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Douglas Ayling

between official ideological claims and reality”13. As this disjuncture produces disaffection,

cognitive dissonance and lessened commitment even on the part of cadres, the mask begins

to slip. Politically, post-totalitarian regimes typically face a crisis of legitimacy which is

contingent upon the efficacy of state delivery – in a manner by which democratic regimes

are not. Linz and Stepan explain: “Since democracies base their claim to obedience on the

procedural foundations of democratic citizenship, as well as performance, they have a layer

of insulation against weak performance not available to most post-totalitarian or

authoritarian regimes”14.

The question of what to count as post-totalitarian is about the application of ideal

types to empirical cases. The sources I will be using for Soviet-related humour include a

collection published in 197815, a 1988 anthology of humour from Soviet Jews and a 1990

study of East European political jokes. Faced with the countries of Eastern Europe in 1996,

Linz and Stepan labelled this “Post-Communist Europe” and elaborated as a distinct type

the post-totalitarian regime. Going back earlier, the co-authors note that “As many

Soviet-type regimes began to change after Stalin’s death in 1953, they no longer conformed

13

ib., p.48

14

ib., p.49

15

The 1979 sequel was omitted since it lacked consistent translations

page 8

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