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Lecture Notes

Political Science
Course Code
Lucan Way

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Communism --> Commiewasm 1989-1991
End of Communism in Eastern Europe
1989 Democratization
Poland (June)
Hungary (June-October),
Czechoslovakia (November)
East Germany (November)
Bulgaria (November)
and Romania (December)
End of Communism and collapse of USSR
2 Questions
Should the fall of Communism in 1989 have been predicted?
What role did the demonstration effect play in the collapse of
Communism in Eastern Europe?
Failure to predict the end of Communism = a failure of Social Science?
Almost no one predicted the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe or
the USSR
No indication in mid 1980s that USSR ready to give up Eastern
Almost every standard text of Communism in mid-late 1980s
(when I was in college) emphasized stability of Communism
Only country where end of Communism thought likely was
Everywhere else thought stable
But Communism falls extremely suddenly almost without
violence in 1989-1991
Should the End of Communism have been predicted?
Did this represent a failure of Social Science?
Only partially yes, but mostly no
End of Communism inherently hard to predict because hinged (in
short term) on decisions of a single individual (Mikhail Gorbachev)
Communism in 1985
In trouble
Slow growth 3% in USSR
Increased shortages
Widespread cynicism in elite/population

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Widening gap between Communist and Capitalist countries
All of which suggested that communism was in trouble
Communist Stagnation
Most attempts to reform system of Central planning fail to address
problems in system
By 1970s/1980s gradual decline in economy
In Poland: GNP drops 2.3% in 1979, 6% in 1980
Widespread shortages
oMost people had enough money in their pockets but
there was little to spend it on
oVery little in the stores
Increased shortages
Widespread cynicism
Ideology not taken seriously by elite
In the 40's-50's people were true believers but by the 70's-80's
most of the communist elites no longer believed in communism
Not taken seriously by the elites
Increasing differences between East and West
Between the 50's-80's enormous gap between the East and West
The gap that created a dissatisfaction
What is important is not the level of wealth but your relative wealth
If you grow up in a hut, and everybody else around you has
huts, then huts are nice but if somebody builds a mansion beside your
hut, the hut doesn't look so good and you get angry
Communist East Germany
oThe communist leader did not have much to be ashamed
of because they were the 13th richest country
oBut East Germans compared themselves to West
Germany which created an enormous amount of dissatisfaction
Because of this, in 1961, East German regime built the Berlin
wall to keep East Germans in and prevent them from going to the West
But not in crisis
No visible splits in the elite
Total unity at the top
(outside of Poland) no serious opposition
Security services well-paid and fully intact
Some things are inherently unpredictable
Suicide/underutilization of coercive power
How Communism Fell
1970s-1984: The rule of the geriatrics
1982: Leonid Brezhnev admits that he is dead
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