chapter  6
Pages 15

The Communist regime’s retreat from its total claim on society and search for a solution to Poland’s intractable difficulties in the 1980s was overtaken by the anti-Communist revolutions that swept Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet empire itself. By the end of 1991 not a single European Communist regime remained. Although the book is squarely aimed at explaining the state-society relationship, and more particularly how the structures of the Communist system restricted popular repertoires of contention so as to leave all organized power in the hands of the state, rather than at the exit from Communism, it would be remiss to ignore the possible insights to be drawn from the collapse. Thus in this concluding chapter brief consideration is given to the end of Communism in Europe in the years 1989-1991. The purpose is not to add a fourth case, nor to shift the focus of the argument from the bases of dissenting collective action in Communist systems to democratic transitions or consolidation, but rather to gain extra purchase on the nature of power in Communist systems in line with the goals set out in Chapters 1 and 2. The period of Communist rule was not a prologue to the happy ending of 1989-1991.