Germany Argumentative Essay

This essay has a total of 1788 words and 17 pages.

Germany


Communism



The shocking fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe in

the late eighties was remarkable for both its rapidity and its scope.

The specifics of communism's demise varied among nations, but

similarities in both the causes and the effects of these revolutions

were quite similar. As well, all of the nations involved shared the

common goals of implementing democratic systems of government and

moving to market economies. In each of these nations, the communist

regimes in power were forced to transfer that power to radically

different institutions than they were accustomed to. Democracy had

been spreading throughout the world for the preceding two decades, but

with a very important difference. While previous political

transitions had seen similar circumstances, the actual events in

question had generally occurred individually. In Europe, on the other

hand, the shift from communism was taking place in a different context

altogether. The peoples involved were not looking to affect a narrow

set of policy reforms; indeed, what was at stake was a hyper-radical

shift from the long-held communist ideology to a western blueprint

for governmental and economic policy development. The problem

inherent in this type of monumental change is that, according to

Ulrich K. Preuss, "In almost all the East and Central European

countries, the collapse of authoritarian communist rule has released

national, ethnic, religious and cultural conflicts which cannot be

solved by purely economic policies" (47). While tremendous changes

are evident in both the governmental and economic arenas in Europe,

these changes cannot be assumed to always be "mutually reinforcing"

(Preuss 47). Generally it has been theorized that the most successful

manner of addressing these many difficulties is the drafting of a

constitution. But what is clear is the unsatisfactory ability of a

constitution to remedy the problems of nationalism and ethnic

differences. Preuss notes that when the constitutional state gained

favor in North America, it was founded on the principle of the unitary

state; it was not designed to address the lack of national identity

which is found throughout Europe - and which is counter to the

concept of the constitutional state (48). "Measured in terms of

socioeconomic modernization," writes Helga A. Welsh, "Central and

Eastern European countries had reached a level that was considered

conducive to the emergence of pluralistic policies" (19). It seemed

that the sole reason the downfall of communism, as it were, took so

long was the veto power of the Soviet Union. According to theories of

modernization, the higher the levels of socioeconomic achievement, the

greater the pressure for open competition and, ultimately, democracy.

As such, the nations in Eastern and Central Europe were seen as

"anomalies in socioeconomically highly-developed countries where

particularly intellectual power resources have become widespread"

(Welsh 19). Due to their longtime adherence to communist policies,

these nations faced great difficulty in making the transition to a

pluralist system as well as a market economy. According to Preuss,

these problems were threefold: The genuine economic devastations

wrought by the communist regimes, the transformation of the social and

economic classes of the command economy into the social and economic

classes of a capitalist economy and, finally, the creation of a

constitutional structure for political entities that lack the

undisputed integrity of a nation state (48).



With such problems as these to contend with in re-engineering

their entire economic and political systems, the people of East

Germany seemed to be in a particularly enviable position.

Economically, they were poised to unite with one of the richest

countries, having one of the strongest economies, in the entire world.

In the competition for foreign investment, such an alliance gave the

late German Democratic Republic a seemingly insurmountable lead over

other nations. In regards to the political aspects of unification,

it effectively left a Germany with no national or ethnic minorities,

as well as having undisputed boundaries. As well, there was no need

to create a constitution (although many of the pitfalls of

constitution-building would have been easily-avoided due to the

advantages Germany had), because the leaders of the GDR had joined the

Federal Republic by accession and, accordingly, allowed its Basic Law

to be extended over their territory. For all the good that seemed to

be imminent as a result of unification, many problems also arose

regarding the political transformation that Germany was undergoing.

Among these problems were the following: the tensions between the

Basic Law's simultaneous commitments to supranational integration and

to the German nation state, the relationship between the nation and

the constitution as two different modes of political integration and

the issue of so-called "backward justice" (Preuss 48). The Federal

Republic of Germany's Basic Law has been the longest-lived

constitution in Germany's history. Intended to be a short-lived,

temporary document, the Basic Law gained legitimacy as West Germany

continued to march towards becoming a major economic power and

effective democratic society. There seemed to be, at first, a tension

between the Basic Law's explicit support of re-unification and its

promise to transfer sovereignty to a supranational institution that

would be created. The conflict between West Germany's goals of

national unity and international integration remained the main issue

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