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Unformatted text preview: ~ . 1: . UJ J-d.J1} K. . 7 fr6-t.J 6;. (2A ()'S" \ J ./ ,I ~i A ~. )-. ftA,.'h'~ 0~..;-,. ~.: .1 rt J tW' I~ ?~'11v-y Chapter11 Introduction John Agnew, Katharyne AJitchell, and Gerard Toal (Gear6id a Tuathail) In a photograph that won a prize in the Overcoming the Wall by Painting the Wall exhibition mounted by the museum at Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin in 1989, Ziegfried Rischar has superimposed a hand breaking through the Berlin Wall that had divided the city from 1961 to 1989 to offer a white rose to an outstretched hand on the other side. It was poster art such as this that carried the messages of many of the protagonists of the "velvet revolutions" that swept through Eastern Europe and into the Soviet Union in the years between 1980 and 1992. The Cold War division of Europe, symbolized most graphically by the Berlin Wall, had to be overcome and replaced by a new, nonantagonistic relationship between "East" and "West." This particular poster is also representative of the sense - wildly popular at the time in Eastern Europe- that old barriers were breaking down and a new world order was about to dawn. Many such hopes have been dashed. Certainly, most of the old barriers have come down. But new ones, such as restricted entry into the European Union, Russia's exclusion from the European "club," and gated communities pro- tecting the affluent from the impoverished, have replaced them. Human history has rarely seen such a crystalline moment of change as November 9, 1989, when thousands of cheering people climbed upon, dismantled, and overcame the Berlin Wall by passing through it unimpeded. The revolution of ordinary citizens breaki~g through a geopolitical division in the heart of Europe was the culmination of a long struggle by new social movements to create a cultural "space that challenged and moved beyond the geopolitics of the Cold War. With the mass media in the hands of authoritarian Communists until the very end in Eastern Europe, these social movements gave expression to their prin- ciples and aspirations in artistic creations and urban street activities. "1989," one commentator noted, "was the springtime of societies aspiring to be civil" (Ash, 1990, p. 147). Vaclav Havel, later president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, noted: "In November 1989, when thousands of printed and hand drawn posters expressing the real will of the citizens were hanging on the walls of our towns, we recognized what power is hidden in their art" (quoted in Smithsonian Institution, 1992, p. 25). 2 JOHN AGNEW ET AL. At least two lessons seem to emerge from the events captured by Rischar's image. One is that the last decade of the twentieth century was one of the most dramatic periods in the reordering of the world's political geography.Between 1945 and 1989, most political leaders and commentators around the world thought that the Cold War geopolitical divisions were more or less permanent. We now know better....
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