a1 State University of New York at Buffalo
Despite Ideological claims to universality and avowed agreement on the desirability of creating a “world socialist order,” the international communist movement exhibits today very little of the unity and cohesion which communist leaders all have recognized as being essential to their objectives. One may readily observe that communist parties in different nation-states differ from each other to a greater or lesser degree—the parties emphasize different parts, or new, revised, or adapted versions, of the ideology; they pursue different policies; they are of different strengths and have had different degrees of success in winning adherents; they play different roles in their national life and have different expectations as to the future. While all of this is clear, what is considerably less evident are the reasons therefor. There has been far too little attention devoted to providing a systematic answer to a very basic question—why do communist parties and communist movements, in fact, differ from one another? It will be my purpose in what follows, therefore, to argue for and present a framework for the comparative analysis of communist movements.
Richard Cornell is Assistant Professor of Political Science at State University of New York at Buffalo.
1 I wish to express my appreciation to H. Gordon Skilling (Toronto) and Peter Juviler (Barnard), and to my colleagues Arthur D. Butler, Richard H. Cox, John C. Lane, and Donald B. Rosenthal, for their constructive comments on this article in draft form.