On the Transition to Socialism
The problems of countries which occupy an intermediate position between capitalism and socialism are undoubtedly among the most important in the modern world. The experiences of the Soviet Union have now been supplemented by those of Eastern Europe, North Korea and North Vietnam, and perhaps most important, China and Cuba. A large technical literature has grown up on the economics of these transitional societies, but the leading ideas and concepts of the analysis have been pioneered nowhere so well as in these pages.
The several articles of the discussion began in October 1968 when Paul M. Sweezy, co-editor of Monthly Review, published an article on the current problems of socialism. This article led to an exchange of views between Sweezy and Charles Bettelheim, Director of Studies at the School for Higher Studies in Social and Economic Science, the Sorbonne. The second part of the book consists of three articles from Monthly Review on the same general subject matter: "Lessons of Soviet Experience", "The Lessons of Poland", and "The Transition to Socialism".
Despite diverse origins and times of writing, the pieces in this book maintain a unity of topic. They concern the economic, social and political aspects of the attempt to create a new society after the governmental power of the old has been destroyed and replaced. Central to the entire discussion is the possibility that the policies adopted by the new governments under the stress of economic and political difficulties may result in the creation of a new capitalism in "statist" forms.