Imitation and its discontents

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Authors: Ivan Krastev, Stephen Holmes

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2019-1-11-20

Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe; imitation; liberalism; migration; nationalism; values


The authors of the essay provide an explanation of a number of paradoxes in the relationship between the Central and Eastern Europe and Western values. One of the motivations of the anticommunist movement in the European countries belonging to the so-called Socialist Commonwealth was the desire to establish the Western “normality”. After the revolutions of 1989, the countries of the region started reforms by introducing rules and institutions transferred from the West. At the same time, those Central and East Europeans that were not ready to wait for results went to the West, which caused partially dramatical population losses, especially among young people. The copying or imitation of the Western models was not finished after the transition period was completed. It turned out that the original model itself has dynamic content and is permanently changing, which awoke expectations that Central and East European countries also should permanently modify their legal and social orders. However, in some of these countries a part of the society as well as of the political elite were unsatisfied with the newest modifications in the Western ideology and tried to abandon the strategy of unconditional adaptation to the Western models. The highlight of this strategy is the claim of the ruling elites of several countries, especially in Hungary and Poland, to a new role: just these countries pretend to defend the Western European or even the Western Christian (English: occidental, German: abendländisch) tradition. The transformation of the Central and East European countries to bastions of the Western culture has, among other things, to decrease attraction of the move to the Western part of the subcontinent and, in that way, to reduce the emigration of the autochthon population.

About the authors: Ivan Krastev – Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, Bulgaria; permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, Austria; Stephen Holmes – Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, New York University, New York, USA.

Citation: Krastev I., Holmes S. (2019) Imitatsiya i eyo otritsanie [Imitation and its discontents]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 11–20. (In Russian).


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