Communist Legacies Eastern Europe

Topics: Communism, Democracy, Communist state Pages: 11 (3434 words) Published: August 28, 2013
This essay aims to understand the impact of communism on Central and Eastern Europe whilst examining the concept of post-communism within the region. Before expanding on the impression left by communism in this it is important to know which countries constitute this region. The region collectively termed as Central and Eastern Europe includes countries the following countries, People’s Republic of Poland, German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, People's Republic of Hungary, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Socialist Republic of Romania, People's Republic of Bulgaria and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Post Communism is the name given in the 1990’s to socialist or social democratic parties that arose as successors to the pre-1989 communist parties. As a concept it is the rejection of the communist system including beliefs, principals, practices and ideologies. After the strong wave of communism, especially in the Soviet states, post communism in essence made a rise by displaying rejection of Soviet domination. The communist rule lasted in these countries for nearly forty years, however near its time of collapse, it had failed to sustain itself. It must be understood that Communist regimes in these regions were not authoritarian or totalitarian in nature. In 2000, Brown undertook a study examining the transition of the political scene from communism to democracy. Brown outlines the five main characteristics of communism, as quoted below,

“(1) The supreme authority and unchallengeable hegemony of the Communist Party, for which the official euphemism was ‘the leading role of the party’; (2) A high degree of centralization and discipline within that organization with very narrowly defined rights of intraparty debate—which was what ‘democratic centralism’ meant in practice; (3) State or, at any rate, non private ownership of the means of production, with exceptions sometimes made for agricultural, but not for industrial, production; (4) The declared aim of building communism (i.e. the utopia of a self-governing society in which the state apparatus would have ‘withered away’) as the ultimate, legitimizing goal; and (5) A sense of belonging to—and, in the Soviet case, of leading—an international Communist movement.” (Brown, 2000)

These characteristics help summarise the main points of the communist regime in the Central and East European regions as well as what was the Soviet Union. Understanding the core characteristics of the communist regime is vital so one can analyse what lead to its collapse and the birth of post communism in these states. The legacies left by communism not only consist of the institutional and attitudinal characteristics inherited from communism, but also include several factors that facilitated the transition into post communism (Ekiert & Hanson, 2003) . Also, one of the major legacies of communism was the absence of a civil society.

Therefore in nature, communism almost preached of a utopia society in which justice and equality for all transcending class and national divisions, equating to a common destiny for all mankind.

The Collapse of the Communist Regime
The collapse of the communist regime in 1989 was no short of a revolution, and is more than often considered one. If one aims to analyse the current political structures in place within Central and Eastern Europe, one struggles, as these political regimes have not been in place for long enough to come to conclusions. However, the communist structures that once dominated these regions and the legacies left behind by them help understand the workings of the current liberal democratic systems (Schöpfiln, 1991) .

Researchers have studied the impact of the collapse of communism in the late 1980s and the early 1990s in Central Eastern Europe and Soviet Union. This main impact that collapse brought about involved the widespread reshaping of social, political and economic conditions in...

References: • Schöpfiln, G., 2009. 1989 with 20/20 hindsight. [online]. Available at: [accessed on: 3/1/2013]
• Guerra, S., 2011. The Legacy of the Communist Past and the Process of Democratisation: the case of Poland. (July 2011). [Online] Available at:
• [accessed on 3/1/2013]
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