2019

2018

2017

Welcome to the Birthplace of Trumpism

He was a rich businessman, an outspoken outsider with a love of conspiracy theories. And he was a populist running for president. In 1990, when Donald Trump was still beyond the furthest outskirts of American politics, Stanislaw Tyminski was trying to become the new president of post-communist Poland.  He shared something else with the future… Continue reading Welcome to the Birthplace of Trumpism

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2015

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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2014

Poland’s Politics of Dissatisfaction

Poland has a proud history of protest, dating back to the multiple insurrections and uprisings against colonial rule in the 18th and 19th century. During the Cold War period, Poles mounted several challenges to the Communist system, culminating in the 10-million-strong Solidarity movement of 1980. Since the fall of Communism, Polish dissatisfaction with the political status quo… Continue reading Poland’s Politics of Dissatisfaction

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Reinventing Republicanism in Poland

Poland has never been a particularly liberal country. In other words, its political culture has not focused on the individual or individual rights. Consider the great confrontation of the 1980s: between the collectivist ideology of the Communist Party and the spirit of solidarity of the opposition. Both sides were animated in part by older republican… Continue reading Reinventing Republicanism in Poland

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Playing Party Politics

Political parties in East-Central Europe are like amoebas. They are constantly splitting apart (mitosis) and then banding together in coalitions (aggregation). For someone coming from a U.S. context of two relatively stable parties, the political scene in East-Central Europe seems hopelessly complex. That goes double for Romania. During the 1989 revolution in Romania, a popular… Continue reading Playing Party Politics

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Rescuing Polish Liberalism

Liberalism took a beating in Poland in the 20th century. It was overwhelmed by nationalism in the 1930s, by Nazi occupation in the 1940s, and by a succession of Communist governments during the Cold War period. Finally, when the full political spectrum was restored to the country after 1989, liberalism became almost exclusively associated with its… Continue reading Rescuing Polish Liberalism

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