Реферат: Fall Of Communism Essay Research Paper The

Fall Of Communism Essay, Research Paper

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 cannot 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 classes 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 48). The Federal

Republic of Germany’s Basic Law has been the longest-lived

constitution in Germany’s history. Intended to be a

short-lived, temporary document, the Basic Law gained

legitimacy as West Germany continued to march towards

becoming a major economic power and effective democratic

society. There seemed to be, at first, a tension between the

Basic Law’s explicit support of re-unification and its promise

to transfer sovereignty to a supranational institution that

would be created. The conflict between West Germany’s

goals of national unity and international integration remained

the main issue in the country’s politics for many years. As

Preuss notes, «It will be extremely difficult to escape the

economic and, in the long run also political, implications of

this double-bind situation of Germany, one that remains a

legacy of the postwar order» (51). Since the unification of

Germany was accomplished through accession, it meant,

strangely enough, that neither West nor East Germany had a

say in the other’s decision on whether to form a unified state

or what conditions such a unification would be contingent

upon, respectively. Put simply, the net effect of the extension

of the Basic Law to all of Germany did not guarantee the

implementation of a new joint governing policy or a new

constitution for the country. It seemed, as a result of some

esoteric articles of the Basic Law, that the GDR would

cease to exist legally and the FRG would survive. It was

impossible to draw the conclusion that both would die out

and be replaced by a new political identity. Many of the

Federal Republic’s laws immediately applied in the GDR

(Gloebner 153). Article 146 of the Basic Law, put simply,

allowed for the annulment of the Basic Law, to be replaced

with another governing system, without previously binding

the people to any specific rules. Seemingly, it sanctions

revolution, and, «as proved to be the case in 1990, this is not

a purely theoretical conclusion» (Preuss 52). Some suggest

that, by unifying through accession, Germany has made

problems which could end up overshadowing the benefits of

unification. The suggestion is that the implementation of a

constitution by a society without experience in utilizing it,

without the necessary institutions and without the

corresponding value system will bring about more harm than

good (politically). The imposition of the Basic Law was the

root for much of the mistrust between East and West

Germans following unification. In regards to the East

Germans, the Law was effectively self-imposed, and «neither

submission nor voluntary self-submission is likely to

engender the social and political coherence which is a

necessary condition for a stable democracy» (Preuss 54). In

regards to the economic aspects of unification, some major

problems exist in the transition to democracy and market

economics. According to Preuss, the two main issues

included in the realm of «backward justice» are the

privatization of large pieces of state property, and the

punishment of the elites of the previous regimes and their

comrades under the headings of «self-purification» and

«collective amnesia.» The privatization issue is among the

thorniest involved in any country’s transition from

communism. For one, a system of procedures must be

developed simply to transfer such large amounts of property

to private citizens. Also, there must be mechanisms put in

place to both protect new owners from claims of previous

owners and to satisfy former owners without alienating

possible future investors. The problem boils down to the fact

that private property laws do not always coincide with the

«fair» concept of restitution. As Petra Bauer-Kaase writes,

«East Germans still have difficulties in adjusting to a political

system where individuals have a great deal of responsibility

for their own life» (307). The former East Germans look

upon this issue with contempt, because it is the Westerners

who have control over the rules, as well as the enforcement

of those rules. This is merely one of a multitude of instances

where this mistrust manifests itself. There are also the issues

of self-purification and collective amnesia. Due to the

pervasive nature of the communist regime’s surveillance

programs and so forth, there is very little room for anyone to

claim pure hands. While West Germans can claim that they

are innocent by virtue of geography, East Germans are never

able to escape the suspicions that they may have been part

of the machine. Government jobs are denied to those who

were affiliated with the Stasi, and private businesses also

may deny employment to these citizens. While unification has

occurred theoretically, in reality the Germany today is one of

de facto separate-but-equal citizenship. There is no denying

that there have been many problems associated with the

unification of East and West Germany. The transition from

communist state to liberal democracy is a very difficult one,

and there is no real way to predict how the German

experience will turn out. As Preuss writes, «The transition

from an authoritarian political regime and its concomitant

command economy to a liberal democracy and a capitalist

economy is as unprecedented as the short-term integration

of two extremely different societies – one liberal-capitalist,

one authoritarian-socialist – into one nation state» (57). In

other words, the unification of Germany is one of the most

complicated and unprecedented historical events since the

unification of Germany. Jeremy Waldroop

Bauer-Kaase, Petra. «Germany in Transition: The Challenge

of Coping with Unification.» German Unification: Processes

and Outcomes. M. Donald Hancock and Helga A. Welsh,

eds. Boulder: Westview, 1994. 285-311. Gloebner,

Gert-Joachim. «Parties and Problems of Governance During

Unification.» German Unification: Processes and Outcomes.

M. Donald Hancock and Helga A. Welsh, eds. Boulder:

Westview, 1994. 139-61. Preuss, Ulrich K. «German

Unification: Political and Constitutional Aspects.» United

Germany and the New Europe. Heinz D. Kurz, ed.

Brookfield: Elgar, 1993. 47-58. Welsh, Helga A. «The

Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the GDR:

Evolution, Revolution, and Diffusion.» German Unification:

Processes and Outcomes. M. Donald Hancock and Helga

A. Welsh, eds. Boulder: Westview, 1994. 17-34.

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