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Why Communism Did Not Collapse
Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe

$41.99 (P)

Martin K. Dimitrov, Thomas Bernstein, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Charles Armstrong, Valerie J. Bunce, Sharon L. Wolchik, Mark Kramer, Mary Gallagher, Jonathan Hanson, Kellee S. Tsai, Regina Abrami, Edmund Malesky, Yu Zheng
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  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107651135

$ 41.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • This volume brings together a distinguished group of scholars working to address the puzzling durability of communist autocracies in Eastern Europe and Asia, which are the longest-lasting type of nondemocratic regime to emerge after World War I. The volume conceptualizes the communist universe as consisting of the ten regimes in Eastern Europe and Mongolia that eventually collapsed in 1989–91, and the five regimes that survived the fall of the Berlin Wall: China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba. Taken together, the essays offer a theoretical argument that emphasizes the importance of institutional adaptations as a foundation of communist resilience. In particular, the contributors focus on four adaptations: of the economy, of ideology, of the mechanisms for inclusion of potential rivals, and of the institutions of vertical and horizontal accountability. The volume argues that when regimes are no longer able to implement adaptive change, contingent leadership choices and contagion dynamics make collapse more likely. By conducting systematic paired comparisons of the European and Asian cases and by developing arguments that encompass both collapse and resilience, the volume offers a new methodological approach for studying communist autocracies.

    • Offers a new theoretical explanation of the resilience of communist autocracies that emphasizes the structural conditions under which these regimes are able to implement adaptive change
    • Offers a new methodological approach for studying communist autocracies by conducting paired comparisons between the ten regimes that eventually collapsed in 1989–91 and the five regimes that survived past 1989: China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba
    • Makes a major empirical contribution to our knowledge of how communist autocracies function by: 1) adopting a global perspective onto the phenomenon of global communism; 2) analyzing unfamiliar adaptations, such as the development of institutions of accountability; and 3) using new evidence to challenge existing interpretations of communist durability (especially for countries like China, Vietnam, and North Korea) and of the eventual collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and in Mongolia
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Is the difference smarter leaders? Luckier circumstances? Deeper ideological beliefs? Structural flaws or assets? Political strategies of limited opening versus inopportune repression? Differential impact of the international system? This splendid team of authors thoughtfully sheds comparative light on the opaque processes of the collapse or survival of communist regimes.” – Jorge I. Domínguez, Harvard University

    “This is a terrific book. By using paired comparisons of communist regimes that collapsed in 1989–1991 and others that managed to survive, Dimitrov and his fellow authors provoke us to think in new ways about the durability of these types of regimes over time. In this way, the volume moves us beyond clichéd discussions about the trials of communism and challenges us to think systematically about what determines regime resilience and failure. I have no doubt that this book will provide important insights for future studies about the entire communist era.” – A. James McAdams, University of Notre Dame

    “Communism has a past, but does it have a future? In this fascinating study, Martin Dimitrov has assembled an impressive set of leading international scholars to examine the staying power of the communist party-states that weathered the 1989–1991 denouement of the Soviet Union and its client states. The result is a theoretically insightful and empirically rich study in comparative politics and Leninist style systems. The volume leaves the reader with the sense that we have not seen the end of collapsing communist-type regimes.” – David Shambaugh, The George Washington University and The Brookings Institution

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107651135
    • length: 390 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus. 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Reform and Resilience:
    1. Understanding communist collapse and resilience Martin K. Dimitrov
    2. Resilience and collapse in China and the Soviet Union Thomas Bernstein
    Part II. Ideology and Resilience:
    3. Ideological erosion and the breakdown of communist regimes Vladimir Tismaneanu
    4. Ideological introversion and regime survival: North Korea's 'our-style socialism' Charles Armstrong
    Part III. Contagion and Resilience:
    5. Bringing down dictators: waves of democratic change in communist and postcommunist Europe and Eurasia Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik
    6. The dynamics of contagion in the Soviet Bloc and the impact on regime survival Mark Kramer
    Part IV. Inclusion and Resilience:
    7. Authoritarian survival, resilience, and the selectorate theory Mary Gallagher and Jonathan Hanson
    8. Cause or consequence? Private-sector development and communist resilience in China Kellee S. Tsai
    Part V. Accountability and Resilience:
    9. Vietnam through Chinese eyes: divergent accountability in single-party regimes Regina Abrami, Edmund Malesky and Yu Zheng
    10. Vertical accountability in communist regimes: the role of citizen complaints in Bulgaria and China Martin K. Dimitrov
    11. Conclusion: whither communist regime resilience Martin K. Dimitrov.

  • Editor

    Martin K. Dimitrov, Tulane University, Louisiana
    Martin K. Dimitrov is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Tulane University, Louisiana. He is also an associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, Massachusetts and a research fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School. Dimitrov has previously taught at Dartmouth College and has held residential fellowships at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard, the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study and the American Academy in Berlin. He is the author of Piracy and the State: The Politics of Intellectual Property Rights in China (Cambridge University Press, 2009).


    Martin K. Dimitrov, Thomas Bernstein, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Charles Armstrong, Valerie J. Bunce, Sharon L. Wolchik, Mark Kramer, Mary Gallagher, Jonathan Hanson, Kellee S. Tsai, Regina Abrami, Edmund Malesky, Yu Zheng

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