NEW BOOK: Why Communism Did Not Collapse

Eurasia Map

Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2013
Subject: New book: Why Communism Did Not Collapse
From: Martin Dimitrov <>

Martin Dimitrov
Associate Professor of Political Science
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA

TITLE: Why Communism Did Not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Asia and Europe

EDITOR: Martin K Dimitrov

PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press (2013)

ABSTRACT: This volume brings together a distinguished group of scholars working to address the puzzling durability of communist autocracies in Eastern Europe and Asia, which are the longest-lasting type of nondemocratic regime to emerge after World War I. The volume conceptualizes the communist universe as consisting of the ten regimes in Eastern Europe and Mongolia that eventually collapsed in 1989-91, and the five regimes that survived the fall of the Berlin Wall: China, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea, and Cuba. Taken together, the essays offer a theoretical argument that emphasizes the importance of institutional adaptations as a foundation of communist resilience. In particular, the contributors focus on four adaptations: of the economy, of ideology, of the mechanisms for inclusion of potential rivals, and of the institutions of vertical and horizontal accountability. The volume argues that when regimes are no longer able to implement adaptive change, contingent leadership choices and contagion dynamics make collapse more likely. By conducting systematic paired comparisons of the European and Asian cases and by developing arguments that encompass both collapse and resilience, the volume offers a new methodological approach for studying communist autocracies.


Part I. Reform and Resilience

1. Understanding communist collapse and resilience (Martin K. Dimitrov)
2. Resilience and collapse in China and the Soviet Union (Thomas Bernstein)

Part II. Ideology and Resilience

3. Ideological erosion and the breakdown of communist regimes (Vladimir Tismaneanu)
4. Ideological introversion and regime survival: North Korea’s ‘our-style socialism’ (Charles Armstrong)

Part III. Contagion and Resilience

5. Bringing down dictators: waves of democratic change in communist and postcommunist Europe and Eurasia (Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik)
6. The dynamics of contagion in the Soviet Bloc and the impact on regime survival (Mark Kramer)

Part IV. Inclusion and Resilience

7. Authoritarian survival, resilience, and the selectorate theory (Mary Gallagher and Jonathan Hanson)
8. Cause or consequence? Private-sector development and communist resilience in China (Kellee S. Tsai)
Part V. Accountability and Resilience
9. Vietnam through Chinese eyes: divergent accountability in single-party regimes (Regina Abrami, Edmund Malesky and Yu Zheng)
10. Vertical accountability in communist regimes: the role of citizen complaints in Bulgaria and China (Martin K. Dimitrov)
11. Conclusion: whither communist regime resilience (Martin K. Dimitrov)