Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe

Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe

Language: English

Pages: 390

ISBN: 1107651131

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This volume brings together a distinguished group of scholars working to address the puzzling durability of communist autocracies in Eastern Europe and Asia, which are the longest-lasting type of nondemocratic regime to emerge after World War I. The volume conceptualizes the communist universe as consisting of the ten regimes in Eastern Europe and Mongolia that eventually collapsed in 1989-91, and the five regimes that survived the fall of the Berlin Wall: China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba. Taken together, the essays offer a theoretical argument that emphasizes the importance of institutional adaptations as a foundation of communist resilience. In particular, the contributors focus on four adaptations: of the economy, of ideology, of the mechanisms for inclusion of potential rivals, and of the institutions of vertical and horizontal accountability. The volume argues that when regimes are no longer able to implement adaptive change, contingent leadership choices and contagion dynamics make collapse more likely. By conducting systematic paired comparisons of the European and Asian cases and by developing arguments that encompass both collapse and resilience, the volume offers a new methodological approach for studying communist autocracies.

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period from 1989–1991 . . . once it [had become] clear that the ministerial supervisors . . . were unable to stop enterprise managers from claiming de facto ownership rights over assets, the pace of spontaneous privatization accelerated.”31 As glasnost got under way, reformers began to be pressured by an increasingly vocal public. “Mass protests,” for instance, resulted in the addition of environmental clauses to the economic reform laws.32 However, on the core issue, market price reform,

culture based on fanaticism, sectarianism, and voluntarism to a self-styled version of Marxist revisionism. In the Russian tradition of reforms from above, Gorbachev’s attempt to restore the moral impetus of communism was based, however, on a miscalculation: the gradual elimination of the bonds over society opened the door to alternatives, autonomous or independent of the thrust of his intentions. The politics of glasnost unleashed pluralism, which owned its own dynamics that transgressed the

official ideology “thought revolution” is the first step in transforming individuals and society, out of which “correct” political organization, and finally increased economic production, will emerge.6 As a philosophical concept and political principle, Juche has often been rather vague, at times nearly indefinable, but at its core Juche reflects a deep sense of Korean nationalism – “putting Korea first.” Kim Il Sung’s 1955 speech emphasized the need to know Korea’s unique history, geography, and

European communism, the newly isolated and defensive DPRK became militarized as never before. This military emphasis was evident immediately after the fall of the USSR, reflected in – among other things – new titles for North Korea’s top two leaders. In December 1991 Kim Jong Il assumed North Korea’s top military position as head of the Korean People’s Army, and on April 20, 1992, he was named “Marshal” (Wonsu).46 Kim Il Sung had been named “Generalissimo” (Taewonsu) one week earlier, on April 13.

contrast, drew together an unusually complex array of players, including local and regional dissidents; a range of nongovernmental organizations; “private” players, such as the Open Society and its founder, George Soros; the Mott Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers; and democracy promoters from both Europe and the United States (such as the United States Agency for International Development and the National Endowment for Democracy and their funded projects and groups, such as Freedom House, the

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