2014

Building a New Economy

At the beginning of the changes in 1989 in East-Central Europe, civil society activists were very interested in alternative approaches to economic development. They’d seen the failures of Soviet-style Communism up close, and they didn’t want to import the worst kind of McDonalds-style capitalism. In 1990, when I visited East German pastor and dissident Wolfgang… Continue reading Building a New Economy

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From Greens to Guns

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

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2013

Rethinking Democracy in Europe

A generation of East-Central Europeans has grown up without any first-hand experience of Communism. They have been educated in schools that are connected Europe-wide through the Bologna process. They can get good jobs outside their countries. They increasingly think of themselves as European citizens (the younger they are, the more Euro-friendly they are, according to… Continue reading Rethinking Democracy in Europe

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Slovakia’s Pendulum Swing

All the countries of East-Central Europe have experienced collective mood swings since 1989. Political parties have rotated in and out of power. The economic fortunes have oscillated considerably. And the level of social enthusiasm – on a spectrum from malaise to engagement – has also fluctuated a great deal. Slovakia has been perhaps the most… Continue reading Slovakia’s Pendulum Swing

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Expanding the Fourth Estate

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

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