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politics in the kitchen...

Could any cooking expert explain to me what the phrase: “goulash communism” might mean?

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Main Entry: goulash democracy
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: the economic and political system adopted in Hungary after the collapse of Communism; also called goulash communism
Example: Goulash democracy offered the prospect of material welfare in exchange for silence.

Persephone Imytholin March 18, 2005, 4:31pm

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Thank you, Persephone.

marta March 19, 2005, 8:49am

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As an ethnic Hungarian who regularly makes goulash (my father insists on "gulyas," its spelling in Hungarian), I guess I'm a cooking expert :) but I have nothing to add to what Persephone said, since I actually had never heard the term before.

But given that goulash is a stew, and Communism presumably follows the marxist doctrine of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," the term makes me think of the fable "Stone Soup." (grin)

speedwell2 March 23, 2005, 4:38am

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I dunno about that, but Marx says, "Quantity effects quality!" I think when the Communism gets as soupy as goulash then it goes as awry as it went. Hence Goulash Communism! ;-)

goossun March 23, 2005, 5:12am

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Not to mention what goulash looks like to the people below you when you throw it, lukewarm, over a balcony at a movie theater while making juvenile retching noises....

OK, I swear I've never actually DONE this, so the movie buffs in the group need not crucify me....

speedwell2 March 24, 2005, 3:07am

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OK, I'm going to go do actual work now....

speedwell2 March 24, 2005, 3:07am

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I am not a cooking expert but I have heard the term before. Goulash communism means a not so strict form (with elements of market economy) of communism.

uwe.neumann April 4, 2005, 12:39am

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i would like to have a speech done

albertford August 15, 2005, 6:21pm

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I would suggest that the expression arose because goulash is a word particularly associated with Hungary, and therefore used to allude to something uniquely Hungarian.

mike June 6, 2006, 2:25am

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Well, goulash certainly is Hungarian, but the word is more than just an allusion to something Hungarian. Goulash is a stew-like dish with chunks of meat, vegetables, lots of paprika, etc; a very non-homogeneous mixture. Thus, the word goulash has come to be a metaphor for a mixture of things, especially a varied mixture. Goulash communism / democracy describes the alteration of the Hungarian economic system during and after the fall of communism. Specifically the contrast of a market vs. command economy as a quasi-free market was adopted. For more details look at:


porsche June 6, 2006, 4:56am

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Yes     No