The post-1989 period has seen a vast portion of the world undergoing a contested process of change which is arguably quite unique in world history. 1 From that date, a huge region known as the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe which had integrated to form a ‘Communist bloc’ has become a series of relatively independent states trying to negotiate a complex change from state-socialist societies (see Box 8.1 for discussion of terms). As a part of these changes these countries are, to varying degrees, being reinserted into the capitalist world economy from which they were relatively isolated, and are contributing new geographies to the complex economic, social, political and cultural mosaic of the contested world. Communism, socialism and state-socialism (after <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="ref_1041">Sakwa 1999</xref> and <xref ref-type="bibr" rid="ref_638">Johnston <italic>et al</italic> 1994</xref>)

Communism: a pure theoretical form outlined by the founders of the communist movements including Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and their successors. A body of ideas united by a common ideological tradition which takes as its basis the principle of communal ownership of all property. For Marx, full Communism was based on the common ownership of the means of production which could only come about in fully industrialised societies where goods were no longer scarce. With full Communism the state would wither away and differences between mental and physical labour, between nationality grouping, and between state and collective property would disappear.

communism: the practice in those countries which proclaimed themselves on the road to Communism. This was the concept ultimately accepted by communist leaders themselves.

Socialism: a term which refers to a body of writings, ideas and beliefs concerned with social justice and equality. In its most generally understood form it involves a social system based on the common ownership of the means of production and distribution. According to Marxist views the end-stage society of Communism is preceded by a transitional period of socialism, characterised by a dictatorship of the industrial proletariat.

252 State-socialism: a term which indicates societies in which the dominant values are those of Marxism-Leninism. The dominant political institution is the Communist Party. There is state control of the means of production and central planning is a key element of the political organisation of the economy. Such societies tried to implement the ideals of eradicating or overcoming differences between town and country, state and collective forms of property, types of labour, and regional and national differences.

Thus state-socialist countries derived their support and legitimation from the claim that they were implementing Communist ideas, although they never actually achieved that ideal. In the 1970s, therefore, the concepts of ‘actually existing socialism’ or ‘really existing socialism’ were adopted to signify that the versions of communism adopted by communist leaders had diverged in practice from the ideal of Communism.