Contrary to Popper’s classic article with this title, it can be argued that the principal failure of Western analyses of communism was not the failure to predict the collapse of most of the communist regimes in and around 1989 but more a failure of prophecy, in the sense of a more speculative theory of the contradictions of those regimes and their unsustainability.
The reasons can be found in the polarisation between overblown theories of totalitarianism and excessively bland comparative approaches couched in terms of the, then popular, theories of industrial society and, often, convergence. There were also methodological reasons arising from the positivist shibboleths of factual documentation, with the consequence that dubious statistics were considered better than none, and value-freedom.
DeutschKarl, '‘Cracks in the Monolith: Possibilities and Patterns of Disintegration in Totalitarian Systems’', in C.J. Friedrich(ed), Totalitarianism, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts1954) 308-344.
JarauschKonrad, '‘Care and Coercion: The GDR as Welfare Dictatorship’', in Konrad H. Jarausch(ed), Dictatorship as Experience. Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, (Berghahn, New York and Oxford1999) 47-69.
KaiserMonika, '‘Reforming Socialism? The Changing of the Guard from Ulbricht to Honecker during the 1960s’', in Konrad H. Jarausch(ed), Dictatorship as Experience. Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, (Berghahn, New York and Oxford1999) 325-339.
KołakowskiLeszek, '‘Totalitarianism and the Virtue of the Lie’', in Irving Howe(ed), 1984 Revisited, (Harper and Row, 1983, New York 2005) 66-76cited here from Kołakowski My Correct Views on Everything (South Bend Indiana: St.Augustine’s Press).
LaneD., '‘Civil Society and the Transition from State Socialism’', in Nikolai Genov and Reinhard Kreckel(eds), Soziologische Zeitgeschichte. Helmut Steiner zum 70. Geburtstag, (edition sigma, Berlin2007) 189-203.
PollackDetlef, '‘Modernization and Modernization Blockages’', in Konrad H. Jarausch(ed), Dictatorship as Experience. Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, (Berghahn, New York and Oxford1999) 27-45.
RostowW., '‘Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union: A Technological Time Warp’', in D. Chirot(ed), The Crisis of Leninism and the Decline of the Left – the Revolutions of 1989, (University of Washington Press, London1991) 61-73.
SzelényiIván, '‘Social inequalities in state socialist redistributive economies: dilemmas for social policy in contemporary socialist societies of eastern Europe’' (1978) v.19International journal of comparative sociology: 1-2.
Paul Hollander (1983) writing in the US Information Agency’s tendentiously titled Problems of Communism was particularly enthusiastic about the Schapiro and Godson collection and in particular the contributions of Seeger and Turovsky. Alec Nove (1981) confined himself to some qualifications to the general line of critique deployed in the book. W. Teckenberg (1980) by contrast provided one of the more sympathetic reviews of Lane and O’Dell.