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La via della libertà: problemi della transizione alla democrazia

The Road to Serfdom: Problems of Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy

Anno XXV, n. 108, gennaio-marzo 1990
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

The subject of this lecture is the analysis of the economic and political problems and difficulties posed by the transition from dictatorial regime to democratic regimes. No valid theories are available to reconstruct such transition processes: all we can do is to look back at history. Transition, and modernisation, may be launched both politically and economically: the former alternative seems to have been chosen by the Eastern European countries, the latter by the "capitalist dictatorships" of the Far East, and, to a certain extent, by China.
History tells us, first, that transitions are processes charged with tension, exposed, over a long period of time, to day-to-day risks. One of these is the degeneration of transition into revolution; another is the reaffirmation of the old regime; another, finally, is the setting up of Fascist or para-Fascist regimes. This happens, first and foremost, as a result of what may be termed "the economic impotence of democracy", on the one hand, and, on the other, "the political impotence of the market economy". In transition processes men count more than in normal periods of time: this is demonstrated by the results achieved, for example, in post-War Germany, by the joint work of Erhard and Adenauer, a politician and an economist who acted in concert, yet on entirely different planes. The key to all successful transition processes is represented, however, by civil society and its institutions: to create institutions is much more difficult and complicated than to write a constitution. Something that we might do, something that might be a useful contribution to the transition of democracy in the countries of Eastern Europe, is, therefore, to help civil society to develope and consolidate.