Democratic Vistas

Democratic Vistas

We speak as Americans of the democratic left. We wish to advance our views regarding the current American situation—without, of course, any pretense to completeness or agreement on every point. Our hope is to stimulate the forces that work for democratic social change.

The great historical event of the past few years has been the collapse of the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe and the crisis of communism in the Soviet Union. What has come to an end is the last shred of legitimacy for the communist world, which for three quarters of a century usurped and befouled the ideal of socialism. What has also collapsed is the rationale for the cold war and its policy of a balance of terror. The age of totalitarianism is evidently over, and many parts of the world enjoy a democratic resurgence. Whatever the subsequent difficulties, the revolutions of 1989 will remain magnificent achievements.

The revolutions of 1989 were not, in essence, revolutions in behalf of capitalism; they were revolutions in behalf of freedom. But having lived for so long under the dictatorship of the party-state, some East Europeans imagine that unregulated capitalism will have none of the bad effects in their countries that it has had in other countries. And so the immediate successor to communism is not, as we had hoped, social democracy.