One thing lost in the transition from Communism was the economic security the command economy provided for many. Under Communist rule, employment was almost guaranteed. Not so under capitalism. Moreover, the perception among some seems to be that the ones who are gaining the most from the transition from communism are not the people who live in the countries transitioning, but foreign investors taking advantage of the newly liberal economic policies of those countries. The Romanian narrator of one chapter laments the demolition of “old, beautiful…villas…to make room for new buildings of steel and glass – for foreign banks and corporations.” Countries in Eastern Europe, it seems, have been forced to give up important elements of their culture in the name of integration with Europe and economic development, and to many people in those countries, the benefits of that have not outweighed the cost. “In the transition from Communism to capitalism,” the unnamed narrator of that same chapter tells us, “all people are unequal, but some are more unequal than others.” The people of the Eastern Bloc were told that capitalism would make...
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...case, things will be different. This does not in any way, however, discount the value of the book. The value of Drakulic’s book is not primarily in its presentation of the current state of former communist nations, but in its preservation of the memory of the horror of the regimes that ruled those countries for years. Many are eager to forget; as Milena (relayed to us through Bohumil) tells us in the opening chapter, “They want to run as far away from Communism as they can…those old enough to remember it want to forget it now.” But “life under Communism should not be forgotten,” Bohumil tells us, “although that is exactly what I see happening.” Remembering just how much of a disaster Communism was for these countries is the key to preserving democracy in the region and making sure As clichéd as it is to say, it’s true: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
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