2017

Eastern Europe Marches Right

After 1989, Eastern Europe became the poster child for liberal democracy. One after another, the countries in the region replaced their Communist systems with new market economies, alongside democratic structures. After many years of difficult “transition”—high unemployment, industrial collapse, rural dislocation—the countries in the region all began to stabilize as they approached the close of… Continue reading Eastern Europe Marches Right

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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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2014

The Failure of Nationalist Politics

The European financial crisis certainly prepared the ground for the growth of nationalist parties throughout the continent, particularly along the eastern frontier. Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Golden Dawn in Greece all benefited from the economic downturn. But amid all the attention the media has focused on this nationalist surge, it’s important to… Continue reading The Failure of Nationalist Politics

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NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?

Vladimir Putin, the wily strategist of Russian revanchism, is well on his way to reconstructing the Warsaw Pact. That, at least, is what the pundits of The Washington Post are making it out to seem. Last week, Jackson Diehl penned a column on how Putin has driven a wedge between NATO and its easternmost members. Anne Applebaum, meanwhile, pins the… Continue reading NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?

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A Commitment to Children

They are called the decret generation. During the Communist era in Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu issued Decree 770 in 1967 making abortion and contraception illegal except under certain circumstances. The Communist leader wanted to radically increase the population of the country. People with money or political influence found a way around the regulations. But those who… Continue reading A Commitment to Children

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Romania’s Resort Tourism

Romania has 275 kilometers of Black Sea coastline. The country tries to attract tourists by touting its sandy beaches, temperate climate, spas, and resort hotels. It’s tough competition. I met a couple of Romanians who said straight out that they prefer to vacation along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. And Turkey is a more popular destination… Continue reading Romania’s Resort Tourism

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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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