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From Communism to Pluralism

This book reassesses a defining historical, political and ideological moment in contemporary history: the 1989 revolutions in central and eastern Europe. It considers the origins, processes and outcomes of the collapse of communism in eastern Europe. The book argues that communism was not simply an 'unnatural Yoke' around the necks of East Europeans, but was a powerful, and not entirely negative, historical force capable of modernizing societies, cultures and economies. It focuses on the interplay between internal and external developments as opposed to an emphasis on Cold War geopolitical power struggles and the triumphalist rhetoric of how the 'freedom-loving' USA 'defeated' the 'totalitarian' Soviet Union. The book also approaches the East European revolutions from a variety of angles, emphasizing generational conflicts, socio-economic and domestic aspects, international features, the 'Gorbachev factor', and the role of peace movements or discourses on revolution. It analyses the peace movements in both parts of Germany during the 1980s from a perspective that transcends the ideological and geopolitical divides of the Cold War. The history of the East German peace movement has mostly been written from the perspective of German unification in 1989-1990. Many historians have read the history of the civil rights movement of 1989-1990 backwards in order to show its importance, or ignored it altogether to highlight the totalitarian character of the German Democratic Republic.

The ‘Gorbachev factor’ and the collapse of the German Democratic Republic
Peter Grieder

Socialist Republics (USSR) for its very existence as a separate state. The impact of Gorbachev on the GDR, 1985–89 Shortly after Gorbachev’s accession to power, Erich Mielke, the Minister for State Security of the GDR, issued directive No. 2/85 on ‘prevention, disclosure and combating of underground political activity’. Controlling McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 73 28/03/2013 10:42:16 74 The ‘Gorbachev factor’ dissenters would now be achieved by ‘wholesale surveillance’.7 Between 25 February and 6 March 1986, SED General Secretary Honecker attended

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
The case of Romania

The post-communist transition in Romania has been a period rife with high hopes and expectations as well as strong disappointments and disillusions. The engagement with these disappointments or disillusions has mainly fallen along the lines of critical editorial comments by dissidents and intellectuals or academic engagements that connect it to different forms of social and political apathy. What seems to be lacking however, is a more head-on engagement with disillusionment as a self-contained process that is not just a side-effect of political corruption or economic failures but rather an intrinsic part of any transition. This book provides the basis for a theory of disillusionment in instances of transition. It also elaborates on how such a theory could be applied to a specific case-study, in this instance, the Romanian transition from communism to capitalism. By defining disillusionment as the loss of particularly strong collective illusions, the book identifies what those illusions were in the context of the Romanian 1989 Revolution. It also seeks to understand the extent to which disillusionment is intrinsic to social change, and more importantly, determine whether it plays an essential role in shaping both the direction and the form of change. The book further inevitably places itself at the intersection of a number of different academic literatures: from regional and comparative studies, political science and "transitology" studies, to sociology, psychology and cultural studies.

Origins, processes, outcomes
Kevin McDermott
Matthew Stibbe

1 The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe: origins, processes, outcomes Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe The 1989 revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe ‘People think of history in the long term’, comments the narrator Nathan Zuckerman in Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral, ‘but history, in fact, is a very sudden thing’.1 While Roth was referring to the social upheavals in the USA in the late 1960s and early 1970s and their impact on the town of Newark, New Jersey, when he wrote this, it might equally

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
Jürgen Kuczynski and the end of the GDR
Matthew Stibbe

not only in the Soviet Union: We in the GDR, admittedly rather late in the day, have also begun a revolution of our conditions, following the example of the Soviet Union. The people, and also the mass of ordinary party members, have forced the McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 213 28/03/2013 10:42:22 214 Then and now: the communist era and aftermath pace of change. It is wonderful for a Marxist of six and a half decades to witness such a powerful movement of the people … And I am convinced that when we find ourselves once more in these rooms in

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
The view from Budapest
László Borhi

seemed to justify the notion that Soviet-style socialism and the western system of capitalism would one day converge. Kádár`s image had changed from the ‘butcher of Budapest’ to a statesman of European repute. McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 113 28/03/2013 10:42:18 114 The East European revolutions The doyen of US diplomacy, Averell Harriman asked for his mediation between Brezhnev and Carter in 1978, 2 and German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt stated that Kádár by virtue of his personal and international prestige could play a key role in improving East

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
1989 in historical perspective
Robin Okey

1789 it took concrete social and national form in the revolutions of 1848 and appeared to come to fruition in the new nationstates which replaced the old empires in 1918. Seen in this context 1989 fulfilled the unredeemed promise of the Paris peace settlement and paved the way for the region’s final integration in the ‘common European home’, in Mikhail Gorbachev’s striking phrase. But its significance went beyond Europe. Francis Fukuyama’s notorious proclamation of the ‘end of history’, McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 33 28/03/2013 10:42:14 34 The

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
Abstract only
The discursive constitution of revolution and revolution envy
James Krapfl

from the beginning of this process the trope of revolution has served a legitimising function which explains its continuing importance in regional politics – recently and dramatically in Viktor Orbán’s proclamation of an ‘electoral revolution’ in Hungary in 2010. Independently of the question of whether there ‘really’ was a revolution in any of the Soviet bloc countries in the years following Gorbachev’s rise to power, the ways he and many others have used the term have had significant impact on real political struggles. McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
Abstract only
The FSN and the mythologisation of the Romanian revolution
Kevin Adamson
Sergiu Florean

Immediately following an announcement on Romanian television, the FSN moved to assume all state power and control over the army. It claimed to ‘group together all of the healthy forces of society’ and claimed as its goal ‘the establishment of democracy, liberty and the dignity of the Romanian people.’8 Focusing on how the language and practice of the FSN shaped political events following the flight of Ceauşescu on 22 December 1989, this McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 172 28/03/2013 10:42:20 The FSN and the Romanian revolution 173 study takes a

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe
The curiosity of the Bulgarian case
Elena Simeonova

development of several inter-locking preconditions: (1) the harsh economic problems faced by the country in the 1980s; (2) the persecution of the Turkish minority; (3) the confrontation between Gorbachev’s perestroika (reconstruction) McDermott and Stibbe, The 1989 Revolutions.indd 192 28/03/2013 10:42:21 A revolution in two stages: Bulgaria 193 and Todor Zhivkov’s ‘reorganisation’; and (4) the birth of the organised opposition in 1988. Economic problems On coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev introduced a form of perestroika in the Soviet Union, but the Kremlin failed

in The 1989 Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe