March 1997 - October-November 1956 witnessed the most momentous events in Hungarian history since 1848, according to Istvan Deak, but they escape an agreed definition despite remaining a defining memory. The debate in Hungary over the events of 1956 even extends to what to call them, with "revolution and struggle for freedom" being the current compromise. Deak, the Seth Low Professor of History at Columbia University and a former Wilson Center Fellow, began his Noon Discussion on 12 March by reviewing the way the 1956 revolution has been treated in Hungary from the Communist to the post-Communist period. To bring his audience up to date on the political debate and the current best understanding of what happened, he concluded with his impressions from the fortieth anniversary conference held in Budapest in September 1996. The meeting was cosponsored by the Center's Cold War International History Project, the Institute for the History of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the National Security Archive.
The series of articles that follows confront a fundamental question of socio-political development, the nature of social allegiances and the two main systems of classification that have been proposed to explain them: class and nation. All of the articles revolve around issues raised by Roman Szporluk in his book "Communism and Nationalism: Marx vs. List," published by the Oxford University Press in the spring of 1988.
February 2005 - In his 1978 novel The Great Winter, Ismail Kadare paints a chilling picture of a family that doctors its personal photo albums with ink to remove (most of) the faces and figures of people who have fallen out of favor with the Party of Labor. Readers might find themselves immediately reminded of Milan Kundera's great work from the same year, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, in which the Czechoslovak party boss Klement Gottwald appears first in company, and then alone, on a balcony, wearing the hat of a colleague airbrushed from the photograph after his fall from grace. There is, indeed another novel that underscores these themes of manipulation and expendability: The Taste of Power (1967) by the Slovak writer and journalist Ladislav Mnacko, in which a "major retouching department" in the state press office tweaks photos and "rubs out" people who are now undesirable. That Stalin's regime made widespread use of tactics such as these has also been demonstrated by David King in his 1997 study The Commissar Vanishes. Kadare, an internationally famous, prolific and highly regarded author from Albania, has written a number of works about communism that show similarities to fiction from other East European countries and can be fruitfully examined in a comparative context. It is my assertion in this essay, however, that he also makes use of innovative and unique modes of writing about his homeland under the Hoxha dictatorship.
In 1991, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia—two multinational Communist federal states with comparable histories of indigenous revolutions and similar nationality policies—disintegrated. As the only two countries that fully implemented the system of ethno-territorial federalism, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia shared important structural features. In both cases, the basic political-administrative units—the republics—were organized along ethnic lines and were seen as the quasi-national homelands of the titular nations.
April 2000 - As a young boy, I was unusually aware of Russia as our home in Kensington creaked under the weight of many tomes written in Cyrillic while prints of Tsarist and Bolshevik Russia stared at us from walls with their unmistakable 'dare to survive the cauldron of history' quality.
There is little doubt what the greatest lesson of 1989 is: communism failed. Recent commentary to the contrary, this failure is not a parochial event limited in its significance to Eastern Europe, to the resolution of the Cold War, or to Western policy initiatives, but rather a moment of global importance in the most important family of events of the last few hundred years. These events do not have a satisfactory name, even though we all know how fundamental they are. Instead of calling them the industrial revolution, modernization, the great transformation, the single transition, or the emergence of capitalism, the author here explores their definition as the energy revolution.
Communist parties have inherited from Lenin and other great Bolsheviks an ideal-logical paradigm. In terms of this paradigm the Bolsheviks understand themselves and the world, which they try to disqualify ideologically and to change through revolutionary activity.
September 2004 - The latest challenges to a world order based on liberalism seem to render the Communist and post-Communist experiences obsolete. Some believe that Communism was so exceptional that, at the end of day, its lessons can teach us little. But I disagree. An enormous wealth of experience can be gained from the communist experiment, its rise, its reign and its fall. Perhaps the most important one is in the field of state and nation building, since no regime before communism had both the drive and the coercive power to impose institutions upon people that were so far from the organic development of both the state and the nation. Although the initial conditions for transformation vary greatly, some clear lessons do emerge out of a comparison between the successful and unsuccessful state-building projects in postcommunist Europe.
October 2001- The comparison between Nazism and Communism is justified on both moral and scholarly grounds. But scholars are not judges, and the confusion between these two roles can make some scholars oblivious to important distinctions. French historian Francois Furet, in his correspondence with German historian Ernst Nolte, insisted that there is something absolutely evil, both at 1) the level of original intention and 2) the implementation of the utopian goals in Nazi practice. Comparable as the two mass horrors of Nazism and Communism are, however, there is something singular about the Holocaust.
The Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) believed television had a specific function in socialist society. November 1997 - From the earliest days of the medium, party leaders sought to use TV as a vehicle to transmit socialism to the masses. They found out, however, that television was a very problematic device. The inability to control television fully and completely (try though the party may), and perhaps more importantly, the party's misunderstanding of the myriad functions of TV in society, prevented it from achieving its goals. In fact, one can even suggest that the government's television policy was a contributing factor in the collapse of the Polish socialist state.