The Neoliberalism of the 1980s and 1990s was the perfect ideological cover for the events leading up to and immediately following the events of 1989.
The Communist elites had for decades been engaging in clandestine as well as open business ventures with the West, particularly in international finance and foreign trade.
They understood that the Neoliberalist ascendency in the West would afford them economic opportunities that their neo-Stalinist system could never provide them with.
They carefully and quickly orchestrated the switch from state controlled Socialism to strong arm capitalism (“McMafia”) unburdening themselves with “unnecessary” social, economic, political concerns for citizens’ welfare. After all, they hadn’t truly cared about that for decades.
They and their families, with the eager help of Western elites, would get rich in part by selling off state concerns and properties, literally overnight. To hell with the public sector: schools, hospitals, even the military: they would be only as good as the potential profits they could deliver. And, of course, there was always organized crime; something which the ex-Communist states had become as good at, if not better, than their counterparts in the West. Indeed, organized crime was one of the key globalizing forces which led to the events of 1989.
So, ironically, 1989 did not mark the end of the “Evil Empire” but rather its unprecedented expansion into a “Global Empire of Evil”.
Yet, both Western and Communist elites understood a thing or two about marketing. They knew how to put a liberal “face” on all their doings. A mix of provocateurs, dissidents, pliant intellectuals and artists, and, above all, largely uninformed hopeful masses all played into the narrative of “free at last, free at last”. Yeah, free for the vast majority of vulnerable people to be exploited beyond their wildest dreams.
Yes, life under communist regimes was nothing to be envious about. But, after all, what replaced them was a society still controlled by the same people serving the populace different lies through the Western puppet show known as “parliaments, parties, and platforms”. In Eastern Europe, the puppet show as often as not was and is so maladroitly played that it oftentimes looks like a French absurdist rendition of Punch and Judy. Motorcycle clubs, mistresses, petty theft, second-rate intrigues, nationalist and racist thugs of all stripes and colors. Come to think of it, the USA is, lately, giving them a run for their money.