The Downfall Of Communism In Eastern And

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The Downfall Of Communism In Eastern And Central Europe Essay, Research Paper The Downfall of Communism in Eastern and Central Europe The shocking fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe in the late eighties was remarkable for both its rapidity and its scope. The specifics of communism’s demise varied among nations, but similarities in both the causes and the effects of these revolutions were quite similar. As well, all of the nations involved shared the common goals of implementing democratic systems of government and moving to market economies. In each of these nations, the communist regimes in power were forced to transfer that power to radically different institutions than they were accustomed to. Democracy had been spreading throughout the world for the

preceding two decades, but with a very important difference. While previous political transitions had seen similar circumstances, the actual events in question had generally occurred individually. In Europe, on the other hand, the shift from communism was taking place in a different context altogether. The peoples involved were not looking to affect a narrow set of policy reforms; indeed, what was at stake was a hyper-radical shift from the long-held communist ideology to a western blueprint for governmental and economic policy development. The problem inherent in this type of monumental change is that, according to Ulrich K. Preuss, “In almost all the East and Central European countries, the collapse of authoritarian communist rule has released national, ethnic, religious and

cultural conflicts which can not be solved by purely economic policies” (47). While tremendous changes are evident in both the governmental and economic arenas in Europe, these changes cannot be assumed to always be “mutually reinforcing” (Preuss 47). Generally it has been theorized that the most successful manner of addressing these many difficulties is the drafting of a constitution. But what is clear is the unsatisfactory ability of a constitution to remedy the problems of nationalism and ethnic differences. Preuss notes that when the constitutional state gained favor in North America, it was founded on the principle of the unitary state; it was not designed to address the lack of national identity which is found throughout Europe – and which is counter to the concept

of the constitutional state (48). “Measured in terms of socioeconomic modernization,” writes Helga A. Welsh, “Central and Eastern European countries had reached a level that was considered conducive to the emergence of pluralistic policies” (19). It seemed that the sole reason the downfall of communism, as it were, took so long was the veto power of the Soviet Union. According to theories of modernization, the higher the levels of socioeconomic achievement, the greater the pressure for open competition and, ultimately, democracy. As such, the nations in Eastern and Central Europe were seen as “anomalies in socioeconomically highly-developed countries where particularly intellectual power resources have become widespread” (Welsh 19). Due to their longtime adherence to

communist policies, these nations faced great difficulty in making the transition to a pluralist system as well as a market economy. According to Preuss, these problems were threefold: The genuine economic devastations wrought by the communist regimes, the transformation of the social and economic classes of the command economy into the social and economic lasses of a capitalist economy and, finally, the creation of a constitutional structure for political entities that lack the undisputed integrity of a nation state (48). With such problems as these to contend with in re- engineering their entire economic and political systems, the people of East Germany seemed to be in a particularly enviable position. Economically, they were poised to unite with one of the richest countries,