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Why Globalise? 1989 in Eastern Europe and the Politics of History

In this three-part interview, conducted, transcribed and edited by Zoltán Ginelli, history professor James Mark talks about his latest book

James Mark is a British Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on the history and memory politics of state-socialism in East Central Europe from the perspective of broader global histories, transnational processes and comparative methods. In 2019, James finished leading two 5-year international research projects: 1989 After 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism in Global Perspective and Socialism Goes Global: Cold War Connections Between the ‘Second’ and ‘Third Worlds’. The two projects focused on how to reinterpret state-socialism, the Cold War, the 1989–91 system changes and the postsocialist period in Eastern European history as part of global processes and in the histories of colonialism and anti-colonialism. The titles of the two projects came from two published articles.[1] In 2019, these projects published several books, such as 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe, and Alternative Globalizations: Eastern Europe and the Postcolonial World, but three further volumes are in also production, one of them entitled Historicizing Whiteness in Eastern Europe. Readers might also be interested in the exhibition Tito in Africa: Picturing Solidarity organised as part of the second project and bearing an exhibition book (The Wende Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, Museum of Yugoslavia). The exhibition presents the African round-trips of Yugoslavian president Tito in the 1960s and 1970s in the context of the development of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Third World.
Previous interviews and introductions: | | | | |

PART I – Socialist globalisation and 1989

ZG: As mentioned in the introduction, the 1989 After 1989 and the Socialism Goes Global projects focused on reinterpreting the Eastern European histories of state-socialism, the Cold War, and the 1989–91 system changes from a global historical perspective and as part of the histories of colonialism and anti-colonialism. Could you introduce us to these projects, their main concepts and aims, and the specific contexts they emerged from?

JM: Well, I guess the first thing to say is that this is not only an Eastern European issue. There is a broader issue of how we write European histories, and over the last decade more and more historians have called for the decentring of Europe and the writing of European history through decolonial and postcolonial approaches. And we’ve started to get such works now over the last fifteen years, which, whilst recognising the immense role of Europe in global history, do not use that as an excuse to write histories of the continent ignoring how its identities and institutions have also been shaped from the outside. Particularly, the impact of empire and its end has been a fruitful way of rethinking European history ‘at home’. How genocide in Europe was conditioned by the European exercise of colonial violence in Africa, how the European Union is shaped through decolonisation and an engagement with Africa,[1] or how neoliberal Europe is a product of a counter-revolution against the threat of decolonisations according to Gurminder Bhambra.[2] You can also think of Elizabeth Buettner’s work on postcolonial migration and the reshaping of European cultures,[3] or the recent work of Stuart Ward and Astrid Rasch on the unresolved legacies of the British Empire in Brexit.[4]

Scholars of Eastern Europe have been slower off the mark, but excellent work has been done recently. I think this is partly the result of the increasing critique of the idea of “transition” as an inevitable, relentless and endless convergence towards Western liberal capitalism, which has come under serious critique most powerfully from the populist right, but also from the left. But of course quite self-contained national and regional histories still dominate.

As the region is looking to new, hybrid relationships across the world with new forms of global integration and geopolitical positioning, this is an urging political moment to rethink Eastern European history in global context. We need to reconsider Eastern Europe’s place as part of the broader histories of global capitalism. This means examining the collapse of state socialism not through the heroic stories of national liberation in 1989, but rather as part of a new cycle in capitalist globalisation that already began in the early 1970s.

You can also see this new approach bubbling up from a young generation of scholars, particularly from the left, who are interested in critiquing colonial and anti-colonial aspects of their region’s history, and thinking about what is at stake in globalising or not globalising regional histories.[5] We saw this issue very powerfully during the Syrian ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’ crisis (of course how you describe it tells a lot about your position), in which populist governments of the right, but also of the left, said that Eastern Europe is different, because it has no colonial history, no relationship to European colonialism, and hence no ‘white guilt’ which underpinned the West’s compulsion to take migrants.

You saw in that moment the politicisation of Eastern European history: was it just purely a set of national stories, was it contained in a very bounded idea of European history, somehow both of the West but also separate from it when suitable? Or could this history be critiqued by throwing it open to a much broader conception of Eastern Europe’s place in the world, in a more complex relationship to European colonialism and anti-colonialism?

ZG: Your projects are part of this new wave of now vast literature in global history emerging in the past 10–15 years. In universities there are more and more student programs in global history, a field becoming increasingly popular and receiving growing attention. Why do you think this type of research is important in understanding today’s problems, new geopolitical contestations in Europe in general and Eastern Europe specifically? Were there some common or mainstream understandings you wished to contest?

JM: Well, there are many examples, but to take one from our book, 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe, we wanted to question something that was really embedded in most of the literature from 1989 onwards: this notion of Eastern Europe as an eternally Westernising region, the history of which could be written almost entirely within European frames In the wake of 1989, this idea of a “return to Europe” also shaped the way in which the region’s history was written – the region’s central role in Norman Davies’ Europe A History being a high point. Scholars in the 1960s and 1970s had been much more concerned to write the region into global dynamics, often through a Marxist lens, but the region’s gradual Europeanisation also meant the deglobalisation of research and historiography. But we wanted to explore the wider dynamics of the region’s geopolitical and cultural positioning, particularly given the way in which populist elites have questioned the region’s orientation to western liberalism.

Eastern Europe has always been enmeshed in much broader processes under the pressures of global capitalism. It has attempted to resist or accommodate itself as a periphery or semiperiphery. We were interested in questions raised in Eastern European history about how to avoid economic peripheralisation and becoming a hinterland? Can an alternative system or alternative set of relationships challenge the West? Or is an accommodation with the white, capitalist West inevitable to the economic and political development of the region?

However, this was not only a question of politics and economics. We also wanted to show how ideas of race and culture were shaped in global terms. Only by taking such wider approaches could we see the vast number of different projects over the 20th and 21st centuries that related the region to the global in strikingly different ways. We conceptualised Eastern Europe as a “swing region” that is often marked by a sense of in-betweenness, sometimes looking to the West, but sometimes elsewhere, and sometimes a combination of the two.

ZG: It is very popular to frame the system changes between 1989 and 1991 in the process of globalisation, of becoming part of “the free world”, and in the neoliberal narrative of market transition. How can you contest these dominant narratives of 1989, and how does your research reinterpret 1989 as a particular moment in global history?

JM: I think the most powerful, dominant image in the West of 1989 is the one of Germans surmounting and destroying the Berlin Wall.

ZG: Yes, which just had its 30th anniversary on 9th November.

JM: We saw it recently, once again, but these images get replayed year upon year. However, they’re not the most popular ones in Eastern Europe itself, where the 1989 moment is much more contested, but in the West – in North America and Western Europe – the Wall’s fall provides the dominant image, and was the main one presented in the Western press at the thirtieth anniversary last year. Why is this image so popular? Of course the Berlin Wall had been a defining image of the Cold War long before 1989, but its continuing popularity lies in the fact that it underpins a set of mythological stories about 1989. First, that this was a completely isolated world, hidden behind walls and barbed wire, but had no relationship to globalisation and insofar it tried to cope with new forms of globalisation, these attempts always failed. Second, it shows the heroic Eastern Europeans desiring freedom and to be like Westerners – “they want to be like us”. This is an image that underpins the ideology of transition: an eternal desire for Western liberalism. But it also hides another truth: that these changes were very often elite transitions that feared excessive popular participation.

East and West Berliners gathering at the Berlin Wall on November 10, 1989, one day after the wall opened. Source:

This was the dominant script we wanted to challenge by showing that 1989 is not the moment of globalisation, but a moment of choice between different forms of globalisation, and that communist states had always been global, although often in ways quite different from forms of Western liberal globalisation.

From the late 1950s, with the end of Stalinisation and the acceleration of decolonisation, states started to open up and look for relationships with the Third World, but also look to repair relationships with Western Europe as well from the early 1970s. Geographical mobility for ordinary citizens was limited, but definitely not impossible: for example, over a million Poles travelled westwards every year as tourists from the early 1970s. And in the context of the slow pace of accession talks to the EU for large swathes of the Balkans over the last two decades, there is now nostalgia for the mobility that was provided by the Yugoslav ‘red passport’ from the early 1960s. So the relationship of the socialist world to globalisation is much more complex that dominant media images would suggest.

We also wanted to understand how in the long-term one form of globalisation replaced another, and a very important point for us was to ‘decentre’ 1989. Yes, of course, it’s an immensely important breakthrough moment – although this was still not entirely sure in 1989 and other outcomes were also possible – since that year saw the fall of one-party systems and the final confirmation that the region will orientate itself towards a Western-led form of globalisation. But we saw that this process had been going on for a long time. From the 1970s onwards, multiple processes indicate this, like what Per Högselius called “the hidden integration to Europe” in terms of energy supply and new joint ventures, or the new financialised globalisation based around debt that oriented the region westwards, and so on.[6] Some countries were more open and affected than others, particularly the Western-most states within the Eastern Bloc and Yugoslavia, whilst the Soviet Union remained relatively more closed. Bloc states had been more comfortable with a post-colonial globalisation in the 1950s and 1960s that had focussed on trade and bilateral developmental exchange, since the region had traditions and expertise it could draw on. But afterwards their specialists found it more difficult to control the new financialised globalisation that moved the control of the world economy to the World Bank and IMF, which came under increasing control of the West in the 1980s.

Another important thing we wanted to look at was the broader role of Eastern Europeans in creating and appropriating many of the central ideas of the late twentieth century, such as neoliberal economics, liberal democratisation, the re-establishment of bordered civilisational units, and the ‘return to Europe’. These were not only part of oppositional discourses, but also shared by many reform communists, in fact the boundaries between the two groups are quite difficult to draw. These groups were not simply recipients of Western advice, since they often actively co-produced these ideas, and they weren’t always looking westwards. Their experience of some form of globalisation after the collapse of Western European empires and the global relationships in the moments of mid-century high decolonisation – from Latin America, Africa and the Far East – placed them in networks through which they could look for other models of transformation, too.

General Wojciech Jaruzelski announces the martial law on Polish national television on 13 December, 1981. Source:

Some of these models proved to be very attractive in the 1980s. For example, emerging groups of economists in Poland were very attracted by the neoliberal reform in Chile, and wondered whether Poland’s leader, Jaruzelski, might become their own General Pinochet. Neoliberal reforms could then be implemented, opening up the economy to the world market but retaining theone-party state, as in the “Chinese solution”.[7] It is indeed interesting that some Western observers also thought this most likely to happen. In 1982, for example, discussions at the IMF, which we explore in the book 1989: A Global History of Eastern Europe, show how Western investors and banks in Poland saw opportunities in the establishment of Martial Law in Poland. On the one hand, it was a tragedy that violence was being enacted on Polish citizens; on the other, however, they didn’t like Solidarność (Solidarity) very much with what they thought were its very lofty and impractical ideas of workers’ democracy, and they thought that communism at an heightened authoritarian form under Martial Law might be just the ticket for bringing about a neoliberal order in Poland. The broader story of neoliberalism’s ambivalent relationship with democracy is exploring well beyond Eastern Europe – Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists being a recent excellent example.[8]

So there were all these sorts of very interesting hybrid relationships emerging in the 1970s and the 1980s, some of which were between the West and the East, but sometimes experts looked to the South or the East for inspiration. But the response to the political, social, and moral crises of late communist societies in Eastern Europe could have gone in a whole variety of directions. We can see this much more clearly if we look globally, and not restrict ourselves to bounded, national, country-based stories.

ZG: So there was this globalising socialist world, but later there evolved this big meta-narrative of globalisation as a Western-led project, which many essentialise or naturalise as simply being a result of technological development or the triumph of “the free world” and opening up economies to capitalism. However, recently we could see these new geopolitical shifts contesting U.S. postwar global hegemony, like the rise of China, or South and Southeast Asian states like India, or Sub-Saharan Africa creating new fields for hegemonic interest. There’s also the current political turmoil in Latin America, and the still important – and probably underestimated – geopolitical agency of Russia. All these cases give us a good sense of how global roles can change relatively rapidly in global history, and together with this the concept of globalisation has always been contested.

How does your understanding of the global history of socialism contribute to a history of diverging and competing globalisations? You argue that West-led globalisation has been contested throughout history, but what does your concept of “socialist globalisation” actually mean and why was it different from Western globalisation?

JM: First of all, “globalisation” is anachronistic:: the term does get used in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but very infrequently, and is meant simply as a set of rules around which a global system works. Globalisation only becomes a powerful mainstream term in the early 1990s, when it comes to mean a capitalist-led, financialised, neoliberal form of globalisation. However, I think it is useful to use the term simply because it is dominant in the literature, so if one wants to engage with it, then one has to link to it – even if only to say there are multiple forms of globalisation. For this reason, we decided to use it for our Alternative Globalizations: Eastern Europe and the Postcolonial World volume. The Francophone literature uses the term mondialisation, which is in some ways preferable, as it allows for the possibilty of multiple ways of ’world making’, and hence helps us to critique our own very recent ’globalisation’ variant.

Public fountain made out of ceramics by the famous Hungarian sculptor Margit Kovács that depicts a colonial-style map of the socialist world (without the Americas). It was erected in the Pioneer and Youth Department State Store in Budapest in 1950. Source:

The high point of socialist globalisation, or mondialisation, begins from the late 1950s, because as European empires collapse, opportunities open out to reshape the world economy. Particular institutions, like the UNCTAD at the United Nations take on that role by trying to create new forms of free trade after empire that can be used to break former imperial trade monopolies, and to encourage previously marginalised countries to work regionally in order to take on a world still marked by big imperial players. But figures such as Raul Prebisch, who led the campaigns for such progressive transformations, were often critical of Eastern European communists for their excessive bilateralism, refusal to work together as a region, and insufficient commitment when it didn’t suit them, particularly when opportunities presented themselves in the West. In this sense, we talk of an ‘in-between’ region.

These ideas of free trade and remaking the world economy were very much pushed by socialist or non-capitalist actors. The 1960s was also a high point in a particular socialist conception of rights – collective rights, rights for economic justice after colonialism, the right to racial equality – which were addressed by international organisations, and were sometimes mediated through relationships between Eastern European socialist states, and those in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

The first UNCTAD conference in Geneva on 23 March, 1964. UNCTAD provided opportunities to negotiate about developing a new global trade system that could counterbalance the dominance of Western core countries, but socialist countries also sought the development of their trade between both the West and the South. In the Eastern Bloc, Romania represented itself as a “less developed country” to gain benefits similar to developing countries. Source:

These alternative forms of linkage weakened from the mid-1970s as the postcolonial project entered a moment of crisis, but in many ways continued into the post-Cold War period. Susan Bayly has coined a very useful phrase, the socialist ecumene, to describe the still existing socialist values in trade between socialist or former socialist states.[9] There are many other such legacies we could mention. In Eastern Europe these are stripped of socialist content, but even new right-wing populists in the 2010s drew on these earlier socialist era linkages as they searched for alternatives to complement their involvement in the European (EU) project.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a very powerful form of West-led globalisation emerges as a reaction to the challenge from a progressive world of decolonising states, and their seemingly excessive claims – at least as they are seen from Washington to London – to have the right to reshape the global economy. This challenge takes its most powerful expression in the call for a so-called New International Economic Order from the mid-1970s.[10] This alternative form of globalisation is deemed a threat and shapes Western responses and desires – particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – the global order needed to be remade, non-Western claims on the global system side-lined, and socialist attempts to reshape the global delegitimised. This was the point where many Eastern European communist elites and experts – with the notable exception of Romania and Yugoslavia – began to turn away from the radical demands of the ‘Third Worldist’ economic project. It was also the moment when African and Asian states committed to this project of global redistribution began to refer to the ‘Global North’ and firmly place Eastern Europe in it, now less and less distinguishable from the rest of the white industrial capitalist Europe and North America.

But we shouldn’t understand this global struggle as an inevitable decline of the links that had held together broader visions of an anti-colonial world or socialist camp. If you just look at the Eastern European story through the 1970s and 1980s, the relationships between the region and socialist and progressive states across the world continued to develop. Nevertheless, this happened under very different ideological conditions, and much of their socialist content had eroded.

1989 can also be seen as  a moment of deglobalisation, because many of these global relationships of Eastern Europe that had been developing up until the 1980s were shut down.

Let’s take the example of the GDR and Vietnam. One of the biggest exports from Vietnam is now coffee, an industry set up by the massive help of GDR in the 1980s. These relationships are then severed in 1989, but as in this case, have very powerful legacies in the present. Some connections continued after 1989: Czechoslovak, Serbian as well as many Russian producers of ordnance continued to export successfully, both to former partners in Africa and to the Middle East.

The Non-Aligned Movement (est. 1961) on their 5th conference in Sri Lanka, Colombo demanded in a signed resolution the substitution of the Bretton Woods financial system, due to its favouring of core countries in the West, with a “New International Economic Order”. Their aim was to create a centralised monetary and financial system and development bank against the IMF, and to regulate international trade prices and multinational companies. However, most of these plans were not put into practice, and from the 1980s the neoliberal principles of the Washington Consensus became dominant, which supported the financial interests of the USA, the IMF, and the World Bank. Source: Sunday Observer

ZG: In your interpretation, 1989 in Eastern Europe is not just a particular moment in a linear history of democratisation and capitalist development, of becoming free from the Soviet Union, but also a reaction to a crisis in global realignments both in the West and the East, as a result of interactions between different visions of globalisation. If we look at 1989 from this perspective, we may recognise the “hidden integration” of socialist states – definitely not as isolated as the anti-communist legacy of 1989 suggests, but already beginning to be integrated globally.

Neoliberalism was an important concept in the process of “transition”, it was what “had to come” after 1989. As the story is commonly told, amidst the Cold War antagonism between socialism and capitalism, and the mythological battle between the centralised-planning state and the free market, 1989 signalled the triumph of neoliberalism which represented the power of the “free” market economy and liberal democracy – with a much smaller state. We know from various scholars that this reading is far from true, in fact highly ideological and very misleading, since the historical relationship between neoliberalism and state socialism was much more complicated.

In this regard, the focus on neoliberalism in global history is interesting if we want to elucidate the continuities of knowledge, experts or elites and interests in the Eastern European “transition”. How can this global socialist history help us understand neoliberalism as it emerged? Can we reconceptualise this “transition” period not simply as a Western-led development, as Fukuyama’s “the end of history” or the failure of socialism, but as a neoliberal project influenced globally by various, often non-Western and non-European sources?

JM: The history of neoliberalism is not just an Anglo-American or Global North story. There are multiple origin points of neoliberalism: we know the story of Singapore, of Chile, South Africa, and so on. Scholars, such as Artemy Kalinovsky, argue that neoliberalism also comes out of the crisis of socialist societies and centralised developmentalism in the late Cold War.[11] Eastern Europe was part of this global story. Scholars like Johanna Bockman, or recently Ádám Fábry, have argued that some of the basic tenets of neoliberalism were shared between Eastern Europe and the West as it developed in the 1960s and 1970s.[12] And, as I mentioned before, experts in the region was not only looking westwards in the late Cold War, but many were attracted to ideas, later to be called neoliberal, coming from Latin America and East Asia already in the 1980s. The ideas of markets and market discipline, efficiency, and remoulding the economic subject were not things that were alien to socialist systems. Certainly in some countries, Hungary and Poland being ones where market mechanisms were more developed, there was already a body of knowledge that enabled them to jump very quickly from ideas of the socialist market to a capitalist market when 1989 came along. It actually wasn’t a very big leap for many Eastern European economists. And as Phillip Ther has argued, the acceleration of neoliberalism in the ‘Eastern European laboratory’ of the 1990s boomeranged back on Western Europe, most notably Germany, and accelerated the development of low wage sectors there.[13]

Rezső Nyers, the leading reform socialist figure in Hungary’s New Economic Mechanism (1968), and Tamás Deutsch, the revolutionary politician of Fidesz in parliament during the National Assembly in 1990. Photo: Zoltán Szalay/Fortepan.

Market liberalism was a compelling ideology because it had the power to break the nomenklatura. For many opponents of communism in 1989, the central question was how to get rid of the large overbearing state. At the final point, groups with very divergent positions allied against state socialism. For example, in Poland, Solidarność contained a spectrum of beliefs, and a very dominant one was fighting for workers, but there were the emergent groups of Gdańsk and Kraków neoliberals had a very different view of the economy. Nevertheless in 1989 they came together because both of them saw this as a moment to crush the nomenklatura. There remained some economists who advocated resisting an uncritical integration into the European Union and western capitalism, fearing that economic decisions were being transferred to an undemocratic transnational level, and that Eastern European would be kept as peripheral, low-value locations in the newly emerging ‘global factory’. But they had less and less influence.

The great difference between 1989 and 2019 is that today there is a desire for a big state again: the state is no longer something to be feared, but is rather something which gives protection from the supposedly nefarious forces of globalism – whether these are constructed as inequality, gender ideology, multiculturalism, or climate change.

The big state can again protect us by strengthening the national community or providing cradle to grave welfare.

But why was there so little resistance to neoliberalism in Eastern Europe in the 1990s? Apart from individual strikes or protests, resistance was generally very low, especially in comparison to Latin America or Africa – given the similar strictures that the IMF or the World Bank brought there. And also in comparison with labour unrest was rampant across Eastern Europe in the 1980s. it is important that that local elites had already been preparing these ideas: the project of Michal Kopecek and Vita Sommer in Prague has explored how late socialist societies were individualised and ‘prepared’ for neoliberalism in advance. High expectations of a Western-style consumerism – an aspiration that had been stoked for the last three decades of the communist era – gave many a firm faith in, and initial patience with, the capitalist transition.

The advertisement poster of the West (Nyugat) journal around 1911. Graphics: Mihály Bíró. Source:

But it was also a civilizational questions: neoliberalism was not only seen as an economic cure, but as a way of rejoining the West as well.

ZG: If 1989 was elite-driven and transnational networks complicate the story, this picture shows us that ideas of development trajectories or reformisms, broadly from the 1960s, also came from elsewhere.. Socialist states were not that isolated and they actually had a relative degree of autonomy to manoeuvre, and they developed their own models of globalising or integrating into the world economy.

JM: The question of escaping peripherality or relative backwardness to Western Europe has been a very powerful theme throughout modern Eastern European history, and the moment that catching up to the West meant greater Western integration –rather than searching for alternatives -was an immensely important turning point.

The debates of the early Cold War had been influenced by the region’s experience of poverty and hunger of the interwar period: how had much of Eastern Europe become an agricultural hinterland of the West? Could it escape that fate by shutting off from Western economies and pursuing autarchic national development strategies? These were also influenced by Latin America – which had itself been earlier influenced by Eastern European economists – as work by Joseph Love and Manuela Boatcă has explored.[14]  In the 1960s, this road of autarkic shutting off from the West gets criticised, it is eventually seen as a dead end, and reformist elites from the 1970s learn not to fear the West. It’s a very slow, gradual, incremental, often contested process.

Once friend, later dictator: yet vice president Saddam Hussein arriving for a four-day stay in Budapest on 8 May, 1975 is immensely popular in Hungary. One of the most important export markets for the Eastern Bloc, and particularly Hungary, was Western Asia and Egypt. During 1970 and 1976, the Iraqi–Hungarian trade turnover had increased from 120 million Forints to 3.3 billion Forints, and primarily consisted of machinery products (mainly buses), but in 1975 Hungary also sold weapons valued at 23,6 million Dollars to Iraq. Source: / MTI

For Eastern Europe, it is about how to integrate into the world economy and create successful export industries to achieve a higher degree of development. From the 1970s on, the Soviet Union allowed greater flexibility to their Eastern European client states partly because Moscow became increasingly frustrated that despite being at the centre of the socialist system, their country was seemingly confined to being the primary producers of raw materials and energy for more technologically advanced states on the western edges of the Bloc. The Soviets did not prevent the bloc countries forging new relationships in the Middle East to get oil, to trade with the West, and in the early 1980s for Poland (1986) and Hungary (1982), to join the IMF.[15]

An interesting feature of the 1980s was how Eastern European experts strengthened their belief that through Westernisation catch up is possible. Polish geographers, for example, were very much in the forefront of this; Tomasz Zarycki did research on how an idea of European regions, no longer marked by strict hierarchies and East-West civilisational slopes, would be possible in a newly imagined Europe even before 1989. [16] This was part of a wider process of reimagining why Eastern Europe won’t be reconstituted as a hinterland if it gives up its separateness and integrates into the West.

[1] Hansen, P., Jonsson, S. (2014): Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism. London: Bloomsbury.; Böröcz, J. (2009): The European Union and Global Social Change: A Critical Geopolitical-Economic Analysis. Milton Park, New York: Routledge; see also the Böröcz, J. Goodness Is Elsewhere: The Rule of European Difference. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48(1): 110–138; and the special issue edited by József Böröcz and Melinda Kovács in Central Europe Review, “Empire’s New Clothes: Unveiling EU Enlargement,” also published in Hungarian in Replika journal.

[2] Bhambra, G. K., Narayan, J. (2017): Introduction: Colonial Histories and the Postcolonial Present of European Cosmopolitanism. In:  Gurminder K. Bhambra and John Narayan (eds.): European Cosmopolitanism: Colonial Histories and Postcolonial Societies. Milton Park, New York: Routledge. 1–14.

[3] Buettner, E. (2016): Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[4] Ward, S., Rasch, A. (eds.) (2019): Embers of Empire in Brexit Britain. London: Bloomsbury.

[5] These questions are pursued by the Dialoguing Between the Posts network, which consists of researchers focusing on the relations between postsocialism and postcolonialism in the Balkans and more widely in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, the Working Group for Public Sociology ‘Helyzet’ (Helyzet Műhely) deals with the global history of the Hungarian integration into capitalism from a world-systemic perspective, focusing on centre-semiperiphery relations, capitalist accumulation cycles, and hegemonic changes. See also the network of the Balkan Society for Theory and Practice, and the special issue of Dversia, “Decolonial Theory and Practice in Southeastern Europe,” amongst others. – Remark by Zoltán Ginelli.

[6] Högselius, P. (2013): Red Gas: Russia and the Origins of European Energy Dependence. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[7] On this issue, see: Michnik, A. (1998): Towards a Civil Society: Hopes for Polish Democracy. Interview with Erica Blair (John Keane). In: Irena Grudzińska Gross (ed.): Letters from Freedom: Post-Cold War Realities and Perspectives. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. 96–116. Original in Times Literary Supplement, February 19–25, 1988. – Remark by Zoltán Ginelli.

[8] Slobodian, Q. (2018): Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[9] Bayly, S. (2008): Vietnamese Narratives of Tradition, Exchange and Friendships in the Worlds of the Global Socialist Ecumene. In: Harry G. West and Parvathi Raman (eds.): Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books. 125–147.

[10] On this, see: Bockman, J. (2015): Socialist Globalization and Capitalist Neocolonialism: The Economic Ideas behind the New International Economic Order. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, 6(1): 109–128. – Remark by Zoltán Ginelli.

[11] Kalinovsky, A. E. (2018): Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

[12] Bockman, J. (2011): Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Fábry, Á. (2019): The Political Economy of Hungary: From State Capitalism to Authoritarian Neoliberalism. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

[13] Ther, P. (2014): Die neue Ordnung auf dem alten Kontinent: Eine Geschichte des neoliberalen Europa.Berlin: Suhrkamp.

[14] Boatcă, M. (2020): Laboratoare ale modernității. Europa de Est și America Latină în (co)relație, Cluj: IDEA; Love, J. L. (1996): Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment in Rumania and Brazil. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

[15] Amongst Eastern European socialist countries Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia was a founding member of the IMF in 1945, Poland joined in 1946, but left in 1950 and returned in 1986. On Hungary’s Western integration during socialism, see the research of Pál Germuska in the PanEur1970s international research project ( See: Germuska, P. (2019): Balancing between the COMECON and the EEC: Hungarian elite debates on European integration during the long 1970s. Cold War History, 19(3): 401–420. – Remark by Zoltán Ginelli.

[16] The concept of the “civilisational slope” comes from Attila Melegh, see: Melegh, A. (2003): Kelet-Nyugat lejtő. Élet és Irodalom. Április 28.; Melegh, A. (2006): On the East/West Slope. Globalization, Nationalism, Racism and Discourses on Eastern and Central Europe. Budapest: CEU Press. – Remark by Zoltán Ginelli.

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