The Poverty of Communism

Overview

One third of the world's population today lives under governments that consider themselves to be Marxist-Leninist. In many of these places, severe poverty was endemic in the years before Communist authorities came to power. Communist governments claim to have a special understanding into and effectiveness in dealing with problems of poverty. Marxist-Leninist rulers have been in power for nearly thirty years in Cuba, nearly forty years in China, and over sixty-five years in the ...

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Overview

One third of the world's population today lives under governments that consider themselves to be Marxist-Leninist. In many of these places, severe poverty was endemic in the years before Communist authorities came to power. Communist governments claim to have a special understanding into and effectiveness in dealing with problems of poverty. Marxist-Leninist rulers have been in power for nearly thirty years in Cuba, nearly forty years in China, and over sixty-five years in the Soviet Union. How do the poor fare in such places today?

Western intellectuals often assume there is an inevitable tradeoff between bread and freedom under communism. What populations lose in the way of civil and political rights, they gain in social guarantees that protect them against material hardship. In The Poverty of Communism, Nick Eberstadt challenges this assumption and shatters it. He shows that Communist governments in a wide variety of settings have been no more successful in attending to the material needs of the most vulnerable segments of the populations they govern than non-Communist governments against which they might most readily be compared. Indeed, measured by the health, literacy, and nutrition of their people, Communist governments may today be less effective in dealing with poverty than are non-Communist governments.

The Poverty of Communism is a pathbreaking investigation. In a series of separate studies, Eberstadt analyzes the performance of Communist governments in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and Cuba. This is the first scholarly effort to assess the record of Communist governments with respect to poverty in a detailed and comprehensive fashion. Well written, carefully argued, and reflecting a sweeping range of knowledge, The Poverty of Communism will be of interest to specialists in the countries investigated as well as those concerned with comparative economic and political development. Above all, it gives testimony to the plight of voiceless populations about which all too little has been written from an objective standpoint.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Outstanding Title… This volume grew out of the author's collection of essays written in the early and mid-1980s on state power and poverty in Marxist-Leninist countries. It focuses on the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Mongolia, Cuba, and Vietnam. Marxism promised elimination of poverty caused by capitalist exploitation and economic abundance for the masses in exchange for total sacrifice of freedom... [D]ocument[s] the extent to which Marxist governments, so eager to blame poverty on capitalism, have failed to eradicate poverty in their own domains. Clearly written and well documented, this timely study is recommended for academic and public libraries.”

—O. Zinam, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887388170
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1988
  • Pages: 327
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a senior adviser to the National Board of Asian Research, a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. His previous works on Korean affairs include The Population of North Korea(co-author), Korea Approaches Reunification, A New International Engagement Framework for North Korea?, Korea’s Future and the Great Powers (co-editor), and The End of North Korea.

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