This title contains eight essays that are connected by various common strands. The most important one is the community of the main subject-matter: socialism, capitalism, democracy, change of system. These four expressions cover four phenomena of great and comprehensive importance. Each piece in the book deals with these and the connections between them. One of the Leitmotifs is the 'capitalism/socialism' pair of opposites. Capitalism has a history of several hundred years, while the socialist regime existed only for a few decades. But this pair of opposites was central to the history of the twentieth century. This antagonism put its stamp on political thinking, on the foreign policy and military preparedness of every country, and on some appallingly destructive armed conflicts.All these had great secondary influence on each country's economic development and the standard of living and disposition of its inhabitants. None of the studies is confined to one country - not to Hungary or to any other. Each tries to embrace the problems common to greater units. However, the greater unit comprehended is not the same in each study.
One may deal with the capitalist or socialist system in general, another will all the post-socialist countries, and a third the Central East European region. But all extend the analysis beyond the borders of one country.
Janos Kornai is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Harvard University, and author of Economics of Shortage (1980), has been the most influential critic of the political economy of Socialism from within the block.