Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
The rebirth of nationalism in the multi-ethnic states of eastern Europe has important effects on the direction and time-scale of the institutional transformation of the region. The three specific causes of eastern European nationalism are the institutional instability which followed the end of socialism, the political-philosophical tradition and its legacy and local nomenclatures. The old ethos and the philosophical heritage of the region are not in tune with the capitalist culture of exchange and its accentuation of individual liberty; ethnic solidarity which, in certain cases, acted as the sole defence against the intrusions of the power of the state, was paradoxically strengthened during the communist era: hence, today, it is regarded as a refuge during a phase of institutional void. The greatest obstacle to transition towards an economy based on the free market and private property is the reality of the past. Which is why the imposition of capitalism by decree might de facto prove to jeopardise the cause of freedom. An alternative approach to the problem of institutional transformation might, therefore, be that of eastern European governments attempting to set up "competitive institutional markets". If such governments can and will limit the role of the state, setting up and protecting an environment in which alternative property rights and alternative methods of organisation of human interactions compete one with another, capitalist institutions would eventually emerge spontaneously, would survive competition with other types of institution and would become dominant.