Cultural Formations of Postcommunism: Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War

Cultural Formations of Postcommunism: Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War

Cultural Formations of Postcommunism: Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War

Cultural Formations of Postcommunism: Emancipation, Transition, Nation, and War

Excerpt

It is a cliché. The world was dramatically transformed in 1989, much as it was in 1789 or 1848. Political and economic systems and everyday lives were radically changed. Transition typically names this epoch whose two mantras—from plan to market and from dictatorship to democracy—anchored a new liberal hegemony in the world, and especially in Eastern Europe. Although the culture shaping this transition is more contradictory and complex than clichés and mantras suggest, 1989 does signal a change in global culture.

After 1989, we are much less likely to think about alternative, and desirable, futures in terms of the contest between communism and capitalism. Socialism is no longer capitalism’s principal counterculture. Instead, we are much more likely to think in terms of what kind of capitalism enables economic or sustainable growth, and, more specifically, what institutional forms of property and finance suit those goals best. The categorical difference between dictatorship and democracy, or open and closed societies, also animates visions, but the normative superiority of civil society, a system based on pluralism, legality, and publicity, became more secure after 1989 than at any other time in the twentieth century.

This never meant that the social conditions motivating challenges against capitalism and its democracies were superseded. Outrage over . . .

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