2015

Eastern Europe: Return to Normality?

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?

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The Boomerang Intellectual

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

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Why the World Is Becoming the Un-Sweden

Imagine an alternative universe in which the two major Cold War superpowers evolved into the United Soviet Socialist States. The conjoined entity, linked perhaps by a new Bering Straits land bridge, combines the optimal features of capitalism and collectivism. From Siberia to Sioux City, we’d all be living in one giant Sweden. It sounds like… Continue reading Why the World Is Becoming the Un-Sweden

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The Rubik’s Cube of Roma Rights

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

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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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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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Greece and the Unlearned Lesson of 1990

Greek voters have decisively repudiated the economics of austerity by handing an overwhelming victory to the left-wing party Syriza in their recent parliamentary elections. This was not a big surprise. Greece has been suffering from high levels of unemployment, including a rate higher than 50 percent for young people. The standard of living for much… Continue reading Greece and the Unlearned Lesson of 1990

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