Repost from the old site.
Although there were reportedly some serious problems with East German socialism (the Trabant, the ubiquitous vehicle, was a piece of junk), with the recent chaos in world capitalism, many East Germans are now saying that they would rather have socialism than capitalism. A recent survey found that 53% felt that the free market was “unsuitable,” and 43% said that they wanted a socialist system rather than a capitalist one.
Sales of Marx’s Das Kapital have tripled since last year and increased 100X since 1990, although sales as a whole remain low. The publisher expressed amazement and said that he never thought the book would sell well again. He said that even bankers and managers are reading it to try to figure out what’s going in with the turmoil in capitalist economics.
The switch from socialism to capitalism has not worked out very well in the East. Unemployment and poverty are very high. The outskirts of Berlin, Leipzig and the Baltic shore and doing well, but the rest of the region is doing poorly. It’s actually suffering depopulation.
One of the problems with East Germany was that the factories were really not competitive by Western standards. After reunification, they were bought by Western competitors and shut down. That seems devious. The Left Party, a genuine Leftist party, now has 30% support in the East and is the most popular party.
One serious problem with Communism has been that, although in general it got rid of poverty, it was unable to provide more than a low standard of living. Nowadays, for better or worse, people want stuff. They don’t want empty stores, lines, shortages and crappy products. Social capital only goes so far with people. This is going to be a real challenge for modern socialists.
In addition, there was often great economic growth for decades, but then it all bogged down into bureaucracy. Another vexing problem to be dealt with.