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REE 385 • Post-Totalitar East Centr Eur
TH 200pm-500pm PAR 103
Regular attendance and a research paper on a topic agreed with the instructor that relates to an aspect of the seminar.
The twentieth century was the century of totalitarianism. The twenty first century is, and will continue to be, the century of post-totalitarianism. Overcoming the legacies of totalitarianism has been a long and uneven process. Former Warsaw Pact countries are still far from overcoming those legacies. The restoration of the late-totalitarian elite in Russia, a restoration that defies the main “transition” theories that were introduced during the nineties, calls for an explanation.
The life cycle of totalitarianism is the story of the corruption and decline of utopia and how devastated societies have attempted to reconstruct themselves and come to terms with their past. It is also the story of how the late totalitarian elite survives and prospers. As in most plots, the villains may be more fascinating than the heroes. This course combines political theory with comparative politics, covering the former Communist countries in comparison with post-totalitarian West Germany and still totalitarian China.
This course examines the common legacies of post-totalitarian societies. Totalitarian legacies are the lasting changes that totalitarianism imprints on different societies, despite their different long term historical legacies and the immediate socio-economic circumstances of their exit from Communism. After totalitarianism, some of the radical revolutionary transformation of society is irreversible. The extermination, enslavement, imprisonment, terror, expropriation, suppression of talent, exclusion from education, and the isolation of society from the outside world, live on through their effects. The societies that emerge out of totalitarianism are scarred by totalitarianism for generations. This course sets to understand and explain these lingering legacies of totalitarianism.