Political Development in Eastern Europe

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

IN LIEU OF A CONCLUSION

Jan F. Triska Paul M. Cocks

In this volume we have tried to focus on and cope with what we consider to be the essential issues of political development and change in Eastern Europe. To get at those issues, we have employed modes of analysis which appeared to us, individually and collectively, the most appropriate for the respective problems studied. Have we succeeded?

Ours is the second full-fledged volume on the subject. The first, published in 1974, was Politics of Modernization in Eastern Europe: Testing the Soviet Model, edited by Charles Gati -- a thought-provoking and insightful collection of perceptive essays. In a review of that study, the senior editor of this book said that expectations had been raised by that volume and that those who took on this matter in the future would have to do very well indeed. Have we done so?

There are two major problems, both critical, which this volume meets head on. The first is the easier one. It concerns the relationship between Communist studies and comparative politics. As Gabriel Almond points out in the preface, communism was studied as a new type of dictatorship in the 1920s and 1930s, and as a totalitarian dictatorship or "totalitarianism" in the 1950s. Comparative communism became a popular conceptualizing framework in the 1960s. In the 1970s the emphasis has increasingly shifted from comparative communism to comparative politics. The studies of communism have come in out of the cold, less because of any warm hospitality on the part of the discipline of comparative politics than because of the important strides and innovative thinking on the part of students of Communist politics. The studies of communism have a home now. Their gradual incorporation into comparative politics does signify an important phase "in the professional maturation of both fields." The process is far from over; but the guidelines are set, and the mutuality of interests is being recognized by scholars in both disciplines.

The second major critical problem is what appears to many of our generation as the perennial problem of modern studies of politics (although it is not more than thirty years old) which all students of politics share equally and in which students of communist politics are bogged down just as much as everyone else in the profession. This is the familiar horse-and-buggy argument between those who oppose "abstract theoretical approaches" and "quantitative analyses" of political behavior vs. those who criticize "non-cumulative, non-comparable,

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