Creating a Spectacle

Vaclav Havel wrote for the theater. When change came to Czechoslovakia in November 1989, the velvet revolutionaries of Prague met and planned in the Magic Lantern theater. The events of those ten days that shook the country unfolded like a massive, open-air performance, with dramatic speeches, a soundtrack provided by local bands, and a huge and enthusiastic audience. As with any theatrical...
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Solidarity After Solidarity

Solidarity was not just an opposition movement. With 10 million members – more than one quarter of the population of Poland in 1980 – it was an unprecedented phenomenon. The Communist governments had faced protests from individual dissidents and even from small groups like Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. There had also been reform efforts launched from within the Party, as in Hungary in 1956....
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Becoming a Leader

The Hungarian Guard, a far-right paramilitary organization founded in 2007, followed a pattern. It would solicit an invitation from someone in a village. Then it would show up to hold a rally or a paramilitary exercise. The Guard would specifically target villages with large Roma populations and justify its presence as an effort to protect non-Roma residents. In April 2009, in the town of...
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Kim the Third

Several years before William Shakespeare wrote his first play, England was rocked by a bloody political scandal. Queen Elizabeth, the virgin monarch who had been on the throne for nearly three decades, was in a battle of wills with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. England’s religious future was at stake. Would it stay Protestant, as Elizabeth had decreed, or would it revert to Catholicism, as...
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All Politics is Local

The long-serving U.S. politico Tip O’Neill is credited with the observation that “all politics is local.” If a politician hopes to stay in power, he or she must connect with people at a local level and respond to the concerns of constituents. Trips to far-off places might be glamorous, but you win votes by fixing potholes. Petr Bratsky is a firm believer in the importance of the local. He...
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