This paper examines the development and endurance of mass alienation under state socialism and its aftermath. It argues that mass alienation was originally a reaction to the defects of the state socialist system, and later developed into a pattern of behavior that is harder to transform than the political and economic institutions that created it. Moreover, the paper argues that although widespread mass alienation may either help the opposition movement to achieve the establishment of a democratic political system or considerably erode the governing ability of the regime, it does not help to create a normal market system, nor does it help to create stable democratic institutions. In most cases, the most likely scenario is a period of “corrupt markets” and “unstable democracy.”

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