30 Years On From The Velvet Revolutions - Time For A Second Liberation?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Encina Hall, Bechtel Conference Center

The Hoover Institution is co-sponsoring book talk with Timothy Garton Ash, author of The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Berlin on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 from 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM PST.


30 years ago, communist rule ended across central Europe in a dramatic series of events ranging from Solidarity's election triumph in Poland on June 4, 1989, through the ceremonial reburial of Imre Nagy in Budapest (with a fiery young student leader called Viktor Orbán demanding the withdrawal of all Soviet troops), to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Timothy Garton Ash witnessed these events and described them memorably in his book The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Berlin.

Now he has revisited all these countries, to explore the long term consequences of the revolutions and subsequent transitions. What went right? More pressingly: What went wrong? For today, Orbán is presiding over the systematic dismantling of democracy in Hungary, the Law and Justice party in Poland is trying to follow his example, the prime minister of the Czech Republic is an oligarch and former secret police informer, while a xenophobic populist party, the AfD, is flourishing in the former East Germany. In this lecture, Garton Ash will explore the peculiar character of populism in post-communist Europe, and the considerable forces of resistance to it.

Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies, Oxford University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford. He is the author of ten books of contemporary history, including The File: A Personal History, History of the Present, In Europe's Name: Germany and the Divided Continent, and, most recently, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. His commentaries appear regularly in the Guardian, and are widely syndicated.

Light refreshments will be served after the lecture, and copies of The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Berlin, will be on sale.

Co-Sponsors: Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, The Europe Center, Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies and the Hoover Institution.

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