The events of 1989 unleashed a world of discovery. Economic determinism was replaced by imitation of the West. Was that process authentically spontaneous or were eastern Europeans staging a script they did not write? Either way, imitation created a crisis of identity, the consequences of which are still unfolding.
Holly Case raises questions of agency: what are the relationships between the ‘creation of the real’ and the ‘role of the material’?
According to Ivan Krastev, imitation of the West was a choice. For central and eastern Europeans, the ‘end of history’ was more like the end of the future, which all of a sudden appeared adjacent in space rather than ahead in time. As a result, unlike in other revolutions, it was the winner who left first.
Imitation, however, brought long term consequences both to the West and the East: the former stopped being self-critical and the latter went through an identity crisis, which is now being exploited by contemporary populism.
Or you can also watch the debate on our YouTube channel:
Historian Holly Case (Brown University) and political scientist Ivan Krastev (Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna) debated the legacy of 1989 on contemporary politics at the Eurozine conference ‘Europe ’89: The promise recalled’, the 30th European Meeting of Cultural Journals (1-3 November 2019, Berlin).
Read Eurozine’s interview with Ivan Krastev on his co-authored book with Stephen Holmes, ‘The Light that Failed’.
31st European Meeting of Cultural Journals: first iteration
Are you concerned about press freedom and integrity in central eastern Europe? The first part of the 31st European Meeting of Cultural Journals, livestreamed from Budapest on Saturday 14 November, gives you the chance to hear journalists from the region speak about their current predicament and responses.