Totalitarian Societies and Democratic Transition: Essays in Memory of Victor Zaslavsky

Totalitarian Societies and Democratic Transition: Essays in Memory of Victor Zaslavsky

Totalitarian Societies and Democratic Transition: Essays in Memory of Victor Zaslavsky

Totalitarian Societies and Democratic Transition: Essays in Memory of Victor Zaslavsky

Synopsis

"Originally published on the occasion of the second anniversary of the death of Prof. Victor Zaslavsky. The book deals with the theory and the history of totalitarian society with a comparative approach. Consists of three sections: Theory and debate; History and society; Beyond Totalitarianism. The authors are among the leading European, American and Russian scholars"--Provided by publisher.

Excerpt

Tommaso piffer and vladislav zubok

This book is a tribute to the memory of Victor Zaslavsky (1937–2009), sociologist, émigré from the Soviet Union, Canadian citizen, public intellectual, and keen observer of Eastern Europe. the idea for this volume emerged immediately after Victor’s sudden and untimely death. the aim was to revisit and reassess what Zaslavsky considered the most important project in the latter part of his life: the analysis of Eastern European, above all Soviet societies and their difficult “transition” after the fall of communism in 1989–91. Most contributors to this volume are scholars who had known Victor, worked with him, learned from him, argued with him, agreed and disagreed with him. the disciplinary variety of the contributions reflects the diversity of specialists in the volume, but also reveals Zaslavsky’s gift: he surrounded himself with talented people from many fields and disciplines.

The title requires some discussion, as it may raise questions among readers. Why totalitarian societies? “Totalitarianism” originated from Italian fascism in the 1930s and was widely used in U.S. rhetoric against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. the United States used the term “totalitarian” differently from its original fascist meaning, applying it primarily to the state and political regime, not to the society. in March 1947, proclaiming what became known as the Truman Doctrine, U.S. president Harry Truman spoke about “totalitarian regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression.” in 1951 Hannah Arendt wrote in her Origins of Totalitarianism, on the basis of her experience in Weimar and Nazi Germany, about a society where the middle classes are willing to put up with the elimination of liberal ideas and civil liberties out of fear of revolution. Similar ideas, incidentally, circulated . . .

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