Communism's Collapse, Democracy's Demise?: The Cultural Context and Consequences of the East German Revolution

Overview

Communism's collapse both prompted and was accelerated by the long-anticipated reunification of Germany. What were the political and social undercurrents that led to the abrupt collapse of East Germany? What problems have arisen since reunification? Clearly, communism has left a cultural and political void that begs to be assessed.

Laurence McFalls here offers a full understanding of communism's collapse, providing an explanation for the cultural conflicts and the identity ...

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Overview

Communism's collapse both prompted and was accelerated by the long-anticipated reunification of Germany. What were the political and social undercurrents that led to the abrupt collapse of East Germany? What problems have arisen since reunification? Clearly, communism has left a cultural and political void that begs to be assessed.

Laurence McFalls here offers a full understanding of communism's collapse, providing an explanation for the cultural conflicts and the identity crisis that have afflicted Germany since reunification. Testing the validity of the common theories of Eastern European collapse, the work criticizes these systemic explanations of East Germany's demise for failing to take into account the motivations of ordinary citizens who, McFalls asserts, ultimately toppled the regime. To answer the question who overthrew Honecker?, McFalls has interviewed over 200 East Germans, identifying the primary players who brought about the East German revolution of 1989.

In his in-depth examination of the artificial German state, McFalls exposes the historical, economic, social, and political legacy of communism. challenging and provocative, Communism's Collapse, Democracy's Demise? will be of interest to a broad scope of scholars of sociology, historians, political philosophers, and political scientiests.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
McFalls (European politics, U. of Montreal) exposes the historical, economic, social, and political legacy of communism and explains the cultural conflicts that have afflicted Germany since reunification. He criticizes systematic explanations of East Germany's demise that fail to take into account the motivations of ordinary citizens, and interviews some 200 of these citizens as well as key players in the East German revolution of 1989. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814755211
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurence McFalls is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Universit de Montreal. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1990 and his BA from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1983. His research and publications include work on French and German political culture and social movements.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Who Overthrew Honecker? 1
It Can't Happen Here: From Totalitarianism to Revolution 3
Research Methodology: The Intensive Survey 11
2 Behind the Wall: The East German Sonderfall 23
From the Anti-Fascist Bloc to the Anti-Fascist Wall 25
The Lebensluge of the Wall 31
Honecker and the Social Contract 35
The GDR: Best of a Bad Situation or Doomed from Birth? 41
3 Popular Explanations of the Popular Revolution 45
Reunification and the Revolution 45
The Self-Destruction of the Party-State 53
Societal Mobilization against State Socialism 62
The Economic Untenability of Communism 66
From Structural to Individual Explanations 70
4 The Modest Germans: The Cultural Context of Mass Mobilisation 75
Political Culture and Interpretive Method 76
The Contradictions of East German Culture 84
5 Different Strokes for Different Volks 101
Quantity vs Quality: Problems of Verification 103
Quantitative Analysis of a Qualitative Problem 108
Interpreting the Interpretations 134
6 The Cultural Legacy of Communism 139
The Lingering National Identity Crisis 143
The Clash of Cultures 148
Excursus: How Success Spoiled Unification 156
Cultural Continuities in Eastern Germany 160
Appendix: The Survey Questionnaire 167
Notes 195
Select Bibliography 199
Index 209
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