Economics as a social science is about exchange and the institutions within which exchange relationships are formed and transactions are executed. Yoram Barzel's contribution to economics and political economy reflect this focus on exchange and institutions. In this paper, I will sketch a theory of real-existing socialist economies from a property rights/public choice perspective. Then I present the puzzles in political economy that such a system confronted in attempting to create a prosperous, regenerating and competitive economic system. I then conclude with a short discussion of the future for a progressive research program in political economy that takes institutional change seriously.