Ideological standoff keeps Czechoslovak reforms at bay

Internal tensions are keeping a lid on any reforms that might serve to stir the stagnant waters of the Czechoslovakian economy. The country's more pragmatic and reform-minded economists and planners are finding themselves pitted against ideological hard-liners who fear any reform even slightly reminiscent of the Dubcek program of 1968.

These hard-liners want Czechoslovakia to further extend its economic, cultural, and political ties with the Soviet Union and to become still more deeply integrated into the communist- bloc trade organization, Comecon.

The pragmatists, however, quote Premier Lubomir Strougal, who said bluntly at last month's Comecon meeting in Prague that Comecon integration is not proceeding rapidly enough to meet technological and other urgent needs, and that the West offers the only trade alternative. They would opt for a more open, market-minded economy.

Currently, even as the government is pressuring managers and workers to adopt efficiency and quality priorities written into a "mini-reform" package tied to the 1981-86 economic plan, the hard-liners are conducting a nationwide campaign against the ideological relaxation they fear might result from these reforms.

In a recent speech, Vasil Bilak, principal hard-liner in the party leadership since the Dubcek period, attacked those officials who would oppose closer Soviet and bloc ties and put living standards -- "how many weekend chalets, cars, and refrigerators we have" -- before the "state of consciousness of the masses."

Meanwhile, government leaders are asking that Czechoslovakia, which until now has been among the more affluent of the East-bloc countries, to "change its economic thinking" and accept the austerities all the other East European regimes are introducing in attempts to cope with domestic difficulties and world recession.

Austerity would, in effect, extend last year's wage freeze through 1980 with even existing incentives and fringe benefits largely contingent on achievement of the new criteria.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK