||Those states which emerged from the geopolitical disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. They comprise Russia, the south-western borderland states (Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova), the Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and the post-Soviet south (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). Their geographical transformation has tended to be viewed through the prism of transition theory. However, any understanding of what the post-Soviet states are in transition to must recognize three things. First, contrary to a number of theories, their transition to either or both of capitalism and democracy should not be considered as predetermined or automatic. Secondly, it is important to acknowledge that any understanding of the post-Soviet transition must first examine where they have come from (see socialism). And finally, we need to recognize that they are not necessarily all travelling in the same path: they are in effect assuming multiple trajectories.
Accordingly, the post-Soviet transition can be best considered as part of a fourfold process (Smith, 1999).
First, decolonization(the transition from colonialism to post-colonialism). While there is considerable debate as to whether the Soviet Union constituted an empire, there is little doubt that for the post-Soviet borderland states, their supposed status as colonies of a Russian-dominated Soviet Union continues to inform their attitudes and policies towards Russia and in particular towards the large Russian diaspora located throughout the borderland states. As Brubaker (1996) has also noted, although having secured nation-statehood in 1991, to varying degrees the new titular nations in power in these borderland states aspire to create political homelands in which the titular language, culture and people are elevated to a central place (see nationalism). In contrast, for Russians, the relationship between establishing a postcolonial Identity is complicated by their identification association with the legacy of being part of a bigger homeland, the Soviet Union and earlier the former tsarist empire. Crudely put, for Russians the choice of identity is often seen as between focusing either on democratic state-building or on empire rebuilding, the latter including the re-colonization of the post-Soviet borderlands.
Second, democratization (the transition from totalitarian to post-totalitarian rule). While the post-Soviet states have all made the successful transition from the highly centralized totalitarian state that was the Soviet Union, some are in the process of establishing proto-democracies by taking on the features usually associated with the western democratic state (e.g. Baltic states, Ukraine), while others have slid with relative ease into authoritarian forms of governance (e.g. many of the post-Soviet states of the south).
Thirdly, economic liberalization (\'from Marx to the Market\'). Moving from state ownership of the means of production and a centrally planned economy (cf. central planning) towards introducing price liberalization, the de-nationalization of former state-owned economic enterprises (see privatization), the end of the state monopoly over trade and of securing new property rights for citizens (cf. citizenship), continues to be fraught with problems, not least in terms of social dislocation, and of the way in which crime syndicates have seized upon the opportunities of change to challenge the rule of law.
Finally, globalization (from exclusion to inclusion within the world economy). As Przeworski (1995) has noted, while the Soviet regime pursued a policy of modernization without internationalization, the post-Soviet states are all to varying degrees committed to pursing paths towards modernization via internationalization. Besides having to compete as late entrants on the margins of the world economy, other globalizing processes are also shaping their economies, polities and societies as a result of the liberalization of international trade, foreign investment and more liberal methods of policing state borders.Â (GES)
References and Suggested Reading Aarnason, J. 1993: The future that failed. Origins and destinies of the Soviet model. London: Routledge.Â Bradshaw, M., ed., 1997: Geography and transition in the post-Soviet republics. London: Wiley.Â Brubaker, R. 1996: Nationalism reframed. Cambridge: Cambridge University, Press.Â Dawisha, K. and Parrot, B. 1994: Russia and the new states of Eurasia: the politics of upheaval. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Elster, J., Offe, C. and Preuss, U. 1998: Institutional design in Post-Communist Societies. Rebuilding the ship at sea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Pickles, A. and Smith, A., eds, 1998: Theorising transition: the political economy of post-communist transformation. London: Routledge.Â Przeworski, A. 1995: Sustainable democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Rubin, B. and Snyder, J. 1998: Post-Soviet political order. Conflict and state-building. London: Routledge.Â Smith, G.E., ed., 1996: The nationalities question in the post-Soviet states, 2nd edn. London: Longman.Â Smith, G.E. 1999: The post-Soviet states. Mapping the politics of transition. London: Arnold.Â Smith, G.E., Law, V., Wilson, A. and Bohr, A. 1998: Nation-building in the post-Soviet Borderlands. The politics of national identities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Â Starvakis,P., De-Bardeleben, J. and Black, J., eds, 1997: Beyond the monolith: the emergence of regionalism in Post-Soviet Russia. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.Â Webber, M. 1996: The international politics of Russia and the successor states. Manchester: Manchester University Press.