The paper offers an answer to one of the most intriguing questions about post-communist politics: why did the infrastructure of governance deteriorate considerably immediately after the collapse of the old regimes in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet UnionŒ The analysis delineates broader themes derived from Charles Tilly’s writings on the historical sociology of state formation, and brings these themes to bear upon the study of post-’89 institutional transformations—a line of inquiry that is unjustifiably neglected in mainstream inquiries into the causes and manifestations of post-communist ‘state weakness.’ It compares post-communism—conceptualized as a historically specific period of state building—with earlier episodes of state formation, particularly in early modern Europe and thus sheds analytical light on the factors that brought about the fluctuation of ‘stateness’ and militated against the maintenance of viable state structures in the former Soviet world.

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