The Shocking Fall Of Communism In Eastern And Central Europe In

This essay The Shocking Fall Of Communism In Eastern And Central Europe In has a total of 1636 words and 10 pages.

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

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Related Topics

Eastern Bloc, West Germany, Revolutions, Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Democracy, East Germany, Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Unification of Germany, Germany, Soviet Union, German reunification

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