chapter  11
18 Pages


ByKen Jowitt

Eastern Europe’s boundaries-political, ideological, economic, and militaryhave been radically redefined twice in less than a century. At the end of World War I, “the disappearance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (a truly momentous event in European history) left a huge gap in the conceptual geography of the continent. Of what did Central Europe now consist? What was East, what West in a landmass whose political divisions had been utterly and unrecognizably remade within a single lifetime”?1 In 1989, the Soviet bloc became extinct; communist parties in every Eastern European country added the loss of political power to their earlier loss of ideological purpose during the phase of “real socialism”; and the Soviet Union, the “stern…impersonal, perpetual Center”2 of this imperium, not only tolerated but instigated its collapse. The result is a gap in Europe’s “conceptual geography” no less significant than that of 1918.