The explanation of the communist renaissance and its implications for the West are neither simple nor one‐dimensional. Despite alarm in some quarters, we are not returning to 1917 or 1945. But the earlier hopes for a smooth transition from Marxist police state to democratic capitalism have proved premature, indeed, naive.
Three important lessons need to be absorbed. First, the nations, such as the Czech Republic and Estonia, that have pursued the most rapid and radical economic reform programs have been the least vulnerable to a neocommunist backlash. Timidity and gradualism in other countries have proven counterproductive. Second, most of the resurgent “communist” parties have little desire or ability to restore dictatorships or seek a confrontation with the West. There is, therefore, no need for Washington to panic and institute a Cold War‐style containment policy. Finally, although America cannot dictate political and economic outcomes in Central and Eastern Europe, it ought to encourage reform and discourage retrograde trends by refusing to bail out anti‐reform regimes with foreign aid.