In studies of the Soviet bloc and its afterlives, Bulgaria has attracted little attention. But the country’s history, from wartime partisan resistance to state socialism to postcommunist collapse, is essential to understanding the history of the 20th century.
Kristen R. Ghodsee is a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her latest book, Red Valkyries: The Revolutionary Women of Eastern Europe, is forthcoming from Verso Books in 2022.
Lea Ypi’s memoir of life in Albania as its Communist system disintegrated is essential reading. Ypi gives us a frank picture of authoritarian rule, but she’s also scathing about the destructive shock therapy imposed on her country in the name of freedom.
The renowned physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson died early this year and would have turned ninety-seven today. His eternal and unshakable sense of optimism about the world despite its myriad miseries is desperately needed right now.
A deep commitment to democracy is at the heart of the socialist project. Anticommunists have historically claimed they oppose states like the Soviet Union out of a concern for democracy. But those anticommunists’ real project has nothing to do with democracy — and everything to do with smashing the Left.
Socialist men can be important organizers in the struggle for both workers’ rights and women’s emancipation. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than in the life of German socialist August Bebel, who did more to win women’s rights than any other nineteenth-century politician.
Netflix’s The Politician brilliantly portrays how genuine feelings have become a valuable commodity traded for money, power, and fame. The series speaks to a basic fact about capitalism: there’s nothing that can’t be commodified — even authenticity.
State socialism was proof: when women have economic independence from men, they don’t stick around in bad relationships.
During Finland’s bloody civil war, revolutionary women struggled against exploitation in all its forms.
Thanks to the efforts of militants like Elena Lagadinova, women in Communist countries enjoyed greater equality than almost anywhere else in the world.