Andrew Arato | Revolution, Anti-Imperialism and Learning



The one slogan stuck on the wall in my early classrooms that I remember best was “to learn, to learn, to learn” (tanulni, tanulni, tanulni), signed Lenin.  Vladmir Ilyich, never my hero, was admittedly a genuine learner. From the defeat of the 1905 uprising he learned the tactics of insurrection. From crushing losses in the world war he learned to make even a bad peace. From the devastation of war communism, he learned to institute the New Economic Policy. And from the serious conflicts of a multi-national empire he learned to support national movements of liberation. Even his followers, who were otherwise very poor learners, did not abandon this last lesson, that recalled the so-called wars of liberation of the French Revolution. They thereby helped to give the already problematic concept of revolution another 100 years of life.


I define revolution in both legal and political terms. In the legal sense, following Kelsen, revolution is the replacement of political regime outside its own formal and customary rules of change. In the political sense, as Trotsky proposed, revolution is the doubling of sovereign power producing, even if temporarily, civil war, followed by a new (form of) sovereignty.  All revolutions as I understand the term pertain to the political system of society, and effect all the other subsystems as well. Sociologically (if not on the level of definition) a pure political revolution, even if the aim of some revolutionaries, is either impossible or cannot be distinguished from coupes d’état.


The logic of revolution follows from my definition and should have been already clear historically by the 19th Century. It involved not only the civil war postulated by Trotsky, but internal repression of whole including subaltern classes, the destruction of grass roots forms of popular government, purges and terror, as well as the failure of constitutional consolidation whenever even attempted. Let us recall that Hannah Arendt understood the constitution of free institutions as the necessary second stage of successful revolutions. With this idea in mind, she found only one case of success: the American that she attributed (I think wrongly) to its confinement to the political sphere. Perhaps she should have included the Latin American liberal revolutions, but most likely for her the oscillation between constitutionalism and dictatorship, as well as revolution and restoration in the relevant countries resembled the French scenario of the 19th century. What she did not however notice because of this omission is the powerful role of nationalist anti-imperialism, present in all the American colonies North and South, in the spread of the revolutionary idea, in spite of the uncanny repetition of the historical logic. It was Lenin who, hardly shying away from that logic, or even the Jacobin label assigned to him by Rosa Luxemburg,  discovered the antidote to the liberal, democratic and anarchist critiques of the French Revolution: anti-imperialism. Luxemburg’s critique of Jacobinism stood in the tradition of Marx, who believed on the bases of his philosophy of history that the proletarian revolution would not derive its poetry or logic from any past. Yet, on this point it was Lenin, rather than Luxemburg, a determined opponent of Polish nationalism, who was the better learner. While it could have been the special conditions of Tsarist autocracy that led him to readily accept the old logic, it was not only the victory of the Bolsheviks but even more their ideology of anti imperialism that allowed the followers of Lenin to export it to a variety of oppressed societies.


Does anti-imperialism emancipate revolution from is destructive logic? In other words, can actors united in the work of national liberation, continue to cooperate as a new regime is established? The case of the United States seems to suggest this possibility, but as already implied the Latin American stories , too many and too heterogenous to consider now, taken together may imply the opposite as shown by Loveman’s important book, the Constitution of Tyranny. In Lenin’s own case where the classical logic was only radicalized, it is possible to argue that what vitiated a possible beneficial effect of anti-imperialism was the ongoing process of the reconstitution of the empire of the Romanovs. Over a century before, in France too imperial ambitions helped to produce the war and the terror. But the argument concerning the beneficial effect of anti-imperialism, whatever its abstract merits, certainly did not work in the case of those revolutionaries who learned their ideology, and some of their strategies from Lenin himself: in China, Vietnam and Cuba. These revolutions were anti-imperialist, and yet with their own civil wars, suppression of popular forms of democracy, purges, terror and dictatorships. The same was true for many if not all of the anti-imperialist revolutionary regimes of Africa and Asia. The logic held even in the case of the imposed revolutions of Central and East Europe, where the obviously missing and inapplicable national factor was replaced by overwhelming external force.


There is no historical mystery concerning the revolutions imposed by the Soviet Union. They produced stable solutions only as long as the imposition continued, and the economic models of the Soviet type worked to some extent. The indigenous revolutions influenced by the Bolshevik model, require more explanation.

Four related questions need to be asked. First, why in spite of the history of revolutions very well known in the 20th Century, did so many constitutionalists, and democrats, whether radical or liberal, join the revolutionary process? Second, why do these anti-authoritarian forces always lose? Third, what is the source nevertheless of the stability, that we still see in China, Vietnam and Cuba, of the revolutionary dictatorships? And fourth and finally, is revolutionary dictatorship indispensible if the continued threat of imperialism is to be successfully resisted? Indeed, if or when either pre-revolutionary or (!) revolutionary regimes enter into crisis, does anti-imperialism entail new revolutionary dictatorships? Is there a radical method to be learned, one with a different logic by which new regimes can avoid both dictatorship and falling under the influence of new forms of external pressure and imposition?


All these questions are serious, but the first three are not hard to answer in retrospect.  As Lenin clearly knew, the age of imperialism is also that of nationalism. Thus whom he thought of as “bourgeois” democrats, i.e. constitutionalists, liberals and advocates of representative democracy, and even moderate socialists could be just as hostile to external imperial control or even penetration as were radical revolutionaries. Under slogans combining national liberation and political democracy they would readily join revolutionary projects especially where reformism repeatedly failed. Indeed it was not hard to convince many of them of Lampedusa’s maxim concerning reform as the goal of change that seeks to leave everything as it is. As to the second question, it has been well argued from Tocqueville to Skocpol that revolutions involve state strengthening especially because of their initial disorganization of state structures. This empirical tendency, is made very much stronger in anti-imperialist revolutions, where the new regimes are confronted and often attacked by external powers. While the Leninist party is already a quasi state, its hostility to competing parties, internal factions and eventually grass roots democracy, is almost always linked to justification by the needs of anti-imperialist state strengthening.


But why should state strengthening imply that earlier allies in the work of liberation, parties and councils, and even internal dissenters (whether on the left or the right!) should become defined as enemies?  As Marx noted in 1843 interpreting Sieyès,  revolutionaries rely on a part-whole dialectic that defines the interests and will of one actor as that of the people as a whole. While he (wrongly) thought that the truly universal class escaped this dilemma,  Lenin and Lukács extended the conception to the vanguard party.  That party now could speak in the name of not only the universal class, but also the revolutionary state once its control was achieved. With that move, it seemed easy to convict the opponents and competitors of the party as internal enemies who would weaken the state whether through uncertain elections, uncontrolled assemblies, unstable coalitions, decentralization as well as ideological affinities with some external actors. The elite core of the revolutionary party could win its struggle against such enemies old and new by relying on both its hierarchical organization and readiness to use violence, but just as much on its (supposed) credits in the work of anti-imperial liberation.  In most cases then, the resulting repression provided the opportunity and opening for various homicidal types such as Marat, Robespierre, Dherzhinsky, Yezhov, Beria and Pol Pot, whose important roles in revolutions the defenders of the via revolutionaria never seem to even try to explain.


Yes, revolutionary dictatorships have some serious advantages not only in resisting external penetration, but also in mobilizing resources and enforcing consent in a period of resource constrained “extensive” economic development (cf. writings of Kornai, e.g. The Economics of Shortage), or primitive (socialist) accumulation. As we now certainly know however, for managing a modern economy, revolutionary statisms of the Soviet type fail, and the model is likely to enter into its final crisis well before the collapse of world capitalism the revolutionaries continue to imagine. Yet what is astonishing is that even in that period, the political structures of dictatorship can survive wherever Leninist actors have been able to mobilize indigenous, anti imperialist revolutions for their project: in particular in China, Vietnam, and Cuba, even as the Soviet type economic model is abandoned or severely compromised. In these settings, regime actors are able to isolate themselves from the strong political and ideological pressure of international institutions, even at times producing better economic results than where the political structures of the revolutionary old regimes came crashing down, or where the Soviet type economy is kept entirely intact (as in N. Korea, or as the still very dominant part of plural economies, as in Cuba). Today the specter of authoritarianism, is re-enforced by these “success stories” that imply the plausibility and to some even the need of combining authoritarian states, with dynamic mixed economies.


The fourth question (in reality a bundle of questions) is as already implied the most difficult to answer. Yet the logic of revolution provides an important clue. I have spoken about a part/whole dialectic, that is currently revived by a variety of populisms. It is this that has to be resisted if revolutionary dictatorship is to be avoided. Of all the recent cases that was possible only in Tunisia where moderate Islamic, secular left and even some conservative forces managed to introduce a logic of negotiation, agreement and compromise into what my definition was clearly a revolutionary process, involving legal break and dual power. But the pioneering role here belongs to the countries, from Spain and Central Europe, and from there to South Africa, where an evolving paradigm of post revolutionary radical regime change was generated. These countries, having the advantage of legal continuity, clearly learned from the history of revolutions the desirability of avoiding their destructive logic, and, from each other, how that was to be accomplished. Their lesson could be disregarded as recently in Egypt, but as Tunisia showed could also be incorporated even in the midst of a genuine revolutionary break. What however is not yet clear is that when relying on the new paradigm a new form of external imposition or at least undue influence can be avoided. With the pluralization of both the constituent power, and political competition, there is ample space for advocates of outside conceptions and sometimes interests to enter into the process.


Clearly, the post revolutionary negotiated paradigm is able to accomplish the initial work of transition to competitive and pluralist democracy, as against both revolutionary populist attempts as well as cases where authoritarian party states retain full control over the process of reform.  This is a huge gain. Yet it could be argued, that unlike in the cases of authoritarian state continuity, the post revolutionary paradigm is less able to protect itself from imposition of a new kind, that could be called neo-imperialism, whether exercised by external states, international or regional organizations or even the soft power of expert opinion all of them relying on the dogmas of the so-called Washington Consensus or the ideas of what is misleadingly called “neo-liberalism”.


The most obvious example of such an external role is the take-over of party systems in the face of civil society actors assembled in round tables but with weak power, as it happened in Germany in 1990. Here not only Western party activism and financing, but even more the electoral promise of the currency union by the CDU government, played major external roles. (cf. Maier Dissolution; Habermas “D Mark Nationalismus”)  The effects of that offer, that seemed to be that of a free gift, on production and employment were of course not understood. It was in that context that Ulrich Preuss once warned of a new  “imposed revolution”. There are other cases and places where such full external takeover is possible. Cuba that does not have a West as in the German case, but does have Miami, could be exposed to a similar logic, if state power were to collapse or enter into crisis. Admittedly, the other Central European countries in transition in 1989 had neither a “West” , nor a Miami. But as Julian Arato (following Stiglitz and Rodrik) reminded me they had the EU, the IMF and the WTO along with their armies of advisers. What was involved here, is the recommendation of rapid and simultaneous radical price reform, immediate cutting of subsidies to failed firms, thus bankruptcies, policies of austerity, trade liberalization, and privatization, a program that has been aptly described as a new form of Bolshevism, this time of the market place.  (Stiglitz Globalization and its Discontents). Whether or not such programs were obvious failures as in Russia, or relative successes according to the macro data as in Poland, everywhere they produced huge inequality and the devastation of social solidarity that Polányi’s Great Transformation analyzed so well. In his own native country, Hungary, the reformists whether liberal or ex-Communists refused to heed his warnings (that I early in the 1990s I tried to recall) with consequences today that are classically of the type Polányi depicted and would have predicted.  While reformers in China and Vietnam, who encountered the same proposals, managed to adopt more gradual and sequential models of change, in many of the countries of the post-revolutionary negotiated political transition, paradoxically, a “revolutionary” program of economic transformation was adopted and applied, however inconsistently, with everywhere disastrous short economic run and, as we now see in an increasing number of countries, longer run authoritarian political consequences.


Thus in most recent cases we seem to be stuck with two or even three imperfect models of change. One is the reformist scenario, with its advantage in the form of economic transition but with the price of continued dictatorship. The second is the post revolutionary one that reverses this outcome, and achieves political democracy at the cost of disregarding social welfare and solidarity. To the extent the third form is revolution returning with its classical logic, as in Russia in the 1990s and Egypt in the 2010s, a combination of political authoritarianism with externally imposed or influenced economic liberalization and austerity seem to prevail. Where explicit rejection of the negotiated post-revolution with slogans like Orban’s “revolution of the voting booth” or Kaczynski’s “4th Republic” produces populist combinations of “neo-liberalism” and crony capitalism the outcomes could be even worse.


Obviously, both post revolutionary political regime change and even authoritarian reform on the Chinese model are preferable to such revolutions or populist imitations of revolution. But is the choice between these two forms, with their contrary but strongly negative aspects inevitable? And can each or either of them be freed from their authoritarian political or welfare reducing economic consequences?


I would not be very optimistic about the statist reformist path, as long as its economic outcome leads to significant growth, dramatic reduction of poverty even with the attending dramatic increase of inequality. Where new inequality is coupled with low or seriously endangered growth as in Cuba, a crisis of the political order is possible, but it would require reiterated radical reforms to manage it. Certainly in such cases revolutionary or post revolutionary outcomes could come into play.  While revolutions can happen of course, even with the one exceptional case of Tunisia in mind it would be futile to hope that this paradigm will be easily freed from its logic, even when the second time around as in Egypt (with its revolutions in the 1950s and 2010s) . Thus, freeing the post revolutionary model of its weakness with respect to external influence and imposition becomes important in any authoritarian setting, whether in the case of the crisis of reform, or that of an authoritarian reversion that seems to be taking place in not only revolutionary cases (Russia, Egypt) but also in several post revolutionary ones (Hungary, Poland).


Obviously, earlier expectations that I shared concerning the economically positive outcomes of political democratization (a kind of Marxism that reverses causality, but is still deterministic) need to be strongly revised. Not only is the economic change to an important extent independent, but in a globally capitalist economy whose protagonists can reward as well as punish, this is the dimension that is most open to external influence, what I called neo-imperialism, that is likely to be negative as long as the so-called Washington Consensus remains by and large internationally dominant. Of course, this type of influence in a softer form could point in different and better directions if under the impact of the increasingly serious economic and political consequences of “neo-liberalism” there would be an international paradigm change. As it has been effectively argued (D. Rodrik The Paradox of Globalization) even under the old Keynesian Bretton Woods system, the ability of states to build or preserve their own welfare systems was very much superior to what it now is under the Washington Consensus. Yet, for democratic actors in say Cuba or Hungary to hope for such a change during their own radical challenges to authoritarianism (hopefully soon!) would be over-optimistic. While in theory as Rodrik argues it is possible for states to operate under Bretton Woods rules in a setting dominated by neo-liberal globalization, nowhere has this been possible without authoritarian states remaining in charge of reform.


Thus what is needed is a re-thinking or renewal of the post—revolutionary negotiated paradigm, one based on the re-examination of the various cases as to their unrealized potential with respect to avoiding external imposition or undue influence.  Potentially, such a reconsideration could be important for actors in the earliest stages of their own transition from authoritarian rule, as in Cuba, or the late stage of trying to redemocratize a transition country shifting to authoritarian rule (Hungary, Poland).  Three round table processes and their constitutions give us some clues to what would have been possible: that of Spain, that of the German Democratic Republic whose new constitution was not enacted, and that of South Africa.


As we will see, unfortunately, as against the problems of the political transition (see Arato Adventures of the Constituent Power chapter 3), there has been little learning among cases with respect to the design of economic change. Nevertheless, three principles worthy of general lessons are potentially important here: the strong presence of economic actors in the initial negotiations, the constitutionalization of social results along with enforcement, and the expansion of civil society participation during the stages of process.


Given the possible challenge of neo-imperialism as described above, the participation of internal economic actors in the processes of negotiations is extremely important, if domestic social needs are to balance external economic interests and inputs. Here, for all later cases there would have been a model to follow, namely the famous Spanish Moncloa Pact, after the first free elections, but before the writing of the Constitution of 1978. Significantly, leading democratic dissidents like Michnik in Poland and Kis in Hungary tended to (mis) interpret this pact as a purely political bargain. In reality, while it was political parties that formally generated the agreement in 1977, these were primarily economic in nature. Thus two leading participants, the socialist  PSOE and the communist PCE represented their affiliated unions. And while, in an inflationary and unemployment or stagflationary crisis significant caps (22%) on wage increases were conceded on behalf of the labor organizations, important trade-offs regarding  price controls, significant increase of  pensions, and of unemployment insurance, as well as reform of taxation in a progressive direction along with democratization of the system of education (dramatic increase of number of class rooms) were also agreed upon. (Maraval “Political Change in Spain” 86; Gunther  Spain After Franco124ff; Sifuentes,  “The Democratization of Spain: The Role of Consensus and Moderation” (2006). Honors Theses. Paper 951) One interpreter goes so far as to interpret the Pact of Moncloa, as a “social contract” of the Suarez government “with Socialists and Communists”. (Gunther op.cit. p. 139)


As already mentioned the example was not later followed in the round table countries, and learning failed and not only because of the misinterpretations already mentioned.  Most likely, a change in ruling international economic paradigms had strong effects on especially economic experts and foreign advisers. David Stark and Laszlo Bruszt (Postsocialist Pathways p.51) point to the absence (or: very weak presence, merely observer status for the one new independent union) of the principle of economic representation and bargaining during the Hungarian National Round Table, lamenting the lack of any result concerning collective economic issues. Similarly, in spite of the overwhelming presence of Solidarity in the earlier Polish round table, that led to the union’s re-legalization, the earlier idea of an anti economic crisis pact was not realized, and the Round Table entirely failed in instituting economic changes. (Osiatynski in Elster ed. The Round Table Talks 57ff. ) Undoubtedly the still ruling party’s interests played a role in this failure, along with the anti-reform official union’s. But David Ost (The Defeat of Solidarity pp. 47) also seems right in pointing out that the once great Solidarity union was at this time in the process of converting itself into a primarily political organization, surrendering its earlier stress on focusing also on workers’ interests beyond its own legal status. Only after the institution of shock therapy by the Solidarity led government could one offshoot return to the tasks of a union along with local councils, but primarily directed against only one of the dangers, “nomenklatura privatization.”  This later result indicates how much more could have been accomplished if undertaken earlier, or in a much more broad spirit.


Of course, the Spanish Montcloa Pact itself did not achieve all its aims. At that time not challenged by relevant external actors (mainly European, admittedly before the Thatcher-Reagan turn) the architects did achieve a desirable combination of inflation if not yet unemployment management along with protection of living standards, and instituting a much fairer tax system. Unfortunately however some of the agreed upon terms (the so-called “political annex”) were violated by the first freely elected, conservative led government, in particular  provisions dealing with demilitarization and administrative reform (Maraval, op.cit. p 90) At issue was lack of full constitutionalization, along with constitutional enforcement. The Moncloa Pacts were enacted by the Cortes, but only in the form of statutes.  A government controlling the legislative majority could adhere to them or not as it chose. Nevertheless, the subsequent period saw a slow recovery of unionism (Fishman Working Class Organization and the Return of Democracy in Spain), whereas in Poland on the contrary a tremendous weakening followed the political regime change.


What constitutionalization could have accomplished is indicated by several examples. Even in Hungary where merely the formal rights of the European Convention were taken over in the interim constitution of 1989, the Constitutional Court could invalidate important segments of a belated radical stabilization program 1995, because acquired rights had been severely compromised. (43/1995 (VI. 3;) (see also Sólyom Az alkotmánybiráskodás kezdetei   pp 659ff.)  It was to do the same again in 2010 (?) in the face of attacks on some pensions by the FIDESZ government. That an even more ambitious defense of social rights was possible in a much poorer country is indicated by several important decisions of the South African Constitutional Courts defending and extending rights to health and to housing. ( Minister of Health v Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) (2002); Government of the Republic of South Africa and Others v Grootboom and Others [2000])


Finally, that the post revolutionary regime change model was not restricted to mere imitation of already existing liberal constitutions is indicated by both the failed constitutional draft for the GDR, and the two (interim and final) South African constitutions.   The failed Constitutional Proposal for the GDR (Verfassungsentwurf für die DDR – Berlin, April 1990) contained strong provisions of rights, going well beyond the Grundgesetz in its stress on women’s, ecological, and labor rights, extending these as well as the traditional liberal rights for the first time against “third parties” (i.e. economic powers e.g.) and not only the state (art. 40(1)) It also contained a plausible scheme of German unification, relaying on both relevant principles of the Grundgesetz, and insisting on the preservation of the new attitude to rights in any final German Constitution. (art. 132 ) All this was possible because of the wide form of civil society participation in the German Runden Tisch, including women’s groups, unionists, pacifists as well as Green associations (see: C. Maier Dissolution), surpassing the merely corporatist form of social inclusion typified by the Montcloa negotiation.  But, because the same civil society groups largely eschewed organizing their power in a political form, in the face of intense electoral challenge by West German directed opponents (former Bloc parties, and a new SPD), there was no force to represent the constitutional proposal after the first free elections. Also,  the GDR round table made the huge strategic mistake of not submitting its constitutional proposal to a plebiscite during the tenure of the old, formally Communist dominated Volkskammer that it came to dominate, presumably because this body was not freely elected. Thus its achievements could be disregarded by the first freely elected body, that was much less representative of the politically organized forces that accomplished the “revolution,” if perhaps closer to the changing opinion of the population, temporarily mobilized by the mostly misleading hopes of the currency union.  With the disregard of the round table constitution, only one of these forms of representation was to matter.


The South African idea of a fully enforcible interim constitution was the solution to the same type of dilemma concerning the constituent power, namely how to enshrine the results of two types of representation, pluralist and electoral.  A lot was thereby gained, including the relative avoidance of large scale violence, but in the present context the model itself was most important. Initially, there were resemblances both to Spain and to Poland.  As in Spain many political parties claimed and achieved participation, but, as in Poland,  the interest of liberation had one large grouping, the ANC representing it. In the first negotiating venue, political parties, black homeland governments, and traditional tribal leaders 19 participants in all. COSATU, the strongest union was not formally included, though its interests were supposed to be represented by the ANC and SACP, an expectation that was in part disappointed . (Atkinson “Bill of Rights” pp. 140-1 in S. Friedman ed. The Small Miracle). Unlike in the GDR, civil society based interests were not present, until a woman’s protest achieved the formation representing “the missing 53 %”, the Gender Advisory Committee. (Friedman The Long Journey 129ff). But this step toward broader inclusion was not the final one, since fortunately in South Africa the process involved several stages: the failed CODESA, the Multi Party Negotiating Forum (MPNF) and finally the Constitutional Assembly. At each stage participation could expand. The Inkatha Freedom Party, joined the MPNF after boycotting CODESA, and along with other new entrants there were now 26 present, still mostly political groupings.  Now however, women’s groups played a more important role, specifically resisting the strengthening of patriarchal tribal jurisdictions. The role of organized women’s lobbies was to be even more important, after the election of the Constitutional Assembly (Andrews “The Step Child” in Post Apartheid Constitutions), when a whole process of public civil society inputs was thoroughly organized (Ebrahim the Soul of a Nation).


Thus, not only was the South African model not as exclusionary as the Moncloa pacts, but it was also more dynamic  as its several stages allowed the expansion of input and participation. This logic had important results. Whereas the MPNF incorporated in the interim constitution a broad Bill of Rights, these were still understood in the vertical matter as rights against government or public authority, not against private parties.  Even the ANCs interest in social rights of health, nutrition and shelter did not  come strongly into play, at this stage. Here US and Canadian precedents, the traditionalism of the NP and the ANC’s desire for majority rule not being limited by judges converged. (D. Atkinson op.cit.   ; D. Davis in Post Apartheid Constitutions) Yet, as in the GDR provision of establishing right vs. “third parties” this serious lack was remedied in the making of the final constitution, giving the courts the power to enforce fundamental rights also vs. private individuals and entities.  (Constitution of South Africa art 8(3) and 239….  Whose scope went beyond the US state action doctrine: Ellman in Post Apartheid Constitutions) Finally, the table of rights achieved under the expanded model of participation, and given the increasingly dominant role of the ANC, resulted in a very much expanded table of rights when compared to the negotiated interim constitution.  Not only political and civil rights but second and third generation rights were included as formally judiciable: health, housing, environment, nutrition were now there along with children’s rights and full equality of women. While the labor rights of the interim constitution were repeated, the right of lock-out by employers, strongly objected to by COSATU, was taken away. There was a property right, but expropriation with both a public purpose and compensation was affirmed. (see Constitution chapter 2) Now the judiciability of social rights was beyond doubt, even if it was to require judicial wisdom to balance the existing sea of needs, and the capacities of the new regime.


Evidently, mere process will not in itself establish substantive results, or even improve the process itself. The reason why the failed GDR experiment, and the initially successful South African one tended to produce solid results favoring domestic as against external interests, owes much to the nature of the actors involved. In the German case it was activists of civil society, and an entirely newly constituted Social Democratic party that played the key role, until their defeat or absorption by well organized parties of the West. In South Africa, it was the explicitly Left wing alliance of the ANC, the union Cosatu, and the CP now dominated by democratic forces that played the dominant role.  As their power grew, the constitutional outcome reflected that. In Central Europe the situation was different. The worker’s union Solidarity, was transformed into a political entity dominated by its liberal intellectuals. When it was later reconstituted, it was dominated by anti-liberals, hostile to the whole post revolutionary paradigm. (cf. Ost op.cit.) .We see the results today, where former Solidarity leaders like Kaczinsky became the new, right wing revolutionaries.  But an equally negative aspect of the Polish, Hungarian and Bulgarian transitions was the inheritance of the mantle of the left by the exCommunist parties. These may have at times as in the Polish case tried to represent worker and welfare interests, but in general had to demonstrate their international bona fides by adhering to the Washington Consensus. Moreover, one section of the old nomenklatura in each country, if under different schemes of privatization, managed to become very wealthy new capitalists. They were thus seen,  as Zizek noted, the communists and capitalists at the same time, as symbolized by the carrier of ex Hungarian Prime Minister Gyurcsany, who helped cause the disaster that led to the great FIDESZ victory of 2010. In all countries with the exception of the Czech Republic, the supposed party of the left  remained exposed to the anticommunism of the new right, in spite of or even also because of their Thatcherite policies. Unfortunately, even when an exCommunist party tries to defend working class and social welfare interests, as did the Polish DLA between 1993 and 1997, the stigma exposing it to violent anticommunism is not easily removed, even when such a party succeeds in electing its chair to the state presidency, and manage to enact a new constitution. An equally great, and complementary problem was the conversion of the older democratic oppositions into new liberals, identifying them simultaneously as having made a deal with the Communists, and with policies of shock and austerity, resulting in a dramatic loss of popular support in spite of their earlier credits. (on both issues, see Ost op.cit) Their defeat in both Poland and Hungary helped to open the door to a new type of authoritarian populism, combining left and right dimensions.


All this can be learned from. The negotiated post revolutionary formula of regime change can defend itself from external imposition and undue influence, by the inclusive character of the process, giving both unions and civil society associations key roles. Judiciable rights are an important form of this self defense. Thus it matters what kind of constitution the process produces.  A “social liberal” constitution capable of defense also against external imposition will emerge not as the gift of ruling parties, nor as primarily the project of old forces that have converted themselves, but only as in the main the achievement of new forces equally committed to the values of “liberalism”, and “socialism” , the latter understood minimally at least in terms of the welfare achievements and the unrealized participatory ideology of previous systems.