CS: Communism and Dissent in Eastern Europe

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In the first half of the twentieth century, communism offered a seductive vision of modernity and a society free of want. This attraction reached its height after 1945, as Stalin’s Red Army liberated East Central Europe from Nazi occupation, and Soviet-supported regimes took power throughout the region. This seminar will consider the tremendous appeal of communism and the subsequent disillusionment among intellectuals in Eastern Europe. In the face of Communist repression, East European dissidents developed a powerful critique of politics and the state. We will focus on the emergence and influence of this self-styled “anti-politics,” a movement that helped topple Communism in 1989 and has had a profound influence on the post-Communist reconstruction of Eastern Europe.