Explanation of the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe in 1989 - 1991. The role of public pressure in the Eastern European transition to democracy


Term Paper, 2004
12 Pages, Grade: 2,1

Excerpt

List of contents

I Introduction

II Proletarian rulers lose sight of the common people
II.1 In the field of economy
II.1.1 The deficiencies of the soviet planned economy
II.1.2 The deteriorating health standards
II.2 In the field of politics
II.2.1 The "Potemkin" democracy
II.2.2 The forces

III Conclusion

IV Bibliography

I Introduction

…a prince must have the friendship of the common people; otherwise he will have no support in times of adversity.[1]

Niccolò Machiavelli

The transition to democracy in Eastern Europe was a result of a multiplicity of factors in the fields of economy, politics, geostrategy and the military. Briefly, after the collapse of communism in 1989 and the early 1990s, many celebrated the victory of the people over a ruthless, dictatorial system. We now know that this more or less peaceful transition would not have occurred, at least, not at this time, if it had not been for the Soviet Union, deliberately opening its fist, which had held Eastern Europe for five decades. For this reason, the transitions in Eastern Europe can only be explained by taking the USSR into consideration. Nevertheless, public pressure from the bottom has always played an important role and every government has to take its power into account. Considering this political fact, the following essay will examine which factors led to the people's distrust and disapproval of the communist system. In the first part this essay will examine the field of economy. The second part will deal with the field of politics. The third and concluding part will summarize the results and answer the question, did the lack of public support make the demise of the system inevitable?

II Proletarian rulers lose sight of the common people

II.1 In the field of economy

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State,[2]

Manifesto of the Communist Party

II.1.1 The deficiencies of the soviet planned economy

The economy of the Soviet Union, as well as those of its Eastern European satellites, was based on centralisation, the prohibition of private property and the "obsession with heavy industry".[3]

During the economic crisis of the 1970s the western market economies tackled the problem with redundancies and general deflation policy. The leaders of the planned economies of the Eastern Block did not make redundancies and did not allow prices to rise. The effects were: even emptier shelves in the shops and even longer queues in front of them.

A further strain on the eastern economies was the huge military burden. The money spent on trying to catch up with western technological developments and the presence of troops in Eastern Europe and all over the vast territory of the Soviet Union caused a serious hole in the budget. In the eyes of many, this money could have been better used to improve the living conditions of the average person. The suffering population realized in increasing numbers that, possibly, Adam Smith was not completely wrong, stating: "By pursuing his own interest he [the average worker] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it."[4]

The Kremlin was also aware of serious deficiencies and tried to reform and improve the system. However, they had to realize that Glasnost and Perestroika did not achieve what they had hoped. Therefore President Gorbachev and his associates "concluded that the old system […] had to be replaced because it could not be improved or reformed."[5]

II.1.2 The deteriorating health standards

A study on health promotion in Eastern Europe, in 1998 by Peter Makara stated that the serious problems Eastern European Countries are trying to solve nowadays root deeply in the history of a communist system, denying social and environmental problems.[6]

There are four major complexes of reasons which can explain how the health status could deteriorate so dramatically, especially in the last three decades of communist rule in Eastern Europe.

Firstly, there was the increasing poverty and deprivation of the people, caused by the economic problems mentioned above. The dire living standards were not only responsible for poor nutrition, with all its well known consequences, but also for a general feeling of frustration, which led to increasing alcoholism. The often appalling working conditions contributed to the further deterioration of health status and increased the distrust in the system, which claimed to be a system of the workforce and the peasants.

Secondly, there were the deficiencies of the health care system. According to Peter Makara, its major problems were: "Dysfunctional organizational frameworks, inadequate and unfit personnel, outdated methods and the low esteem of prevention…".[7]

[...]


[1] N. Machiavelli, The Prince (New York, 1998), p. 35.

[2] K. Marx, F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (1888). English edition by Friedrich Engels, p. 15.

[3] M. Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (London, 1998), p. 371.

[4] A. Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations (London, 1979Vol.1), p. 456.

[5] M. Gorbachev, Prospects for Democracy in Russia (Sydney: Address to the Centre for Democratic Institutions, 31 May 1999).

[6] Compare: P. Makara, Health Promotion in Eastern Europe: A regional case study of economic reform and health development . (London, 1998), p. 180.

[7] Ibid.

Excerpt out of 12 pages

Details

Title
Explanation of the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe in 1989 - 1991. The role of public pressure in the Eastern European transition to democracy
College
University of Sunderland  (School of Arts, Design, Media and Culture)
Course
Experiencing 20th century Europe
Grade
2,1
Author
Year
2004
Pages
12
Catalog Number
V69041
ISBN (eBook)
9783638612333
ISBN (Book)
9783656740285
File size
392 KB
Language
English
Tags
Explanation, Eastern, Europe, European, Experiencing
Quote paper
Dörte Ridder (Author), 2004, Explanation of the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe in 1989 - 1991. The role of public pressure in the Eastern European transition to democracy, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/69041

Comments

  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Explanation of the transition to democracy in Eastern Europe in 1989 - 1991. The role of public pressure in the Eastern European transition to democracy


Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free