Political Change in Eastern Europe since 1989: Prospects for Liberal Democracy and a Market Economy

By Robert Zuzowski | Go to book overview

two states. Of course, the functioning of consensus of politics steps up the Czechs' prospects of enduringly establishing the envisaged aims.

Yet what makes the country's prospects even brighter, in comparison not only to Poland and Russia but perhaps to all other postcommunist states, is its approach to systemic change. Unlike the rest of the countries of the region, the Czech Republic decided to implement a comprehensive and rapid fundamental transformation based on the rule of law as well as on justice. By the time of this writing, that goal was attained to a large extent. This progress is what makes the difference between the Czech state and the remaining states of Eastern Europe. For such progress to have happened, the Czechs had to have previous experience. Other nations have had none or nearly none.

A relevant question to be posed here is whether there is an objective criterion for measuring the standard of living of an average citizen in a given country. Yes, there are, in fact, numerous criteria. All of them were invented by economists, and perhaps because of that they are costly, time-consuming, and unreliable. In contrast, the method suggested here is cheap, fast, and foolproof. Upon arrival in an East European country, a visitor should find out whether its people are punctual and the public toilets clean--an unmistakable sign of a high standard of living if they are. Believe it or not, punctuality and cleanliness are linked closely to the high standards of living of contemporary society.


NOTES
1.
For instance, László Csaba, The Capitalist Revolution in Eastern Europe: A Contribution to the Economic Theory of Systemic Change (Aldershot, England: Edward Elgar, 1995), p. 291.
2.
Sten Berglund and Jan Åke Dellenbrant, "The Evolution of Party Systems in Eastern Europe," Journal of Communist Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 1992, p. 158.
3.
Johnathan Sunley, "Post-Communism: An Infantile Disorder," The National Interest, No. 44, summer 1996, p. 3.
4.
Ibid.
5.
Newsweek, 9 December 1996, p. 17.
6.
See, for instance, Zbigniew Brzezinski, "the Stages of Postcommunist Transformation," in Yevhen Bystrycky et al. (eds.), The Political Analysis of Postcommunism ( Kiev: Political Thought, 1995), p. 117.
7.
Leif Rosenberger, "Economic Transition in Eastern Europe: Paying the Price for Freedom," East European Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3, September 1992, p. 261.

-147-

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