The readings and exercises in class made me very curious about how effective a socialist economy is in supplying the needs of the population. It is by far not the most efficient way of making, well, anything. But it seems a very leisurely way of life if it is effective in providing citizens with enough to be happy. However, I am unsure as to the quality of the goods, or the happiness of the population.
The “theft” that takes/took place in socialist economies is confounding because it is quite strange to think of people in a society so focused on regulation and control breaking those rules every day. There is also the element of fear that must have been in everyones’ lives. If obtaining goods on the grey/black market was commonplace and essential for everyone to do, for personal and business reasons, but was also a risky endeavour, with dire consequences should one get caught, then almost every member of society would be living in an environment rife with suspicion and fear. So in retrospect I suppose that if every socialist system depends not on central planning but in the ingenuity its citizens have to have to fulfill personal and business requirements, it would in fact be instead of leisurely, fear-filled.
Another factor that would contribute to fear and discomfort in a socialist society is the corruption and ruthlessness I feel would have to permeate society in order for everyone to be working in the grey/black market to gain what they needed/desired. In the game we made of a socialist centrally planned economy, no one got into it enough for us to really be ruthless or underhanded in our trades. However, if our livlihoods depended on it, I’m sure it would have been much more brutal. I realise the capitalism encourages this general sort of behaviour as well, yet there at least it is usually only the owners of companies acting in such a way. In a socialist system, every individual must act on his/her own interest to gain survival and business needs. All in all, I’m still not sure which society is preferable in terms of ease of existence. Socialism, in the Kawelet and Firlit articles, does retain that element of free time and short hours, yet I feel as if fear must have been an ever-present element of live for a working adult. Yet while capitalism is a much more efficient manner of production, it is also much faster, seemingly more demanding of those who work in the system, and equally if not more rewarding of ruthless business practices.
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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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