Much of East-Central Europe was once ruled by monarchs. From the 16th century until the end of World War I, the Habsburgs presided over a territory that extended from parts of present-day Poland in the north to the Croatian coastline in the south. At the time, the subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire viewed it as… Continue reading Monarchy as Metaphor
When Communism collapsed in East-Central Europe, it should have been a golden opportunity for the Greens. Newly enfranchised voters were looking for something new. They were skeptical of old-style parties. For decades they’d been breathing polluted air, drinking polluted water, and suffering other consequences of unrestrained growth. Meanwhile, in Western Europe, “post-industrial” politics were becoming… Continue reading From Greens to Guns
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… Continue reading Creating a Spectacle
When Communism collapsed in 1989 in East-Central Europe, many industries collapsed with it. Factories closed, workers were out of jobs, and economies shrank. But one sector of the economy grew: the media. Where there had once been a state monopoly, now there was pluralism. There was suddenly an explosion of reporting, commentary, TV debates. All… Continue reading Expanding the Fourth Estate
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… Continue reading And Justice for All?