Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe
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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.
different types of noncommunist authoritarian regimes.4 A robust ﬁnding has emerged, demonstrating that 2 3 4 F. Gregory Gause III, “Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability,” Foreign Affairs 90:4 (July–August 2011), 81–90. Jack A. Goldstone, “Understanding the Revolutions of 2011: Weakness and Resilience in Middle Eastern Autocracies,” Foreign Affairs 90:3 (May–June 2011), 8–16. See Larry Diamond, “Thinking about Hybrid Regimes,” Journal of Democracy
revolutionary socialism much more akin to the regimes in Beijing and Hanoi than to those of East Berlin, Warsaw, or Prague. Second, the “domino effect” that toppled even the more nationalistic and indigenous communist regimes of Yugoslavia, Romania, and Albania was absent in East Asia – again with Mongolia, the only true Soviet satellite in Asia, as the exception that proved the rule.31 If the People’s Republic of China had collapsed, an event that did not seem entirely impossible at the time of
Weltanschauung was expressed ever more openly; an article in the 1990s stated that “the decisive factor in the victory of the revolution is not objective and economic conditions.. . .The decisive guarantee for the victory of socialism is giving precedence to the enhancement of the independent ideological consciousness of the popular masse.”38 Following this logic, a sufﬁciently indoctrinated population need not fear the introduction of capitalist means of production so long as those means are
Politics 60:1 (February 1998), 126–148; David Strang and John W. Meyer, “Institutional Conditions for Diffusion,” Theory and Society 22:4 (August 1993), 487–511; and Torsten Hägerstrand, Innovation Diffusion as a Spatial Process (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967). For a conceptual discussion that is illuminating on many points but diverges in a few important respects from my own understanding of diffusion, see Benjamin A. Most and Harvey Starr, “Theoretical and Logical Issues in the
and Most and Starr, “Diffusion, Reinforcement, Geopolitics, and the Spread of War,” 933, respectively. 158 Mark Kramer microprocesses involved in diffusion.”17 One of the main purposes of my previous work on this issue was to examine the microprocesses of diffusion within the Soviet bloc as closely as possible. Much of the theoretical and empirical literature on international diffusion (and diffusion in general) seeks to explain why and how it happens. Barbara Wejnert has rightly pointed out