The dilemma of simultaneity: Russia and Georgia in the midst of transformation Academic Article uri icon


  • This article offers a theory of post-Communist political culture that I call the dilemma of simultaneity. The theory recognizes that the transition from communism to free market democracy defies historical parallel. No country has ever sought to erect the institutions of a democratic form of government and a free market simultaneously. In the midst of these transforations, a struggle emerges between the economic and political beliefs of the past and the aspirations of the present. Post-Communist societies must decide whether or not to espouse new political freedoms at the expense of societal order. They must also choose between the economic liberty of the three market or the social welfare of egalitarianism. These judgements shape the political culture. From the perspective of the dilemma of simultaneity, I deduce for possible configurations for the post-Communist system of values. The majority in a post-Communist society select one of four value preferences: economic freedom/political freedom, economic freedom/political order, economic equality/political freedom, economic equality/political order. To illustrate the far-reaching applicability of the dilemma of simultaneity, I examine the post-Communist political cultures of Russia and the Republic of Georgia. Although the international community remains more concerned about the future of Russia, extending the theory of other former Communist societies might provide valuable insights to all post-Communist transformations. In my argument, I present a definition of political culture and describe the dilemma of simultaneity as a tool for analyzing post-Communist societies. The dilemma of simultaneity provides four hypotheses concerning the potential composition of post-Communist beliefs and values. I advance the hypothesis that Russian and Georgian societies espouse political freedom and economic equality. I also provide an empirical test of all four hypotheses. Using survey data, I try to ascertain which economic and political beliefs a majority of Russians and Georgians support.

published proceedings

  • World Affairs

author list (cited authors)

  • Castillo, J.

complete list of authors

  • Castillo, J

publication date

  • December 1997