Throughout the Cold War, most people in the US saw the communist party-states of the Soviet bloc as all-powerful regimes imposing their will on their populations. The author, a child of the Cold War, began her fieldwork in Romania in the 1970s in this belief. The present essay describes how her experiences in Romania between 1973 and 1989 gradually forced her to see things differently, bringing her to realize that centralization was only one face of a system of rule pervaded by barely controlled anarchy and parasitism on the state. It was not simply that the regime had failed to change people's consciousness; rather, the system's operation was actively producing something quite different. These insights contributed to the author's developing a new model of the workings of socialism.
Family Violence in Soviet Russia
The article gives a systematic assessment of legal attitudes toward family and domestic violence in Soviet Russia to examine whether the incidence of family violence remained as high as it was in the pre-revolutionary period, whether forms of family violence changed due to the new regime and new legal categories, and whether and how the new gender regime (i.e., the proclaimed equality of women and men) influenced the state of family violence in Soviet Russia. The analysis reveals that the Soviet state used the concepts of “hooliganism” and “family-domestic crimes” as the legal frameworks to deal with family violence while the concept of the “problem family” was employed to suggest prevention policies against domestic violence. The article also addresses the problem of continuity in social and criminal policies of Russia within the current application of “traditional values” and explains why this concept is consistent with the Soviet past.
Protest and Disorder after the Global Crash
Bob Jeffery, Joseph Ibrahim and David Waddington
The years since the onset of global recession, circa 2008, have led to an unprecedented rise in discontent in societies around the world. Whether this be the Arab Spring of 2011 when popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes cascaded across North Africa and the Middle East, or the rise of left-wing, anti-capitalist and far-right movements in the developed 'north', ranging from the Indignados in Spain, Syriza and the Golden Dawn in Greece, Le Front National in France, student movements in Quebec, or the allegedly less articulate explosion of rage characterizing the English Riots of 2011, it is clear that Fukuyama's thesis regarding the final ascendency of liberal capitalism (and its puppet regimes in the developing world) was grossly misplaced. In Badiou's (2012) terms we are witnessing 'the rebirth of history', where all bets regarding the trajectories of local and global political economies are off.
Performative Protest in the Scared City of Damascus
Syrian activists adopted the flying demonstration protest form in 2011 during the Arab Spring. A flying demonstration occurs for a few minutes, and then the demonstrators run away. Protestors mainly chose this form to avoid deadly confrontations with the regime’s secret police. This article examines how flying demonstrations challenged the Syrian state’s media allegations that no demonstrations were taking place. Action, spectatorship, aftermath, and catharsis were key concepts from the theater and performance fields that allowed Syrian activists to intensify the demonstrations and achieve certainty, making flying demonstrations a consistent phenomenon in the capital, Damascus. I analyze the flying demonstrations theories brought from Richard Schechner’s performance theory and Augusto Boal’s invisible theater. Although demonstrators were not considering theater during their protests, I conclude that flying demonstrations’ theatrical characteristics were essential to making this phenomenon visually compelling, encouraging more participation, and, to some extent, guaranteeing safety during deadly Syrian events.
Pablo Facundo Escalante
French republicanism is traditionally considered not only the logical outcome of the principles of 1789 but also their main political goal in the long term. Since the revolutionary outbreak, France would have been destined to become a republic, and the consecutive republican regimes that shaped its history seem to support that interpretation. However, considering the formidable weight of the centuries-old French royalist tradition, it is difficult to believe that the French gave up kingship once and for all in the span of the first three revolutionary years and that the First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, the July Monarchy, and the Second Empire were political regimes imposed only by force, against the will of the French, who only wanted a republican form of government. Driven by these reflections, this article attempts to propose a different interpretation of French republicanism.
According to German historian Hermann Weber, 25 percent of all
published studies on the German Democratic Republic (GDR) have
focused on the early years of the regime of the Socialist Unity Party
(SED), 20 percent on the 1980s and collapse of the dictatorship, and
only 3 percent on the years in between.1 While the GDR itself may
not have become a mere footnote in history as novelist Stefan Heym
predicted, studies of East German history in the 1950s—before the
construction of the Berlin Wall, when the regime of Walter Ulbricht
was most vulnerable—are exceedingly rare.2 Archive-based studies of
Ulbricht’s response to the Hungarian revolution of 1956 are rarer
still.3 A recently edited volume of essays published in Germany
about responses to the Hungarian revolution, for example, included
the reactions of nearly every East European country, except those of
Property Relations between Spouses
Starting in the early 1950s, Israeli women's organizations persistently promoted legislation that aimed to ensure wives' just share in marital property, until in 1973 the Knesset enacted the Spouses (Property Relations) Law. This remarkable struggle was then forgotten. The long history of this law as told here, along with parallel Israeli legislative and judicial developments related to property relations between spouses, reveals the political activities of women's organizations during the decades in which it is generally believed that they neglected their political-feminist agenda. It also discloses the substantial gap between the organizations' vision of a community property regime throughout marriage and the regime of property separation enacted into law. This case study sheds light on how social organizations attempt to promote legal reforms and on the consequences of their compromises.
Israel in a Comparative Context
Law is an important ingredient in politics, and politics is an important layer in law. Law is always being shaped, formed, articulated, and enforced in the context of socio-political power relations. This is true regarding any political regime, and it is also true in Israel. While the number of publications on law and society in Israel is vast and multi-disciplinary, edited volumes on law, politics, and society in Israel are relatively rare. Hence, the initiative of the Israel Studies Review to dedicate its first guest-edited issue to the topic “Law, Politics, Justice, and Society: Israel in a Comparative Context” is certainly an encouraging move as part of a more general effort to promote research on the multifaceted aspects of Israel’s society, nation-state, law, and political regime.
Five or ten years from now, the performance of the allegedly leftist regimes in Latin America (particularly those of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia and, to varying degrees, those of Argentina, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil) will be assessed in terms of the extent to which they were able to bring about a reduction of poverty, sustained rates of growth, and a measure of democratization in their countries, including less inequality and more inclusive policies, particularly toward ethnic minorities.
Olga Zdravomyslova and Elena Iarskaia-Smirnova
Girls born between the late 1990s and the early 2000s in the countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe are fast entering into a particular kind of social life. In contrast to previous generations of girls born and bred under communist regimes, this post-socialist generation has access to the Internet, social networks, and global mass culture. They speak in a different voice, and they raise new issues and seek answers to them.