Repression and resistance in Communist Europe

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The reasons for this shift lie both in the communist and pre-communist past. Following the collapse of communist governments in , little thought seems to have been given to the troublesome historical baggage that these societies would have to contend with in effecting a successful transition to liberal democracy. There seems to have been an unspoken assumption that the removal of the communist apparatus of repression would be largely sufficient to allow western values, such as liberal democracy and respect for human rights, to flourish.

Yet, with the exception of the former Czechoslovakia, there had been little sustained experience of genuine democracy in the region prior to the establishment of communist regimes following World War II. Even before the imposition of communism, Poland, Hungary and Romania, along with most other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, were heirs to a repressive and overwhelmingly authoritarian political culture. This overwhelmingly traumatic historical experience has been compounded by almost a half century of Soviet domination as well as subjection to Nazi German tyranny during the Second World War.

Repression and Resistance in Communist Europe by Jason Sharman Paperback Book FR

None of this has helped to foster openness to other cultures, let alone a willingness to embrace multiculturalism as experienced in many countries in Western Europe. Economic factors, particularly the plight of many pensioners and of other economically vulnerable sections of central and eastern European societies, have also contributed to the current political climate. The establishment of market economies in the region created clear winners and losers in countries such as Poland. These societies are now far less egalitarian than under communism.

While a new class of businessmen, lawyers and media personalities can indulge their taste for expensive foreign holidays and luxurious German automobiles, there is widespread poverty. In particular, residents of many rural areas and of towns and cities that have been ravaged by deindustrialisation are struggling.

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This book explores the role of coercion in the relationship between the citizens and regimes of communist Eastern Europe. Looking in detail at Soviet collectivisation in , the Hungarian Uprising of and the Polish Solidarity Movement of , it shows how the system excluded channels to enable popular grievances to be translated into collective opposition; how this lessened the amount of popular protest, affected the nature of such protest as did occur and entrenched the dominance of state over society. Added to basket.


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