chapter  4
18 Pages

THE BREAKDOWN OF COMMUNIST REGIMES

ByS.N. Eisenstadt

The breakdown of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe has been one of the more dramatic events in the history of humankind, certainly one of the most dramatic since the end of the Second World War. What is the significance? Are these revolutions like “the great revolutions”—the English civil war, the American, French, Russian, and Chinese revolutions-which in many ways ushered in modernity, creating the modern political order?1 Are they likely to lead —after a possibly turbulent period of transition-to a relatively stable world of modernity, with liberal constitutionalism heralding some kind of “end of history”? Or do they tell us something of the vicissitudes and fragilities of modernity, even of democratic-constitutional regimes.