Goulash Communism

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Goulash Communism (Hungarian: gulyáskommunizmus) refers to the variety of socialism as practised in the Hungarian People's Republic between 1962 and 1989.

In 1962, six years after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the 8th Congress of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party declared the period of "consolidation of socialism" after 1956 to be over and that the "foundations for the establishment of a socialist society" had been achieved which enabled a general amnesty of most people sentenced in connection with 1956. The party, under János Kádár, gradually curbed some of the excesses of the secret police, and introduced a relatively liberal cultural and economic course aimed at overcoming the post-1956 hostility toward the Kádár government. In 1966, the Central Committee approved the "New Economic Mechanism" which eased foreign trade restrictions, gave limited freedom to the workings of the market, and allowed a limited number of small businesses to operate in the services sector.

Goulash Communism showed a far greater concern for public opinion and an increased focus on the present (rather than future) material well-being of the citizens than had been the case in the period preceding 1956. It provided a wider latitude for dissent within the limits of the socialist system, modified the role of the party in the development of socialism (now interpreted as "serving" rather than "commanding"), reduced the formality of relations between the party and the populace at large, increased the scope of societal self-expression and self-management, and refined the guiding Marxist-Leninist ideology with modified means of dissemination.

Hungary's economic resources were mobilised to better satisfy consumer demand by providing a more extensive assortment of consumer goods. Some economic reform measures were introduced to integrate limited market mechanisms into the framework of the planned socialist economy. An unfortunate result of this policy were rising economic stresses and high indebtedness which became evident by the late 1980s.

Since 1989, after the general disintegration of Communist control in Central Europe, Hungary has adopted a Western-style democratic political system and introduced thoroughgoing reforms aimed at establishing a capitalist market economy.

The happiest barrack in the communist camp is a similar term sometimes used to refer to Hungary in this particular period.

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Goulash Communism

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