The dean of America's Asianists looks at the communist states of East Asia and asks whether the status quo can survive in any of them. His answer is strongly negative. He holds out four possible scenarios for the future. First, these states can try to "muddle through," but the dynamics of economic development and the interdependence of societies will make this scenario very difficult to sustain over a protracted period. Second, the Leninist states could undergo explosive upheavals and collapse like the Soviet Union, but this would require at least two prior conditions: continuing economic failures of significant magnitude and extensive breakdown of elite unity. A third possibility could be a rapid transition to political pluralism and an open society, an unlikely scenario at present. The fourth scenario is a move toward "authoritarian pluralism" on the model followed by South Korea and Taiwan. This, he says, is the most likely future for Asian communism, at least in the short term.
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