Political Systems, Democracy and Peace

  • Anton Pelinka


The Soviet Union and the other WTO countries have changed and these changes challenge the general situation in Europe established after 1945. The East-West conflict has been one principal result of World War II and it has been the main quality of postwar Europe. All the dimensions this conflict consisted of are influenced more or less by the changes within the WTO:1
  1. (1)

    The structural dimension. After the beginning of competitive democratic structures within WTO countries, the East is becoming more and more democratic in the Western sense; it is not unrealistic to extrapolate this development — at its end, there will be one pattern of democracy in East and West bridging the gap between former ‘socialist’ democracies and the other already liberal democracies in Europe. ‘Democracy’ is not separating anymore; it is connecting East and West.

  2. (2)

    The economic dimension. After the breakdown of ‘socialist’ economies, the communist way of industrialisation by centrally planned policies has become obsolete. The ‘mixed’ economies now under construction all over Eastern Europe are not to be distinguished principally from market-oriented economies which vary in Western Europe from neoconservative models (such as the United Kingdom) to neocorporatist models (such as Sweden and Austria). Economic competitiveness will be the common understanding between Western Europe — organised mainly in the EC — and Eastern Europe which is now strongly interested in establishing contacts with the EC unilaterally and (through CMEA) multilaterally.

  3. (3)

    The ideological dimension. After the official renunciation of the ‘Breshnev doctrine’, post-Leninist communism has lost all its claim to promote its own results internationally. The ideological struggle between the ‘Free World’ and ‘World Revolution’ is over — at least for the industrialised, developed parts of the world. Marxism- Leninism has lost its bid for global hegemony by revolutions from above or from below. The Leninist expectations that the Russian revolution of October 1917 would have a domino effect has been proven wrong.

  4. (4)

    The military dimension. In spite of the breakdown of the structural, economic and ideological dimension, the military apparatus of NATO and WTO still exists and will continue to exist at least in the near future. Regardless of the INF treaty and the global atmosphere favourable for further disarmament agreements, the superpowers of both sides — the US and the USSR — still command and will command their nuclear ‘overkill capacity’ plus conventional forces built to preserve ‘peace by deterrence’. But the military dimension will exist in the future more or less without the political justification which has been used by them and for the military-industrial complex on both sides. It seems to be impossible to predict how long the military dimension of the East-West conflict will be able to exist without any correspondence by structural, economic and ideological dimensions.



Political System Liberal Democracy Ethnic Conflict Ideological Dimension Religious Conflict 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Anton Pelinka, ‘The Politics of Neutrality’, paper presented at the Joseph A. Schumpeter Colloquium ‘Austria and the Two Europes’, Harvard University, Center for European Studies, 16 and 17 February 1990.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    C. B. Macpherson, The Real World of Democracy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Zdenek Mlynar, Was kann Gorbatschow ändern? (Freiburg: Herder, 1989), American edition (Boulder: Westview, 1990).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (London: Fontana, 1988) pp. 429–30.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977). pp. 75–81.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Robert A. Dahl, Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1982).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© European University Centre for Peace Studies 1991

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  • Anton Pelinka

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