Between Utopia and Disillusionment: A Narrative of the Political Transformation in Eastern Europe

By Henri Vogt | Go to book overview

Conclusion:
Politics between Utopia
and Disillusionment

The narrative of this study is almost finished. Or, rather, it is about to begin a life of its own, a life no longer bridled by the views of this author.

One might ask what is the general relevance of this narrative, the relevance of a few arbitrarily chosen young people’s accounts? Admittedly, one possible answer is that the narrative hardly bears any relevance at all. Although composed of many pieces, it is only one chronicle of post-communism existing among thousands of others; one therefore cannot use it to draw any all-encompassing conclusions. From this perspective, the study’s description of the 1989 revolutions and developments thereafter, in the end, only provides insights into the lives of the young interviewees. The interview passages in themselves may be telling and moving, even thought provoking, but another sample of interviewees may have produced a completely different result.

It goes without saying, however, that a narrative of this kind would be quite meaningless if it did not have some general explanatory and heuristic value as well. The main argument in favour of this contention is that a significant number of similarities, similar chains of argumentation, have been traced in different contexts, in different countries. The new freedoms and an open future were equally important for people in the Czech Republic, Eastern Germany and Estonia; people in all three countries experienced some sort of ambivalence; many of them had at some point felt atomised and alienated and encountered difficulties when learning the new individualism. In general, there is a clear sense that similarities have prevailed over differences: similarities between the individual students’ accounts and between the three countries under scrutiny. In view of this, there is no doubt that one could find similar expectations, a similar world of new possibilities, similar sad disappointments, in most former communist countries — with local modifications, emphases and peculiarities of course. Most of the concepts that have been used in the course of the study are thus applicable to the whole of post-1989 Eastern Europe.

It is nevertheless hard to deny that the narrative constructed here belongs to the ‘winners’ of the revolution. It is a narrative advanced by

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