Heretical Marxism in Central and Eastern Europe

After 1956, greater intellectual scope developed in Eastern and Eastern Central Europe for heterodox ideas linked to Marx and Marxist theory and for views that were independent of the official Communist Party. Important examples include Praxis-Group during 1960s and 1970s Yugoslavia, the Budapest School in Hungary associated with Georg Lukács.

In the case of East Germany, the economist Friedrich “Fritz” Behrens combined a critique of the centralist and bureaucratic style of economic leadership with a concept of democratic socialist self-management as well as a theory of the withering away of the state’s economic organisational function. In one way or another, these currents and people were faced with exclusion and repression and their hopes for a new political orientation were eventually dashed. Nevertheless, their work sometimes gained an impressive amount of resonance at the international level.