It’s almost as though an “iron law” operates in all the communist countries, varied though they are. They seem haunted by the specter of democracy, especially when they seek to reform their moribund economies. Their economic growth and individual
well-being are held back by the fetters of ancient dogmas, such as highly centralized command economies, lack of material incentives, and curbs on individual initiative and choice. Comes the promise of democracy and freedom, which usually accompanies reform, and it runs into a Great Wall, euphemistically called “the leading role of the Party.” A crackdown ensues, as has happened time and again in the Soviet Union and China. These two giants seem to be jockeying for position in a race that features many starts toward reform and relaxation of authoritarian controls, and then ends up with jittery but stern reactions of an alarmed dictatorship.
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