Post 1989 Challenges

Europe after 1989 has two very common themes: the ‘othering’ of groups of people and rapid capitalization. On page 218 in the Don Kalb reading, he mentions two types of social Darwinism that sprouted in the 1990s, one through neoliberal means vs the other through national-socialist means. What both types of ‘Darwinism’ have in common is that people of the Visegrad countries where these systems were implemented believed that neither one of these constructs was real capitalism and that governments are still run by the corrupt bourgeoisie. This would set the stage for years of unrest and division to come. In the Anna Cento Bull reading, she speaks about how memory is used by populist movements in order to justify scapegoating a group of people, while at the same time classifying supporters as the “real people”. By doing these two things, post-1989 populist governments can restructure historic events to radicalize people and delegitimize their political opponents. In the Christopher Molnar reading, we talk about letters written to President Weizsäcker about how the German people feared immigrants or seeking asylum in their country. Ranging from extreme to concerned, the letters still exemplify the ‘othering’ of minorities to scapegoat them for the country’s problems. Within the ‘Actually existing’ reading, we learn about how and why populism is supported by an increasing population of those involved in agriculture during a modern and industrial age. By clinging to the past and ‘othering’ the left, people in European agriculture find solidarity in populist movements that swept the EU after 1989. In conclusion, all these readings highlight how populism riles up one group of people, by marginalizing another.

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