Transformations in Central Europe between 1989 and 2012: Geopolitical, Cultural, and Socioeconomic Shifts
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Transformations in Central Europe between 1989 and 2012: Geopolitical, Cultural, and Socioeconomic Shifts by Tomas Kavaliauskas, is an in-depth study of the transformations in Central Europe in the years since the fall of Communism. Using a comparative analysis of geopolitical, ethical, cultural, and socioeconomic shifts, this essential text investigates postcommunist countries including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovenia.
Next to transitological interpretations, this study ventures upon negative and positive freedom (Isaiah Berlin) in Central Europe after two decades of post-communist transition. Kavaliauskas questions the meaning of completeness of postcommunist transition, both geopolitical and socioeconomic, when there are many transformations that do not necessarily mean unequivocal progress. The author also analyses why Central Europe in 1989, armed with civil disobedience, could not maintain its moral politics. But the book touches sensitive issues of memory as well: an examination of May 9th is provided from the Russian and the Baltic perspectives, revealing two opposing world views regarding this date of liberation or occupation. Finally, Kavaliauskas analyzes the tragedy at Smolensk airport, which became an inseparable part of Central European identity. Transformations in Central Europe between 1989 and 2012 is an essential contribution to the literature on Central Europe and the lasting effects of Communism and its aftermath.
crowds in Wenceslas Square—his first such public appearance since the Prague Spring period.” Knowing this broader context of the role, dedication, and self-sacrifice of both the Czech and the Slovak intellectuals for freedom, human rights, political emancipation, we can adequately appreciate the accurate assessments of Pope John Paul II and the true meaning of his words. The speech of the Pope built a bridge between the conservative church and the liberal artists. Both wanted the
Orthodox church also has played a role in promoting democracy. Catherine Durandin and Zoe Petre argue that after 1989 Orthodox formalism in Romania filled the void of suddenly vanished communist rituals and propaganda. The Orthodox Church contributed to the language of democracy along with a revival of the country’s religious life. Tismaneanu in his representative study Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism, and Myth in Postcommunist Europe failed to grasp the paradox of the complex
constantly shifting ideologies as well as overlapping geopolitical plates. In other words, positivist determinism raises suspicion when the discussion is about a teleological transitional success. Open-minded acknowledgment of “we do not know what all the successful transition is for” is necessary, if one wants to avoid becoming a victim of deterministic historicism. Gianni Vattimo suggests that we should be aware that our interpretations are only interpretations; not because we believe that
obviously contradicts public interests and welfare. However, the façade of progress must have had fundamental economic substance, otherwise Central Europe would not have shown resilience to the financial crisis. Anders Aslund is even astonished by how resilient this region managed to be: Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria have carried out similar reforms, though not quite as radical. (Lithuania, for example, pursued a higher education reform to enhance efficiency and quality.)
And, though state revenues have fallen with recession, forcing a few countries to hike value-added taxes, none has increased income taxes, and none of the seven countries that had in place a flat-rate income tax has abandoned it. As a result, these countries exit the crisis more productive. [ . . . ] Contrary to expectations—and to the Greek and French experiences—social unrest has been minimal. Extremists on neither the right nor the left have benefited. In the European Parliament elections in