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The End of Communism in Eastern Europe Author(s): George Schopflin Reviewed work(s): Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute

of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 3-16 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the Royal Institute of International Affairs Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2622187 . Accessed: 23/05/2012 09:35
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T7-1

hne ofcommunism end


1

in Eastern Europe

GEORGE

SCHOPFLIN

This article explores whycommunism collapsed Centraland Eastern has in Europe. In particular, looksat thereasonsfor speedand thesuddenness the it the of and an transformation offers analysisin terms theincreasing of decayof Soviet-type the systems throughout 1980s untilthey finally provedincapable self-reproduction. of It investigates variousfactors contributed thecollapse-economic the that to and within deprivation, criticismfrom intellectuals, populardemonstrations divisions thecommunist raisesquestions aboutthe partyleaderships. Finally,thearticle significance thetransformationthe of for future Europeas a whole. of of I989 was the annusmirabilis the postwarera in Europe. It was the yearwhen Europe grew up and shook offthe legacy of the Great European Civil War of I9I4-45 and began to redefine itself its own termsand againstthe now in whichhad exercisedtutelageover it forso long. The key decliningsuperpowers event in this process was the transformation Hungary, Poland, East of Germany, Bulgaria and then Czechoslovakia into nascent democracies, as symbolizedmost spectacularly the chippingaway at the Berlin Wall after by theannouncement 9 November I989 fromEast Berlinthatall citizensof the on German Democratic Republic were freeto travel to the West. The divided halves of Europe could now begin the slow movementtowardsreintegration. It is important be clear as to what it was thatdecayed and was replacedin to the countriesof Central and EasternEurope, given that various illusions or in in about thearea persist some quarters theWest and that grudgingsuspicions is the democratic transformation not greeted with universal rejoicing. It is importantto understandthat Soviet-typesystemshave next to nothing in common with socialism as this was defined in the West. Socialism has traditionally involved commitmentto equality, social justice, respectfor the individual,widening choice and access to the decision-making processesthat govern the life of a community. have had nothingin common with any of theseideals. Soviet-typesystems Their connectionwith the socialistagenda has been twofold. First,theyhave of used the state as an instrument social engineering-which has been an acceptable device to Western socialism as well-but have done this without
International Affairs 66,
I (I990) 3-I6

GeorgeSchopflin regard to society. Second, they have used the language of socialism,entirely devoid of its content, a means of legitimation home and abroad. Whereas as at at home thisattracted very littlesupport,essentially afterthe I968 invasionof Czechoslovakia had signalledthatthe Soviet road was mere formwithoutreal content, the West many regardedthe verbalcommitment socialismin the in to communistworld as real and gave these slogans some credence,even while This credulousness deploringsome of the failuresof the Soviet-typesystems. effectively preventedmuch of the Western left from undertakinga muchneeded analysisof these systems, and therebycontributedto the survival of for thesesystems a while. In reality the pivot of the Soviet-type system was that it enforced the construction of a wholly politically determined future, in which all spheres economic, social, legal, aesthetic, religious,etc. were subordinated to politicalcriteria, of in regardless appropriateness, thename of an ideologically derived goal. Because of theirone-sided distribution power, the rulersof of thesesystems could neveraccept any significant degreeof social autonomyand, indeed,consistently destroyed manifestations uncontrolled all of social thought and action, particularly any organized form. in The initial commitmentto an ideologically derived futurity gave these systemsa degree of cohesivenessand consistency, albeit these were firmly directed againstthewishesof themajority. However, once theshift towardsthe decompositionof ideology began in the I970s, as seen in Gierek's Poland or Husaik'sCzechoslovakia forexample,thesystems became increasingly arbitrary and discretionary.In the short term this development was useful for criticism frombelow and relativizing But in the medium-toit. disorientating longer termit led the rulersto an intellectual and eventuallyto a moral morass fromwhich theyfound it impossibleto escape. However, the damage inflictedon these societies during the 40 years of and Soviet-typerule was far-reaching profound,oftenin ways thathave yetto be fullyunderstood.Crucially,the Soviet-typerevolutiondestroyedthe civil societiesthatwere coming into being after Second World War. Before the the communisttakeovers,these countrieswere at best semi-developed even the Czechoslovak experiment in democracy between the wars had its shortcomings-but they were not the homogenized, simple polities that they became as a resultof the Stalinistrevolution.The countriesof the region had embarked on theirown, oftenratherfitful roads towards modernity, which recognized the existence of the market and the move towards greater complexity.These processeswere cut short,and all subsequentdevelopment took place under the aegis of the state.

The systembuilt by Stalin


The politicalsystemintroducedby Stalinismwas in many respects simple and and unstructured depended heavily on the potentialor actual politicizationof all transactions. centrewas the nomenklatura, arrangement which all Its the by 4

The endofcommunism significant appointments were made with the acquiescence of the party and relyingon political criteria.This proved to be particularly damaging in the runningof the economy. Soviet-typeeconomies were, in the final analysis, concerned not with matching supply and demand, but with administering inputs and outputs; in other words, the economy was detached from the consumerand producer,and non-economic criteriawere frequently used to distort economic rationality. The much vauntedcentral planningsystem tended towardsconserving simplified a industrial structure was lessand lesscapable that model of of meetingthe challengeof the world market.And once the Stalinist the imperativesof the world market autarkydiminishedin its significance, could no longer be fullyignored. The unproductive and uncreative nature of the Soviet-type system was masked fora long time. It could surviveby, in effect, pursuinga kind of slashand-burnpolicy, in thatit used up existingresourceswithoutadding enough to replace them.In the first stage,it lived offsurpluslabour in the countryside and thecapitalresources thathad been amassedbeforecommunism.These were largelyexhaustedby the early I96os; indeed, the statesof the area experienced a general downturn at that point, with Czechoslovakia becoming the first communistcountryto register negativegrowthrate.In the second stage,the a running of the system,which was concentratedon first-generation heavy industry (coal, steel,energygeneration and heavy metallurgical manufactures), was supportedby the releaseof additionalenergiesderivedfromthe economic of restructuring the I96os and theneglectof infrastructure to some extent, and, In and expansionof heavyindustry to agriculture. thethird stage,therunning in an extentthearea underwent secondheavyindustrialization the I970S was a financedby borrowingfromthe West, a resourcethatran out with the Polish fiasco of 1980-I. At thisstage the pressureto returnto economic rationality became hard to fendoff;but it took the best of a decade beforethe rulersconcluded thatthe was mostclearly politicalequation was in dangerof comingapart.The situation visible in Poland, where the reconstruction a neo-Leninist,politically of determined afterI98i may have broughtthe semblanceof a temporary system and highlyconditionalstability, the growinggulfbetweenrulersand ruled but was threatening become explosive. A particular to dangerpoint was thesteady which was replacedby a kind of normlessness. loss of authority the rulers, by In essence,althoughtheeconomic deterioration theproximatecause of the was For all practical crisis,this was no more than its most salient manifestation. were no longer capable purposes,by the end of the I980s Soviet-typesystems of self-reproduction.

The decline in legitimacy


in Not surprisingly thelightof theforegoing, Soviet-type the thatwere systems afterthe Second World War never gained genuine imposed on thesecountries At in popular legitimacy. best theywere tolerated periodswhen the going was 5

GeorgeSchdpflin good by the bulk of the population, as, say, in Poland in Gierek's heyday or neverreally Hungarywhen Ka'dar'sregimewas at itszenith.But thesesystems in soughtlegitimacy theWesternsense,of seekingcontinuing popular approval expressed through open elections.Rathertheyclaimedto derivetheir legitimacy fromthemulti-tiered propositionthatthepartyruledbecause it was thelegatee of a communistrevolution, of thatit was the thatit was therepository history, thatit represented bestand most mostrationaland efficient forcein thestate, the progressiveelements of the national tradition.When all these claims were the exposed as threadbareand no longer creditworthy, party insistedon its monopoly rule because it held power and therewas no alternative. thatwas witnessedin I989 was, in about the unravelling What is fascinating the first place, the factthatit took so littleto launch the processand, second, of it thatonce started, happened at breathtaking speed. The reserves thesystem were exhausted-reservesin thisconnectionmeaningnotjust theeconomic and benefits thatit was supposedto deliver,but itspoliticalreserves well. as material An itself This raisestheproblem of self-legitimation. authoritarian elitesustains in power notjust throughforceand the threat forcebut, more importantly, of because it has some vision of the future which it can justifyitselfto itself. by No regimecan survivelong withoutsome conceptof purposiveness project to its existenceforwardin time. In both Poland and Hungary,thevitalnexus in theprocessof delegitimation was the loss of the supportof the significant sectionsof the criticalintellectuals and theintelligentsia. Other thanin periodsof highrevolutionary mobilization, has thatis to say afterroutinization overcome the initialimpulsionto power, the supporting intellectuals sustainauthoritarian regimesby actingas a mirror in which the rulerssee themselves It reflected. is vital thatthismirrorreflects a picturethatis positiveforthe rulers;hence censorship, because at the moment when some other, much more realistic picture is visible in the public sphere- and the intellectuals control the public sphere through their hegemonial controlof language- the rulersbecome confused.This confusion is then transmitted throughthe hierarchy, upwards and downwards,untilthe rulingpartyloses its cohesion and becomes preyto self-doubt. Somethinglike this was experienced in all the major crises of communism in the postwar period-in Poland and Hungary in I956, in Czechoslovakia in I968 and in Poland in I980. The next likely stage is the radicalizationof at least a section of the party membershipand moves towards self-preservation the middle and upper by levels of the elite. The membership likelyto demand a return some kind is to of idealized vision of socialism; the upper echelons,on the otherhand, will try to limitchangesto the minimumin orderto preserveas much of theirpower as is compatiblewith thenew situation, and possiblymore. The pace and extent of change will then depend on resistanceto change by leadership, the effectiveness control over the media and the perceptionof threatfrom a of popular upheaval. One near-standard of feature changein Soviet-type politiesis their propensity 6

The endofcommunism to tryand avoid payingthehighpoliticalpricethatgoes with theredistribution of power and to change leadersrather thanpolicies. This was triedin Hungary with the dropping of Ka'dairin May I988, in the GDR with the purging of Honecker in October I989, and in Czechoslovakia with rathergreatersuccess with the replacementof Husaikby Jakesin December I988. The temporary successof the Czechoslovak switchwas attributable a varietyof factors, to of which itstimeliness themostsalient.At thetimeof writing was uncertain it was how effective retirement the Bulgarian partyleader Zhivkov in favour the of of Petur Mladenov was likelyto be. The political shifts In Poland the key event in the processthatdebouched into the formation a of Solidarity-ledgovernmentwas the wave of strikesin the spring and late summer of I988, which brought it home to the rulersthat the countrywas in had ceased to be headed towards ungovernability, as much as the strikers and were striking its own for concernedabout materialbenefits particularly sake. This createda situationwhere an explosion became a seriouspossibility. This recognitionprompted a section of the elite to open negotiationswith thatstillhad (then)undergroundSolidarityin a quest fora negotiating partner some authority over society.The Round Table Agreementof April I989 was modestarrangement thatprovidedforislandsof democracyin a sea a relatively of authoritarianism, theAgreementwas simplytornup by thevotersin the but nonJune elections.That led directlyto the reluctantacceptance of the first communistgovernmentin Central and EasternEurope afterthe communist seizure of power. In Hungary the process was not so dramatic.When strippeddown to its the in regime essentials, transformation Hungarybegan in I986 when theKa'dair began to lose the loyaltyof its supportingintellectuals, largelybecause Ka'dar refusedto acknowledge that the country was in crisis and urgent reform were needed. This opened up thepublic sphereto mountingcriticism, measures which met a groundswellof discontent frombelow. This spilledover into the which was sufficiently radicalizedby May I988 to remove partymembership, was hesitant and Ka'darand installa largelynew politburo.The new leadership low in authority, that by the autumn of I988 alternativepolitical actors so began to move into the resulting political vacuum. timesincethe Then, in I989, the communist partywas operatingforthefirst of aftermath the war in a competitivesituationand was outmatchedin the concession.The role of Imre Pozsgay, politicaldebate,makingconcessionafter who had decided thatthecreationof a Western-style liberaldemocracywas the only viable solution to Hungary's problems-valid in its own right and if essential Westernsupportwas to be forthcoming-was a vital factorin this process. By October I989, the communist party concluded that it must undergo radical change itselfif it was to survivepoliticallyand, to thisend, dissolveditselfin order to begin a rebirth. The dissolutionof the partyfreed 7

GeorgeSchopflin both the parliamentand the governmentfrom partydiscipline; and a set of radical measuresensuringthatthe bases of the communistparty'spower were eliminated was enacted into law.' Thereupon Hungary became a liberal republic,waiting for the electionsto be held in the springof I990. has The routetowardsdemocracythrougheconomic deterioration also been affecting Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. It is not, however, the only instrument of transformation. the case of Bulgaria, the last few yearssaw the riseof an In critical Zhivkov's refusal of intellectual oppositionthathad grown increasingly was to contemplate change.The initialimpetusto criticism thealarmingdecline of theenvironment, thisbroadenedout into a generalsenseof dismayat the but by stateof the country,somethingthatwas intensified the factthatBulgaria transmits the programmesof the firstSoviet televisionchannel. What had pro-Soviet originallybeen intendedby Zhivkov as a piece of propagandistic sycophancyexploded in his face when the Soviet media became engaged in glasnost.The last straw was Zhivkov's quixotic decision of I989 to expel Bulgaria's Turkish minority.This move, taken without much consultation, and an antiangeredenough of his politburocolleagues to splitthe leadership, thatthe Soviet Union Zhivkov coalition came into being. Having established had no objectionto Zhivkov's removaland havingseen a major demonstration in voted of popular angerwith thesituation earlyNovember I989, theyfinally to remove him and replace him with Petur Mladenov. In Czechoslovakia the elementsin the processwere similar, thattherehad in fromintellectuals, Charter77; the economy like been many yearsof criticism was declining,thoughit was not yetin the catastrophic statethatcharacterized Poland or Hungary; and therewas growing evidence of popular disaffection The crowds that filled the entire expressed through streetdemonstrations. at 20 WenceslasSquare in Prague on and after November were estimated several in hundred thousandstrong,and therewere demonstrations some provincial in centresas well. The fairlyhigh level of participation the two-hour general strike 27 November was verybad news forthe leadershipindeed because it on sectionsof theindustrial a workingclass,traditionally indicatedthatsignificant base of support for the party,were ready for change. Another particularly ominous signfortheleadership was when partycontrolover the media started to crack-several newspapersbegan to reject the surfaceunanimityessential authoritarianism and to carry real reportsof events. This was for effective followed by demands from televisionjournaliststo be allowed to carryfull coverage of the demonstrations. decided to resignand tryto salvage as much On 24 November theleadership of its power as it could by appointingless exposed but equally non-reformist successors.However, this device was unacceptableto Czechoslovak opinion, especiallywhen it emergedthattherewere divisionsin the leadership;and the prime minister,Ladislav Adamec, offered to negotiate with the newly the establishedopposition group, Civic Forum. The pressureto transform
of the Theseincluded liquidation theparty's army(theWorkers' Guard),thebanning private for and cellsfrom of communist by party workplaces, a publicaccounting theparty all itsproperty.

The endofcommunism communistsysteminto democracy,once initiated,seemed inexorable as the leadership'smorale crumbledand was seen to crumbleby public opinion. was clearly affectedby the In both cases, the process of transformation international demonstration processas well. The factthattheSoviet Union was was significant no longera forceforthestatus but in thevanguardof reform quo to in making it more difficult conservatives rely on the pretextof Soviet for events in the disapproval to keep change offthe agenda. Equally important, to other Central and East European countriesbecame more difficult ignore or when theywere no longerisolatedto one country another.It is hardto avoid crowds in the GDR-accessible the conclusionthatthe sightof demonstrating throughWest German and Austriantelevision-influencedthose in Prague, events in and that the changes in Poland, Hungary and the GDR affected Bulgaria. The East German case Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria had one enormous advantage over the GDR, however-even if theircommunistsystems were in disarray, theyhad otherreasonsfortheirexistence.In a veryreal sense,the Soviet-type of on systems thesecountries have been parasitical nationhood,in as much as the central constitutiveelement for Poland and Hungary that has held them as as together politieshas been their senseofpurposiveness nationalcommunities. This does not, of course, apply to the GDR, even if East German spurious propagandists have made a brave attemptto put togetheran entirely elementof the GDR. socialistnation thatpurportsto be the state-constitutive In reality, GDR existsoverwhelmingly because it is communist;and if that the ceases to be, itsraison d'e'tre goes too. Hence if the key thatunlocked the system in Poland and Hungary was economic decline,thiscould not be said to apply to eitherthe GDR or Slovenia, where the economies remainedhealthy.The point here is thatunlike the otherpolitiesof Central and EasternEurope, the GDR's legitimacyis weak both as a regimeand as a state.Thus the exodus of East Germansin thesummer largenumbersof themostable and mostenergetic and autumn of I989 represented severe loss of prestigeto the stateand the a partyleadership. Hence it is more readilyunderstandable thattheregimecould be knockedoff its balance so easily in I989 by an issue that primafacie looks as relatively marginalas emigration.At the same time,theimpact of the enormouscrowds repeatedlytaking to the streetsin Leipzig, East Berlin, Dresden, Halle and elsewherein October/November has evidentlybeen deeply demoralizingto the leadership, itself power by keepingall dissent in which had sustained out of thatduringthe I980s the one issue on sight.In thiscontextit was noteworthy which the Jaruzelskiregime was quite obdurate was its hostilityto public of demonstrations dissent,even while it was prepared to live with a sea of and otheroppositionactivity thatremainedout of sight.The tolerance samizdat of the GDR's non-legitimate regime for publicly expresseddissentwas very 9

GeorgeSchopflin low. When in October I989, in connection with the 40th anniversary celebrationsof the communist state, the Soviet Union withdrew its moral support and then large crowds demonstrated steadilyfor several weeks, the leadership first soughtto save itself dumpingunpopularleadersand thenby by making one radical concessionafteranother. In Slovenia, Yugoslavia, theprocesswas lessspectacular, and did not involve either economic decay or popular protest. The shift away from party monopoly rulewas broughtabout by a leadership thatrecognizedthatpolitical was transformation in its interest, an intellectual by climatethatwas criticalof therebyensuringthatthe limitsof the leadershipbut not actuallydestructive, the debate shiftedgradually,and ultimatelyalso by external pressurefrom Serbia thatwas perceivedby Slovenes as illegitimate and pushed themtowards seeing the changing political situationas part of theirnational identityand Serbian demands as a threatto thatidentity. From erosion to collapse What all thisadds up to is thatthe neo-Leninist of systems Centraland Eastern in where only a fundamental shift both Europe have reached a stateof affairs political and economic structurescan save them from collapse. Collapse but requiressome discussion. Prima facieit is no more thana metaphor, sincethe mid-ig8os the area has had the spectacleof Romania as an awful warning of what happens when an authoritarian leadershipignores realities.In this sense collapse can be taken to mean an economy where societyis depressedto the lowest levels of consumptionof thebasic necessities, food, heat,shelter like and light.No leadershipor elite wanted to follow the Ceausescu model. On the otherhand, the idea of redistribution power and the introduction of of a marketwould demand a huge sacrifice fromthe rulers-no ruleris likely to abandon monopoly power with ease. Ruling Soviet-type is systems not very all because there is no concept of individual or collective above difficult, responsibility errors. for Indeed,thereis much to be said fortheproposition that one of the centralfunctionsof these systemsis to protect people from the politicalconsequencesof their politicaldecisionsand theeconomic consequences of theireconomic decisions.In all the Soviet-typestatesso far the process of and thismodel is unlikelyto change redistribution gone by fitsand starts, has in the ones where the transfer has yet to take place. Consequently, many membersof the privilegedelite will be reluctant accept the need to move to fromsimpleand predictable of rule to more complex and competitive methods ones. In broad terms, what thesepolitieshave needed has been a new set of ideas and principles which to mobilize societyand capturethelatentenergiesthat by had been held in checkby theSoviet-type no And after years, society system. 40 would be satisfied with anythingless than a thoroughgoingclean-out of the old. Simply to conceptualizethe new political,economic, social and, indeed,

IO

The endofcommunism moral ideas would mean a radical shiftin power relationsin the directionof opening up the systemto new actors. The problem of new actors, however, was not as simple as might have appeared on the surface.The functioning Soviet-typesystems, already of as argued, was predicatedon the eliminationof alternative actors,in whatever sphere. During the Stalinist period there was a massive uprooting and of thatgo to make up destruction theinterlocking networkof social solidarities a civil society. The relationshipbetween what forms of behaviour elicited sanctionsand what brought rewards had been completelyaltered and made of The arbitrary.2 reconstruction social autonomyand new social compactswas not something that could be effectedovernight.This made the process of a democratizingthe Soviet-typedictatorships much hardertask thaneffecting of the equivalent with the right-wingauthoritarianisms Spain, Portugal and Greece in the I970s, essentiallybecause in the latter markets and social autonomies had continued to exist and could be used as a basis for later pluralism. In Western political systems, individual and group interests primarily are in identified materialtermsand assessedby cost-benefit criteria;and political Non-materialinterests-national, organizationsclusteraround theseinterests. religious, aesthetic,status- or gender-relatedand so on-have a real but secondary function,principallyin influencingthe way in which material interests understoodat any one time.All thisis verydifferent Soviet-type are in systems. Crucially,thesewere utterly destructive any clarity of concerningthe of because of thehomogenizationimposed perceptionand articulation interests all on these societies.3In effect, because Soviet-typesystems look to integrate into the political sphere, they have constructedan enormously interactions order. To undo the effects thisand to createconditionsfor the of reductionist will take time and will requireparticular mechanisms. recognitionof interests Conglomerate parties Arguably it was this need to escape from the enforcedhomogenization that resulted in a striking phenomenon in Central and Eastern Europe- the dominantoppositionto the rulingcommunistpartyemergedinto the political If arena with some of thesame characteristics. the communist partywas a body thatsoughtto embraceand engulfall political,economic and social interactions and absorb them,it was inevitablethatthe paramountoppositionpartywould acquire similarfeatures, though without the totalizingquality of the former. In Poland the conversionprocesswas being effected Solidarity,which is by not a politicalpartyin theWesternsense,but a kind ofpoliticalconglomeration are in which all politicalinterests submergedin the name of the higherinterest
2 Elemer Hankiss, Kelet-euro'pai (Budapest: K & J, I989); alternativa'k

an English-language version, East any? is forthcoming. there altertnatives-are Euiropean a Jadwiga Staniszkis,'Forms of reasoning as ideology', Telos, No. 6, Winter I985-6, pp. 67-80.

I I

GeorgeSchopflin of opposing the PUWP. Once the Solidaritygovernmentwas in power, the conflicting interests Solidarityas politicalpartyvs. Solidarityas tradeunion, neo-liberal,ChristianDemocratic and Social Democratic elements began to come to the fore. Somethinganalogous to thiswas takingplace in Hungary, where the Hungarian Democratic Forum had increasingly assumedthe role of the leading partyby November I989 and was likely to emerge with a nearhegemonial vote in the coming elections. The Forum included Populist, National Radical and ChristianDemocratic currents and possibly others all with different, views of the world. overlappingand conflicting On this model, the chances were that somethinganalogous was likely to role in the GDR (subject to the continuationof the assume the pre-eminent democratizing process), though in that case the likeliest winner was a conglomerateparty using Social Democratic language and possibly goals. It was also likely that the East German conglomerate would regard German reunificationpositively. In the case of Bulgaria, the current which was dominantafter oustingofTodor Zhivkov was theecological. It was perfectly the possible that a conglomerate party would cohere around Ecoglasnost, the opposition organization,and win power if and when the election was held. It is not at all impossiblethatthe newly emergentconglomeratepartiesmay to in attempt put forwarda 'Third Road' ideology. This has had currency both too. The Hungary and the GDR, and could well appeal to Polish particularism essenceof Third Roadism is thatthe countryin questionshould tryto findits own way forwardwhichis neither not capitalist communist, althoughit is hard of. to determine otherwisewhat Third Roadism actuallyconsists Underlyingit is a desireto avoid the worst features capitalism: not just unemployment, of materialism drugs,consumerism, and etc., but also the perceived soullessness, the emphasison the individual over the communitythatare perceived as the hallmarks Westernmodernity. of Whateversystems eventuallyconstructed are in Central and Eastern Europe, the chances are strong that they will be relativelymore etatistthan those in the West, and not merelybecause these for polities have lived with hyper-etatism the last 40 years. In a sense, the Centraland East European conceptof modernity-or at any ratethe dominant elementsin the various ways in which modernityis conceptualized always on placed greaterstress communityand higherlevels of stateregulation,state protectionand state-directed equality than in the West. However, looking furtherahead, it did not seem very plausible that conglomeratepartieswould remain togetherfor long. Once the marketwas firmlyestablished and, through its operation, material interestsbegan to transcendnon-materialones, political partieswould be able to compete for power and the conglomerateswould fall apart. Whether this would produce like the classicalleft-right anything spectrumwas hard to predict.On the one fourdecades of communismanything hand,after thatsmackedof socialismand planningwould be very hard to legitimatein the eyes of public opinion. On the otherhand, the need to protectsocietyagainstthe economic consequences of its acts of commissionand omission (i.e. the market)is somethingthat is
T2

The end ofcommunism deeply held in both Social Democracy and ChristianDemocracy, and this would be likelyto inhibitthe fulloperationof freecompetition. Economic and ecological problems To the problem of parties,there should be added the clear and imminent economies. It is fareasier to achieve a difficulties derivingfromdeteriorating in major transformation the political spherewhen the economy is reasonably to prosperousthan when it is collapsing,thoughgenerallythe pressure change is absentwhen the going is good. Certainlythe democratizing experiments in Poland and Hungary depend on avoiding economic collapse and on support from the West, which will be essential in this respect. This dependent relationshipbetween Central and East European democracy and Western money has given riseto a curiousphenomenonsomewhatlike a cargo cult. For some of public opinion, support from the West is awaited as a kind of deliverance,in a psychological state that resemblesthe propositionthat for was 'bad' but on the day afterthe electionseverything 40 years everything will be 'good'. Besides, a signficant sectionof opinion in Poland alreadyrejectsall politicsas The problem such, whetherin the hands of Solidarityor GeneralJaruzelski. low levels of political literacy, after here is one of relatively hardlysurprising in of thecommunist infantilization society, experiment long-term coupled with based on Westernlevels of consumption.In the GDR, very high expectations afterthe exposure of millions of East Germans to the physical evidence of Western consumer products for the firsttime, many people's reaction was and anger, frustration impatiencethat they had been deprived of this by the of communists.The crude assumptionthat the construction a Western-style is political systemwill automaticallybringWesternprosperity hard to dispel. in There are analogous currents the other countries. in The economic problem will not yield easily. There are major difficulties convertingSoviet-typeeconomies to market-based systems.It is hard to see In where the capital will be found to buy up state-ownedindustries. Hungary there is considerable evidence that the existing managerial elite was busy its with converting powers derivedfromthe nomenklatura the help of Western much of the Central and EasternEuropean industry simply is capital. Then, in in uncompetitive world marketterms.For example, thereis an overcapacity In terms theseoutdated steel,which is in any case producedexpensively. market industries should just be closed down, but the social consequences of such a move would be horrendous,especially as these countriesentirelylack any cultureof unemployment the networkfordealing with it. Unemployment or was somethingthatexistedonly in the West, so suggestions createa welfare to networkwere rejectedas unnecessary. This raisesa further The difficulty. countriesof Central and EasternEurope behind the West. In particular, are, as is well known, lagging technologically they are a long way behind in adoption and diffusionof information I3

GeorgeSchdpflin technology-overwhelmingly because the concentrationof political power was inimicalto thespreadof theinformation technologyrevolutionthatwould have underminedthe political monopoly of the party. In addition, there is growingevidencethatin certainareasof Westernscience,developmentis so far ahead thatit is no longer actuallyunderstoodin the communistworld. In this sense the Soviet-type systems have succeeded in creating a new Third World-one, that is, stuck at a certain outdated, uneconomic, wasteful industrial and scientific base which it lacks the resources, human capitaland the the know-how to modernize. Even with Western support,this gap will be extremelyhard to bridge. The final problem in this complex is the environmentalone. Even if the is at Westernrecordon environmental protection spotty, leastit is seized of the world,the problemand some remedialstepshave been taken.In thecommunist problem could not be articulated thatwould have cut across the politically as determinedfutures insistedon by the party. The party simply declared that therewas no environmental problem,and thatwas that.By the natureof the situation,the party as monopoly employer and monopoly protectorof the environmentcould not logically attend to the needs of both and generally ended up supportingthe short-term interests the planners,with disastrous of consequences.The pollution black spot of Europe is the contiguousindustrial Bohemia and thesouth-east the GDR. area takingin Polish Silesia,northern of In effect, communistroad to industrialization cheap and ineffective in was the the long termprecisely because it purportedto ignore the long term,meaning costs like ecological deterioration. The remedieswill be costlyand difficult. Western considerations For the West, theupheaval in Centraland EasternEurope meanttheend of the thathad governed a wide range of beliefs.Although comfortable assumptions the triumphof liberal democracy over the notionallyleft-wingdictatorships was in many ways a tributeto the political and economic effectiveness the of Westernsystem, not everyonewas rejoicing.In the first place, the reappraisal effort tiresomeforthosewhose thoughtthatwas itself requiredan intellectual world had been formed by the preceding 40 years. No one would actually so admit to being reluctantto undertakerethinking, alternativearguments about the dangersof instability were paraded, propositionsthatthe West had benefitedgreatlyfrom the division of Europe and that it should be wary of change, that Central and EasternEurope would be a source of new political difficulties. These were standard conservativearguments,occasionally laced of with fearsthattheWest would have to pay forthe economic reconstruction Central and EasternEurope forno return. Rather more seriouswas the argumentthat,at a deep and importantlevel, definedagainstthe communistworld has Westernidentity been systematically and that the threatof communism was the single most importantfactorin holding the West together.When put as baldly as this, the proposition is
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The endofcommunism of reductionist cannotbe sustained;theidentity theWest is based on a large and number of material and non-materialfactors-culture, history,psychology, elementsof its make-up. On the other the etc.-which constitute interlocking hand, there is an element of truth in it, in as much as the East-West of confrontation undoubtedlybeen a partof the mentalfurniture the West has and its disappearancewill require new equipment in this regard. In broad political terms,of course, the collapse of communismand the commensurate expansionof room formanoeuvrefortheCentraland East Europeansdoes raise and questionsabout thenatureof Europe, the processof European integration, how Europe's identityshould be defined now that it is on the road to with the countriesto the east. reconnecting will Thirdly,the democratictransformation also bring onto the agenda the or questionof whether not theWest, and especiallytheWesternleft, acquiesced too easily in the subjugation of Central and Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union. In future years,thisquestionmay well be put by thosewho had to live under these systems.In as much as the West failed at various points to push harder against the Soviet Union and to seize opportunitiesfor an earlier it transformation, contributed-no more than that-to the survival of the and thereby thegreater to of For Soviet-type system difficulty democratization. did example, in I956 the West almost certainly not do enough to preventthe on Soviet Union fromreimposing system revolutionary its Hungary.Whether theywould have worked or not, thecomfortable acceptanceof thefixity the of East-West divide precluded any initiativesthat might have reassured the Soviet Union sufficiently consider alternatives an invasion. Something to to similarand even more clear-cuttook place in I968, when the West essentially gave the Kremlin a freehand over Czechoslovakia. in But theWesternleftwas also open to chargesof short-sightedness, as much as it oftenleftunexamined the alleged Marxist credentials the Central and of East European regimes.In a very generalbut nevertheless unmistakableway, thisreluctance acted as a kind of moral supportforthe Soviet-typeleadersand theirrule,because it did nothingto challengetheirideological claims. Far too often,the Western left allowed itselfto be sidetrackedby the unstatedbut psychologically real assumption that Soviet-type Marxism-Leninism was, afterall, a part of its own tradition,that at some level or another it was, in theend, somehow 'progressive',and thatit was somehow about 'the general to good'. In essence,thisdeniedtheCentraland East Europeanstheright choose the political futuresthat they demanded for themselves,and ultimately weakened their democratic credentials. Arguments over 'peace' were in analogous, forexample thatSolidarity Poland should not have Westernleftwing support for fear that if Solidarity succeeded, this might 'inevitably' provoke the Soviet Union into launchingwar and thatwould lead to a nuclear holocaust. Anotherline of argumentinsistedthatit was wrong to criticizethe This argumentwas a Soviet world when so much in the West was imperfect. of negativedouble standard, expectinga much higherstandard theWest thanof Central and EasternEurope, and was ultimately based on the tacitassumption

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GeorgeSchopflin thatthe latterdid not have to meet a higherstandardof behaviourtowardsits citizens. As against these passive responses,the West did-intentionally or otherlong-termimpact on the wise launch one initiativethat had a far-reaching of on of The insistence the introduction cohesiveness the Soviet-typesystems. human rightsinto the Helsinki process resultedin the slow but inexorable of into Soviet-typepoliticsand contributed diffusion the principle qualitatively human force of Marxism-Leninism.In effect, to weakening the legitimating claims of Marxism-Leninismand provided rightstranscended universalist the basisfromwhich the Centraland East European oppositionwithan intellectual should not be to attack and thus erode the officialsystems.Its significance underestimated. of At the same time,the transformation Centraland EasternEurope pointed towards the redefinition Europe as against the superpowers.As the I99OS of were weaker thantheyhad been at any timesince began both the superpowers I945, indeed without the weakening of the Soviet Union the transformation would not obviouslyhave begun. By thesame token,Europe was stronger than in I9I4, and would it had been at any time since the self-destruction started on demand a much greaterrole foritself the world scene. This unquestionably was likelyto be a dynamicprocess,implyingthatthe power relations between Europe and superpowerswould go on changing, certainlyin favour of the formerfor a time. Neither superpowerwas likely to take kindlyto this. Finally,the transformation immediatelybrought to the surfacethe hidden the questions of European politics-German reunification, nature of a West European unification processthatexcluded Centraland EasternEurope, and the difficulties integrating of Soviet-typecountriesinto the matrixthathad been developed by Western criteria.How would the Central and East Europeans adjustto a Europe thatwas definedwithoutthem?Discussion of all theseissues was gainingin urgencyas the mostextraordinary era yearof the postvwar came to an end. 28 November I989