What Comes After Communism?

Michael Shafir

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

What Comes After Communism?

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  • History
  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)
  • Cold War



Was it communism or socialism that succumbed in 1989? Was communism dead in 1989, when the ‘Sinatra Doctrine’ (‘each does it his own way’) replaced the Brezhnev Doctrine in East Central Europe? Or did the patient agonise until the official dismemberment of the Soviet Union in 1991? Twenty-seven countries share a communist past in Europe and Asia. Of the surviving five, not all would pass the ‘Leninist test’. Which legacies affect post-communist systems has been an issue under debate since shortly after the fall of the Old Regimes. Claus Offe pointed out that post-communist regimes are faced with a ‘dilemma of simultaneity’, amounting to a ‘triple transition’: the process of having to cope concomitantly with unconsolidated borders, democratisation, and property redistribution. While other authors have often wondered which legacies ‘count’ in post-communism (those of communism itself or the ante-communist heritage), it is Herbert Kitschelt's merit to have pointed out that the modes of communist rule have been in turn influenced by historical antecedents.

Keywords: communism; post-communism; socialism; Soviet Union; Herbert Kitschelt; Europe; Asia; democratisation

Article.  10215 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; Cold War

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