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Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Reflections on the Changes following the Collapse of Communism


  • Kornai, János


What happened 20 years ago in the region formerly ruled by a communist regime was a velvet revolution. And even if it was a revolution without bloodshed, it is a legitimate question to ask what was realized of the revolutionary motto: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité? Liberty is a bundle of rights, composed of at least three sets: (1) political rights; (2) rights of free entrepreneurship, free entry to the market; and (3) freedom of choice between alternative goods and services. There is great progress in achieving all three categories of liberty. As for egalitarian values, inequality rapidly increased, causing aversion against the new order in a large fraction of society. Fraternité, in other words solidarity , is a widely accepted value, but there are great difficulties in its implementation. Post-socialist countries inherited a premature welfare state. The majority of people would prefer universal social entitlements, while the necessary material resources are not sufficient for these ambitious goals. This paper concludes with a discussion of various policy options for easing the contradictions between conflicting and inconsistent objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Kornai, János, 2010. "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Reflections on the Changes following the Collapse of Communism," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(03), pages 379-397, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:eurrev:v:18:y:2010:i:03:p:379-397_00

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