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25. LECTURE: Monday, October 24

Sealing the European Divide.  In this lecture, I will consider the practical and symbolic signicance of the erection of the Berlin Wall.

  • Previously secret:  Letter from Walter Ulbricht to Nikita Khrushchev,  September 15, 1961:   HERE
  • Previously secret:  Nikita Khrushchev responds to Walter Ulbricht, September 28, 1961:  HERE
  • Maps:
    Divided Germany:  HERE
    Inter-German Border:  HERE
    Berlin Wall:  HERE

26.  LECTURE:  Wednesday, October 26

Czechoslovakia tries and fails to define a version of socialism with a “human face.”  The experiments in socialist reform in both Hungary (1956) andCzechoslovakia (1968) were both overturned by Soviet bloc troops.  The Czechoslovaks were different than their neighbors in that they tried to engage in reform within Marxism-Leninism.

  • The “Action Program” of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, April 10, 1968 (excerpts): HERE.  (Print version will be clearer than the screen)
  • “Two thousand words that belong to workers, farmers, officials, scientists, artists and everybody,” June 27, 1968:  HERE.  (Print version will be clearer than the screen)
  • An excellent video of the “Prague spring”: HERE
  • “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”  (excerpt):  HERE
  • Pravda justifies the crushing of the “Prague Spring,” August 22, 1968:  HERE

27.  DISCUSSION SECTION:   Friday, October 28

For this section, I want you to focus on the idea of reforming the communist party.  In 1968, Czechoslovakia’s leaders sought to carve out a distinctive approach to building “socialism with a human face.”  In many respects, they aimed to do this by reforming  party.  My question is whether such a party was possible.  For this section, I would like you to identify what they meant by this idea by discussing the “Two Thousand Words” document and the “Action Program.”  Please also bring Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” with you.  How would Khrushchev’s understanding of the communist party contrast with the Czechoslovaks’ conception.

Paragraph assignment.  Respond to this statement:  “The Czechoslovaks’ efforts to reform the communist party wouldn’t have worked even if the Soviets had decided not to invade.”

28.  LECTURE:  Monday, October 31

Strategies of Stabilization.  After the crushing of the Prague Spring, the leaders of the communist regimes in the Soviet Union and East Europe were intent upon finding ways to buy off the loyalties of their populations.

  • Kadar’s “Goulash Communism”:  HERE
  • Announcing the new “Wartburg 1000”:  HERE
  • Building the Trabant:  HERE
  • “Wir tragen die blaue Fahne”:  HERE
  • Vaclav Havel, Open Letters.  Read the first half of the essay “Power of the Powerless.”

29.  LECTURE: Wednesday, November 2

An emerging Culture of Dissident in the Soviet Bloc.  In the context of the communist regimes’ stabilization strategies, small groups of dissidents and intellectuals began to test the limits of permissible behavior.  It’ is important to differentiate between what we think their grivances should have been and what they actually were.

  • “Second Wind,” in Vaclav Havel, Open Letters, pp. 3-9.
  • Plastic People of the Universe:  HERE  (From what song did Havel’s favorite band get its name?)
  • “Declaration of Charter ‘77,” January 1, 1977:  HERE
  • Previously secret:  Central Intelligence Agency, “Dissident Activity in Eastern Europe:  An Overview,” April 1, 1977:  HERE

30.  DISCUSSION SECTION: Friday, November 4

Discuss the first half (sections I-XV) of ”The Power of the Powerless” in Vaclav Havel, Open Letters.

Paragraph Assignment:   If you had lived in communist eastern Europe at the time Havel was writing, would you have acted differently than the green grocer?

31.  LECTURE:  Monday, November 7

The End of the Cultural Revolution and the Makings of a “New China.”  I will speculate on what kind of change was or was not possible in China in the 1970s.  It’s interesting to compare this period with Nikita Khrushchev’s pronouncements at the 20th Congress of the CPSU.  There are some similarities and differences.

  • Deng Xiaoping, “The ‘Two-Whatever’ Policy Does Not Accord With Marxism,”  May 24, 1977 (excerpts):  HERE
  • Deng Xiaoping, “Mao Zedong thought must be correctly understood,”   Third Plenary Session of the Tenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, July 21, 1977 (excerpt):  HERE.  (Print)

32.  IN-CLASS FILM: Wednesday, November 9

“Journey to Russia”

33.  DISCUSSION SECTION, Friday, November 11

Havel II, Paragraph Assignment:   We conclude our discussion of Havel’s “Power of the Powerless.”  What must happen for the green grocer to live within the truth, or even to want to live in the truth?


Your second essay assignment is HERE


The use of electronic devices of any kind, including laptops, video cameras, cell phones, and personal digital devices, is prohibited in my classroom!

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