Contributors consider why communist political systems in the USSR, Eastern Europe, China and the developing world could not be revamped so as to allow communist parties to retain political power within an environment of reform. Among the issues discussed are the unwillingness of communist parties to relinquish real political and economic control; the reemergence of virulent nationalism and its role in ensuring the disintegration of multinational states; postcommunist transition strategies, both political and economic and the degree of continuity of change between Soviet and post-Soviet foreign policies in Russia. These previously unpublished essays have in common most of their authors' participation - 35 years ago - in a year-long graduate seminar at Columbia University entitled "The Communist Orbit". The book is dedicated to one of their teachers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish-born former national security advisor of government who was one of the first to predict publicly, in 1988, the disintegration of the communist system.
Introduction - The Transformation of Communist Rule, Jane Shapiro Zacek; The Soviet Military Changes Names, William E. Odom; Creating Political Capital?, Barbara Ann Chotiner; The Communist Party on the Eve of Collapse - Changing Patterns of Political Behaviour, Cynthia S. Kaplan and Henry E. Brady; Reorganizing Intergovernmental Relations in the USSR, Jane Shapiro Zacek; August 1991 in Comparative Perspective - Moscow and Kiev, Zenovia A. Sochor; From Evil Empire to Democratic Capitalism - Alternative Russian Futures, Nils H. Wessell; Balkan Politics in Transition - Nationalism and the Emergence of Ethnic Democracy, Lenard J. Cohen; Polish Transition Strategy - Successes and Failures, Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon; The Security of East Central Europe and the Visegrad Triangle, Andrzej Korbonski; Chinese Foreign Policy During and After the Cold War, Thomas W. Robinson; Russia and the Two Koreas in the Post-Cold War Era, Ilpyong J. Kim; Soviet-Israeli Relations in the Gorbachev Era, Robert O. Freedman; Marxist Regimes in Developing Areas and Changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, David E. Albright.
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