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Leap into Modernity – Political Economy of Growth on the Periphery, 1943–1980


Adam Leszczyński

This book describes struggles of different countries and their development after World War II. It presents a panorama of different ideologies of accelerated development, which dominated the world just before the war and in the next 40 years. The author explains why in the 1970s global and local elites began to turn away from the state, exchanging statism for the belief in the «invisible hand of the market» as a panacea for underdevelopment. He focuses not only on the genesis of underdevelopment, but also on the causes of popularity of economic planning, and the advent of neoliberalism in the discourse of development economics. This book evaluates the power of state as a vehicle of progress and focuses in detail on the Soviet Union, China, Poland, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Korea.

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Chapter 3. Internal colony


1. Land of the big bluff

In 1931, a twenty year-old New Yorker named John set out for Magnitogorsk via Berlin and Moscow. He had finished three semesters at an experimental college and worked for a few months at a General Electric factory, where he had trained as a welder. America was approaching the lowest depths of the Great Depression. It appeared that capitalism was collapsing under the weight of that crisis. In New York, long lines formed in front of the charity kitchens offering soup for the unemployed.

Scott was not a stereotypical Western fellow traveller of the Communists. He was not an intellectual who supported revolution for ideological or aesthetic reasons. The son of a radical university professor and member of the Communist Party until he was kicked out in 1928 for views that deviated from the party line, he was an idealist, but not a blind one: he was well aware of the terror and misery that reigned in the Soviet Union. He never in fact became a Communist, though neither was he an ideological opponent of communism.280 He was fascinated by the scale of the Stalinist enterprise and its Utopian ambitions – wrenching an enormous, poor country out of centuries of backwardness.

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