September 2000 - In his opening remarks, Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined three categories of democracy: functioning, malfunctioning, and fictitious. Functioning democracies are characterized by political and economic pluralism. Poland represents one of the most successful "functioning democracies" in the post-communist world. Malfunctioning democracies, such as many former Soviet states today, may aspire to democracy, but are crippled by legacies of the communist past. In fictitious democracies, the organs of the Communist Party remain but the regime pursues limited, reformist economic and social policies, such as in China. Brzezinski also pointed out that wide-scale, growing poverty impedes the movement toward democracy in many post-communist countries.
This paper analyzes the disintegration of communism in Poland and the formation of a new socio-economic and political system. The actions of political elites have been pivotal in this process. One of the basic conclusions of the analysis that follows is that, because of the weak articulation of the structures of civil society, political elites were not subjected to precise social demands and pressures.
This paper analyzes the dynamics of dependency in Eastern Europe in the broader context of the ontology of socialism. The East European states' dependence on the Soviet Union since World War II, varying as it has in both content and form over time and from country to country, is so closely connected to the genesis of socialism in Eastern Europe that it should be regarded as an essential element in the ontoloqy of socialism in this region.
September 2004 - On May 1, 2004, ten countries joined the European Union (EU). On the day of the accession, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary all had Central-Left governments in power. One day later, Leszek Miller, the Polish premier was forced to resign. In June, Czech social democrat Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla followed suit, and in August, the head of the Center-Left government of Hungary, Peter Medgyessy, was also forced to resign. "Too weak," "lacks energy," "cannot communicate effectively"—these were some of the accusations lodged against them. In spite of the fact that all three leaders where very popular at the beginning of their terms, it appeared that the initial success of their materialist-redistributive politics faded quickly. None of these countries was in bad shape economically—on the contrary, they were experiencing economic booms—yet political observers sensed that there was a crisis in the leadership. This situation had clear ties to EU accession. A national consensus supported the European accession almost everywhere: EU membership seemed logical and would clearly serve the common good. So, once the long-held goal of EU accession was achieved, why did these governments collapse? Was it just coincidence that all three were replaced by much younger prime ministers with very different outlooks from their predecessors? The answers to these questions are directly related to the fact that EU enlargement has brought the region to a new stage in its development, and one in which the former communists need to redefine their political roles. Indeed, this stage could be interpreted as the end of postcommunism.
262. Gendered Entanglements in the Time of Marxism: The Friendship of Wanda Wasilewska and Janina Broniewska in a Man's RevolutionJul 07, 2011
March 2002- During the bleak Polish winter of 1922, the young poet Wladyslaw Broniewski was dreaming of a fantastical romance with a demonic woman; instead he fell in love with a pretty girl named Janina Kunig. Broniewski lived in the elegant prewar city of Warsaw, where he would spend his evenings with a small group of young writers – including Aleksander Wat – who gathered on the upper floor of Cafe Ziemianska. The young poets were, for the most part, Poles and cosmopolitans – "non-Jewish Jews." Broniewski, in this respect, was an exception, an ethnic Pole, of all of them the most tied to the Polish romantic tradition. It was Broniewski who came out of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski's military Legions, who fought against the Soviets in his youth and later became a proletarian poet. He wrote Janina love letters in a language reminiscent of the knights and castles of premodern chivalry. Janina loved him as well, with an affection and concern that would last her entire life. Her greatest, most undying love, though, was for Wanda Wasilewska, who in the 1920s was a promising young leader of the Polish Socialist Party to which her father had devoted his life. She lived in Cracow, where she drank endless cups of black coffee and chain-smoked and wrote poems for a newspaper called Robotnik (The Worker). She was a very tall woman with a large voice in a man's world, and she and Janina would come to mean more to each other than any of the six husbands they had between them.
April 1998 - Prior to the revolution of December 1989, communist-controlled Romanian Radio and Television was the country's only broadcasting station. The government's incessant quest to save energy limited TV programming to two hours a day, from 8:00 to 10:00 pm. Day in and day out, the program began with a newscast on the activities of Nicolae Ceausescu, the president of Romania, and his wife, Elena. Had he done something important, this would be the only news that day. The first item to be sacrificed in this case was the international news. Sometimes the entire newscast or even the entire program was dedicated to Ceausescu's "extraordinary deeds and brilliant speeches."
This author asserts that symbolically, the new Polish republic will be regarded as a direct continuation of the prewar republic: what existed in the period between them will be enclosed in historical parentheses. This article examines what the reason is for this East European preoccupation with the past? Why do people get so excited when trying on this or that antiquated garb or disposing of the garbage of the past?
January 2004 - In the aftermath of World War II, Czechoslovakia expelled close to three million ethnic Germans into occupied Austria and Germany. These so-called Sudeten Germans had long lived in borderland regions ringing the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, with the heaviest concentration inhabiting the industrially advanced north and west of Bohemia. During and after the expulsions, over two million Czechs settled in the formerly German areas, taking over houses, businesses and factories. The popular Communist Party controlled the resettlement process from the beginning in 1945, using its influence to create a web of patronage in the borderlands. This helped the Party win over 50 percent of the vote in north Bohemia in free elections in May of 1946. Even before Stalinism took hold in Czechoslovakia in 1948, north Bohemia's coal mining, power production and chemical industry were renowned. With the onset of a Communist policy of heavy industrialization, north Bohemia's industry became a model for the entire country. By the 1960s, north Bohemia also became known for its almost unrivaled pollution, with air and water so foul that trees died in waves and children decamped to the mountains for doses of clean air.
May 2001- When speaking about the former communist Europe, understanding its history and the emerging ideologies provides a key to comprehending its present. This paper presents some of the ideas that contributed both to shaping dissident movements after 1950 and to the collapse of totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. I will focus particularly on the role of the intelligentsia in their respective societies' emancipation and transformation from objects into entities able to engage in the struggle for their interests.
From the moment the megalomaniac "Great Leader" Nicolae Ceausescu, who turned his onetime maverick country into the new basket case of Europe, was overthrown, Romania became a special case again. It has opted for neither the gradual transformation chosen by Poland and Hungary nor the "velvet" revolutions of Czechoslovakia and the now defunct German Democratic Republic; even in Bulgaria, the coup that toppled Todor Zhivkov was not violent. But in Romania, the popular uprising that led to Ceausescu's overthrow on 22 December 1989 cost 1,033 lives, inflicted heavy suffering to a further 2,198 people, and damaged buildings, some of them historically significant. This paper analyzes the role disillusionment, credibility, revisionist history, and legitimacy play in the unstable result of an unfinished revolution.