1 January 2020
Want to know more about 1989 and the thirtieth anniversary? Below we have prepared a number of useful links to articles and interviews which will help to understand today’s challenges and how to rethink the democratic future.
The timeline of 1989 in Central European countries illustrates the speed at which the socialist system fell apart in these countries. Citizens showed courage, rejecting political selfishness and defying state violence. Their revolutions for justice and freedom overcame the counter-revolution, though partly because by this point the communist ideology was crumbling.
Worldwide, 1989 was a difficult year in the history of the human rights movement. Its accomplishments were neither conclusive nor fully genuine. In China, violence and lies won over plurality and dignity. The Soviet Union remained for some time yet, on the edge of collapse. Violent regimes and insurrections continued to inflict oppression, humiliation and genocide across Africa and Latin America. Much of that would change by the early 1990s. But this progress was fleeting.
As remarkable as the changes of 1989 and later were, they did have underlying failures which many ignored for too long. Arguably, the year rather marked the end of one period more than the beginning of a new era. Read here the special section about 1989: A Year of Revolution and Change, first published in New Eastern Europe.
The recent nativist revolt in countries like Hungary and Poland challenges the ideas of western liberal economic policies in Eastern Europe. And today, there are perceived linkages between the fight for greater freedom in Hong Kong and the struggle to realise fully the promises of 1989 in Eastern Europe. Find here an LRT interview with James Mark, a professor of history at Exeter University and one of the three authors of 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe.
In the post-Stalin era, Nicolae Ceaușescu built one of the world’s most despotic regimes in Romania. Is this the main reason why 1989 turned out so bloody in Romania, compared to other countries in the region? Read here an interview with Marius Stan, a scholar and co-author of Romania Confronts its Communist Past: Democracy, Memory and Moral Justice.
Would it be fair to call what happened in 1989 a political revolution? Is it fair to dissect those two elements in 1989 and can the “social” element explain the lack of political solidarity and dialogue? Or was 1989 something entirely different? Find here an interview with Vladimir Tismaneanu, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, on the quest for the reinvention of politics sparked in 1989.
More thoughts on the post-1989 world in a review here of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism and Twilight of Democracy. The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends by Anne Applebaum.
Rethink 1989 project is supported by: