Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel

Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel

Vladimir Tismaneanu

Language: English

Pages: 300

ISBN: 0029326052

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Gives an account of East European politics from the time of Soviet domination to the 1989-90 revolutions, and considers the effect of tyranny on East European culture and politics, the chances for successful and harmonious development in the region, and its relationship with the rest of Europe.

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I have called this model the “post-Stalinist” or “soft” or “civilian” version of Communist rule, in contradistinction to the “Stalinist” or “hard” or “military” style …. Indeed, the Hungarian model might welt represent a more rational, more normative, and more enduring version of directed culture. Mr. Gorbachev understands that in order to have a truly successful society with a modern economy he must boost the intelligentsia’s sagging morale by giving it a stake in administering the future.49

Western capitalism. His Manichean vision found its corollary in the acceleration of the satellization process in Eastern Europe.25 The model then imposed on Eastern Europe consisted in an extremely violent social, economic, political, and cultural destruction of the old order; the elimination of all potential or real political enemies; and the complete regimentation of culture. The new structures erected on the ruins of those smashed and increasingly atomized societies had to be carbon copies of

privileges of the party members, although theoretically criticized by Yugoslav communists, were not curtailed even when the well-known leader Milovan Djilas—then the country’s Vice President—decided to attack the communist nomenklatura. First Djilas was expelled from the Communist League of Yugoslavia, and then, after he published his famous indictment of the “new class” of potentates, he was jailed as a “subversive element.”9 Tito was ready to condemn the atrocities of Stalinism and to deplore

old-fashioned conceptions were drastically criticized by increasingly bold intellectuals. Intellectuals were exhilarated by the revelations of the Twentieth CPSU Congress. By 1956 more than two hundred discussion clubs were unabashedly examining the thorniest issues of the country’s past and present. Indeed, the resurgence of interest in public opinion revived the besieged Polish civil society. Like their peers in Hungary, Polish intellectuals searched for a new principle of socialism. Their

would sanction their elimination and endorse the program of “socialism with a human face.” Increasingly concerned over the Soviet threats, Dubcek rejected the appeal but refused to give in to the neo-Stalinist forces who labeled the document a “counterrevolutionary manifesto.” The Soviet displeasure with Dubcek’s delay in taking harsh measures to stop the liberalization was aggravated by the pressure on Brezhnev exerted by Polish and East German communist leaders, who were panicked at the idea

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