Political Culture and Communism

  • Stephen Welch
Part of the Macmillan/St Antony’s Series book series

Abstract

Following the initial surge of interest in political culture research in the early 1960s, the concept fell relatively out of favour, a fact which is partly explained by its ‘guilt by association’ with the theory of modernization, whose decline in popularity was precipitous. In the 1970s, however, the concept underwent something of a revival, this time in the political science subfield of communist studies. This subfield was always somewhat isolated from the mainstream of political science, and for this reason its use of political culture, although occasionally noticed, was seldom paid serious attention as a contribution to the theoretical development of the concept (Gabriel Almond, as we will see, is an exception to this statement). But, in the 1970s, in this out-of-the-way scholarly environment, the concept was indeed not only being preserved but also developed. In the hands of some authors, this development took political culture beyond the constraints of its behavioural use, whether comparative or sociological, and into interpretivism — an outcome that it is difficult to avoid at least partially attributing to the relative scarcity of attitude survey data in communist states, and the difficulty of conducting surveys there.1 That development will be pursued in Chapter 5. This chapter will instead concentrate on uses of political culture that continued to mine the comparative vein. As such, it will continue and enhance the critique of the comparative use that has been presented so far.

Keywords

Migration Economic Crisis Europe Amid Expense 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    In recent years this constraint has evaporated. For an example of conventional survey-based political culture research in the Russian case see Jeffrey W. Hahn, ‘Continuity and Change in Russian Political Culture’, British Journal of Political Science 21, 1991, 393–421. Hahn’s main conclusion is that Russian political culture is ‘not strikingly different from what is found in Western industrial countries’, and thus that it ‘would appear to be sufficiently hospitable to sustain democratic institutions’ (pp. 420f.).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harry Eckstein, ‘A Culturalist Theory of Political Change’, American Political Science Review 82, 1988, 789–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Samuel P. Huntington and Jorge Dominguez, ‘Political Development’, in Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby (eds), Handbook of Political Science Volume 3: Macropolitical Theory (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1975), p. 17.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Barbara Jancar, ‘Political Culture and Political Change’, Studies in Comparative Communism 17, 1984, 69–82, pp. 79–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Archie Brown, ‘Introduction’, in Archie Brown and Jack Gray (eds), Political Culture and Political Change in Communist States (London: Macmillan, 1977), p. 5.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brown, ‘Introduction’, p. 1 (for the definition); Archie Brown, ‘Introduction’, in Archie Brown (ed.), Political Culture and Communist Studies (London: Macmillan, 1984), pp. 153f. (for the argument).Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Richard R. Fagen, The Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969), p. 6.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Fagen, Transformation of Political Culture in Cuba, pp. 152f. See also the discussion in Stephen Welch, ‘Issues in the Study of Political Culture: The Example of Communist Party States’, British Journal of Political Science 17, 1987, 479–500, pCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    Stephen White, Political Culture and Soviet Politics (London: Macmillan, 1979).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    White, Political Culture and Soviet Politics, chs. 4, 5. See also Stephen White, ‘Political Socialization in the USSR: A Study in Failure?’, Studies in Comparative Communism 10, 1977, 328–342 and Stephen White, ‘Propagating Communist Values in the USSR’, Problems of Communism 34, 1985, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 12.
    Gabriel A. Almond, ‘Communism and Political Culture Theory’, Comparative Politics 15, 1983, 127–138, pp. 127f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 16.
    There are two main representatives. The Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System involved the application of questionnaires to a group of about three thousand of the up to half a million former Soviet citizens who for various reasons were not repatriated after the Second World War, and the conducting of long interviews with 764 of them. The research was carried out in 1950–51, and the results were published in several studies during the 1950s, notably in Alex Inkeles and Raymond A. Bauer, The Soviet Citizen: Daily Life in a Totalitarian Society (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1959). The General Survey of the University of Illinois Soviet Interview Project was applied to emigrants, primarily Jewish, from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s, the results being published in book form as James R. Millar (ed.), Politics, Work, and Daily Life in the USSR: A Survey of Former Soviet Citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987). Surveys applied to much smaller samples of Jewish migrants to Israel provided material for studies by White and Zvi Gitelman: Stephen White, ‘Continuity and Change in Soviet Political Culture: An Emigrd Study’, Comparative Political Studies 11, 1978, 391–395; White, Political Culture and Soviet Politics, ch. 5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. White, ‘Political Socialization in the USSR’; Zvi Gitelman, ‘Soviet Political Culture: Insights from Jewish Emigrds’, Soviet Studies 29, 1977, 543–564.Google Scholar
  14. 25.
    Stephen R. Burant, ‘The Influence of Russian Tradition on the Political Style of the Soviet Elite’, Political Science Quarterly 102, 1987, 273–293, p. 284. See also Frederick Barghoorn,’ stalinism and the Russian Cultural Heritage’, Review of Politics 14, 1952, 178–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 26.
    Seweryn Bialer, The Soviet Paradox: External Expansion, Internal Decline (London: I. B. Tauris, 1986), p. 6Google Scholar
  16. see also Frederick C. Barghoom and Thomas F. Remington, Politics in the USSR (3rd edn) (Boston: Little, Brown, 1986). Robert Tucker’s argument, in’ stalinism as Revolution from Above’, in Robert C. Tucker, Political Culture and Leadership in Soviet Russia: From Lenin To Gorbachev (Brighton: Wheatsheaf, 1987), will be discussed at length in ChaptGoogle Scholar
  17. 27.
    Archie Brown, ‘Ideology and Political Culture’, in Seweryn Bialer (ed.), Politics, Society, and Nationality Inside Gorbachev’s Russia (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1989), p. 19.Google Scholar
  18. 32.
    There is a certain irony in the symbolic role that Masaryk has come to play for the Czechs. He had earlier been involved (though how crucially is a matter of controversy) in the ‘Battle of the Manuscripts’, in which the forgery in the nineteenth century of a manuscript previously taken to be an ancient symbol of Czech nationhood was exposed. The liberal rationalist’s fate was to become himself the subject of myth. See Stanley B. Winters (ed.), T. G. Masaryk (1850–1937). Volume 1: Thinker and Politician (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989), p. 5 and Robert B. Pynsent (ed.), T. G. Masaryk (1850–1937). Volume 2: Thinker and Critic, p. 155. On the creation of romantic national myths see Chapter 7 below.Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    David W. Paul, The Cultural Limits of Revolutionary Politics (Boulder, CO: East European Quarterly, 1979; distributed by Columbia University Press, New York), p. 175.Google Scholar
  20. 38.
    Janina Frentzel-Zagorska, ‘The Dominant Political Culture in Poland’, Politics 20, 1985, 82–98Google Scholar
  21. Stefan Nowak, ‘Values and Attitudes of the Polish People’, Scientific American 245, 1981, 23–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 43.
    Kristian Gerner, The Soviet Union and Central Europe in the Post-War Era: A Study in Precarious Security (Aldershot: Gower, 1985), p. 31.Google Scholar
  23. 45.
    Vaclav Havel’s phrase, quoted by H. Gordon Skilling, ‘Sixty-eight in Historical Perspective’, International Journal 33, 1978, 678–701, p. 700. The idea is implicit in many responses to the more recent events, and thus may serve as a token in the following discussion.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 46.
    See Charles Gati, The Bloc That Failed: Soviet-East European Relations in Transition (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1990), pp. 164–167.Google Scholar
  25. 47.
    Vaclav Havel, ‘The Power of the Powerless’, in Václav Havel et al., The Power of the Powerless (London: Hutchinson, 1985), pp. 42f.Google Scholar
  26. Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983), pp. 219–221.Google Scholar
  27. 49.
    Cyril E. Black, ‘Eastern Europe in the Context of Comparative Modernization’, in Charles Gati (ed.), The Politics of Modernization in Eastern Europe: Testing the Soviet Model (New York: Praeger, 1974), p. 35.Google Scholar
  28. 50.
    Dennison Rusinow, ‘Introduction’, in Dennison Rusinow (ed.), Yugoslavia: A Fractured Federalism (Washington DC: Wilson Center Press, 1988), p. 4.Google Scholar
  29. 51.
    This explanation has been proposed by Mary McAuley in the guise of devil’s advocate against Stephen White. Mary McAuley, ‘Political Culture and Communist Politics: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’, in Brown, Political Culture and Communist Studies, pp. 24f. It is in fact an exaggeration to say that Eastern Europe lacks experience of the operation of the market. But its experience is hardly such as to generate enthusiasm. Rivalries between the new states of Eastern Europe after the First World War led to the erection of tariff barriers, to a general weakening of the already underdeveloped economy of the region, and to its susceptibility to economic imperialism on the part of Nazi Germany. See Iván T. Berend and György Ránki, Economic Development in East-Central Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), esp. chs 8, 9.Google Scholar
  30. 52.
    Karen Dawisha, Eastern Europe, Gorbachev, and Reform: The Great Challenge (2nd edn) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 40f.Google Scholar
  31. 55.
    Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity: A Political History of East Central Europe Since World War II (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 225. Both the ‘return’ and the ‘diversity’ of Rothschild’s title are rendered questionable by the latter statement.Google Scholar
  32. 57.
    George Konrád, Antipolitics: An Essay (trans. Richard E. Allen) (New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), p. 95.Google Scholar
  33. 58.
    Timothy Garton Ash, ‘Does Central Europe Exist?’, New York Review of Books 33, 9 October 1986, 45–52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen Welch 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Welch

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations