Rebirth of the Countryside

Farming practically collapsed in East-Central Europe after 1989. First came the dissolution of the collective farms, then came the influx of agricultural products from the West, and finally came integration into the European Union. Although some countries didn’t have collective farms (Poland) and other countries have yet to join the EU (Serbia, Albania), the pattern of a sharp drop in...
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The Fall of Utopianism

The word “utopia” comes from the book of the same name by Thomas More, which he published in 1516. The English philosopher and humanist imagined an ideal society on an island somewhere in the New World which had abolished private property and lawyers, but maintained a system of slavery and restricted travel. The island’s welfare state presided over a largely agricultural society that...
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Pushed to the Margins

Most people who worked with the Stasi tried to hide their collaboration. There were some even in the East German opposition movement who, it was later revealed, worked with the intelligence services. Wolfgang Schnur, for example, was a lawyer who defended dissidents and Church members in the East German courts. In October 1989, he cofounded the opposition group Demokratische Aufbruch, which would...
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The Stasi’s Long Shadow

During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped two million tons of bombs on Laos, which was, per capita, the most bombed country in history. Nearly one-third of those bombs didn’t explode on contact. It’s been 40 years since the bombing campaign stopped and yet more than 100 people have died over the last couple years when they encountered these exploded bombs. It’s been 24 years since...
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Regime Change in Hungary

There’s something about white horses and strong leaders. A nation is in crisis, and no one knows what to do. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a man appears astride a white horse. He takes the reins of the nation, just as he controls his horse, and leads the country to the promised land. The myth of the “man on the white horse,” which stretches from the Book of Revelations to the latest Lone...
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