Capitalist Restoration or Dismantling of State Capitalism? Post-Communist Transformation from the Viewpoint of the Comparative Historical Sociology of Restorations

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Zenonas NORKUS, Institute of Sociology and Social Work, Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University, Lithuania
Scheming the restoration of capitalism (along with the dismemberment of the USSR) was the top indictment and crime punished by the death sentence in the show trials against trotskyists and members of right Opposition of the Bolshevik/Communist party in 1936-38, known as „Moscow trials“. In fact, none among the defendants planned or even contemplated this (mis)deed. However, the restoration of capitalism is what Gorbachev, Yeltsin and other late communist reformers really achieved. But was the Stalinist political economic system really non-capitalist? The paper discusses implications of different models of the political economic system which emerged in the wake of the „October revolution“ for the analysis of post-communist transformation and suggesting an outline of the general theory of modern social restorations, applying it to post-communist transformations as specific cases. While comparative research on revolutions is well-established research field, there is still no sociological theory of restorations. This asymmetry reflects a dominant assumption of both modern societies and social sciences that (radical) social innovations are intrinsically positive. In fact, many of them fail or end as disasters or historical deadlocks. Classical cases of modern restorations are the Stuart restoration in England 1660 and the Bourbon restoration in France 1815. However, not only monarchies or dynasties can be restored, but also democratic regimes, states (e.g. by liberation from foreign occupation), economic systems (e.g. capitalism), and classes. In addition to macro-restorations, there are also mega-restorations (e.g. of empires, international systems) and micro-restorations (e.g. of friendships, families). In some cases, restorations of different kinds take place simultaneously, as it did happen when restoring the Jewish state (Israel). From the new viewpoint of the comparative historical sociology of restorations, the post-communist transformation was a multiple restoration, encompassing the restorations of capitalism and of capitalist entrepreneur class, of democracy, and in some cases – of independent states.