Social Philosophy and Policy 10 (2):26-50 (1993)

For virtually all the major schools of Western opinion, the collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, between 1989 and 1991, represents a triumph of Western values, ideas, and institutions. If, for triumphal conservatives, the events of late 1989 encompassed an endorsement of “democratic capitalism” that augured “the end of history,” for liberal and social democrats they could be understood as the repudiation by the peoples of the former Soviet bloc of Marxism-Leninism in all its varieties, and the reemergence of a humanist socialism that was free of Bolshevik deformation. The structure of political and economic institutions appropriate to the transition from post-Communism in the Soviet bloc to genuine civil society was, accordingly, modeled on Western exemplars—the example of Anglo-American democratic capitalism, of Swedish social democracy, or of the German social market economy— or on various modish Western academic conceptions, long abandoned in the Soviet and post-Soviet worlds, such as market socialism. No prominent school of thought in the West doubted that the dissolution of Communist power was part of a process of Westernization in which contemporary Western ideas and institutions could and would successfully be exported to the former Communist societies. None questioned the idea that, somewhere in the repertoire of Western theory and practice, there was a model for conducting the transition from the bankrupt institutions of socialist central planning, incorporated into the structure of a totalitarian state, to market institutions and a liberal democratic state. Least of all did anyone question the desirability, or the possibility, of reconstituting economic and political institutions on Western models, in most parts of the former Soviet bloc.
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DOI 10.1017/S026505250000412X
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