2015

Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?

When I traveled through Yugoslavia in 1990, a number of people confessed their fears to me. They were worried about the rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia with Slobodan Milosevic. They were concerned about the economic situation – the high level of national debt, the overall stagnation, the persistent gap between the more prosperous northern… Continue reading Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?

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Islamophobia in East-Central Europe

It’s often said that anti-Semitism continues to exist in Poland even in the absence of a large Jewish community. The recent Polish film Aftermath, about a farmer who uncovers the terrible truth about his village’s treatment of its Jewish community during World War II, makes that point vividly and tragically. The same can be said… Continue reading Islamophobia in East-Central Europe

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The Market Before the Market

When East-Central Europe made the transition to market economies after 1989, journalists sometimes referred to the process as “overnight capitalism.” This gave the impression that the countries in the region were Communist one day and capitalist the next. In fact, the market was present in most of the countries in the region in one form… Continue reading The Market Before the Market

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The Disappointment of Fulfilled Dreams

“May your dreams come true” is purportedly an ancient Chinese curse. Although it is probably apocryphal – just as the Chinese never say “may you live in interesting times” — the phrase does contain an element of truth. It is often the longing and anticipation that we crave, not the realization of our hopes. Nothing… Continue reading The Disappointment of Fulfilled Dreams

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Working on Behalf of All Minorities

A fundamental element of majority privilege is the blind universality that members of an ethnic, religious, racial, or sexual majority often unconsciously embrace. They believe that their perspectives are held – or should be held – by everyone. They think that everyone celebrates Christmas, wants to get married to someone of the opposite sex, or… Continue reading Working on Behalf of All Minorities

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Negotiating the Transition in Poland

The great transformations of 1989 began with the announcement early in the year that the Polish government would begin Round Table negotiations with the Solidarity trade union movement. It was an unprecedented move. There had been uprisings from below and crackdowns from above. There had been revolutions from within and interventions from outside. But for… Continue reading Negotiating the Transition in Poland

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