Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe

By Vladimir Tismaneanu | Go to book overview
Save to active project

AGNES HELLER


Legitimation Deficit and Legitimation
Crisis in East European Societies

In the following paper I use the term “legitimation” roughly in its Weberian understanding. A system of domination can be regarded as “legitimate” if at least one part of the population acknowledges it as exemplary and binding, while the other part, most often the majority, does not confront the existing social order with an image of an alternative one as, at least, equally exemplary and more desirable. In Weber's view there are three major sources of legitimacy, namely, the legal order, charisma and tradition.

Dealing with communist systems, I would add first the distinction between the legitimacy of a system (of domination) and the legitimacy of a government, and second two supplementary sources of legitimacy, such as interest and fear. Interest and fear can be termed spurious sources of legitimacy, yet since they can be effective for a long time, they cannot be neglected. Fear can have also two sources. First, fear from Stalinist terror, second, fear from external threat. For example, in the Soviet Union, the first was strong in the thirties, the second during World War II. As far as interest is concerned, it never worked, not even as supplementary source of legitimacy during Stalinism, yet, for example during the second half of Kádár's rule, it did function in Hungary.

I want to say in advance that, whereas Stalinism enjoyed legitimacy in the above described senses in the Soviet Union, especially in Russia and Georgia, it constantly struggled with serious cases of legitimacy deficit in all East European societies, although not in all of them to the same extent. Deficit in legitimacy does not always lead to legitimacy crises, and even in cases of legitimacy crises one has to distinguish between acute and chronic crises, and between the legitimacy crises of the system of domination and the government. It was typical of most

-143-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 444

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?