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Eastern Europe: Continuity and Change (1987–1995)

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Edited By Irena Grudzinska-Gross and Andrzej W. Tymowski

The book consists of articles from East European Politics and Societies, a journal published in the United States that first appeared in 1987. This selection is composed of papers written by the journal’s founders and early authors, among them Zygmunt Bauman, Tony Judt, Katherine Verdery, Vladimir Tismaneanu, Elemer Hankiss, Vesna Pusic, Maria Todorova. The first section Before the Change consists of texts written in the late 1980s; its authors tried to identify the cracks that would undermine or reform the existing system. In the second part of the book Alternative Futures contributors sketched the directions of the changes as they were just getting underway. The authors hoped that politics, economics, and societies were now free to reinvent themselves. The texts in the third section, Legacies of the Past, written before, during, and after the time of most drastic changes, show how the shadows cast by the histories of individual nations and the region as a whole continued to burden political strategies as well as daily lives.
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Intellectuals in East-Central Europe: Continuity and Change: Zygmunt Bauman

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Intellectuals in East-Central Europe: Continuity and Change

Zygmunt Bauman

Shortly after the Polish October of 1956, C. Wright Mills came to Warsaw to learn from the experience of Polish intellectuals then fresh from the battlefields of the revolution they first spurred and later helped to contain. A few days after his arrival the new political leader, Władysław Gomułka, went on the radio to criticize, in no uncertain terms, the views of the undisputed intellectual leader, the philosopher Leszek Kołakowski. The censured professor and his friends were non- plussed; they remembered only too well the times when names appeared in public speeches only to disappear from public life. But Mills was elated. “However hard did I try to push and kick the American political establishment and spit in its face,” he reminisced, “no one paid attention. In your country,” he went on, “the word counts. And so the word can change things. What you, intellectuals, do,” he concluded, “matters.”

One of the most brilliant social scientists among recent émigrés from the Soviet Union had written and published a collection of short stories. His first literary venture had been warmly received by the critics. Still, he felt uneasy. “Were I still in the Soviet Union,” he complained, “I would know for sure who I am. If I became a member of the Union of Soviet Writers, I would be a writer. If not, I would not.” This was a joke, of...

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