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Vladimir Meciar | John Feffer
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What Europe Can Teach Us About Trump

Donald Trump might seem like a uniquely American phenomenon. The shape-shifting billionaire huckster reinvented himself first as a TV personality and then as a maverick populist politician. He rode to power on patriotic slogans – Make America Great Again – and tailored his policy prescriptions to specific American constituencies like West Virginia coal miners and Michigan factory workers. He...
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The End of Claustrophobia

In the novel The Year of the Frog, the narrator sinks into a funk over the claustrophobia that has closed over his life. It’s the 1980s in Czechoslovakia, and Communism stretches as far into the future as the eye can see. “I’m forty, and for the last decade I’ve wandered all over Bratislava without meeting a single new person,” he laments. “It’s monstrous. I know every stone, every...
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The Slovak Example

Of the three multiethnic countries that dissolved in the aftermath of the Cold War, Czechoslovakia fared the best. The two successor states suffered none of the violence, economic catastrophe, or political discord that Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union experienced. Indeed, the relations between Prague and Bratislava are probably better now than they’ve ever been. The Czech Republic continues to...
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Creating an NGO Culture

When I started working on U.S.-Soviet relations in the 1980s, I encountered my first GONGO. This was a “government-organized non-governmental organization.” It was like something out of Alice in Wonderland. An early GONGO, the Soviet Peace Committee styled itself as an NGO. It worked with various NGOs in the West. But it closely hewed to the Party line. Later, as Gorbachev began to shake up...
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Reviving Slovak Civil Society

In horror movies, just when you think the villains have been dispatched, they often make one last reappearance at the end to threaten the hero and shock the audience. It is a reminder to avoid complacency. Even as you file out of the theater, you have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a sequel, and the villain will rise once again. This was, roughly, the scenario in Slovakia in the...
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