Transitions to Capitalism and Democracy in Russia and Central Europe: Achievements, Problems, Prospects

By M. Donald Hancock; John Logue | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Political and Economic Transitions in
Postcommunist Societies

M. Donald Hancock and John Logue

Simultaneous transitions to political democracy and market economics in postcommunist Russia and Central Europe pose fundamental challenges for comparative research and theoretical analysis. Whereas Marx and his followers confidently developed and applied an authoritative blueprint for their vision of a transformation from capitalism to communism, the reversal of that process has assumed a complex array of forms with diverse socioeconomic and political consequences. As Edward Hewett, an economist, observed during the late Gorbachev years: "Economic theory is of little help here. Western economists know a great deal about how to manage a market economy, but very little about how to create one."1 Adequate theories have yet to be devised to explain the internal dynamics of postcommunist societies, and the monographic literature on privatization -- while abundant and rapidly expanding -- is largely configurative and descriptive. Scholars have addressed democratization with respect to both national and comparative transitions, but few have attempted to explore explicit linkages between privatization and democratization in the aftermath of the revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe during the late 1980s and early 1990s. 2

This volume seeks to promote enhanced understanding of the transition from state socialism to diverse forms of capitalist democracy on the basis of single-country and comparative analysis. To this end, the editors invited country specialists in Europe and the United States to undertake systematic analyses of simultaneous processes of privatization and democratization in a selected number of postcommunist regimes. The case studies include Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and eastern Germany. We chose these cases from some thirty-five postcommunist countries and subregions in Central

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