THE VELVET RESTORATION
When I read in the Polish press about “the return of communism,” I sometimes think it would be worthwhile to imagine an actual restoration of the communist system. The banging on the door at dawn. The declaration of martial law, the dissolution of parliament, the liquidation of political parties, the confiscation of newspapers, the censorship, closed borders, thousands imprisoned, trials, and sentences. And over and over again on the radio, a speech by the Leader on the need for “law, order, and discipline.” For a year now, a coalition of postcommunist parties has governed in Poland. A similar coalition governs in Lithuania. And in Hungary, an excommunist party recently won the elections. Nowhere, however, did the communist system return. What, then, do these “returns” mean?