Twenty Years of Postcommunism: The Other Transition

The recent history of Eastern Europe can best be understood as a transition to a new social contract between the postcommunist state that emerged from its communist predecessor and the postcommunist citizen who evolved from the communist subject. It is the relationship between state and society under communism that best explains the divergent paths taken by the former communist countries after 1989. Where societies had been weak, these networks managed to capture full social control during the transition, using their influence to appropriate former state assets. Where the gap had been widest between the level of state power and the level of social autonomy during communism, the most difficult transitions ensued, as there was no ground on which to build a social contract.