Communist development and the postcommunist democratic deficit

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This chapter addresses the question of how the regime trajectories of Eastern European and Eurasian countries were shaped by the legacies of the communist developmental and political project in the two decades since the collapse of communist one-party states. I start out by documenting a significant and persistent democratic deficit among the former communist countries and then focus on the theoretical challenge that this deficit poses for our understanding of the link between socioeconomic development and democratization: Why did the fairly significant developmental achievements of communist regimes yield such modest democratic dividends, and, related, why are the regime repercussions of communist education and urbanization so different from those of development policies in noncommunist countries? While the roots of the postcommunist democratic deficit obviously include institutional legacies involving both fragmentation and translation dynamics, in this chapter I focus primarily on legacies operating at the individual level, which can be conceptualized along the lines of the cultural schemata and parameter-setting legacies discussed in the introduction to this volume. Thus, I argue that the peculiar nature of communist development policies affected the extent to which the modernization process produced the types of mobilized prodemocratic individuals who make up the constituencies that have generally been seen as the link between development and democracy. In particular, I argue that the emphasis on technical/hard science training and the heavy reliance on ideological indoctrination in communist education systems resulted in the emergence of middle classes that placed lower emphasis on democratic values and were less politically active than their counterparts in noncommunist countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHistorical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781107286191
ISBN (Print)9781107054172
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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