Russia and China on the Eve of a New Millennium assesses the collapse of totalitarian power and its consequences in Russia and surrounding nations. The situation in China is different, with economic openness struggling against political repression. The book focuses on the economic issues of systematic transition because, if not properly handled, they risk diverting or altogether derailing the impulse toward democracy. The authors consider hotly disputed issues of ideology, cultural values, beliefs, doctrine, and ethics; the threat to national unity and the promise of material prosperity offered by regionalism; and projections of future trends. Central to their work is the conviction that at the end of collectivist serfdom lies not absolute perfection, but vast increases in individual freedom, initiative, and responsibility; democratic governance; and spontaneous market coordination of economic choices.
In Russia the failure of Marxian totalitarianism led to the political revolution of 1989-1991 that swept away its power structures. The attempt at "revolution from above" to save Soviet communism unleashed the "revolution from below" that destroyed it. The core issue now is whether the surge of nationalism coming after the great collapse will flow into democratic or return to despotic channels. In China the totalitarian systemic failure was most apparent in the economic bankruptcy of the system of command of economics and central planning. Deng Xiaoping carried out a strategic retreat to save the regime by launching into economic reformation; he freed the peasantry from state control and opened the command economy to the influx of market forces. The authors claim that the new forces arising out of burgeoning markets sap the foundations of communist power and are likely in time to turn Deng's retreat into a rout under his successors.
Linden and Prybyla assert that, despite the apparent economic success of politically despotic China and economic tribulations of the politically more pluralistic countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the Russians and East Europeans have the sounder approach. How Russia works through its crisis of identity and how China works through the contradiction between free market economics and communist dictatorship will deeply affect the shape of our world in the new millennium. The book includes contributions from Lawrence D. Orton, Marie-Luise Nath, Franz Michael, Jiirgen Domes, and Yuan-li Wu. It is a must read for political scientists, economists, policymakers, and Russian and Asian studies specialists.