The first study in the Western world to compare the relationship between food and politics in the countries of Eastern Europe, this book views the current food revolution as part of the modernization process. Robert Deutsch argues that the communist leaders in the Comecon countries increasingly link political stability and preservation of power to the problem of satisfying consumer demand. He also assesses the various social forces that have brought about the food revolution. The most important is the expanded working class, which is no longer willing to defer consumer demands to a hypothetical communist future. The CMEA countries thus face the dilemma of either gradually liberalizing their economies in order to meet growing consumer demands or resorting to repression. Neither of these options promises a long-term solution for implementing economic policies prescribed by Marxist-Leninist doctrine. Robert Deutsch presents case studies of Hungary, Bulgaria, and the German Democratic Republic as examples of the "relative success" of economic reforms. To a greater or lesser extent, these countries have opted for economic decentralization by liberalizing private ownership and pricing policy and by integrating planning with market-oriented concepts. The author compares this with the economic problems of the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The study is enhanced by an exhaustive bibliography, arranged topically and drawn from the specialized literature in several languages.
Preface -- The Food Revolution in Socialism -- Social History of Food in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe -- Dilemmas of Communist Modernization -- The Historical Evolution of Soviet Agriculture -- The Agricultural System of the CMEA Countries: An Overview -- The “Relative Success” Stories -- The Petrified Economies -- The Middle Income Challenge -- Rising Food Consumption and International Relations -- Toward a Socialist Consumer Society?