Maud Anne Bracke
Around 1968 communism expanded as a global movement, especially in the developing world, while hitting a crisis of legitimation in Europe. In the Western world the late 1960s saw young people aspiring to revolutionary change that involved both individual liberation and social justice. Generational identity underpinned a revolt against authority, leading to acute political crises in France, Italy, and elsewhere. While presenting opportunities to communist parties, this revolt threatened, from Moscow’s perspective, a dangerous proliferation of ‘heterodox’ Marxist thought. In Eastern Europe rebellious populations in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia demanded greater rights of expression, causing the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Czechoslovakia. By contrast, Maoism was able to capture the revolutionary, anti-imperialist spirit of the times. Claiming to offer an anti-bureaucratic alternative to the Soviet model, and resituating heroic agency at the heart of communist politics, Maoism appealed to Third World revolutionary leaders and radicals in the West.
The essay argues that the story of 1989 can be told either as a narrow or a wide story. The narrow story focuses on the end of communism, the unification of Germany, and the subsequent integration of former communist states into the European Union. It works especially well for Central and Eastern Europe, although it also has implications for regimes in Africa that relied on Soviet support. However, it also requires considerable qualification, given the survival of communist regimes in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere. In the second, wide version of the story, 1989 brings to visibility processes that had been at work for several decades, undermining the power blocs of the Cold War era and the territorially defined polities on which the system of international relations rested. In this story 1989 is of as much relevance to the West as to the former Eastern Bloc. The essay looks at both stories in relation to Gorbachev and perestroika, the US role in the end of the Cold War, German unification, the singing revolution in the Baltic, and 1989 in China and Cuba.
This chapter examines the impact of the Cold War on Africa. It explains that while Africa is the least-known Cold War battleground, the United States, the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba became embroiled in the internal affairs of countless African countries. The chapter analyzes the ideologies, practices, and interests of these main external actors and describes the four major arenas of conflict that are representative of broad trends in Cold War intervention in Africa. It also discusses how the Cold War altered the dynamics of local struggles, created unprecedented levels of destruction and widespread instability, and contributed to many of the problems that plague Africa today.
Helen Graham and Alejandro Quiroga
What Spain, Greece, and Portugal have in common in the twentieth century is the manner in which their internal processes of change – rural to urban, agrarian to industrial – were intervened in and inflected at crucial moments and with enduring effect by the force of international political agendas. By the 1960s, in all three countries, the fearful imaginaries of traditionalists still saw a disguised form of communism in the ‘godlessness’ of Americanisation, social liberalisation, and anti-puritanism. This article adopts a tripartite structure (1945: survival; 1970s: transition; after 1989: memory) in order to explore why, how, and with what consequences Southern European political establishments with clear Nazi links or empathies not only survived the collapse of Adolf Hitler's new order, but were also able to persist as dictatorial and authoritarian regimes into the 1970s. It then interrogates the nature of the subsequent transitions to parliamentary democracy, paying particular attention to the continuities. It is remarkable, even today, how few Western European or North American commentators understand the brutality beneath the burlesque of dictatorship in Southern Europe.
Fascism was conceived amid the disorder associated with the transition from war to peace. The war shaped a predilection for the resort to violence, and disrespect for the practices of civil society and for the rule of law. The diplomatic process that began Paris in 1919, raising hopes among progressives for an international solution to the problems of order and the prospect of permanent peace, ultimately exacerbated post-war disillusion. Some historians have argued that the core elements of fascism as a political ideology were a consequence of the war and arose out of the climate of intensified militarism and nationalism which predominated after the war's end. This article examines the themes of militarism and nationalism, considering the variety of ways in which they may have influenced the emergence of fascist movements in order to problematize the place of the aftermath of the war in the story of fascism's rise.
David F. Patton
This article focuses on the wonder years enjoyed by Germany in 1989 that followed the great German unification. In 1989–1990, the two Germanies underwent a series of remarkable changes that would signal the end of the postwar division of Europe. East Germans peacefully toppled the hard-line Socialist Unity Party that had ruled with an iron fist for forty years. This article traces the revolutions that raged East Germany and its effects on the other part of the country. East Germany witnessed mass exodus resulting in labor shortages and other such problems. As East Germans fled in the summer of 1989, pro-democracy activists formed civic groups calling for reform. This article also explains the involvement of the two states in bringing down the iron curtain and unifying Germany. This article also explains the form of chancellor democracy, new economy that came to dominate the new found Germany.
In the forty-five years after World War II that Communist Yugoslavia existed, judgements as to the success of the experiment differed widely. Unlike the first royalist Yugoslav state, which had been dominated by the Serbian Karadjordjević Dynasty, the new country eventually gave recognition to all nationalities within the limits of its own authoritarian ideology. The creation of the second Yugoslavia united Bosnian Muslims, Albanians, Serbs, Montenegrins, Macedonians, Croats, and Slovenes with significant Hungarian, Roma, Italian, and Turkish minorities into a single, nominally Leninist state. What united it was the charismatic authority of its wartime leader Josip Broz Tito and a very large and politically significant army. After the break with the Soviet Union in 1948, the Yugoslav Communists veered on an uneasy path between centralisation and republican autonomy. The Communists showed little respect for traditional culture and religion when they came to power. This article focuses on ethno-nationalism and the demise of Communist Yugoslavia.
Case Study: Field Notes on Catastrophe: Reflections on the September 11, 2001, Oral History Memory and Narrative Project
Mary Marshall Clark
This article focuses on the catastrophe of September 11, 2001; its memory sustained through oral history and captured in narratives. The purpose of this article is twofold: to explore the natural capacity of oral history, an ethical practice, for supporting the active process of historical remembrance even in its most nascent stages; and to use the September 11, 2001, Oral History Narrative and Memory Project as a means of defining a possible approach to documenting historical trauma through oral history. Psychologists who study the impact of massive catastrophic events, from genocide and war to natural catastrophes, define this range of work as “trauma mental health.” Oral history has demonstrated its value in recording traumatic and catastrophic events, whether natural or human-made. This article further traces the case studies conducted weeks after the attacks. One records trauma in the immediate context and the other records the aftermath of trauma followed by a reflection on the same.
This article centers around the case study of Rome's House of Memory and History to understand the politics of memory and public institutions. This case study is about the organization and politics of public memory: the House of Memory and History, established by the city of Rome in 2006, in the framework of an ambitious program of cultural policy. It summarizes the history of the House's conception and founding, describes its activities and the role of oral history in them, and discusses some of the problems it faces. The idea of a House of Memory and History grew in this cultural and political context. This article traces several political events that led to the culmination of the politics of memory and its effect on public institutions. It says that the House of Memory and History can be considered a success. A discussion on a cultural future winds up this article.
Ang Cheng Guan
This chapter examines the history of the Cold War in Southeast Asia. It explains that the onset of the Cold War coincided with nationalist struggles and decolonization, and explains why Southeast Asians should appreciate that the Cold War is a historical event which has significantly affected the development of their countries, particularly in terms of the role of the Cold War in shaping the political development of the nation-states and interstate relations in the region, and the growing interest in rewriting the history of the Cold War.
This chapter examines the root motives behind the Soviet struggle against the West and the paradigm of Soviet international behavior related to the Cold War. It suggests that decolonization contributed to the Cold War because the decline of European colonial empires in the 1950s created irresistible temptations for Soviet leaders to intervene in parts of the globe previously beyond their reach. The chapter also suggests that the Soviet Cold War consensus began to crumble when the key tenets of the revolutionary-imperial paradigm became suspect in the 1960s and 1970s. These tenets held that the West was determined to destroy the Soviet Union and its “socialist empire” by force.
J. G. Ballard, author of the 1984 novel Empire of the Sun, was born in the Shanghai International Settlement in China in 1930, into a privileged colonial milieu with a chauffeur, a nanny, and servants. Ballard witnessed at first hand the collapse of the British Empire in Asia. The year 1945 was not a moment of imperial defeat, but of imperial reassertion for Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Britain, each of which saw their futures as global, colonial entities. This article, which deals with the end of empires, focusing on the loss of colonies such as Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and South-East Asia, also discusses blueprints for a liberal policy in Africa, the 1956 Suez Crisis, developmental colonialism and decolonisation, and the empires of Portugal and Spain.
Alexander Vatlin and Stephen A. Smith
The essay falls into two sections. The first examines the history of the Third International (Comintern) from its creation in 1919 to its dissolution in 1943, looking at the imposition of the Twenty-One Conditions on parties wishing to join the new International in 1920, the move from a perspective of splitting the labour movement to one of a united front in the early 1920s, the shift to the sectarian ‘third period’ strategy in 1928, and the gradual emergence of the popular front strategy in the mid-1930s. It examines the institutions of the Comintern and the Stalinization of national communist parties. The second section looks at some issues in the historiography of the Comintern, including the extent to which it was a tool of Soviet foreign policy, conflict over policy within the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI), and the relationship of ECCI to ‘national sections’, with a particular focus on the Vietnamese Communist Party. Finally, it discusses problems of cultural and linguistic communication within the Comintern.
This essay explores some of the common patterns in the history of communism in Muslim-majority societies. The most important of these had little to with Islam. Rather, they reflected the impact of European imperialism and nationalist resistance, the uneven tempo of integration into the global economy, the timing of the anti-colonial revolutions and the location of the post-colonial regimes in the great games of geopolitics. However, the other side of this narrative is the interwoven story of the decline of communist movements in most Muslim-majority societies and the rise of their Islamist competitors. It is argued that this trajectory is best explained not by recourse to essentialist explanations about the appeal of Islamist politics to Muslim believers, but by the failures of the post-colonial states on which the communists had pinned their hopes for national liberation and non-capitalist development.
The convergence of terror and revolution has been noted from the time of the French and Russian revolutions. This article lays out the ways in which the concept of extreme political violence in communist revolution from Russia to Cambodia continues to be both politicized and resistant to agreement about such basics as definition, scale, and numbers of victims. There is particular disagreement about whether to count as victims of terror those who were the collateral damage from poorly conceived and brutally implemented policies such as collectivization and the Great Leap Forward alongside terror deliberately inflicted upon particularly targeted individuals and groups. The article suggests that whether deliberate or incidental, terror in communist systems is best understood as proactive and reactive campaigns to ensure regime security by mobilizing the bureaucracy and engaging in a display of communicative theatre with mass populations through such forms as mass trials.
This article argues that the contemporary history of health and medicine presents some particular challenges, however, for the nature of historians' involvement in the object of their study and for their relationships with other disciplines and with the field of policy. It gives an overview of histories that encompass the nineteenth and twentieth century. Those that focus exclusively on the post-war years mostly deal with welfare, and the other one focuses on health. Oral history has continued to be a key resource for contemporary history. The methodology of elite oral history in contemporary health history is also analysed. It has implications for relationships between the researcher and those being researched. This article also discusses the role of ethical review for the contemporary history of health.
A Continent Bristling With Arms: Continuity and Change In Western European Security Policies After the Second World War
Since the end of World War II, Europe has known an unprecedented period of peace that has profoundly altered the political landscape of the continent. Yet at the same time, for much of the postwar period, this peace has been accompanied by frightening preparations for a global nuclear war – in the 1960s, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) planned to deploy in Western Europe 7,000 tactical atomic warheads of different yields – and by a number of recurrent crises that repeatedly threatened the stability of the postwar order. Nor should one neglect the fact that two European powers – France and Britain – still field the third and fifth largest nuclear arsenals in the whole world respectively. This article explores the post World War II evolution of defence and security policies in Western Europe, as well as the role of nuclear weapons in European security and the shifting perceptions of war in European public opinion and mentality. After considering colonial empires, decolonisation and nuclear issues, it discusses the last years of the Cold War.
Certain facts about postwar Europe seem self-evidently true. Undoubtedly the most salient was the division of Europe and the political, economic, social, and cultural antinomies that separated western capitalism from Soviet-style communism in the overarching context of the Cold War. If the Cold War itself stretched across four decades, from the heightening of international tensions in 1947–1948 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989–1991, the postwar settlement's reliable solidities had already been breaking apart in the 1970s. The global economic downturn of 1973–1974 ended the postwar boom, shelving its promises of permanent growth and continuously unfolding prosperity. In those terms, the core of the postwar settlement lies in the years 1947–1973. This article explores the single most striking particularity of the post-1945 settlement, namely the centrality acquired by organised labour for the polities, social imaginaries, and public cultures of postwar European societies. First, it discusses democracy as a cultural project during 1945–1968. The article then looks at corporatism and social democracy, and concludes by assessing patterns of stability in Europe during the postwar period.
This chapter examines the colonial roots of counterinsurgency practices deployed by the US after September 11, 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Drawing on a broad range of primary sources produced by the US military and its officers and soldiers, the chapter argues that the counterinsurgency practices were intended as liberal forms of warfare that through the use of law, administration, and procedure intended to facilitate the conquest and management of intransigent populations in those two countries. Given the broader failure of such practices to pacify the conquered populations and the high cost-in blood, treasure, and political credibility—of maintaining such futile warfare, the US has now changed gears to counterterrorism, which is far more about direct violence than it is about imperial management and transformation of conquered populations.