Vasil Kadrinov, Roma community On the Roma The Roma first came to Europe in the 9th century and not much later to Bulgaria. This place is a crossroads of cultures and peoples. There’s not been serious historical research on the Roma during Turkish rule. But after liberation from 500 years of Turkish occupation at end… Continue reading Interview with Vasil Kadrinov
Anton Karagozov, Foundation for Regional Roma Development, Bulgaria On the work of his organization I come from Plovdiv. It has the biggest, compact quarter of Roma population. There are 40,000 Roma who live in this quarter. I was a leader of one of the Roma NGOs for more than 10 years. We worked mostly on… Continue reading Interview with Anton Karagozov
Now out from Zed Books. Available here. A quarter of a century after the fall of communism, novelist and journalist John Feffer returned to Eastern Europe to track down the hundreds of people he spoke to in the initial atmosphere of optimism as the Iron Curtain fell. Aftershock is the sensational account of that journey. Revealing the… Continue reading Aftershock
Democracy can be messy. In the northeast corner of Spain this week, democracy was downright chaotic. Catalans went to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum on whether to stay in Spain or go their separate way. The Spanish authorities, however, declared the vote illegitimate and sent in the national police to disrupt… Continue reading Things Fall Apart
Germany got its very own electoral shock this week when the far right won 13 percent of the vote in country’s parliamentary elections. For the first time in more than half a century, the far right will be represented in the German parliament, with more than 90 seats. Although it’s now Germany’s third most popular… Continue reading Germany and the Rise of a “Fascist International”
During rush week, aspiring frat boys endure all manner of indignities. They all want to join the exclusive club, and they’re willing to pay the steep initiation fee of risk and embarrassment. One day, they too will be seniors who can haze the newbies all they like. Such are the perks of following orders, rising… Continue reading The Anti-Corruption Revolution
Back in the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev had a magic touch internationally. Traveling outside the Soviet Union, he often received the adulation that was so frequently lacking at home. When Gorbachev visited other Communist countries, crowds would turn out to welcome him as a savior. He had that effect in Beijing when he visited on… Continue reading Trump: The Anti-Gorbachev
The last thing Europe needs right now is advice from Americans, particularly American progressives. After all, we failed to prevent Donald Trump and his cronies from seizing the White House or the far-right wing of the Republican Party from taking over Congress. Before that, we were unable to push President Obama to the left on… Continue reading How to Reinvent the European Left
The European Union is a historic compromise that’s gradually gotten stronger over its half-century existence. Until 2016. That’s when British citizens, by a very narrow margin, voted to leave the European Union. It’s hard to come up with Brexit’s price tag for the British. The administrative costs alone of the separation will be about $60… Continue reading Brexit Is a Wake-Up Call for Europe
Part Field Notes from a Catastrophe, part 1984, part World War Z, John Feffer’s striking new dystopian novel, takes us deep into the battered, shattered world of 2050. The European Union has broken apart. Multiethnic great powers like Russia and China have shriveled. America’s global military footprint has virtually disappeared and the United States remains… Continue reading Splinterlands
Two days before the November elections, Elizabeth Moreno was driving to the Democratic Party headquarters in Manassas to pick up a list of addresses. She was planning to spend another day of canvassing to get out the vote for her candidate Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth had taken off a full week from her job at one… Continue reading Goodbye, Clinton!
Donald Trump might seem like a uniquely American phenomenon. The shape-shifting billionaire huckster reinvented himself first as a TV personality and then as a maverick populist politician. He rode to power on patriotic slogans – Make America Great Again – and tailored his policy prescriptions to specific American constituencies like West Virginia coal miners and… Continue reading What Europe Can Teach Us About Trump
Imagine that Donald Trump wins the presidency. Then, as he has done throughout his career, he goes after his enemies. He purges the Republican Party of everyone who refused to support him. He initiates criminal proceedings against Hillary Clinton. And he shuts down The New York Times and The Washington Post. It sounds like an… Continue reading Stop the Presses!
If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is in fine fettle. At its most recent gathering in July, NATO welcomed its 29th member — Montenegro — which means that the alliance now outnumbers the European Union. Nearby Macedonia has… Continue reading NATO’s Expiration Date
The email trove that WikiLeaks released on the eve of the Democratic National Convention has all the hallmarks of a dirty tricks campaign. The messages reveal, among other things, that the Democratic National Committee tried its best to tilt the electoral playing field in favor of Hillary Clinton. For anyone who has had even the… Continue reading Russia Hacks the World
The voters vowed to take their revenge at the polls. They’d missed out on the country’s vaunted prosperity. They were disgusted with the liberal direction of the previous administration. They were anti-abortion and pro-religion. They were suspicious of immigrants, haughty intellectuals, and intrusive international institutions. And they very much wanted to make their nation great… Continue reading Donald Trump and America B
On a rainy day in April 1990, I journeyed to the outskirts of Warsaw to one of those functional Communist-era apartment building complexes to meet with Antoni Macierewicz. The opposition leader’s apartment contrasted sharply with its grim institutional surroundings. It was an aristocratic enclave full of books, antiques, and prints on the wall. Macierewicz himself… Continue reading Poland’s Tea Party Movement
In the 13th century, the Italian town of Lucera was a Muslim island in a sea of Christendom. Here Frederick II, the head of the Holy Roman Empire, established his own shadow cabinet of scholars and advisors from among the Arabs that he invited to live in this walled city near the eastern coast of… Continue reading Life in the Gray Zone
I was listening to a German parliamentarian the other night. She was making some anodyne comments about transatlantic friendship and the importance of culture. And then she veered off to mention the recent attacks in Paris and the threat of the Islamic State. This issue, she said, required an urgent response from the “free world.”… Continue reading Trump, the Islamic State, and the Cliche of Civilizations
Charlie was a pretty good musician. He played guitar, composed songs. Dennis Wilson, the drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys, befriended Charlie and tried to help him make it in the music industry. He arranged for the young man to make a studio album, which eventually came out in 1974. But before that, the… Continue reading Je Suis Encore Charlie?
Let me start with a confession. I’m old-fashioned and I have an old-fashioned profession: I’m a geo-paleontologist. That means I dig around in archives to exhume the extinct: all the empires and federations and territorial unions that have passed into history. I practically created the profession of geo-paleontology as a young scholar in 2020. (We… Continue reading Splinterlands: The View from 2050
IT HAS BEEN THE FATE of Central and Eastern Europe — that wedge of territory between what was once the Soviet Union to the east and the European Community to the west — to wrestle with its own “abnormality.” For nearly five decades, the region experienced varying degrees of Soviet-style Communism, from the relatively liberal… Continue reading Eastern Europe: Return to Normality?
After midnight on August 15, 1947, India and Pakistan became separate countries. What should have been a joyous occasion — a celebration of independence from three centuries of British colonial rule — quickly turned into one of the greatest tragedies in modern history. By the end of 1948, after an exodus of Muslims from India… Continue reading The Middle East’s New Nakba
Peter, a Sierra Leone migrant living in Hungary, is one of the lucky ones. He has a job. He has a supportive community of friends. After seven years in the country, the Hungarian government approved his application for asylum. He started a very successful NGO devoted to helping other migrants make a new life in… Continue reading The New Middle Passage
Alexis Tsipras had a choice. As the leader of the fledgling Syriza government in Greece, he could have told the European Union to stuff its austerity plan. He could have taken the risk that the EU would offer a better deal to keep Greece in the Eurozone. Or, failing that, he could have navigated his… Continue reading Greece, Iran, and the Rules of the Game
To paraphrase William Gibson, the post-apocalypse is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed. Many of our post-apocalyptic stories — Mad Max, The Road, World War Z — feature desperate people on the move in a friendless and resource-poor environment. The world hasn’t ended quite yet, but these modern nomads have nearly lost hope.… Continue reading Refugee World
In 2012-13, as part of an Open Society Foundation fellowship, I re-interviewed many of the people I talked to in 1990 when I traveled for seven months through East-Central Europe. Twenty-three years later, I also interviewed a wide range of additional people in order to get as broad a picture as possible of what has… Continue reading Full Interview List
Many intellectuals in East-Central Europe have traveled considerable ideological distances over the decades. The most common trajectory has been from the Left to the Right, as former Marxists were born again after 1989 as liberals, neo-liberals, neo-conservatives, just plain conservatives, and ideologues even further to the Right. Janos Kis in Hungary, who critiqued Marxism from… Continue reading The Boomerang Intellectual
Many European organizations, the Open Society Foundation among them, have put a great deal of money and energy into addressing the issue of Roma. Some progress has been made. Roma parliamentarians, business people, journalists, lawyers, and academics have for instance pushed for equal rights for the Roma minority in their respective countries. They are the… Continue reading The Rubik’s Cube of Roma Rights
When I met with Mariusz Ambroziak in 1993, he was secretary for the Solidarity trade union in the Mazowsze area around Warsaw. He’d been a Solidarity activist for most of his life, starting out as a young worker involved in the famous Solidarity chapter at the Ursus tractor factory in Warsaw. But by 1993, he… Continue reading From Solidarity to Business