The aim was to guarantee a swift — and irreversible — transition to capitalism for the countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain. But rather than ushering in a new era of prosperity, the mass privatization policy advocated by Western-trained neoliberal economists helped bankrupt Russia and other former Soviet bloc countries. So say Cambridge and Harvard sociologists in a study claiming to be the first to trace a ‘direct link’ to the ‘economic failure and corruption that followed.’
Nov. 17 is a red letter day in Czech calendars, marking Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, the anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. On that autumn day in back 1989, a student procession was held to mark the 50th anniversary of another event during a totalitarian age, and toppled another. Who could have imagined that two decades later, Czechs’ euphoria for democracy would turn so sour.