Commemoration risks becoming ideology-lite if it makes the fall of the Berlin Wall synonymous with the collapse of communism. Only real dialogue with the other side of the former Iron Curtain can save the West from parochialism.
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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.
An interview with Ivan Krastev on ’89 and the end of liberal hegemony
Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that illiberalism in central eastern Europe today is part of a global contestation of western liberal hegemony. In an interview with Eurozine, Krastev elaborates on this thesis, discussing what happened to the hopes of ’89, why dissidence cannot be equated with anti-capitalism or even liberalism, and why explaining the new authoritarianism as a backlash against the ‘imitation imperative’ is not to trivialize its ideological substance.
Deceptions and scams in the age of Trump
‘Deep fakes’ are increasingly being used to damage the reputation of political leaders, interfere in elections, and undermine faith in the veracity of public discourse. Concerted action by civil society groups, states and social media intermediaries is the only way to nip this new danger to democracy in the bud.
The transformation of Germany and east central Europe after 1989
The strength of the German economy is often attributed to the shock therapy of the 1990s. But in 1999, the reunited country was considered ‘the sick man of the euro’. Its failings were blamed on the socialist legacy, yet the economic crisis was the result of western decision-making in 1990. Comparison with the economies of Poland and Czech Republic suggests that shock therapy was not the key to Germany’s success.
The Kremlin and the media
On coming to power, Vladimir Putin set about restricting the freedoms that Russian media enjoyed under Yeltsin. After the protests of 2011–12, even the smaller-audience media that still pursued editorial independence came under pressure. Recently, a rise in civic activism and the rapid expansion of internet technologies have brought a new vibrancy – although non-government media remain powerless before the Kremlin’s political monopoly.
The ‘Anthropocene’ raises new questions about our collective responsibility for the fate of our planet. It prompts us to ask what we owe to future generations, who will face the consequences of today’s climate crisis, and what kind of democratic policies are needed to respond adequately.
Civilization is doomed. Nothing can be done. The question is not ‘if’, but ‘when’. Anthropologist Aet Annist connects climate fatalism to global inequality, since angst about being inconvenienced assumes we live comfortable lives to begin with. Fear produces radically different responses: hope for individual survival or a demand for global intergenerational equality.
Why Europe must lead the way in the governance of technology
If technology is the new governance, then the tech giants are the governors, operating without a democratic mandate. Europe must take the lead in pioneering a rules-based system in which the public interest matters, writes Marietje Schaake. Otherwise, authoritarian regimes and private companies will continue to set the standards.
The moral and existential tenor of ecological politics today makes Günther Anders’s definition of the ‘third industrial revolution’ seem more contemporary than its much more recent sociological counterpart. This is a positive sign for climate politics and climate journalism.
The Trump–Ukraine controversy in perspective
Coverage of the Trump–Ukraine controversy has focused on the political fall-out in the US. But the harm done to Ukraine may be much more severe and enduring. Not only has US military aid been made conditional, but even worse: the credibility of the US as ally and example in the fight against corruption has been destroyed, writes the head of Hromadske TV.
Concerned to avert a ‘singing revolution’ in Russia, the Kremlin has co-opted the country’s independent music scene. Apolitical and nihilistic, it is doubtful whether Russian artists could ever play the same role as their Ukrainian counterparts on the Maidan. The group Shortparis is a notable exception – for now.
Corruption, everyday managing and civic mobilization in post-socialist Romania
The strategies that Romanians employ to negotiate the capitalist economy are much like those they used under socialism. Nepotism and bribery are seen as necessary for navigating a broken system. At the political level, however, recent anti-corruption campaigns have brought spectacular results. Jill Massino examines how the shift to a market economy and ongoing corruption have affected individuals’ civic identities, everyday practices and perceptions of the state and the EU.
Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai was listed among the most influential teenagers in the world. Her position is now contested by climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thankfully, they don’t compete with each other for fame. They do, however, challenge assumptions about what can and cannot be done in politics. Especially by girls.
Malala Yousafzai advocates for girls’ education, while Greta Thunberg demands climate action. Thankfully, they don’t compete with each other for fame. They do, however, challenge assumptions about what can and cannot be done in politics. Especially by girls. For the European Week of the Girl, Eurozine offers reads which may help girls navigate the treacherous swamps of international politics.
Farewell to György Konrád
György Konrád (1933–2019) was one of the intellectual leaders of the democratic transformation in Hungary, whose writings – banned at home – inspired a political generation throughout Central Europe and beyond. Publisher Gábor Csordás remembers Konrád’s wisdom and serenity, even in the face of censorship, surveillance and denunciation.