The Aftermath of Communism and the Vicissitudes of Public Trust

John Dunn

in Trust and Democratic Transition in Post-Communist Europe

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263136
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734922 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

The Aftermath of Communism and the Vicissitudes of Public Trust

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The disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the collapse of the Soviet model of legitimate political authority throughout Europe, Africa, and mainland Central America, formed the largest single shift in power, ideology, and political organization since the aftermath of World War II. The societies that have now escaped from communism (and who once found themselves imprisoned within it) have a normatively prescribed destination: a political and economic telos, synthesizing representative democracy with the market, which offers an optimal combination of security, prosperity, legitimacy, and collective public decency. In such a transition, a natural history of the forms and distributions of trust and distrust would surely disclose a powerful and insistent deepening, extension, and consolidation of the former, a progressive subsidence of the latter, and an exhilarating net accumulation of social capital. The drama of attempting to foment distrust and labouring to evoke trust (or credulity) goes on all the time and throughout the politics of this state form.

Keywords: Soviet Union; trust; communism; distrust; democracy; social capital; politics

Chapter.  6145 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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