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The communist dream disintegrated in most parts of the world in 1989-1991, first in East Europe and then in the Soviet Union. Arguably, it vanished in the remaining parts of the world in the late 1990s, despite the fact that some countries still purported to be ruled by communist parties.  In this final section of the seminar we will consider two topics.  First, we will ask why the communist dream vanished when it did.  Second, we will ask what it means to say that it vanished.

27.  Tuesday, April 22

Discussion:  How did Havel turn out to be so remarkably prescient about some of the factors that led to the erosion of the communist dream?

  • Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless,” in Open Letters:  Selected Writings.  Please read the remaining chapters of the essay.
  • Ilinca Calugareanu,  “VHS vs. Communism”:  READ AND WATCH VIDEO

28.  Thursday, April 24

We will meet in the Hesburgh Library Rare Books Books Room to view a selection of dissident documents from the Soviet Union.

“I would have definitely been a dissident under communist rule!”  True?

29.  Tuesday, April 29

The fall  of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

  • “Mystery document”:  READ

30.  Thursday, May 1   (No, we do not meet physically).

A big day for communists:  WATCH

For some reason, Notre Dame has decided to end the semester earlier than I wanted and predicted.  This is mystifying to me because the learning must go on.

As we conclude the seminar, I would like you to think about what it means to say that communism is over.  Is it? Also, what can it mean to say that the era of grand ideologies is over?  Can it mean anything?  Or do these grand ideologies just continue on?

As you ponder these questions, return to our first class discussion when we talked about the “Notre Dame dream.”  Can the Notre Dame dream end?  Can it be extinguished just like communism?

  • Vaclav Havel, “Power of the Powerless”:  RE-READ the final three chapters.  How is Havel talking about our world, and not just their world?
  • Francis Fukuyama, selection, “The End of History”:  READ
  • William Pfaff, “Progress”:  READ


Your final essay assignment is HERE


Don’t Forget:  It is never time to give up dreaming.



NOTE:  Please turn off and do not use your technology during class.  This includes electronic devices of any kind, such as laptops, i-Pads, cell phones, Kindles, video cameras, Angry  Birds, or other distracting personal digital devices.

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