Working classes: acquired political conscience in Communism leading global anti-elite resistence today

Bucharest, Romania - February 5, 2017: 300 000 Romanians geared up for the biggest protests since 1989 Revolution
© Photo by DiamondDallas on Shutterstock

In 1973, Katherine Verdery moved to Romania, the only country in the Eastern European bloc that welcomed Western scholars. She studied social inequality, ethnic relations and nationalism. After the fall of Communism she returned and looked at the transformation of socialist societies. Her most recent book, My life as a spy: Investigations into a secret police file was published in 2018, and it documents how the Romanian political police kept her under surveillance.

Where did the West fail in transforming Eastern Europe?

© Photo by Lightspring on Shutterstock

By Barry Gaberman, Merrill Sovner and William Moody | New York

The 1990s ushered in an era of widespread governmental support for liberal democracy and an opportunity to build civil society in countries where there had long been a dearth of public space separate from government control. There was optimism bordering on euphoria and a general belief that liberal democracy was the model of the future. This was an environment in which outside funders saw an opportunity to have an impact and were willing to seize that opportunity, even though their expertise in the region might have been modest in the beginning.