CEE illiberalism a corrective to damaging ‘victorious West’ myth?


Václav Havel 1965. Source Wikimedia Commons

For countries emerging from communism, the post-1989 imperative to ‘be like the West’ has generated discontent and even a ‘return of the repressed’, as the region feels old nationalist stirrings and new demographic pressures, Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev contend. 

The origins of illiberalism in central and eastern Europe are emotional and pre-ideological, rooted in rebellion at the humiliations that accompany a project requiring acknowledgment of a foreign culture as superior to one’s own, they write for Eurozine, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy.

But to downplay the ideological substance of the new authoritarianism is reckless in the current situation, Aleida Assmann responds in Merkur. Recalling the contribution of eastern European dissidents [like Vaclav Havel, above] to Europe’s culture of human rights offers a corrective to the damaging myth of the ‘victorious West’,

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