Notes from Kenny “A Carnival of Revolution”

A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989

by Padraic Kenney

ISBN-10: 069111627X

Publisher: Princeton University Press; New Ed edition (August 11, 2003)


Three common explanations for the fall of communism:

  1. Gorbachev inspired and encouraged change which provided the atmosphere for revolution.
  2. Economics – The communist economy was bankrupt and no longer able to support their facade. Mass emigration showed public disapproval. Some governments experimented with free-market economies even before their collapse.
  3. Intellectuals – Intellectual opposition ideas were cultivated from Western ideas and local tradition and culture. These ideas were disseminated widely and a great percentage of the population had access to them. This could be a reason for the non-violent revolutions.

The Konkretny activists (pg 13) focused on reality; on everyday problems and on realistic, effective means of overcoming, or at least exposing, them.

The Revolutions did not happen just in the year 1989, but were a culmination of many years. There was a decade’s worth of smaller events which led to the revolutions in 1989. Each small group kept the ball of revolution rolling. Each opposition group, while not lasting, did it’s part to keep the hopes and desires of revolution continually in the minds of intellectuals, activists, and the common people.

WiP used media to gain popular support and help the revolutionary movement, while Solidarity was laying low.

Chernobyl showed the incompetence of Communism, and put the blame and responsibility of it squarely on their heads. Responsibility could not be passed off. Threat of nuclear radiation was something to cause great consternation among people. They could survive, make do, and manage with food shortages, but there was no protection against radiation. When you threaten a mother’s children with something she can not defend them against, then beware!

Another issue was environmental, seen in the great hydro-powered dam debacle.

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