The Footprint of State Socialism on Central European Post-Socialism

The Footprint of State Socialism on Central European Post-Socialism


Prof. Dieter Segert

Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Nussdorfer Strasse 64, 4th floor, 1090 Wien

This lecture’s aim is to outline the comprehensive recent discussion about the European state socialism as a social and political order. Different attempts to attain a better understanding of the core principles of this type of society have resulted in continuous public discussions. After the first decade of transition from ‘socialism’ to ‘capitalism’, we could even observe a resurgence of the debates on the ‘Ancient regime’ and its heritage. New insights from the archives and ongoing history politics in post-socialist societies have fuelled these debates. The new zeitgeist created by the world financial crisis of 2008 might be an additional reason.

Some of the topics of the lecture are:

What can political science learn by studying the history of state socialism?
What was socialism? Outline on recent discussions about the ‘Ancien regime’ after its end
Crises in ‘late socialism’ as key to our understanding of the ‘socialist heritage’
The underdeveloped research about the role of reformers within late socialism
Economic reforms in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s
What was left? The puzzling differences in various reform paths after 1989

Dieter Segert is professor for Political Science at the Social Science Faculty and Deputy Head of the research platform ‘Wiener Osteuropaforum’ at the University of Vienna. His research interests are the conditions of functioning and endangering of democracy; state socialism and its heritage as well as party politics. He is author of Das 41. Jahr. Eine andere Geschichte der DDR [The 41st Year. An alternative history of the GDR], (Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau, 2008) and editor of Staatssozialismus. Erklärungsmodelle und Nachwirkungen [State Socialism. Theoretical approaches and aftermath], a special issue of the journal ‘zeitgeschichte’, 36. Jg. (Nov-Dec. 2009). Recently he published Lessons from “post-Yugoslav” Democratization: Functional Problems of Stateness and the Problems of Democracy, (with Vedran Dzihic), in ‘East European States and Societies’, Volume 26, Issue 2, May 2012, pp. 239 – 254).

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