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An application of a systems theory approach to the "communist international system" (that group of states each of which is ruled by a communist party) to determine whether there are any gains to be obtained from such analysis. From a list of 54 basic terms in general systems theory, the relevant concepts are selected, defined, and analyzed, with examples of possible analogies. Six of these concepts--system, isomorphism, boundary, environment, integration, and differentiation--are then developed in greater detail. The results suggest that while general systems theory can serve as a framework for studying and organizing the study of the communist international system, it is too broad to catch many of the important political developments within the system and is devoid of particular content. However, the great strength of systems theory is to provide perspective, to demonstrate that political systems evolve, and to free the student from traditional categories of analysis by uncovering hidden facts and relationships. Appendix A provides the Bank and Textor compilation of 56 characteristics of 14 communist countries. 68 pp.

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