2016

What Europe Can Teach Us About Trump

Donald Trump might seem like a uniquely American phenomenon. The shape-shifting billionaire huckster reinvented himself first as a TV personality and then as a maverick populist politician. He rode to power on patriotic slogans – Make America Great Again – and tailored his policy prescriptions to specific American constituencies like West Virginia coal miners and… Continue reading What Europe Can Teach Us About Trump

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Poland’s Tea Party Movement

On a rainy day in April 1990, I journeyed to the outskirts of Warsaw to one of those functional Communist-era apartment building complexes to meet with Antoni Macierewicz. The opposition leader’s apartment contrasted sharply with its grim institutional surroundings. It was an aristocratic enclave full of books, antiques, and prints on the wall. Macierewicz himself… Continue reading Poland’s Tea Party Movement

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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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Poland on the Economic Periphery

Poland is in the center of Europe. Poles often stress that their country is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe. The title of Norman Davies’ immense study of Poland is The Heart of Europe. Indeed, throughout history Poland has been central to the European experience, from the medieval curriculum at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and… Continue reading Poland on the Economic Periphery

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2014

The Fetishism of Economic Growth

Capitalism and Communism shared one important principle in common: an almost religious devotion to economic growth. If a Five Year Plan didn’t produce the expected “great leap forward,” Communist officials fudged the figures. If a capitalist economy dipped into recession, economists tried to put the best face on the resulting “creative destruction,” arguing that it… Continue reading The Fetishism of Economic Growth

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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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