Political Science | East European Politics
Y340 | 28006 | Bielasiak

The breach of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought forth a new political
euphoria: peace and democracy in the world were the expected
outcomes. But reality proved harsher. In the years since these
dramatic events, East Europe witnessed a bloody war in the Balkans,
the revival of ethnic and national hate in the region, and the
return of former communist parties to power through free elections.

How are we to explain these events?  We consider the question by
looking at the communist and post-communist attempts at building new
societies in East Europe in the post-WW II era.   The region has
been often an arena of human experimentation, of the rise and fall
of grand political projects. The inter-war attempt at "self-
determination" culminated in the rise of national conflicts and
authoritarianism.  The post-WW II "communist" vision of economic
abundance and political harmony gave way to economic shortages and
political cleavages.  Since the 1989 Revolutions, market economies
and democratic polities are the new dream.  Is this the future of
East Europe, or will the emerging problems lead anew to national
conflicts, authoritarian politics, and economic decline?

These issues are examined through the communist and post-communist
attempts at building new societies in East Europe.  The first part
of the course looks at the background to and the establishment of
communism in Eastern Europe, and at the major crises faced by
communist states and their final breakdown during the "revolutions
of 1989."  The second half of the course looks at contemporary
issues of the transition from communism to democracy.