Communism Downfall

1644 WORDS

Communism Downfall

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, having one of the
strongest economies, in the entire world. In the competition for foreign
investment, such an alliance gave the late German Democratic Republic a
seemingly insurmountable lead over other nations. In regards to the political
aspects of unification, it effectively left a Germany with no national or ethnic
minorities, as well as having undisputed boundaries. As well, there was no need
to create a constitution (although many of the pitfalls of constitution-
building would have been easily-avoided due to the advantages Germany had),
because the leaders of the GDR had joined the Federal Republic by accession and,
accordingly, allowed its Basic Law to be extended over their territory. For all
the good that seemed to be imminent as a result of unification, many problems
also arose regarding the political transformation that Germany was undergoing.

Among these problems were the following: the tensions between the Basic Law's
simultaneous commitments to supranational integration and to the German nation
state, the relationship between the nation and the constitution as two different
modes of political integration and the issue of so- called "backward
justice" (Preuss

Read the full essay 1644 words