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In this theoretially challenging essay, political sociologist S. N. Eisenstadt emphasim the role of critical intellectuals in the making of the reoolutions of 1989. This is an important topic addressed by other contributors (particularly Timothy GartonAsh). While he notices thesimilarities with previous revolutionary cleauages in histoty, Eisolstadt insists a what makes the revolutions of 1989 truly new, unprecedented m t s of radical transformations of societies, economies, and cultures. He lists as major nooelfeatures: the absence of class consciousn m among the reuoluti~~~t'es; commihmt to non-violent means of their mistance and opposition; the ~ + R M I S absence of chmismatic, utopian, and teleologiurl elements. Indeed, the implication of Eisenstadt's argument is that these were new types of revolutions, in which the ideological blueprints were pmgrnmmatically rejected. The reoolutionaries of 1989 relied on a broad vision of human and civic rights and consistently opposed the attempts to reduce theiraspirations to an ideological straitjacket. Thus, Eismstadt mndudes, in agreemmt with the selections in this wlume from Timothy Gatlon Ash and Jeffrey C. Isaac, that the reuolutions of 1989 symbolized the opposite of thelambin (or Marxist) ambition to transform the world akmg the lines of an eschatological (saloationist) pmject. Compared to clnssical revolutions, these major events did not sacralize the center of politics and refused to engage in missionay zealotry. Eismtadt o m an instnrctiue discussion of reuolutiaary ''mus~s''and ''eficts" focusing on the major mtmdictions of modernity. Hs intoprefation of the risks and threats fillwing the i rewlutionay drama is close to Bruce A c h n ' s and Ken Jawitt's contributions elsewhere in this wlume.
The breakdown of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe has been one o f the more dramatic wents i the histo~yo f humankind, certainly one o n f
drasti~dramatic changes of regime. their mode of activity. together helped topple the communist regime. While various intellectual groups wm important. sometimes abetted by workers. industrialized political economy. were closely c o n n e d with crucial ideological and cultural transformations. combined with wider popular @sings. the process was relatively bloodless.promulgated essentially by intellectuals. even in this respect. EISENSTADT THE B R E A K D O W N O F C O M M U N I S T REGIMES the most drama& since the end of the Second World War. Still. as it had been in most of the classical revolutions. even of democratic-coratitutional regimes. or the contributions of the Russian intelligent~ia. Of greater importance. especially between "conservatives and reformists"-were very serious indeed. The combination of political activity by many different groups -with by intellectuals . they included some intellectuals. as intekctuals did to some degree in America. were characterized by a relatively modem. developed by the East European regimes. nificance? Are t h e revolutions like "the great revolutions" -the English civil war. the revolutions did not constitute a rebellion or protest against a traditional authoritarian ancien rigime. less well-known Catholic priests in Poland. in their respective conaete historical settings. the social process that brought about these changes. shows interesting parallels with what happened in the "classical" revobtions. and Chinese revolutions which in many rays ushered in modernity. As in the classical revoluhs. Nor was the violence. First. Where protest and violent demonstrations occurred.to a relatively stable world of modernity. the invention of printing and the use of the presses for political purposes played a crucial role in all the earlier revolutions.what was often called civil s o c i q . differences are no less obvious -especially those related to new types of technology. influencing them. What is the sig. the breakdown ofthe communist regimes are rewlutions . are striking and by no means accidental. when it happened. Even in respect to the classical revolutions. The popular protest was not just a protest agmst wrongdoing by the authorities.S N .siruggles that focused around various attempts at reform. so much so thatthe daim was often made that the breakdown of the communist regimesms indeed the work of intellectuals. this principled protest helped bring the regimes - The similarities. Yet. down. sanctified or sacralized. A combination of popular uprisings with struggles at the center . the American. Beyond these differences in background and causes. French.were to some extent reminiscent of those common to the classical revolutions.~ Major intellectual figures like Havel. nonviolent. there were highly principled statwents made in the name of liberty . in which such combinations were central. Similarly. There was no such eaolling of violence either in Eastern Europe or in the USSR itself. Their participalion in hastening the process of the breakdown of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe did much to intensify the element of prinapled pmtest in all these revolutions. started duringt\odropo$s short regime. Another difference must be noted. These struggles. obriously. is that the repudiated economic structures. These changes. the processes that brought about the demise of these regimes the combination of economic decline. They played a vital part in the breakdown of the communist regimes as the Puritans had in England. It is scarcely necesthe role played by the different clubs of the Enlightensary to emphment in the k n c h Revolution. particularly in communication -evident in the role television played in all these revolutions. The revolutionay process itself. together with a deterioration of their international standing. there were far-reaching differences in the revolutionary process itself. as well as their basic orientation. and the growing awareness among large sectors of the population of the sharp contradictions between the bases of their legitimation and their actual performance . With the exception of Romania. and a variety of East German Protestant U ministers were mnspicuous in a these late-twentieth-century processes. for better behamr. a protest in the name of enlightenment and reason against a long-constituted political authority. the differences ought not to be exaggerated. certain potential professionals. where they e k t . they were in comparative perspective very limited. a demand for redress. In addition to all such demands.attests to a strong historical and phenomenological relationship with those great revolutions that ushered in modem political life.those who were opposed to the communist regimes .2 Another element common to both these changes and the great revolutions was the clldally important role of intellectuals. who did not appex to be the bearers of any very strong class consaousness. In one sense. If there were specific social sectors predominant in bringing down these regimes. creating the modem political order?' Are they likely to lead .after a possibly turbulent period of transition . these definitions are not always helpful or enlightening. certainly. wmnot that of intellectuals in the classical revolutions. While there was no television or even radio to record or comment on the events of the great revolutions. with liberal constitutionalism haalding some kind of "end of history"? Or do they teu us something d the vicissitudes and hagilities of modernity. it would be difficult to say whether these were bourgeois or proletarian revolutions. Russian. unlike many of the regime hanges in Latin American or South Asian history. It was the other way around . in respect to the events in Eastern Europe they are meaningless.
which do indeed contain some va y e "utopian" nonrealistic expectations -the market economy was never sanaified in the manner in which the "rights of man" figured in the French Revolution. there will probably be some witch hunting. most or all of these changes were effected within e&ting constitutional frameworks. ?he same is true of the symbolic changes effected.THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST REGIMES accused the inambents of having recourse to violence. except in Romania.the abolition of the monopoly of the Communist Party . of coune. changed to the Republ~c the Czechs and Slovaks [before the of establishment of two separate states]. promoted a very strong tendency to charismatize politics.where the distinct East German state was abolished . relied on various pragmatic adjustments. Yet. where some expect the crown to be put back on the Polish eagle. The classical revolutionaries believed that politics could change sodety.in the pocess that brought these regimes down. it was accomplished through processes prescribed by the existing constiMons. To no small d e p e . or by extra-parliamentary consultants later ratiiied by the p a r l i a m d .6 The absence of this utopian or eschatological component was closely related to yet another aucial difference. Eschatological visions.' While ideological demands for freedom and a market economy were made . the various echelons in these organizations. in the existing parliaments. Yet. The name of the Czechoslovak Republic. the relative ease with depend on So* which the r u l e s and not only those at the top. or were prepared. calling for freedom from repressive totalitarian or authoritarian regimes. heralds other important symbolic and radical structural changes that may soon be instituted. prevailing constitutions. and some further developments in this direction will perhaps take place. S i a r l y . for instance in Hungary. IV So. Zhivkov is now being tried in Bulgaria. Even in Germany. While new constitutions are now being negotiated.except in the single instance of Yugoslavia.or. they gave up. that through the charismatic reconstruction of the political center. The vision or visions promulgated in Central and Eastern Europe. often. a total change of society could be effected. or the execution of the czar. it is very important to note that almost all Be changes of regime were made within the framework of existing political institutions.were effected or ratified in the legislative frameworks of the preceding regimes. certainly. Meanwhile. These facts emphasize. at a minimum ratified by these procedures. nothing happened. the utopian and eschatological visions. it is impossible to ignore the fact that change was effected relatively peacefully within the framework of existing constitutional institutions. ethnic violence was uncommon . Only later. Of special interest. Yet. the earlier charismatic and utopian elements arr conspicuously missing. and only now are East German officials being brought before a general (not East) German a r t ." Although ethnic and national tensions were strong in all these societies. together with the s a n ~ c a t i o nof violence. were pushed out in a bloodless way. this is intended to highlight the break with the past. They surrendered power quickly. The relativelylow level of violence is evident in the fact that the old rulers. also. is somewhat surpking.did such conflicts become much more prominent. is the fact that the middle echelolls of the security forces of the armies no longer protected the rulers or theregimes. the "semi trial" of Georgem in America. were very feeble throughout these last years. the Soviets took him away. and constitutional commissions have been set up to do this work. the political. or in Poland. including the most dramatic . They were rarely punished. few rere tried. In all the classical revolutions. soda1 and cultural programs promulgated by these revolutions are radically different from those of the past.that the most widespread legal proceedings are being undertaken. where there was talk of bringing Honneckerfn court. Still. abdicating relatively easily. There was no need to change the whole structure of government to create entirely new constitutional frameworks for this to be done. This is intriguing. Very few changes were made in other ways. There will probably be more court cases. There was no totalistic. after their downfall. having to do with the attitude of the revolutionary groups toward the center. the idea of creating a new total cultural and social order according to some utopian prescription. There is very little of such charismatization of the center or of . removed by the communist regime. and not because they had lost a mar. and oriented to some millenial future. to suppress those who would unseat them. through existing constitutional procedures and processes . toward the construction of a new center. to try their fortunes in new open parliamentary elections. but it is very doubtful whether there will be anything like the trials of Charles I or Louis XVI. as in Hungaq or Bulgaria. It is significant that it is mostly in Gennany . Many would certainly have tried to hold on to power had they been able to tanks to support them. especiallywhen one recalls that many of these middle echelons benefited greatly from the regimes: that the security organization and the armies were major avenues of social mobility. Even the initial constitutional changes. gave up. It is much too early to know how stable any of these constitutional arrangements will be. but in the middle echelons of the party and ihe bureaucracy. In all these. the far-reaching differences from the way in which the classical revolutions of another age developed. The ruling e l i i of these regimes (again with the exception of Romania) did not generally fight. where the communist symbols were removed everywhere. gave up -willingly or unwillingly -without resistance. utopian vision rooted in eschatological expectations of a new type of society.
with those of a modem regime mobilizing whole populations. even if not as dramatically as in Poland.are redolent of the decline of many empires. such as civil society. and bureaucratic features characteristic especially. whichconstituted a central core in all the totalitarian corrtmunist regimes -is ahlost entirely missing. he c a m as head of a hiendly neighboring state. they do not tell enough.even if frequently suppressed and mostly highly xegulated . The vision tkyrepresented had changed from the classical revolutionaty one. As thereis n o utopian sanciification of politics. for example. There was no new revolutionary International. Byzantine. ethnic.a fact continuously emphasized by the media. the Kulturtragw. constitutional democracy. They were not ideas borne by missionary zealots. Indeed.the various manifestations of internal stagnation and of weakness in the international arena . Other actors. though some elements of such belief can be fmnd. the stagnation of the economy. In order to be able to explain what has happened. especialbin France and Russia. certainlyin the Puritan (English) one. but in other places as well.such general causes do not distinguish between empires. as indeed had many of their activities. the Jacobin element . the disenchantment among large sectors of the population. was characterized by a rather unusual combination of features. of the czarist empire . While the breakdown of the communist regimes in E e r n Europe was seen by participants and others as having universal sigrdicance . especially telRision . wholly secondary in the great revolutions .to some extent -the free market. and the like.~ When Havel came to Poland he did not bling an army to revolutionize Poland. On the most general level.have become much more important.above all the bearers of national. or in many of the major modem social movements. they do not suggest the directions these societies may now take. any tendency to reconstmct the center as a continuous L i ~ aarena remains very weak. How can one explain these revolutionary changes in Eastern Europe? Are they to be discovered in the "causes" alleged to explain the breakdown of communist regimes? Among the causes commonly given. some were openly pragmatic. While there were continums contacts between different protest movements a n d . rooted in a monolithic revolutionary movement and ideology?' The Soviet regime changed some of the basic parameters of centerperipheryrelat~ons haddeveloped under theadrist emplre-espeoally that the rather delicate balance between a comrnltrnent to the impenal system . extolling the ideals of civil society and private morality. as it developed after its institutionalization in the early 1920s. It combined "traditional" features historical. it is imperative to look closely at the specific contradictions of these regimes. the future is not prescribed by totlistic utopian visions with strong missionruy orientations. The weaknessd the utopian and missionary elements was closely related to the basic dnracter of intellectuals. Similarly. seminars.these occurrences did not impose revolutionary missions. no distinctive missionary universalistic utopian visiondeveioped.so crucial in all the classical revolutions. to speak before the Polish Sejm. not only in Poland where the church had always been strong. of course. the Roman. or the dynastic changes in Chiia (especially the decline of the Ming). No revolutionary armies walked about from one place to anotha hoping to reshape their respective ~ocieties. these contradiaions were rooted in the fact that the Soviet regime.7 l In other wonb. a d . freedom. but no longer pursuing the roles characteristic of intellectuals in the great revolutions. the weakening of the legitimation of these regimes. with a very strong emphasis on w m o n themes. Just as . it is "antipolitics" -the flight from c e n w politics as espmsed by Gyhrgi Konrdd and many others -that seems to be much more inrogue today in Eastern and Central Europe. or the others which gave rise to the great revolutions. who were active. Most of these East European rw intellectuals ge up and were active . only a plethora of dismssion groups. others talked in the name of freedom. very often c e M . Certain of the churches in East Germany played a major role in the overthrow of the regime. emphasizing the missiomq rok of such visions.in the framework of modem academic. the future is much more open.' Another conponent of classical revolutions almost wholly missing in Eastern Europe today is that of universalistic visions. and their diminished international standing are singled out. There was no strong missionary unirersalistic push. Primordial and religious themes played a cluaal role. they do not explain the specific reasons for the decline ~ of the communist ~ e g i m e s ?Also. though milder in America. AccordingIy. and to some extent religious visions and messages . proinstitutions recognized to be betraying some of their fessional. indeed commm consultations. patrimonial. They were no longer bearers of the strong Jacobin eschatological visions characteristic of so many of the classical revolutionary intellectuals. that were in fact at the very core of their legitimation. including those which spawned the great classical revolutions. redolent of the French and Russian revolutions. or of the Purita revolt. but very strong in the French and even more in the Russian and Chinese revolutions. a core element in many of the great revolutions. and Abbasid. or liprincipal ideals While often rebelling against the totalistic utopian visions in the name of which the communist regimes legitimized themselves. though its head reappears here and there from t i m to time.T H E BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST R E G I M E S politics in theseEast European revolutions. While many of the causes of the decline of the Soviet system .
The ideological kernels of such civil society were rooted in some of the basic premises of these regimes -especially in their emphasis on freedom. which constituted major components of the communist vision. between the high level of social mobilization effected by these regimes and the attempts to control totally all the nmbilized groups. The growing attempt of the regime to buy off large sectors of the more educated and professional sectors of the society gave rise to one of the major initial directions of the development of civil sodety in Russia. certain institutional ideological kernels of the civil society could be found in the existence of formal. The contradidbns inherent in these policies might have been suppressed by a strong totaiitarian regime . of an awareness of the necessity to reform. but at the same time +tempted to control it tightly in the name of the communist salvationist vi&n as borne and promulgated by the ruling elite and its cadres. ~t the same time. as in the case of the . These contradictions became increasingly apparent after the Stalinist era.14The totalitarian control effectedby the Soviet regime almoi entirely eroded all the bases of autonomy of civil society that existed. where totalitarian communist rule was of much shorter duration. Rooted in the strong military orientations of the regime. but never in the central political arena. but to some extent also after Khrushchev. The failure in the economic arena touched on the central nerve of the regime it was in the economic arena that the salvationist vision of the regime was to be implemented. Even though these procedures were often only fomlally acceded to. Greater spaces were provided in which these sectors were permitted some sort of serniautonomous activities. but also more debilitating. it is not dear to what extent orderly constitutional procedures in the central arena would develop or would be adhered to. nomic expenses incurred in connection with Soviet international policy in the period of the Cold War. given the shorter span of communist d e . brought about by the general inefficiency of central planning in regulatig a relatively routinized and diversified modem economy. the Soviet Union. N . The growingstagnation of the Brezhnev era constituted the turningpoint in therticulation of the economic problems of the Soviet regime. and in the growth of the military as an autonomous sector of the Soviet soaety and economy. together with far-reachingstrong totalitarian orientations and pdicies. in the nature of the vision that combined the basic premises of modernity. At the same time. Still.as happened under Gorbachev the contradiakns exploded. and even more widely in Eastern Europe. however. the expansion of education.S. Similarly. and the of numerous professional groups and organizations created in Soviet Russia a much greater range of nuclei. which became ever more visible after the Khrushchev era. the kernels of civil soaety. the latter could never entirely negate or obliterate these themes. highlighted the contradictions inherent in these communist regime^?^ The first aremin which the contradictions became apparent was the economic one . Such kernels of civil society were stronger in Eastern Europe. the stronger traditions of parliamentq regimes and the existence.but at the same time the consequences of such suppraaion would have weakened many aspects of the system. The stagnation. seemingly legal procedures in many institutions and organizations. Accordingly.thefailure of the planned economy to deliver according to its premises. While these emphases were repressed by the Jacobin components of the communist regimes. within the ruling sectors. emancipation. These nuclei or kernels of civil society started to develop as some of the basic contradictions of these regimes became more apparent. their existence served as a sort of signal about the proper ways of dealing in the public arena. was exacerbated by the extremely heavy burden of military expenses. but & during the Brezhnev era. more active attempts to impinge on the central political arena started to develop in a great variety of ways. and participation in the political arena. there was a growing tendency of the regime to buy off varim sectors of the soaety through subsidized privileges. the most far-reaching the most encompassing and nucial contndictions developed in these regimes were moted in their bases of legitimation. the exigencies of the routinization of this vishn. where certain institutional and ideological traditions of civil sodety were stronger even if not especially strong in comparison with those of Western Europe. As Ernest Gellner has pointed out. in the great military and eco. The revolutionary center mobilizal and activated the periphely to a very high degree. not even to the extent that it was allowed under the aars. The most important of these contradictions were between the paticipatory democratic and the totalitarian. it was the economic arena that provided the most t e h g k s t of the regime's vision. civil soaety was not allowed any autonomy. the time of intensive social mobilization and institution building undertaken in the name of this vision. - - - The contradictions of these regimes explain some of the major characteristics of the civil society that developed within them and in this context it is essential to examine the processes of economic development and social mobilization that became rooted under ~ommunism?~ continuThe ous processes of social mobilization. threatening the very existence of the system. the Jacobin components of the legitimation of these regimes. Once the totalieian lid was taken off . EISENSTAD? THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST REGIMES and the relatk political passivity of the periphery. With the continuous weakening of the regimes and the growth.
" I pluralistic.i n the United States. appeals to something like the divine right of kings was unthinkable. they cmtituted a rebellion and protest against what was increasingly perceived by large sectors of the East European societies as a blockage and distortion d modernity.itself a highly heterogeneous entity.were created by the regime itself. The Soviet and communist societies were not simply backward and underdeveloped. Rather. but also the impingement of the periphery on the center.and indeed in all modem societies. it constitutes only a single component in the overall pluralistic constitutional arrangements. the communist societies were not traditional or under-developed societies in the sense in which that term is used to designate the so-called Third World . Indeed. symbolic. they generated the major contradictions in the regimes.the proletariat or the like. which in a way are mirror images of one another. These institutional developments .16 The modernitg of these regimes is paradoxically most evident in the fact that all of thempromulgated elections. often &hating in the obliteration of at least the symbolic diierences between m t e r and periphery. and institutional aspects." premodern.15 - . axepted the necessity of political participation. In totalitarian regimes. . The fact of such repression meant that severe contradictionsdeveloped not only in respect to economic performance. in their relations between the center and the periphery. the controlled but potentially meaningful possibility of political patidpation. VIII From the point ofview of social and economic conditions orinstitutions.this Jacobii element is hemmed in. they were very modem societies. as were the constitutions. selected and totalized the Jacobm ideological and institutional elements of modernity. with their belief in the transformation of society through totalistic political action. their cultural and political program was part of the - VII The specific cluracteristin of the contradictions of the Soviet and communist regimesprovide the starting point for possible explanations of the East Europeanrevolutions or regime changes that distinguish them from all the classical revolutions. they were modern or modernizing societies. or even modernizing regimes. in seeking to catch up with the more developed. or fascist movements . In common other modem regimes. As Noberto Bobbio has often emphasized. even if in practice they were as mmh a sham as the elections themselves. The "divine" was the voice of the people. the pluralistic ideologies and shuctures were repressed almost totally. Their economic shuctures were those of a relatively indushialized and urbanized political economy. It exists also in nationalist movements. rebellions or potests against traditional authoritarian regimes. of a number of autonomous sectors. making membership in the collectivity tantamount to participation in the center. With respect to the middle and lower groups. and their connection to industrialization . all these developments were much stronger in the communist regimes in Eastem Europe than inRussia and it is in these countries that they became central in bringing down the communist regimes. against the divine rightof kings. . one must ask why the uars opposed elections while the Soviet leaders imposed them. evolved. effected by totalitarian regimes. Moreover. N. it was not only pretense. the legitimation of these regimes was rooted in earlier "classical" types of revolutionary experience (the English. EISENSTADT THE BREAKDOWN OP C O M M U N I S T REGIMES Catholic Chur& in Poland. These Jacobin orientations. a secular eschatological vision borne by the people or an imqjnary sector thereof . couched in modern political terns.. their distinctive mode of industrialization became connected with widespread social mobilization and the expansion of education. the Jacobin element is strong in both fascism and in communism. A pretense of equality. in some of their basic. Both the constitutions and the eledions attested to the fact that these totalitarian regimes.. including those that are democratic-constitutional. constitutional societies . fundamentalist. in their mode of le@timation. These revolutions were not oriented against . were * The specific political and cultural policies promulgated by these regimes developed out of tensions inherent in the cultural programs of modernityespedaUy the tensions between the lacobin and liberal or pluralistic elements of this program.the expansion of education. are very modern. even if their historical roots go back to medieval eschatological sources. these regimes promulgated modern constitutions. made in the name of modernity or enlightenment. aspiring to become modem.-lhlral pattern of modernity. conditions that did not always obtain in the Third World. Amerian. While it is of course hue that the elections were r sham. They were not . The Jacobin element exists in different guises . but a h in their overall cultural and political program. Accordingly.S. They were not external to the regime. and French) . Rather.in many populist.-- regimes. but never entirely obliterated. even if very shabby. They required electios because the regime's legitimacy. Britain.traditional. or n France .the legitimation of the new center was couched in t e r n which entailed far-reaching transformations of centerperiphery relatiam. but also in respect to basic political premises. which. While these regimes blocked and in many ways distorted modernity and development. There developed a growing penneation of the centn into the periphey.
does not mean that such institutionalization will be easy. Even when the belief in democracy and the free market sometimes evince such elements. From the point of viewof the development of such themes. army. They were also socialized in the name of freedom.the routine and "revolutionaq" politics. Such mobilization also takes place around the articulation of different conceptions of the common good. participation. while officially instituting certain central components of tbeir premises. All were highly mobilized and underwent htense processes of political socialization. the weakness in East European countries of constitutional and democratic traditions. become increasingly apparent. EISENSTADT THE BREAKDOWN O F C O M M U N I S T REGIMES Thus. a flawed interpretation of modernity." The turbulence evident in Eastem Europe today bean witness to some of the problems and tensions inherent in modernity itself. between the articulation and aggregation of different interests and of different conceptions of common good. social. Many economic pitfalls.. ethnic loyalties. or from a distorted modernity to a relatively tranquil stage which may weU signal some ldnd of "end of history.gave up so easily. however.to use Bruce Ackerman's formulation . there are similarities: the close relationsamong popular protests. intense their awareness d the contradictions between the premises of the regimes and their perfownce. the emphasis on the legitimacy of such protest. The most important are tensions between different and often competing conceptions of the "general will. and the impact of foreign televirion became greater. all are characteristic of the modan political process ushered in by these revolutions. it plays a central role in the mobilization of political support. between . do not simply arise out of the breakdown of "traditional" empires. There is always the possibility of economic collapse and general anarchy. the more democratic themes found easy resonance. N.S. around symbols of collective identity . If the downfa1 of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe must be explained in tems different from those of the "dassical" revolutions which ushered inthe political program of modernity. and the continuous threat of the upsurge of primordial. i. Such mobilization will often focus. they were socialized in the name of two quite diffemt components or orientations. under appropriate conditions. it maydso explain the impact of their messages. but also the middle echelons of the bureaucracy. This may partially explain the strong predisposition of large sectors of these Podeties to listen to radio and television messages from the West. It is difficult to know how seriously these groups took their ideals. or e t h i c identity - IX It is the speciBca& modem contradictions of these regimes that provide the beginning of anexplanation for why the various ruling groups . and secudy forces . the mobilization of support around leaders and programs. democratic sodety. which are indeed characteristic of this process. there seems to have developed in thepocess of breakdown of the communist regimes. plradodcally perhaps because of the political socialization received. is not based simply on the aggregation of many disaete interests. This specific political sodak&n could easily. as much as the vahus attempts at r e f o m together with the new social and political movemmts in what had once been the USSR were rebellions or protests against a misrepresentation of modernity. especially . These turbulences highlight tensions inherent in the modem political process. They were an unfolding of the dynamics of modern civilization. with respect to some of those developments which have often been dubbed as "postmodern": the decharismatization of the centers. as Alessandro Pizomo has shown. One was Jacobin. the weakening of the overall societywide utopian political vision and of the missionaryideological component.political. central in all of them. Once things started to change. the remhtions against the communist regimes in Eastern Europe and against thebtalitarian regime in Russia need to be seen as rebellions against certain types of modernity which negated in practice other more pluralistic elemmts of modernity. effected mainly but not only through the medium of parties and of social movements.19 Contrary to the assumptions of many rational-choice analysts. the place of principled protest. These problems.together with great differences in concrete detailswith respect to s m e developments in the contemporary West. The rebellions or revolutionary processes. however. and democracy even if these ehnents were subverted and suppressed. AU these were charaderistic features of the great revolutions. a rather interestingparaU&m.e. the eschatological e h e n t transformed into a totalitarian setting. attesting to the potential fragility of the whole project of modernity. Politically the most socialized goups of the regime. and the intellech~algroup that developed. great social turbulence and dislocations attendant on the transition from the communist command economy to some freemarket type. tensions between aggregative poliaes and politics of the common good. struggles in the center. "daily" and semi-private spheres of life become centralJ8 X The fact that the breakdown of these regimes seems to lead to the institutionalization of new and on the face of it democratic-constitutional regimes -more modem societies ." and the relation of these conceptions to the representation of the discrete interests of various sectors of society. It is now fuUy recognized that the transition is fragile. the transition from some "premodern" to fully modem.and not only the top nlers. there is a concomitant disposition of many utopian orientations to disperse.
to the perpetuation and continuity of democratic-consfautional regimes. The conditions conducive to theirinstitutionalization and continuity ax themselves inherently unstable. Alternatively. for instance. in the structures of centers of power. They may work to undermine the conditions favoring the development and continuity of democratic-constitutional regimes. and the relation of such conceptions to the representation nf the discrete interests of various sectors of society. as indicated above. as in many involving intensive change in modem regimes. but they always shmer. and Weber. Man. They are. with their complexinterlinkingarenas. It poses the question of the nature of the common basis or bases of acceptance of a democratic-constitutional - . Such situations generate changes in the definition of the boundaries of the political. creating a power vacuum. Such developments or transitions . both the older associational structure and the new sectors of civil society may become undermined.whether from nondemocratic to democratic-constitutional regimes.. In relatively stable democratic-constitutional regimes. between routine and revolutionary politics.namely. In any situatiw of rapid change. in such transitional situations. Moreover.^^ One would include the development of new autonomous sectors of civil soci* the political activization of such sectors through the activities of multiple elites and counter-elites. 1 de Tocqueville. modern societies may develop rather contradictory terdencies in respect to the development of conditions conducive to insfitutionalization. to erupt in situations of intensive change. t processes of "transition" may develop in quite other b ! directions. exceedingly common. In authoritarian and totalitarian reginur. Such periods of change of transition . The continuous social md economic transitions may easily change the distribution of power w i t h the major sectors of socieiing eroding many autonomous centers of parer. .e. developments could take several direction^. i. The ubiquity of these tensions in the modem democratic-constitutional regimes points to one of the most important chauenges before these regimes . All such tensions and problems became highly visible in the processes of transition in Eastern Europe. is enhanced by the fact that modem regions develop i highly volatile and continuously changing intemal and n international settsgs.regimes. and may weaken their initial acceptance of newly emergent common frameworks and centers. may become impediments to the restructuring of relations between civil society and the state. the tensions may be attenuated. how to create some common framework in which different views of the common good can compete without undermining the very possibility of the system working.such as. and between them and the st* in the types of entitlements extended to dlerent sectors of society. such as consultative bodies.THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST REGIMES as well as around the closely related conception of the common good of the whole socies more closely related to the primordial and sacred components of l e @ i m a t i ~ n . including both the activization of "older" types.are closely connected with tensions inherent in the modem political process between different and often competing conceptions of the general will. with an intensity only reinforced by the development of totalitarian regimes. giving rise to the development of highly volatile masses. they are suppressed but never obliterated. in the exhnt of the access of different sectors of civil society to these centers: in thnature of the linkages among the sectors. given the continuously changing intemal and international settings of the contemporary world. ready. ensuing internecine conflicts.21in what is seen to be an appropriate range of activities for the state. as it were. FinaUy. policies . The tensirms and potential fragility of democratic-constitutional basically of all &ern . tensions between aggregative policies and politics of the common gobd.athmed in different degrees to democratic-constitutional arrangements. ~ ~ XI These tensions a inherent in all modem regimes. The very entrenchment of these sectors may lead them increasingly to represent narrow or ascriptive sectors. the specter of the bureaucratization of all major arenas of social and political life has haunted the political discourse of modern societies. may incrase the political and administrative power of the state to such an extent as toobliterate independent bases of power. and the development of new ones . or within democratic-constitutional regimes . From the point dview of the construction of civil society and its relations to the state. In many such cases these processes have been exacerbated by the emergence of new collective-national and ethnic communities. As attested by -: . t h e e connected with the institutionalization of the welfare state .are in no way exceptional. ~ It is in these situations. Many o the edsting sectors of civil society. the growth of various interlinkingarenas betmen the state and society.whose initidaim was to weaken eisting semi-monopolistic centers ofpower. that the confrontation between the different modes of legitimation and the different aspects of the modem political process become especially acute. The most intensive themes and movements of protest are those in which a t c riu lation of concrete aggregate interests becomes closely related to the promulgation of different conceptions of the common good. It is in such periods that articulations of protest come f o m d as a major component of the political process. f Other possibilities exist. with .
- Notes Source Reprinted by permission of the publisher from Daedalus (Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences). Lasky. "Different '&ions of Political Messianism in the Mandst European Tradition. see for instance: Pieho Grilli di Corrona. . Porhqal. Lefort. and E. since the Second World War. N. MN:University hoy of Minnesota Press. Leo Man. Totalitarian and Afier. See also F.and the possibility that such common elements may exist in multiple bases of legitimation.prekace in Cochin. Cnrhin. Futures Past . see for instance the speaal issue 'The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity.. "On RevoluS tion. Bracher. Lefort. et 1924'. Lefort in Eisenstadt. Kosellek "J3istorical Criteria of the f Modem Concept of Revolutions. with the authoritarian regimes in Spain. Eisenstadt. idem. Utopia and Rmolution (Chicago.on the Semantics o Historical Time (Cambridge. 1979).suggested that they might also evince some such capacity for self-transfomabiity.Explanation or indictment?" in J. IL University of Chicago Press. Avineri. see: A B. Bracher. Sh.olutions tlrz Transfonnnt~onocSm'mr and 3 On the role of groups of intellectuals in some of the revolutions.the relatively peaceful charaderistics which d&nguished them from the great revolutions .' JamUnisme (Paris: Universitaires de France. Bracher. Holton. Such doubts are due not only t o the specific conditims of these transitions. o n the inherent fragility of the great historical and cultural prc+t of modernity. the general trend has seemed to go the other way. and Israel .2 (Spring 1992): 21-41.On the Revolutions and modernity. 1984). N. in some Latin American countries . and (3) (1970): 30-42. M.S .b e a m i n g democratic. "Frameworks of f the Great Revolutions: Culhlre. The initial stages of the breakdown of communist regimes . Dmouacy and Totnliiarianism (Cambridge. n:University of Chicago Press. 39. Selignan. History and Human Agency. Das Ende der Politisches Utopie? (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 133 (1992):385401. M. 1988). idem. Jerusalem. Rethinking the French Rmlution (Chicago. International Colloquium in Memmy ofJamb L. 1982) and V.. N . 1970). t h e h e l o p m e n t s in Eastern Europe cast important light o n the problematics of modernity. 1 On the classical modem revolutions.the two countries in which the breakdown of democracy in t k interwar period was most dramatic. even more true of the emerging constilutional regimes of Eastern Europe. R. J. The great crises of these regimes . Bracher. Lasky. Rmlutions and the Transformation o Societies (New York: Free Press. Pl~n-Nounit. to transform the bases of lcgitimation of these regimes. 1976).have been able to maintain democraticconstitutional regimes since the e n d of the Second World War . and most recently. L'espnt du ]ambinisme.such as those of the 1930s in many European counbies . 6 On the eschatological elements. 5 On the utopian elements in the great civilizations and revolutions. Order and Transcendence. however. At the same t i m . S. and S. of course. so long as n o cme of them becomes predominant. K. 133 (1992): 385-401. Part I. the turbulences attendant o n these transitions cast new doubtrabout that capacity. Social Structure. see: S. Eisenstadt." in idem. R Saage. Similarly. 21-24 June 1982. Nahimy. and Sh. 1978). In the West.'' Religion (15) (1985): 315-38. ~ d e m mpri: du L. ~aechler. 1985). Eisenstadt. Brill. Dunn. 1985).were usually associated with a failure to achieve such internal tmsfomations." 121. from the issue entitled 'The Edt from Communism. 2 See Eiicnsradr. Visions of Apocalypse: End or Rebirth? (New York and London: Holmes & Meier. see A. see: A. Dunn. idem. Avineri. This is. evinced despite continuous fears about the crisis of the state or capitalism. Seligman. 'Trom Communism to Democracy: Rethinking Regime Change in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. N.India.. History and Human Agency" International Social Science Jouml. 7-33. 1986). Order and Transcendence: The Role of Utopias and the Dynamics of Civilkntiom (Leiden: E. Talmon. 96-104. Social Structure.beyord adherence to the rules of the game . see: S. and A h e n . MA: MTI Press. D. 1985). 1990). see: S. "Comparative Liminality: Liminality and Dynamics of Civilization. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Jemsdem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press. Lo R~~olullon la Lr5rc P n s k (Pans. Greece. 1983). MA: MIT Press. 7 From the vast literature on this subject. h C. to redefine the boundaries of the poliial. and Avineri 70-83. 57-163. eds." International Social ScienceJoumal. C. and 1. "Frameworks of the Great Revolutions: Culture. a r c h (1989)." in D m . Indeed. . Furet. 'Turn of the Century and Totalitarian Ideology. no democratic regime has broken down since the e n d of t h e Second World War. several non-European countries . a high degree of capacity for self-transfamability. 'Totalitarian Democracy and the Legacy of Modem Revolutions . Antipolitik . ~~ ~ ." Social w . G. Skolnikoff. but also to the combination of conditions inherentm modem regimes. espeaally in democratic-constitutional ones. R~-. but also their capacity to incorporate protest. Demonacy and Political T e r (Minneapolis. But even wti these regimes the possibility of crisis or breakdown ihn cannot b e e n t d y discounted." in Dunn. T e Political Forms of Modem Son'@: Bmenumay." lntmtional Social Science Jouml (128) (May 1991): 315-31. EISENSTADT THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST REGIMES regime . 1989). Friedlander. 9 On the universalistic and missionary components in the great revolutions. though not between the two world wan. Utopia and Rmolutia. 'The Birth of a Metaphor: On the Origins of Utopia and Revolution. Revolutions. Thus. N. 8 G. 37-56. J. The constitufional regimes of the West. The Russian Intelligentsia: Fmm Torment to Silence (New Brunsm~ckNI: Transaction Books. D. ed. Japan." in C.a s have also Germany and Italy . On the liminal aspects of the revolutionary pmcess. K. The ubiquityof such tensions indicates that one of the major continuous challenges befae the modem constitutional regime is not just the assurf ance that the m j o r political actors will adhere to the existing rules o the game. Eisenstadt. French Revolution (New York: Macmillan. see: C. K o d d ." Encounter34 (2) (1970): 3-5.Mitteleuropiiische Meditationen (Franldurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 4 On the sancti6cation of violence in classical revolutions.
1986). History and Human Agency" Inter~ t i o n aSocialScience~oumal. J. T d d i m . n Mum della Dmuzzia (Torino: Giulio Einaudi Editore." 241-75. ed.ZaF58. also idem L Crisi politische nei reximi commisti (Milan: Franco Angeli. Constihrtimmlisrn and Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge lLiversity Press and Nonvegian University Press. 20 &Pinorno. "The Syabolic Challenge of Contemporary Movements. Chrmging Boundaries o the Politicnl (Cambridge.Brill. Habermas. NJ: Princeton Univenity Preg 1991). . Deutschland und die WestlirLol Donokratien (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.. see: S. Tke Philosophical Dismum of Modernity (Cambridge. Freikeit staff knzipationszwang: Die Libernfen Tmditiarn und das Ende der Manistirdten h i o n e n (Zurich: Edition Interfrom. Between Tsar and People (Princeton. L'innw'one delpresente. Eisenstadt "Center Periphery in Soviet Russia. Clowes. Habermas. Eisenstadt. ed. PmJilo Ideologiw del N m m t o Italiano florino: GiulioEmaudi. Shils. Rankel. N. 1990). 1987). "American Constitutionalism and Paradox of Private Property. Eisenstadt. Goldstone. A Melucci. see S. Maier. Social Shucture. 22 5 S. Lubbe. CA: Univer. A very strong statement against the emphasis on "common wiiT in the name of "emancipation" can be found in H. Eisenstadt. (1992): 385-401. L University of Chicago and Pm'pkey." in J. Democracy and Modernity. "Demonazia e autoaazia nel pensiero 6 Norberto Bobbio. 1980). Rethinking Themeticnlly about Soviet Nationalities (New York: Columbh University Press. 1972). Kassow." in J. m bmnational Colloouium on the Centenaw of David Ben Gurion (Leiden: H). 1983). S 4 On center-petiphery relations on modernity.>cratizatlonm the So\?et L'nion and Eastern ~urop"). "Center and Peripheq" in idem. 941. 1973). 1 "Center Periphrry in Soviet Russia. Lambert. Habermas. W. 133 (1992): 385-401. October 1991 il. Matteucci. D. idem. N. 1984). N. and I.o iu h l s b N h T A D T T H C DREAKDOWN OF CC "Frameworks d the Great Revolutions: Culhtre. Diskontinuitnt des Sozialen ~~ M e l s (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.." in S." in E. ed. 1990).. e 15 P. N. Mmimenti Sociali n& Societa Complffise (Bolopa: Societa Editori Il Mulino. From Communism to Democracy." in idem. Grilli di Cowna.. m o Federalism?" 153-95. 1982). 12 Remarks made by Emest Gellner in the seminar an Fundamentalism under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. L West. 18 On some aspea of "poshnodem" developments.. A. m). "Post-Traditional Societies and the Continuity of Tradition. chaps. Tocqueville el les dew &maties (Paris: Presses Universitaires. see for ~ r instance bout fRe l ~ t e r a ~of ethe Wert the specizl issue of World l'ulrtin. Das Ende der Politische Utopie? 19 ARzeworski.. NA: MlT Ress. Norton. Frank4 "StNkNrdefekte der Demokratie und deren Ubenvindung' and '2atennydm und Soziale Selbstbestimrnung. 1991j. N. 1987). 1975). Press. Slagstad. 11 On the specifrprocesses of the breakdown f the M ~ T U N S regme." Social Research (Winter 1985). 13 see the specid issue of World Politis mentioned in Note 1 and Eisenstadt. Die Krise des Wohlahrtsstaates und die Erschdpfung Utopische-enagien. f &bridge University Press. eds. eds. 10 On the analys~of such cases. Eisenstadt. 14147. J. 'Vie Neue Uniibersichtli&eit." 14 On cidl s o c i g in the czarist empire. 1-29.Ackerman. Bobbio. 1 So~etti Pluralirmo Classi Partiti Sindicati (Bologna: II Mulino. Dte Neue Uniibersichtlichkeit (Frankfurt am Main: Sulutamp. See also E. "New Social Wements: Challenging the Boundaries of Institutional Politics. 1991). see J. 287-96. vdxiv. del -~ 21 fee Charles S. November 1991. Elster d R. "Some Observations on 'PostModern' Socieb" in Volker Romrchier et al. sitv of Califoh Press. S. 1985). N. S.also S. eda. see E. 17 N. 1983). 68-95 and 95-137. 1988). "lntroduction" in idem. 789-816. 16 On the concepl of center. J. Bobbio. Eisenstadt. Rewlution l 133 and Rebellion inthe Early Modem World (Berkeley and Los Angeles. N. Saage. W. 1991). k a y s in M a ~ o l o g y 2. 5941. 1992).' in A.81-rrahation and Denl." in N. J. - . Center (Chicago. On the general prospect of modernity. idem. and idem. 44 (1. Post-Traditional and Recons-n Societies (New York: W. History and Human Agenq" International Son'al S c i m Journal. 149-79. Motyl ed. mpetively. see: J. Chicago. Offe. Social Shucture. "Democracy as a Contingent Outcome of Contlicts. see for instance E. . "Postfmime. "Frameworks of the Great Revolutions: GlNre." in Per unn Teoria G e m l e della Politica Soitti Dediurt6 N&o Bobbio pireme: Passigli Editori. C. 177-85. Nedelsky. m-09. Omnp and Modernity (New York: John Wiley.
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