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: Lithuania
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.
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.
The Economist carried a marvellous cover story called “The Bullies of Vilnius” (not by me) You can read it here
Here is a short (three-day) diary from last week’s trip to Lithuania Lithuania Back on the mapMar 16th 2010From Economist.com How an invisible country rocked the world Day one EARTHQUAKES are a horrible way of changing the physical landscape—but geopolitical ones can have marvellous results. Lithuania has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of its declaration …
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 …
Baltic economies The Estonian exceptionOct 29th 2009 | RIGA AND TALLINN From The Economist print edition Estonia gets a boost, but worries persist about its Baltic neighboursSMUGNESS is Estonians’ least attractive feature, at least in the eyes of their Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Lithuania. A surprise endorsement by the International Monetary Fund of Estonia’s plans …
War gamesOct 29th 2009 | RIGA AND TALLINN From The Economist print edition Jitters in eastern Europe over Russia’s military manoeuvres SCAREMONGERING is where defence-planning and politics overlap. Big military exercises in western Russia and Belarus, which finished earlier this month, were based on the following improbable scenario: ethnic Poles in western Belarus rise up …
Ailing fast Oct 7th 2009 From Economist.com Bad news from Latvia raises fears of contagion across eastern Europe THE patient emerges from intensive care, hurls the medicine at the doctors and bites his blood donor. That may be an unfair characterisation of the recent news from crisis-stricken Latvia, but it is pretty much how outsiders …
Baltic economies Feeling a bit fragile Sep 24th 2009From The Economist print edition A Baltic meltdown has been averted, but the gloom may yet last a bit longer WORRIES about a financial meltdown across eastern Europe have receded, thanks to generous outside support, some canny policies and the start of a recovery in western Europe. …