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The Reality

The communist dream vanished in most of the world in 1989-1991.  Arguably, it was gone in the rest of the world by the late 1990s, though some countries (China, Vietnam, Cuba) still claimed 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, what do we mean if we say it vanished.


24.  Monday, November 24

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?


Wednesday, November 26 – Sunday, November 30, THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY


25.  Monday, December 1

Today, we meet in the Hesburgh Library Rare Books Books Room to view a selection of dissident documents from the Soviet Union. Be sure to arrive on time!

Consider this topic:  “I would have definitely been a dissident under communist rule!”  True?


26. Wednesday, December 3

Discussion:  The fall  of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe

  • Gorbachev speaks!  READ
  • “Mystery document”:  READ (handout)
  • Timur Kuran, “Now Out of Never,” World Politics (1991):  PRINT AND READ


27. Monday, December 8

Discussion: A big day for communists:  WATCH

“Questioning the Inquisitor”


28.  Wednesday, December 10

Discussion:  Was it just a dream? As our journey draws to a close, 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?

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


Your final essay assignment is HERE



NOTE:  Please neutralize 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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