Communism and the Emergence of Democracy

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9780521184137: Communism and the Emergence of Democracy
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Before democracy becomes an institutionalised form of political authority, the rupture with authoritarian forms of power causes deep uncertainty about power and outcomes. This book connects the study of democratisation in eastern Europe and Russia to the emergence and crisis of communism. Wydra argues that the communist past is not simply a legacy but needs to be seen as a social organism in gestation, where critical events produce new expectations, memories and symbols that influence meanings of democracy. By examining a series of pivotal historical events, he shows that democratisation is not just a matter of institutional design, but rather a matter of consciousness and leadership under conditions of extreme and traumatic incivility. Rather than adopting the opposition between non-democratic and democratic, Wydra argues that the communist experience must be central to the study of the emergence and nature of democracy in (post-) communist countries.

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Review of the hardback: 'This original and powerful interpretive account of important political transformations in the twentieth century applies, in a creative fashion, the theory of fluid conjunctures to the understanding of communism and the emergence of democracy. Harald Wydra argues that understanding political transformations needs to take into account the social experiences of people in the chaotic historicity of extraordinary situations. Such situations have a logic of their own, which guides action and produces acts of signification that sustain and express the formation of political consciousness.' Michel Dobry, Professor of Political Science, Sorbonne University, Paris

Review of the hardback: 'An impressive work that helps us look at the experience of communism and post-communism in a new light. This work represents a major contribution to our understanding of politics in the twentieth century.' Richard Sakwa, University of Kent

Review of the hardback: 'Even today, we still don't understand why and how Communism survived for so long only to collapse so quickly. Without encountering much resistance it exerted a huge impact on many people, even those most opposed to it. How was it possible that wide segments of the intellectual elite in Europe and around the world considered this ugly monster as the salvation of mankind? Harald Wydra's book, by his emphasis on the power of symbols and the significance of liminal situations, and especially his innovative anthropology of transformative experiences, brings us much closer to understanding.' Arpád Szakolczai, Professor of Sociology, University of Cork

Review of the hardback: 'This book is a compelling meditation on democracy set concretely in the history of European communism and its transformation. Placing culture, people and action at center stage, Harald Wydra's analysis is interpretive, scholarly and intelligent.' Michael Urban, Professor of Politics, University of Kansas

Review of the hardback: '... a joy to discover.' Political Studies Review

Book Description:

Harald Wydra argues that much of the literature on the democratisation of former communist countries has neglected the history of communism in its analysis of transformation processes. He suggests that the nature of post-communist democracy cannot be properly understood without reference to the emergence and crisis of communism.

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9780521851695: Communism and the Emergence of Democracy

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ISBN 10:  0521851696 ISBN 13:  9780521851695
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2007
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