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Eastern Europe: Continuity and Change (1987–1995)


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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The Dilemmas of Dissidence: The Politics of Opposition in East-Central Europe: Tony Judt


The Dilemmas of Dissidence: The Politics of Opposition in East-Central Europe*

Tony Judt

“It is not necessary,” said the priest, “to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.”

“A melancholy conclusion,” said K. “It turns lying into a universal principle.”

Franz Kafka, The Trial

Although ostensibly confined to the issue of opposition and dissent in contemporary East-Central Europe, this article is also intended as a contribution to our understanding of the transformation of this region in the last two decades. In this period so much has happened that many of the old categories of description and analysis are sterile, perhaps redundant. New issues have arisen about which little is written in the West, and of particular importance is the way in which the very terms of social debate in Eastern Europe have undergone radical transformation. By restricting myself to a consideration of the developments within the opposition, I hope nonetheless to cast some light on wider matters.

That this subject is of central significance is surely beyond dispute. No longer is it possible to discuss political struggles or social movements in the terms current as recently as, say, 1975. Moreover, there is almost no subject of argument or ← 31 | 32 → concern in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and perhaps even the DDR which has not been altered beyond recognition by the new issues raised by the opposition or, even more to the point, by the way...

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