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1 12 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 Peter Ferdinand. Communist Regimes in Comparative Perspective: The Evolution ofthe Soviet, Chinese, and Yugoslav Models. Hertfordshire, England: Harvester Wheatsheaf; Savage, Maryland: Barnes and Noble, 1991. xi, 322 pp. Peter Ferdinand's Communist Regimes in Comparative Perspective is one of a rare breed of truly comparative studies on communism. In this book, Ferdinand offers an equal treatment of the evolution of the Soviet, Chinese, and Yugoslav socialist systems from their origins to the recent market reforms. In so doing he demonstrates a good grasp of the detail of all Airee cases, all the more notable given the range of topics and the time period the book covers. The book has chapters on regime origins, roads to socialism, the evolution of leadership and the communist parties in power, the state and the economy, center-periphery and nationality relations , and a chapter on workers, peasants, enterprises, and welfare. The conclusion covers market reforms in all three countries, albeit somewhat sketchily. Because of its comprehensiveness, and its clearly written prose, this book would be an excellent text for a college course on comparative communism, and Ferdinand suggests in the preface that he wrote it with Alis function in mind. It offers clear and comprehensive analysis and provides an excellent synthesis of existing literature . However, it will not be of particular interest to the specialist in any of these countries, as Ferdinand does not seek here to add to a broader theoretical debate or to make an original empirical contribution. Ferdinand adopts a developmental approach in his analysis, one which he states is informed by particular attention to the role of states in keeping together potentially fragmented and divided societies . This approach leads to his claim that Aie exigencies of power and economic development impose similar basic development phases on all three regimes. In essence , however, the parallel phases which these regimes go through, according to Ferdinand, boil down to two: an initial phase of moderate, conciliatory policies, which occurs immediately after the taking of power, and a much more radical phase of thoroughgoing social, political, and economic transformation that aims to destroy the vestiges of the old society and of capitalist tendencies in Aie economy, and to establish Aie foundation of socialism. After these two initial stages, Ferdinand sees each regime as proceeding along different paths in the building of socialism.©1994 bv UniversityGiven that Aie developmental stages which Aiese regimes go through are cenofHawai 'i Presstra' to Ferdinand's analysis, the reader would be justified in expecting a more rigorous exploration of why these regimes went through the phases that he describes . Why did they adopt moderate policies of reconciliation immediately after Reviews 113 their taking power? Ferdinand's brief explanation that this results from the general exhaustion of a new regime and the populace from the struggle for power could be contrasted to the pattern in which new regimes, such as in democratic systems, choose to capitalize quickly on their political momentum, their relative lack ofpolitical entanglements, and their popular support, to push difficult elements of their agenda quickly, before an opposition has time to mobilize. Why are new socialist regimes different from new American administrations in the strategies they pursue to implement their agendas after coming to power? Attention to questions like these would have enriched this book, and would have begun to answer the question of what broader relevance communist regimes have to the study ofpolitics. Ofher problems arise with Ferdinand's tendency to see similar sequencing in all three regimes. For instance, Ferdinand sees the communist parties in these Airee countries as going through three basic phases of development: first, a phase of centralization, institution-building, and charismatic leadership; second, a cult of personality; and lasdy, a phase of collective leadership and the professionalization of the party apparatus. In China, Ferdinand sees these respective phases as lasting from 1949 to 1965, from 1966 to 1976, and from 1976 to the present. This case of sequencing does not work very well and does not contribute much to our understanding of the development of the Chinese Communist Party. The relationship between centralization of authority, charismatic leadership, institutionalization , and professionalization of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 112-114
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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