Political Development in Eastern Europe

By Gabriel Almond; Jan F. Triska et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
COALITION POLITICS AND INFLUENCE IN EASTERN EUROPE

Kent N. Brown

This essay seeks a new perspective on the nature of -East European relations. While the paradigm suggested here does not necessarily exclude or supersede existing theories on Soviet bloc interaction, it does provide a larger framework for analysis than either the totalitarian or unitary-actor models of Communist systems. Before presenting the major hypothesis of this study, it will first be necessary to review the general literature on -East European relations.

There are, generally speaking, three approaches to the study of East European relations. The first, which I term the historical orientation, attempts to periodize the -East European relationship. The second, the systematic approach, seeks to explain the relationship through an analysis of specified variables. Finally, the dependency approach looks primarily at the economic linkages between large and small states. These are neither mutually exclusive nor do they encompass the entire range of possible perspectives. However, this categorization does provide us with more or less manageable parts.

The historical approach is best exemplified by Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Soviet Bloc. Because this remains the most comprehensive study of its type, it merits a thorough review. Brzezinski traces the interplay of ideology, power, and dependence through five historical phases. He begins by noting that the ideology and outlook of Soviet leaders inevitably led them to attempt to impose their own domestic institutional processes on the interstate system. During the early 1950s East European leaders' personal loyalties toward and interaction

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government.

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