdery mentions how in our society we view consumption as primarily a socioeconomic question, which I agree with. Socialism makes consumption into a very politically involved issue. Where the ideal is to have goods distributed fairly among the people, socialism fails in production and consumption causing a constant increase in needs. The system of production and consumption are much to blame, I feel, for the fall of socialism.
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Remember that final presentations are due Dec. 6 in class! Final presentations / Anthropology of Socialism and Postsocialism by Andrew Asher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC
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