Arien Mack, Editor
Reiner Schurmann (1941–1993)
The Politics of Social Policy in East European Transitions: Antecedents, Agents, and Agenda of Reform
This article focuses on problems regarding social policy in postcommunist societies in Eastern Europe. Postcommunist political economies face three problems of transformation: property must be privatized; prices must be liberalized or marketized; and the state budget must be stabilized in order to relieve strong inflationary pressures.
Is It Possible to Be Optimistic about Eastern Europe?
This article focuses on the question of optimism for the Eastern European economy. First of all, it is not possible to be optimistic about the former Yugoslavia. Careful observers of the situation in the summer of 1993 believed that stability in Bosnia would not be achieved soon, even if a partition plan could be agreed upon, and that Kosovo and possibly Macedonia remained gravely at risk. The feckless behavior of Europe and the US had amply demonstrated to Serbia and to its increasingly criminal leadership that no substantial obstacles existed to creating a modern version of the Balkan federation under Serbian control that Prince Michael Obrenovic had dreamed of in the nineteenth century.
Martin Butora and Zora Butorova
Slovakia: The Identity Challenges of the Newly Born State
This article focuses on Slovakia and its trials as a new state. January 1, 1993, the beginning of new statehood, brings to mind historical milestones in Slovak endeavors for recognition in the last 150 years. The first one is presented by the national movement in the first half of the nineteenth-century with its peak in 1848–49. Slovak intelligentsia assembled around young literature professor Ludovit Stúr, who successfully launched what Czech historian Hroch' calls national agitation.
This article focuses on the so-called "postcommunist schizophrenia" being experienced by the people in Eastern Europe. Millions of people in Eastern Europe today are experiencing collective postcommunist schizophrenia. The social status of all the people of these countries has changed incredibly fast. The hierarchy of social groups and the values imposed by the totalitarian regime no longer hold, new relationships among the social strata are just now forming, no one knows who will be poor tomorrow and who will be rich, and the new or revamped code of moral and real values has not yet been universally accepted. Everyone is experiencing cultural shock like migrants and refugees.
Intellectuals in Politics: Double Dissent in the Past, Double Disappointment Today
This article focuses on the disappointment over the slow transformation of political and economic systems in Eastern European countries. Perhaps only one thing is certain in postcommunist countries today, the transformation is going to be much slower and more difficult than was generally expected. This situation leads us to talk about disappointment. In fact, the first disappointment would have been trivial had it not caught us by surprise; nevertheless, it is a risk for a democratic policy. The second disappointment is less common, could be productive, and at worst has a sobering effect. The rise of nationalism, chauvinism, or xenophobia results.
Jiri Kabele and Ronald Radzai
The Dynamics of Social Problems and Czechoslovak Transition
This article focuses on the dynamics of the social issues constituting the revolution and transformation in Czechoslovak society. Real socialism was founded on Soviet imperial policy and a denial of the subjectivity of individuals and institutions. It became a historical pitfall in which every reasonable person had to admit that nothing practical could come of it. A definitive change in this hybrid of precapitalist and capitalist society, the actual dismantling of the old and the creation of the new regime, can only be achieved by spontaneous, poorly coordinated, and locally self-organized activities inspired by the dynamics of market forces and social issues.
Arista Maria Cirtautas
The Articulation and Institutionalization of Democracy in Poland
This article focuses on the institutionalization of democracy in Poland. The successful history of democratic institutions in the United States and Western Europe and the dramatic collapse of communism as the major alternative to these institutions have left everyone somewhat unprepared for the possibility that even though democracy has been placed on the political agenda in Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union, it may not succeed in becoming a political reality. Moreover, contemporary social science theories have not been successful in generating a theoretical understanding of the potential gap between the articulation and institutionalization of democracy.
The Disappearing State: Poland's Three Years of Transition
This article focuses on the antistatist approach to economic transition in Poland. There is a truism in saying that the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe was accompanied by an antistatist mood. For years bureaucracies interfered with peoples' lives in every possible way, from mass killings in the time of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to petty chicanery under the relatively lax regimes of Kadar or Gierek. Moreover, perhaps due to a historical accident, the final fifteen years of communism were accompanied by the antistatist, neoliberal ideologies of the West.
Jan Kulig and Adam Lipowski
Polish Economists Lag Behind Changes in the Economy
This article focuses on the debate among Polish economists regarding the current state of the Polish economy. Jan Kulig and Adam Lipowski take a stand in the economic and political debate which takes place in Poland today. Readers who are unfamiliar with the particularities of the Polish transition deserve a few words of explanation about the context of the Lipowski and Kulig essay. Radical transition to a market economy started in Poland after 1989 with the end of communist rule. Introduction of stabilization measures, liberalization, and deregulation of the economy took place in terrifically dramatic circumstances.
Why I Am Not a Feminist: Some Remarks on the Problem of Gender Identity in the United States and Poland
This article focuses on the problems regarding female role in Polish society. After a short period of enthusiasm which followed the collapse of the communist regimes in 1989, the East and the West are facing each other with growing confusion and disappointment. Both the hopes of the East for a quick "return to Europe" and the expectations of the West for equally fast "occidentialization" of postcommunist societies have not been fulfilled. Each side feels that they did their best and both are blaming each other for the failure. At least a part of the reason for such misperceptions stems from a widespread tendency to identify political change with social change.
Gyory Csepeli, Tamas Kolosi, Maria Nemenyi, and Antal Orkeny
Our Futureless Values: The Forms of Justice and Injustice Perception in Hungary in 1991
This article focuses on an international research project regarding the implicit conception of justice. When David Mason of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana started to organize an international research project, the Berlin wall was still standing and the East European countries, which have become postsocialist by then, were still living with the existing socialism, even if they were becoming restless. The topic of Mason's project was how people thought and felt about social justice in the East and in the West.
Political Uses of Tradition in Postcommunist East Central Europe
This article focuses on the "return to history" discourse which currently influences present political decisions and strategies in postcommunist East Central Europe. The importance of discovering a past that can be used for political purposes is shown by the debate that was held in Hungary between two members of parliament, Jozsef Debreczeni, a representative of the liberal wing of the ruling Hungarian Democratic Forum, and Tamás Bauer, the well-known economist and a leading member of the opposition Free Democrats.
The Revolution: The Beginning of the Transition
This article focuses on revolution as a means for political and social change. A current issue in East-West relations in the contemporary world is that of how the East and the West see each other. What kind of picture does the West have of the East or the East of the West? How adequate or correct are these pictures? The effort to study and to decipher these pictures would contribute to a deeper and more adequate understanding of the complex East-West relations at present. During the period of the Cold War, this picture was clearer and, in any case, more symmetrical: each party saw, or at least suspected, its own potential negation in the other.