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How We Survived Communism Paper

How We Survived Communism Paper - Jim Stanley Prof...

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Jim Stanley Prof. Youngblood HIST 114 December 7, 2009 Slavenka Drakulic’s Presentation of Politics & Ideology How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed , written in the early 1990’s by Slavenka Drakulic provides powerful insight into the effects of communism thought a series of short stories describing everyday life in Eastern Europe. Drakulic is a prominent feminist author from Croatia, and while many of the anecdotes in the book are about Eastern European life in general, there are also a number that focus specifically on communism’s effect on women. Drakulic differs from many other writers who attempt to describe the effects of communism in that she focuses not on the “big picture”, but rather how individual people are affected by the system. While Drakulic reserves her strongest criticism for the communist regime she lived under, she also remarks on the problems facing the West as a result of more liberal economic policies. The book begins with a recollection of one of Drakulic’s friends named Tajna, who committed suicide after her lover died, and she was sanctioned by her bosses for writing a satirical article about nationalization. The book continues on to describe the serious shortages of consumer goods facing the people of Eastern Europe. From fresh fruit to makeup to laundry detergent it seemed like everything was scarce in a communist system. Drakulic then talks about the fall of the Berlin Wall, and how there has been a rush to both commercialize and repress the legacy of communism. The author goes on to describe “status symbols” such as toilet paper, washing machines, and dolls, how they
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became important, and people’s coping mechanisms for adapting the lack of what many westerners consider basic necessities. The next few chapters deal with the surveillance and lack of privacy that was common in East European cultures. From there, Drakulic criticizes what she sees as the problems with Western society such as homelessness and a general misunderstanding of communism and East European culture.
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