Perestroika: A Comparative Perspective

Perestroika: A Comparative Perspective

Perestroika: A Comparative Perspective

Perestroika: A Comparative Perspective

Synopsis

Using a unique comparative perspective, this volume brings together leading scholars from the U.S. and Eastern Europe to describe and analyze the political democratization and economic decentralization in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Germany, and the fragmenting Soviet Union. The contributors explore the pace of democratic transformation in each country and find that political democracy has outpaced the development of a market economy, and that these transformations have considerable social costs. Also included are observations on the abortive coup in Moscow in August 1991, making this an up-to-date study of the present highly volatile situation.

Excerpt

The Soviet Union, in the aftermath of the failed coup of August 1991, is perhaps the most dramatic east European example of the victory of political democracy and free-market economy since the fall of 1989, when the countries of central and eastern Europe began an unprecedented process of rapidly changing their political, economic, and social character. One by one, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and even Bulgaria and Romania began canceling their social contract with socialism and implementing different facets of a new social contract, that of capitalism. This transformation amounts to a complete change in the philosophy and rules governing all social, economic, and political activity in a region comprising over 10 percent of the world's population and one of the two military superpowers. the far-reaching implications of this change both for the region and for the rest of the world have only begun to surface.

Leading this new "spring of nations" was Poland, quickly followed by Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Within several months, these three countries created conditions for the evolution of multiparty systems, resulting in democratic elections that gave sweeping victories to the new noncommunist parties. the highest priority mandate to these new governments was economic democratization: the overhaul of a command economy and its replacement by . . .

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