Subsidising the Academician

Alec Nove

  • Urban Inequalities under State Socialism by I. Szelenyi
    Oxford, 158 pp, £15.00, October 1983, ISBN 0 19 877175 4

This is a well-documented, thought-provoking monograph, much of it written when the author was still in Hungary, but reinforced by a fascinating introduction which makes the whole argument accessible to ‘bourgeois’ readers. Among the book’s many merits is its dry ironic humour. Szelenyi now lives in America, but, unlike some other émigrés, he has not swung from one extreme to the other. He does not believe that market forces left to themselves are likely to solve the housing problem, or that state-planning as such is wrong. This makes his critical analysis of how such problems are handled in Eastern Europe all the more effective. While his detailed research was based on the situation in two Hungarian provincial cities, and in Budapest, he has satisfied himself that the same tendencies exist in the Soviet Union and in other countries which he calls ‘state socialist’, though with important local variations.

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