In this review of the relationship between marxism and East European transformations since 1989, we consider why Eastern Europe is so important to marxism and how marxists have addressed its transformations. We also point to similar analyses of these transformations generated by nonmarxists, and we review exemplary East European interpretations of marxism to demonstrate that the principal challenge in developing marxism in Eastern Europe lies outside its traditional substantive foci and methodological practices. We propose that in order for marxism to maintain itself as an integrated project without ignoring or dismissing Eastern Europe, it must do more than address questions of class and capitalist formation, problems that can be analyzed in parallel fashion without commitment to the normative aspect of socialism. It must also address directly the region's experience with, and rejection of, “really existing socialism,” rather than dismissing these and thereby allowing socialism to function as an ontologically absent but epistemologically structuring desire. In order for marxism to develop further in East European studies, we suggest it must find a way to rearticulate socialism's transcendent project within East European lifeworlds, a task grounded as much in discursive analyses of ideologies and identities as in the political economy of transformations.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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