In the 1980's, China's government took the authoritarian path towards the transition from Stalinism, with small concessions to increased democracy, a fundamentally altered approach towards economic management in comparison with the Stalinist era, but still with powerful elements of planning. In the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and in Russia, the reforms since 1989 have produced desperately poor short-term economic results. China's incremental path produced outstanding economic advances over the course of a decade and a half. However, a simple homogeneous package of political economy cannot be recommended to all the reforming socialist countries regardless of their size, location, income level and historically bequeathed political conditions. The dangers of a wild leap out of a Stalinist and into a capitalist economy ought now to be clear enough. However, an incremental path of economic reform may be much more difficult to effect in countries which lack as strong a political leadership as China possessed in the 1980's.