The Communists Come to Power
To stipulate that Soviet leaders deemed their hegemony over East Central Europe vital and nonnegotiable does not, in and of itself, indicate the precise forms and structures through which that hegemony was to be exercised. Even to go one step further and note that their close brushes with military catastrophe in 1941 and 1942 had left the Soviet leaders (beginning with Stalin in his own time) obsessed with security concerns and with a propensity toward military definitions of their system's security also does not ipso facto explain the style of the Soviet Union's imposition of its control over East Central Europe after World War II. After all, geomilitary security could have been readily ensured by means other than the imposition of Communist regimes and the attempted Gleichschaltung (enforced coordination) of socioeconomic arrangements throughout postwar East Central Europe to the model of the Soviet Union itself. To account for the methods that Stalin and his heirs selected to operationalize Soviet hegemony over the area requires the introduction of ideological, systemic, contingent, and even idiosyncratic explanatory variables, in addition to postulating “objective” security concerns.
Today we recognize that many of the Western academic analyses of the 1950s and 1960s subscribed to exaggerated images of a rigid blueprint that supposedly guided Moscow and the local East Central European Communists in implementing the procedures and arrangements that Stalin eventually selected to give effect to his perception of Soviet hegemonial requirements. But while validly correcting those earlier