The far right is on a roll. Just a few years ago, liberals and conservatives would have considered its recent political victories a nightmare scenario. Right-wing extremists have won elections in the United States, Brazil, Hungary, India, and Poland. They pushed through the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. In the most recent European Parliament… Continue reading The Far Right’s War on Culture
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?
Throughout East-Central Europe during the Communist period, social movements were on the margins, repressed by the governments, declared illegal. The exception was Yugoslavia in the 1980s where the women’s movement, the peace movement, and other groups not only operated in the open but had some impact on public policy. This was particularly the case in… Continue reading The Future of Social Movements
When I traveled through Yugoslavia in 1990, a number of people confessed their fears to me. They were worried about the rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia with Slobodan Milosevic. They were concerned about the economic situation – the high level of national debt, the overall stagnation, the persistent gap between the more prosperous northern… Continue reading Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?
The European Union is currently facing several existential challenges. The recent parliamentary election in Greece resulted in the victory of a political party that rejects the austerity measures the EU and the IMF have insisted on as a condition for bailing out the Greek economy. The debt-ridden country is now on the verge of a… Continue reading The Fragility of Federalism
It was one thing to establish an independent peace group in Poland or Hungary during the last decade of the Communist era. Freedom and Peace challenged military service in Poland, where there was a long tradition of independent organizing. In Hungary, perhaps the most liberal country in the region outside of Yugoslavia, Dialogus opposed nuclear… Continue reading The Pankow Peace Group
Diaspora communities played a major role in feeding the fires of conflict in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Paul Hockenos detailed in his book Homeland Calling, émigré communities of Serbs, Croats, Kosovars and others supported nationalist leaders, funded guerrilla armies, returned to fight in the wars and serve in the new governments, and even… Continue reading Guilt as Destiny
It took a while before the new democracies of East-Central Europe acquired the trappings of a modern political system. One of the new features borrowed from the West was lobbying. To engage in lobbying, however, the new NGOs first had to overcome the perception of politics as “dirty,” since engaging with official political structures still… Continue reading Lobbying for Women
The wars in former Yugoslavia led to an enormous displacement of people. Even before the war broke in Bosnia, nearly 300,000 refugees from that multi-confessional region flooded into Croatia. As the wars spread and the refugee flow increased, the Bosniaks – Bosnians from a Muslim background – usually treated Croatia as a transit point to… Continue reading Starting Over Again in Croatia
The success of the free market reforms that took place in East-Central Europe after 1989 was predicated to a large degree on the rule of law. The privatization of state assets, for instance, required a high degree of transparency and a strong set of regulations. Otherwise corrupt individuals and groups could easily vacuum up the… Continue reading The Misrule of Law