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  • Author: Tom Kent
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Harriman Institute
  • Abstract: Every press has its goals. In the United States, reporters focus on the role of the press as a counterbalance to government power. In some cultures, the press can be tasked with advancing national or religious causes. In the Soviet Union, the press was about serving the interests of the Communist Party.
  • Topic: Communism, Media, Journalism, The Press, Freedom of Press, State Media
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union
  • Author: Jonathan R. Zatlin
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of European Studies
  • Abstract: This paper locates the collapse of East German communism in Marxist- Leninist monetary theory. By exploring the economic and cultural functions of money in East Germany, it argues that the communist party failed to reconcile its ideological aspirations - a society free of the social alienation represented by money and merchandise - with the practical exigencies of governing an industrial society by force. Using representative examples of market failure in production and consumption, the paper shows how the party's deep-seated hostility to money led to economic inefficiency and waste. Under Honecker, the party sought to improve living standards by trading political liberalization for West German money. Over time, however, this policy devalued the meaning of socialism by undermining the actual currency, facilitating the communist collapse and overdetermining the pace and mode of German unification.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Germany, West Germany
  • Author: Stephen Crowley
  • Publication Date: 05-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Studies on the changing labor relations in post-communist countries have flourished in recent years, such that a review and analysis of what has been reported is overdue. Yet, interestingly, these studies have not reached a consensus on what they seek to explain. Indeed, some of the main questions remain under contention. First, is labor in post-communist societies weak, or (in at least some countries) strong? What should the referent be in determining strength or weakness? To the extent labor is weak, what would explain this weakness? If labor's power varies throughout the region, what would explain this variation? There have been a number of answers posed to these questions to date, but not a thorough testing of rival hypotheses. This paper will demonstrate, using a variety of measures, that labor is indeed a weak social and political act or in post-communist societies, especially when compared to labor in western Europe. This general weakness is rather surprising when one examines it against the now considerable economic and political diversity that exists in the post-communist world. The paper will then examine a number of hypotheses that have been proposed to explain labor's weakness, concluding that the institutional legacies of post-communist trade unions, and the ideological legacy of the discourse of class, best explain this overall weakness. However, the concept of legacy is itself found wanting, since it is unable to account for the extent of this weakness or the trends that have occurred in the region over time.
  • Topic: Communism, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Mitchell Orenstein, Martine R. Hass
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: How has globalization influenced welfare state development in postcommunist Europe? We focus on the leading East-Central European accession states, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and show that these states have experienced radically different welfare state developments since 1989 from their neighbors in the former Soviet Union. The first pa rt of the paper proposes that these divergent paths can be explained by a “Europe effect”. We argue that the effects of globalization have differed greatly, depending on a country's position in the international economy and geopolitical relations. We demonstrate that countries closer to the European Union have used welfare state programs to compensate citizens for the traumas of system transition and economic openness, while the welfare systems in the former Soviet states have collapsed to a far greater extent, in terms of spending and effectivness.
  • Topic: Communism, Globalization, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland, Soviet Union, Hungary, Czech Republic
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: According to official statistics, output plunged in almost all Soviet-type countries toward the end of communism. Then in the first year of transition, the plunges turned even more dramatic, continuing for years. The total registered declines in GDP range from 13 percent in the Czech Republic from 1989 to 1992 to 77 percent in Georgia from 1989 to 1994. This collapse has been widely proclaimed as the worst depression in the industrialized world, exceeding the Great Depression of 1929–33. Both communist and post-communist statistics are deeply flawed, however—and in different ways.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe
  • Author: Zbigniew Brzezinski, Council on Foreign Relations, F. Stephen Larrabee
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Independent Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Northeastern Europe sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations was formed to examine the policy challenges confronting the United States in northeastern Europe and recommend measures to advance U.S. interests in the region. The Task Force felt that northeastern Europe deserves special attention for several reasons. First, during the Cold War, northeastern Europe was a strategic backwater and received relatively little attention in U.S. policy. However, since the end of the Cold War, the region has become an important focal point of U.S. policy. The Clinton administration has given northeastern Europe high priority and viewed the region as a laboratory for promoting closer regional cooperation and reknitting Europe—both eastern and western—into a more cohesive economic and political unit. As Secretary of State Madeleine Albright noted in her speech in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July 1997, “Our challenge is to build a fully integrated Europe that includes every European democracy willing to meet its responsibilities. That goal embraces the Baltic nations.” Thus, to some extent, northeastern Europe can be seen as a test case for the Clinton administration's general approach toward post-Cold War Europe. Second, northeastern Europe is also a test case for the administration's policy toward Russia. One of the key elements of the administration's policy has been its effort to reach out to Russia and to include Russia in regional cooperation arrangements in northeastern Europe. This effort has been designed to integrate Russia gradually into a broader European framework as well as to defuse Russian concerns about the integration of the Baltic states into Euro-Atlantic institutions, especially NATO. This policy is seen by the administration as a litmus test of its effort to overcome the old zero-sum Cold War paradigm and demonstrate that greater regional cooperation can bring benefits to all, including Russia. Thus, how well this policy succeeds will have broader implications for the administration's policy toward Russia as a whole. Third, three critical areas of U.S. policy interest—the Baltics, the Nordics, and Russia—intersect in northeastern Europe. Instability in the region would affect all three interests. Moreover, the Baltic region is the one region in Europe where a U.S.-Russian confrontation is still conceivable. Thus, the United States has a strong stake in defusing the potential for conflict in the region and promoting its stable economic and political development. Fourth, the United States faces a number of critical challenges in the region. One of the most important is managing the security aspirations of the Baltic states. The Baltic states are tied to Europe historically and culturally. They share Western values and aspirations. Having thrown off the shackles of communism and Soviet domination, the Baltic states, like their counterparts in Central Europe, want to join Europe and Euro-Atlantic institutions. How the United States seeks to accommodate their security aspirations will be a major test of the U.S. commitment to creating a “Europe whole and free” and its ability to overcome the zero-sum logic of the Cold War. Fifth, the policy challenges in northeastern Europe—particularly those in the Baltic subregion—directly touch on Russia's security interests and have important implications for U.S.-Russian relations. Top Russian officials have reiterated on numerous occasions that Baltic membership in NATO could have serious repercussions for Russia's relations with NATO and the newly established Russia-NATO Council in particular. Although such statements should not necessarily be taken at face value, they highlight the sensitivity of the Baltic issue among the Russian policy elite and ensure that it will remain a highly contentious issue in U.S. relations with Russia. Sixth, the issue of security in northeastern Europe directly affects U.S. relations with the Nordic states, especially Sweden and Finland: the Baltic states are in the Nordic states' strategic backyard. Thus, how the Baltic issue is handled has direct implications for Nordic security—and especially for relations of the Nordic states with Russia. Neither Sweden nor Finland wants to see the Baltic or Nordic region become a gray zone or flash point. At the same time, neither wants to assume the primary responsibility for the security of the Baltic states, which would overburden the capability of either nation. Finally, security issues in northeastern Europe pose important dilemmas for U.S. policy toward NATO. The Baltic issue is the trickiest and most sensitive part of the enlargement puzzle. The Clinton administration has committed itself to helping the Baltic states gain membership in NATO. But many senators have reservations about further enlargement, especially to the Baltic states. So do many of America's NATO allies. Thus, gaining support for Baltic membership could be difficult and will require the administration to build a consensus for its policy both in the U.S. Senate and within the alliance.
  • Topic: Cold War, Communism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Eastern Europe