Jokes helped make communism collapse. “Anekdoty” as they were termed, helped dispel the climate of fear and highlighted the backwardness and stagnation that were the hallmark of central planning and the police state. The best ones were about people like Brezhnev; few found Stalin a good subject for humour.
Tag Archive: Estonia
Just in case anyone is interested, here is a video of me and Toomas Hendrik Ilves discussing Estonia after the euro. Part two is here and part three here
The grit shown by Estonian politicians and the public in shrinking spending, raising taxes and cutting wages has been exemplary. Punishing Estonia, which obeyed the rules, while bailing out Greece, which has breached them flagrantly, would do little for the euro’s credibility with governments and investors alike.
Punishing Estonia which obeyed the rules, while bailing out Greece which has breached them flagrantly, would do little for the euro’s credibility with governments and investors alike.
It is never a waste of time to visit the capital of Galicia, which in Latin is called Leopolis (literally, Lion City). But you can waste a lot of time rowing about the name. In the Austro-Hungarian empire the city’s name was Lemberg. It was commonly known as that in the English-speaking world too (it is named thus in a Baedeker travel guide, belonging to your diarist’s great-aunt, who travelled in those parts more than a century ago).
In pre-war Poland it became Lwów (pronounced Ler-voof) and to this day many Poles still use that name. Indeed, they can get quite cross if you call it anything else. Even after the historical reconciliation with Lithuania and Ukraine in recent years, the loss, in 1945, of Poland’s eastern provinces, and particularly the great cities of Wilno (now Vilnius) and Lwów, still rankles…
Imagine that you are invited to lunch at Oxford University. Sherry, wine and port flow like the Isis, with facts, anecdotes, bons mots and sparkling insights swirling past in a bewildering but entertaining array. The conversation continues on a punt, then on a brisk walk around the university parks, then over tea, which slips into (more) sherry, and afterwards a splendiferous “high table” dinner. Late at night you wobble through the darkened streets, still talking, feeling pleasantly at one with the world. It is great fun, but no substitute for actually studying history.
That is how reading Norman Stone’s book about the cold war feels.
Most politicians today talk like robots (I’ve just been watching Gordon Brown at the Chilcott inquiry) and when they write it’s even worse. Even Barack Obama’s “rhetoric” is more about delivery than real literary style. So (thanks Guistino) here is an example of a political document that is inspirational, elegant and brief.
Europe.viewStruggles, suffering and SkypeEastern Europeans should strive to present a more modern face to visitors Feb 3rd 2010 | From The Economist online IMAGINE that you are attending a conference (call it Agenda 2010) in the capital city (call it Klow) of a generic ex-communist country (call it Ruritania). The discussion will be mostly about …
Why does Estonia spend so much more on defence than Latvia and Lithuania? And is it a good idea? Cynics say that Estonia can’t be credible in defence if the other Baltic two have in effect given up. Estonia should stop bothering with even vestigial territorial defence and concentrate solely on international obligations. I think …
Europe.view Respect for the deadJan 7th 2010From Economist.com The messy politics of war memorials WAR cemeteries are poignant places, better suited for reflection than controversy. In Vilnius, Poles, Lithuanians, Russians and others, all fierce foes in their day, rest in the same hallowed ground. In the British war cemetery in Berlin, aircrews lie in the …