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Discussion: Tradition of Autocratic Rule

Discussion: Tradition of Autocratic Rule

Discussion: Tradition of Autocratic Rule

NOW FOR AN ORIGINAL PAPER ASSIGNMENT:Discussion: Tradition of Autocratic Rule

Chapter 8. States and Economies in Transition: Between Democracy and Yesterday

Learning Objectives

· 1Discuss the idea that the system of rule in Russia under Putin has more in common with tsarist Russia than Western-style democracies.

· 2Define the term “transitional state” and describe what changes in the world have caused or incentivized states to undertake major economic and political reforms.

· 3Compare and contrast the progress of various East European countries in making the transition from a centrally planned to a market-based economy.

· 4Identify key Asian transitional states and characterize the political system in each country before and after the transition.

· 5Name several transitional states in Latin America and explain the pressures for change as well as the historical and cultural obstacles to liberalization in these countries.

On December 31, 1991, something incredible happened, something only a few years earlier nobody believed ever could or would happen. The Soviet Union, one of two superpowers that had dominated world politics for nearly half a century, ceased to exist.

The collapse of the mighty Soviet superpower stands as one of the most momentous political events of the twentieth century. It ushered in a new era in world politics. It pointed to fatal flaws in centrally planned economies—structural rigidity, systemic inefficiencies, and a lack of incentives common to competitive markets.

In Russia today, the tradition of autocratic rule continues to cast a long and dark shadow over a society that has never known the civil liberties taken for granted in the West. Our main focus in this chapter is on the politics of transition from central planning and totalitarian rule to capitalism and parliamentary democracy in Russia and Eastern Europe. We also look briefly at a few transitional states in Asia and Latin America.

For all practical purposes, the Communist World ceased to exist in 1989. In 1988, before the end of the Cold War, fifteen states could be classified as communist. A decade later, the number had shrunk to only five or six states—China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, and perhaps Cambodia—each pursuing independent policies. Only North Korea remains an unreconstructed Stalinist state. It no longer makes any sense to talk about a “Communist threat.” What happened?