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CONCEPTIONS OF MODERNIZATION IN THE POST-COMMUNIST DISCOURSE
 
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профессор, заведующий кафедрой теории и философии политики факультета политологии СПбГУ
Publication date: 2019-12-22
 
Studia Politologiczne 2016;40
 
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ABSTRACT
The article demonstrates how different conceptualizations of modernization can lead to very different explanations and conclusions about both the dynamics of democratization and political change in post-communist world. The postwar experience of the communist East has constituted an attempt to overcome un derdevelopment and establish economic and political progress. The specific characteristics of the post-communist transition consist in the fact that we are witnessing not only a political transformation from a totalitarian regime to a pluralistic democracy, but at the same time an economic transformation from a planned command economy to a free market economy in Central and Eastern Europe and a transformation towards a civil society with free associations. In 1995 A. Przeworski noted that the fall of communism in Eastern Europe has been widely interpreted as a triumph of democracy and of capitalism. The new post-communist countries have chosen a strategy of adopting political, economic, and cultural organization already existing elsewhere – democracy, markets, and an individualistic, consumption-oriented culture that dominates the advanced capitalist world. The school of transitology, which was very influential at the time, may have had low expectations concerning the spread of democracy at heart but it also stressed that in the heat of the transition from authoritarianism it was only the political actors’ choices that were of vital importance. Staunchly opposed to this view, the opponents of the transitology approaches argued that the history of the post-communist countries, and the communist legacy, in particular, more or less ruled out a steady movement toward liberal democracy. They claimed, in particular, that a fundamental gap separated at least half of the former communist countries from the West and, by extension, from democracy. In this strategy, modernization becomes synonymous with internationalization: integration into the world economy, combined with an imitation of economic, political, and cul tural patterns prevalent in the advanced capitalist countries. However few politicians fully realized that both democratic institutions and capitalist economies differ in significant ways even among the developed democratic countries. Moreover, those who seek to imitate these countries often forget that there are many cases in which capitalism has failed in generating either prosperity or democracy.
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ISSN:1640-8888