Viewed from a distance, the case against hope is overwhelming. If we look more closely, pessimism must be tempered. The sad facts are economic, political, and cultural. The positive rebuttal is marvelously individualistic and pluralistic, linked to the ideals of Europe and the constitution of civil society, but ultimately tied to individual human capacity and inventiveness.
Take Bulgaria. When I visited there in November 1990, the country was in the depths of its post-totalitarian crisis. The electricity was periodically turned off for hours at a time. A Soviet model nuclear power plant was down because of what was reported to be a minor mishap. Soviet oil deliveries were becoming irregular and, within two months, fuel supplies would be set at astronomically high international prices. For the first time since the war, food supplies were erratic. Political and social tensions were at a boiling point. During my three days in the country I saw two major political demonstrations