Free political thought cannot be considered the exclusive prerogative of democratic societies with well-established traditions of unfettered political thought and independent scholarly inquiry. For the appearance of this publication in Ukraine, which was only recently an integral part of a totalitarian imperial state is no accident. The collapse of the communist system and of the USSR have become a fact of history. A postcommunist world has come into existence, and newly independent states have appeared on the political map. We are experiencing and trying to understand a unique experience. All this has laid the preconditions for overcoming our long intellectual isolation, where the ideologization of thinking prevailed, in order to expand our political horizon. We have taken initial steps to establish a full-fledged creative partnership and free exchange of ideas, insights, and information among scholars of various theoretical orientations, generations, and nations.
Open dialog, the interaction and cooperation of Ukrainian and foreign scholars in the comprehensive investigation of the social, political, geopolitical, and cultural transformations taking place in postcommunist societies, is precisely what the Editorial Board of the Ukrainian scholarly quarterly Political Thought has tried to establish, and on this basis the present volume has been compiled.
The publication of Political Analysis of Postcommunism has been made possible by the fact that in a relatively brief period of time our journal has been able to bring together and unite scholars primarily from the new generation /10/of scholars, for whom intellectual doubt, scholarly objectivity, and, political independence constitute the highest standards. The journal is an open forum for scholars where the best insights of contemporary domestic political thought encounter those of the world scholarly community. This is greatly facilitated by the fact that Political Thought is published in Ukrainian, English, and Russian, distributed in more than thirty countries, and enjoys both a wide readership and circle of contributors both in Ukraine and abroad.
Editorial Board activities are not limited to publishing the journal. They also include regular seminars held by the Political Thought International Expert Club, scholarly discussions, and participation in internal Ukrainian and international conferences, television and radio panel discussions, etc. In essence, the journal has set out in a new scholarly direction, independent of postcommunist political authorities. This movement plays a unique role in helping to counter newly-minted political utopias and myths permanently produced and disseminated by tendentious scholarly structures and political forces.
The idea of compiling this book dates back to the summer of 1994. It was to be primarily based on works published in previous issues of the journal. Simultaneously, editorial policy took the shape of the future volume into account, and as a result many contributions to the subsequent issues of Political Thought were made more goal-oriented and focused on particular problems. Thus, in 1994 Political Thought laid a foundation for a new sub-discipline of political science — the political analysis of postcommunism.
An urgent problem of political science, which provokes much discussion, concerns what perspectives and alternatives of political development confront the various postcommunist states. In approaching the problem, many political scientists pose an either/or alternative: either an open democratic society or backsliding into the communist totalitarian past. But the real political changes in the former communist states witness the escalation of difficulties and contradictions in their development, which the authors explore. Quite plausible is a wide range of both traditional (democratic, /11/ communist, fascist, and nationalist) and innovative models of social development, sometimes chimerical, and eclectic but in their main features neototalitarian.
Aware that new approaches in political science and a fundamental revision of scholarly knowledge concerning politics and policy-making are indispensable, the authors do not claim to have invented some universal political science of postcommunist societies encompassing all aspects of studying the new, extraordinarily multifaceted political reality.
The volume offered, as one of the first attempts at interdisciplinary research in this area, is but an attempt at achieving an intellectual breakthrough in the social sciences. It is an endeavor to find the theoretical linchpin, without which it would be impossible to discern the trends of political thought and critically examine the political realities and contradictions in postcommunism. As such it is merely an introduction to a new branch of scholarly inquiry, the political analysis of postcommunism, the domain of which has only recently come under the eye of rigorous examination.
This branch of political science is still only in the process of formation.
The authors are confident that we are not late in publishing a timely book.
Of course, it is difficult to foresee the future awaiting journal Political Thought. At any rate, in the face of considerable obstacles and difficulties, the Editors have been able to regularly bring out new issues, while maintaining their intellectual freedom and financial independence from the object of their research, politicians and policy-makers.
The Editors arc deeply grateful to all those who have supported our quarterly, have embraced its problems as their own, who assist in joining intellectual efforts from Ukraine and abroad, cooperate with us, and support research projects, which are called forth by the social and political realities of the postcommunism period.
Kyiv, June 25, 1995
Volodymyr POLOKHALO, Editor-in-Chief, Political Thought