The Road to Bulgaria 1983-1990

Ghodsee, K. R. (n.d.). Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Communism. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/461250/Lost_in_Transition_Ethnographies_of_Everyday_Life_After_Communism
I joined the Model United NationsClub in middle school.
I read voraciously about the Rus-sians, about Marxism-Leninism, about the Soviet space program, and aboutcollectivized agriculture. I read everything that I could get my hands on,hoping to understand the Soviet worldview so that I could more accurately represent them and convincingly argue their position on the key worldissues of the day: the Middle East, Northern Ireland, and nuclear prolifera-tion among others.
I played Poland and Romania on a couple of ad hoc committees and then was finally assigned to be Bulgaria on the Security Council. 
In 1985 Bulgaria  was a relatively small country about the size of Delaware with a population of about nine million. 

In early June of 1990 I found myself in Turkey after having traveledoverland from Egypt through Jordan, Iraq, and Syria.

The Bulgarians would have none of me; they only entered a thirty-hour transit visa so that I could take the train to either Yugoslavia or Romania. I flipped a coin and chose Yugoslavia.
It was a mixture of intellectual curiosity and infatuation that would lead me back to Bulgaria in January and March of 1998.During those first two visits I was shocked to realize that the hopes and dreams of 1990 had not been realized. Although most people were still glad that communism was gone and agreed that the totalitarian past was best put behind them, the promises of democracy had not been realized. Many Bulgarians I met had started to question the transition process. Where there had been security and order, there was now chaos and unchecked criminal violence. Where there had been universal health care, the best doctors now worked in fee-only clinics for the new rich. Where there had been free university education,there were now private colleges. Where there had been a decent amount of gender equality, there was now outright discrimination against women.
In Bulgaria, he said, they had torn down the old house (communism)before the new one (capitalism) was ready. Everyone was now forced to liveon the street.
It was clear tome in 1998 that there were people suffering in Bulgaria, that democratzia was not all that it was cracked up to be. From that wondrous summer in1990 emerged a dark reality. People who had worked hard and built success-ful careers under the old system were cheated out of their well-deserved retirement. Men and women in the middle of their lives had to drastically change course just to stay afloat; they had to learn new skills, new lan-guages, and an entirely new way of thinking. A whole generation of young people lost the futures for which they had been preparing themselves.Entire academic disciplines disappeared overnight; what do you do with a PhD in Marxist economics or dialectical materialism in a capitalist society?In short, daily life had been turned on its head. No one knew what the rules were anymore
My students seemed funda-mentally unable to comprehend the sheer magnitude of that change.
An ad for a Bulgarian beer that simply says ‘‘Men know why.’’ When asked, most Bulgarians don’t actually know why.
The Slovenian philosopherSlavojˇZiˇzek really put his finger on something when he said that it is fareasier for young people today to imagine total planetary environmental catastrophe than it is for them to imagine any significant changes in thepolitical and economic system that will precipitate this catastrophe.
 Bulgaria is a country about which most Westerners have few preconceived notions. Unlike Russia or Poland or the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria has seldom been in the international spotlight,and few people know much about this relatively small country tucked into the most southeastern corner of Europe. Even with all of my background in current events, I did not know what to expect of Bulgaria when I firstboarded that train in Istanbul back in June of 1990.

Orban Hungary immigrants

What Orbán’s Third Win Could Mean for Europe

With his strong election victory on Sunday, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán exceeded all expectations. What will the party’s third win mean for Europe?

In an extremely divisive campaign, Orbán essentially focused on one single issule, warning against Hungary’s “downfall” at the hands of “immigrants.”
cheering supporters, who could be heard shouting a chant usually associated with right-wing extremists or radical football fans: “Ria, ria, Hungaria.”
Everyone in Hungary knows that he’s corrupt and that he governs poorly, and yet many people still vote for him because they consider it important that he protects them from immigrants and minorities like the Roma.

Eastern Europe and holocaust

Rewriting History in Eastern Europe

Poland’s New Holocaust Law and the Politics of the Past

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a controversial law criminalizing statements that attribute responsibility for the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities to “the Polish nation.”
The law is just the latest part of a broader effort at historical revisionism.
Nor is Poland the only postcommunist country that has tried to reframe the history of its role in World War II and defend the part it played in the Holocaust. Hungary, Ukraine, and the Baltic states have all made similar moves.
ascendant right-wing populist parties across Europe mean that the union no longer speaks with one voice. Sanctioning a member state is now more difficult.Right-wing populist politicians, traditionally Euroskeptics, are now even more willing to invite international disapproval and gain domestic popularity by stoking nationalism and whitewashing the past.
In states that experience direct threats from Russia and are ruled by right-wing populist parties, the trend toward policing history and silencing inconvenient facts about their roles in World War II is likely to continue. That will heighten tensions with the United States and Israeldivide allies even within eastern Europe, and stifle open debate. Ironically, it is Putin’s autocracy that might benefit the most from these developments.