Three Eras of Political Change in Eastern Europe

By Gale Stokes | Go to book overview

3
The Social Origins of East European Politics

In considering the problem of how East European societies have been in the past two centuries it is proper to start with the fundamental transformedimpact of external influences, particularly the Industrial and French revolutions, as well as to take into account the state system within which Eastern Europe awakened to these two revolutions. There is nothing demeaning in this, even though such analysis sometimes goes by the name dependency theory, because every society in the world, even including to a certain extent the core countries of northwestern Europe, has had to participate in this same confrontation. Despite the well-deserved criticisms that modernization theory has undergone, it remains true that the history of most societies includes a lengthy period that precedes the coming of industrialization, a brief transitional period of initial contact and confrontation, and the present, which contains the first moments in what may be another lengthy period of a new relationship between man and nature. 1 It goes without saying, therefore, that the most fundamental questions of modern history are those surrounding the main developments in northwestern Europe since 1500. But when we turn to the specifics of each society's confrontation with the inevitable, endogenous factors must receive equal attention to exogenous ones. When industrialism forced its way unwanted, uninvited, and unexpected into the kitchens of every society in

From Eastern European Politics and Societies, 1 ( 1987), pp. 30-74, copyright © by The American Council of Learned Societies. Reprinted by permission. I would like to thank Peter Gunst and the late Stanley Pech for their comments on an earlier version of this article.

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