Site Loader

Karl Marx said that philosophers have interpreted the world in different ways, the point, however, is to change it. Conforming to the later part of statement, he devised an ideology, Marxism that would reshape the fundamentals of economic, political, social systems of the world. After the Russian October evolution, the ideology of Marx, finally had a whole state for its implementation and experimentation. It gained momentum after the Soviet Union under, Joseph Stalin was among the victors of Second World War. The spread of Communism was rapid in the Central and East European states. For this paper, the states under discussion would be Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. These countries came under the Soviet control, including part of Germany. However, no culture or society can escape the 1989 revolutions; they marked a distinct caesura in international relations and state building. The states that emerged had to deal with unique circumstances, being geographically located in Europe but politically worlds apart. These newly emancipated countries had to undergo a transition from a Soviet style amalgam of “Marxist-Leninist used by Josef Stalin combining the theoretical elements of Marxism with the ‘concrete answers’ of Leninism,” (Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011) to norms of democracy to conform to European Union standards. The disintegration of Central and East European states from Soviet Union did not present them with the situation of ‘ Tabula Rasa’ as said by John Locke, where one can institute new norms, values, ethics, rules in the new system these states now had as the older system of Communism “was however, not just a ‘power-political’ system but one which was an ideological language, functioning through a system of coercion imposed from above” ((Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011). This paper aims to highlight some of the political traditions, legacies, and attitudes of people under Soviet control and discuss the problems, these states faced while undergoing transition to the Western type democracies. Additionally, it will cover attitudes and distinctive values held by these state systems to date which differ from the European states which have been under influence of capitalist block during the Cold-War era.The process of democratization  was although unique to every CEE country but generally it involved a “a ‘Triple Transition’ of ‘nationhood’, ‘Europeanization’, ‘constitution-making’; ‘Democratization’ and the ‘normal politics of allocation’; and ‘Capitalism’ (Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011). In order to assess the effect of political behaviors in transition from Communist states to democracies, we must first analyze the social behaviors and political culture that developed during communist rule and were prevalent in the Central and East European countries (CEE). Civil Society and participation in the democratic process is the key to a robust, interactive and functional democracy. This is in form of debates, policy discussions and other forms of interaction between the government and citizenry. We are interested in the effects of legacies on citizens and how they relate to politics in post-communist countries. Often these types of empirical questions are studied as “political behavior,” encompassing topics such as voting, participation, and public opinion. However, “attitudes towards politics are not technically a “behavior” until the individual acts on that attitude. Therefore, “political behavior” in this context is actions undertaken by citizens such as voting, and “political values” are ‘attitudes’ held by citizens towards politics, political actors such as political parties, and public policy. The breakdown of Communist rule left states, citizens and future lawmakers in a position whereby they could never experience a ‘clean state’ due to the ‘baggage’ left over from the past” (Holmes, 1997: 15). “The mere fact of Communism being an ‘unnatural’ doctrine (in that it opposes human nature and individuality) (Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011)) meant that movement away from it would never be a simple task.”  As a result, Civil Society has faced somewhat of a ‘moral vacuum’ whereby citizens were ‘free’ but left feeling as though they had little institutional stability and there was nothing they could do about it, a somewhat ‘ironic freedom’ (Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011) which rendered Civil Society ‘flat’. So, there has been relative absence of vibrant civil society, in comparison to their West European countries. It was because of authoritarian economic and social policies under the regime. However, when in, democracy , these post communist “citizens have greater belief in the ability of protest to influence political developments,”( Communism’s Shadow, (Princeton University Press, 2017) as opposed to in the communist regimes. Such developments in democracy have been because of gradual build up of trust in the democracy and evolution of institutions in the post- communist states, as the indicators for democracy improved and with certain parameters such as “level of political freedom and civil liberties have improved to an extent that they are comparable to the United Kingdom, France or Germany.”(Fidrmuc 2003). Moreover, a number of studies have shown thatpost-communist citizens are less likely to belong to civic organizations (Communism’s Shadow, (Princeton University Press, 2017) ,so any development in buildup of trust in democracy is a sign of how these states have transitioned from inherent distrust in system to more participation and political freedom.              Another aspect of Communism was the regulation of the economic activity of the state. However, there is also a comparative analysis of transforming communist or socialist economic system  into laisezz-faire economy in form of China. China has gradually opened up it market and is now a free-market economy. Untill late 1980s China had strongly centralized market because “a market economy does not need a functioning democracy.” ((Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011)) and China’s social and political indicators are not at par with the democratic system of government, especially the tenets of open government of Western style governance. The central and East European countries needed to have free market economy based on capitalism. This ideal is congruent with Western thought that in establishing an ‘economy-led transformation’, the result would be democracy. In spite of this, establishing a democracy via implementation of market economy lead to inevitable issues such as corruption to creep in with the public perceiving the ‘new’ capitalist class as no better than the old nomenklatura of the Communist era with politics being perceived as a ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’ business; indeed, ‘cosy’ relations between the political and business elites have done little to quell these concerns ((Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011)). But sooner or later, if the CEE states wanted to build themselves as capitalists economies, they have to go through a transition whereby democracy comes first with capitalism  Such economic and political mix  of capitalism is necessary as both complement each other in form of generating interdependence between the stakeholders within state, multinational corporations or with the global economic system. In the instance of economic policy and development, Balcerowicz (1994) quite clearly establishes 3 fields of analysis: “Macroeconomic stabilisation, microeconomic liberalisation and fundamental institutional restructuring whereby old state-based restrictions on the economy are removed and new institutions are developed such as a stock exchange  alongside policy reforms such as new tax codes and privatization of state enterprise” (Billy Marsh “The Legacy of Communism in CEE” 2011) . So, we have discussed the socio-economic progress of the Central and East European states in a period of just about 3 decades. The general observation has been social legacies of communist rule impacted and at times hindered smooth policy making and its implementation towards the new system of democracy. The interplay of authoritarian governments, centralized and regulated economy and the social norms had their distinctive impacts in shaping the future of these states.                                                 Works CitedFidrmuc, Jan. “Economic reform, democracy and growth during post-Communist transition.” European Journal of Political Economy, vol. 19, no. 3, 2003, pp. 583–604., doi:10.1016/s0176-2680(03)00010-7.                                                                                         Pop-Eleches, Grigore, and Joshua A. Tucker. Communisms shadow historical legacies and contemporary political attitudes. Princeton University Press, 2017.”The Legacy of Communism in CEE.” E-International Relations,

Post Author: admin


I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out