Schengen

One of the great joys of driving from Hungary to Italy is the absence of border controls. You don’t have to slow down and show your passport. You don’t have to worry about waiting in a queue with commuters and vacationers and truckers. It’s just a straight shot from Budapest through Slovenia to Trieste. But then if you veer just slightly from this path and dip down into Croatia, suddenly...
read more

The Lost Treasure of Revolutions

I once asked someone that I was re-interviewing here in East-Central Europe how he would compare his life back in 1988 with his life today. He looked at me as if I were crazy. “Of course it was better then!” he exclaimed. “It was better under Communism?” He laughed. “No, it was better when I was 25 years younger!” The desire to be young again is powerful. But more powerful still is to...
read more

Inside Outsiders

In explaining the fall of Communism, most analysts talk about pressure from the inside (dissidents) coupled with pressure from the outside (Gorbachev, Reagan). But equally important were the inside-outsiders.  These were people from the region who found themselves in other countries as a result of war, uprising, or other dislocations. The Hungarian-born financier George Soros helped opposition...
read more

And Justice for All?

The debate continues over whether the people of East-Central Europe have benefitted economically from the post-1989 transition. But this discussion of economic winners and losers largely ignores a key demand of the people in the region. Yes, they wanted bananas and travel to the West and propaganda-free media. But they also wanted an end to the injustices of the Communist era. Communism promised...
read more

Retiring the American Empire

As people near retirement age, they enter the twilight years. Sometimes, they rebel against retirement. They want to keep working. They’re not interested in shuffling out of their office never to return. And if they’re in fact the owner of the workplace, conflicts often ensue. Those who have power rarely want to give up that power. The United States is relatively young as a country....
read more