In This Review

Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe
Out of the Red: Building Capitalism and Democracy in Postcommunist Europe
By Mitchell A. Orenstein
University of Michigan Press, 2001, 166 pp

When eastern Europeans set out to create capitalism and democracy simultaneously, historical experience suggested it would not work. In the past, democracy was generally the result of capitalism, not its incubator. Thus many observers feared that the quest for both at the same time would end in one effort destroying the other. In this clutter-free, compact book, Orenstein argues that democracy under the right circumstances actually helped create sustainable reform. He uses the cases of Poland and the Czech Republic to show how "throwing the rascals out" produced a slow calibration of policies that led to the right balance between "economic efficiency" and social welfare -- and thus greater sociopolitical "cohesion." On this score, Poland did better than the Czech Republic. But the right circumstances that the author cites include features -- such as the prospect of entering western European institutions -- that limit his explanation's power once it is applied to Russia and beyond.