2015

Poland’s Uncivil Society

During the 1980s, Poland had perhaps the strongest civil society in the world. The Solidarity trade union movement, created in August 1980, eventually counted 10 million members, a quarter of Poland’s population. And when the government cracked down on Solidarity, declaring Martial Law in December 1981, the opposition was strong enough to survive underground under… Continue reading Poland’s Uncivil Society

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Making Green Cool Again

It was certainly cool to be an environmentalist in Hungary in the 1980s. Demonstrations against the government’s plan to build a dam on the Danube drew lots of young people. Opposition to the Communist government, even in the more politically acceptable form that the incipient Green movement took, attracted the counter-culture, the dissidents, and the… Continue reading Making Green Cool Again

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2014

Can Politics Be Different?

Every few years in East-Central Europe, a new political movement emerges that challenges not only the status quo but the very substance of the political system. Sometimes the movement targets the party patronage system. Sometimes it focuses on the corruption that enriches those who participate in governance. Sometimes it elevates a set of issues that… Continue reading Can Politics Be Different?

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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

Maintaining a Moral Politics

In the early days of the changes in 1989, a new kind of politics emerged within the opposition movements poised to enter parliaments and governments. Many dissidents had a deep distrust of political parties and of political compromise. After all, under Communism, all the official political parties merely followed the script provided by the ruling… Continue reading Maintaining a Moral Politics

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