Rowman and Littlefield International
Civil Society in Communist Eastern Europe

Civil Society in Communist Eastern Europe

Opposition and Dissent in Totalitarian Regimes

By Matt Killingsworth

Publication Date: May 2012

Pages 184

ECPR Press

Paperback 9781907301278
£30.00 €41.00 $46.00

As well as promoting debates about liberal democracy, the dramatic events of 1989 also bought forth a powerful revival in the interest of the notion of civil society. This revival was reflected mainly in two broad tracts of literature. The first focused primarily on events surrounding the Solidarity movement in Poland and the tumultuous events of 1980-81. The second was concerned with the Velvet Revolutions more broadly. Following the events of 1989, there appeared a number of works sharing the common central argument that civil society played a key role in the overthrow of these Communist regimes in 1989. Killingsworth's book presents three broad arguments, all of which reject the way civil society has been applied in the analysis of opposition and dissent in totalitarian Czechoslovakia, the GDR and Poland. First, it argues that the totalitarian nature of Soviet-type regimes means that it was not possible for a genuine civil society to exist. Second, the civil society paradigm, as it has been applied to opposition and dissent in Soviet-type regimes in Eastern Europe, lacks analytical rigour. Thirdly, the book argues that the dominant liberal interpretation of dissenting opposition in Soviet-type regimes is politically and morally flawed.


List of Abbreviations vii

Acknowledgements ix

Chapter One: Introduction 1

Chapter Two: Civil Society and the Totalitarian Public Sphere 7

Chapter Three:Totalitarianism 31

Chapter Four: Czechoslovakia 49

Chapter Five: The German Democratic Republic 79

Chapter Six: Poland 107

Chapter Seven: Conclusion 139

Bibliography 149

Index 165

Dr Matt Killingsworth is a lecturer in international relations at the School of Government, University of Tasmania. He has previously held teaching positions at Latrobe University and the University of Melbourne. He has published widely on dissent and opposition in Communist Eastern Europe, transitional justice (lustration) in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and political legitimacy in the Soviet Union and Communist Czechoslovakia and Poland. He is currently researching the relationship between the use of violence, order and justice in the international system.

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