What are the legacies of dissent, thirty years after 1989? Two places to look are the 2011 Arab Spring and Armenia’s revolts in 2018. They both teach different lessons about establishing the interpersonal conditions for successful non-violent rebellions and restoring social trust in an illiberal age when authoritarians use ‘hybrid warfare’ tactics to disrupt democracies from the inside.
Barbara J. Falk
is an associate professor at the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College, Toronto. She is author of The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe: Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher-Kings (2002); and Making Sense of Political Trials: Causes and Categories (2008).
Between past and future
Central European dissent in historical perspective
Lockean liberalism emphasized toleration of religion and other dissenting social practices. Yet in the Marxian critique of liberal freedoms, dissent was seen solely in terms of class struggle: social harmony could be achieved in a classless society, not a pluralist one. According to Barbara Falk, the severance of dissent and toleration has obscured the liberal roots of eastern European dissidence.