Imitation and Its Discontents: Democratic Malaise in Post-Communist Europe

November 05, 2018
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm


About the event

The reasons for the failure of democracy to take hold in Russia and for its current backsliding in Central Europe are complex, but one important and often neglected factor is what Ivan Krastev (in a July 2018 article in the Journal of Democracy) has called “Imitation and Its Discontents.” Following the collapse of communism, the countries in the region faced both internal and external pressure to “imitate the West” by adopting many of its democratic institutions and norms. Despite the advantages this may have brought, it also has generated feelings of a loss of sovereignty and ushered in a period of growing malaise. As global authoritarian forces continue to rise, even the once seemingly consolidated democracies of Central Europe appear to be turning away from “Western” values of liberalism and embracing their own notion of “the real Europe.” Ivan Krastev analyzed this shift, explaining why illiberal and anti-Western sentiments continue to rise. He also discussed how democratic forces can respond to these vexing challenges.



Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies (Sofia)
Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna)


Moderated by

Marc F. Plattner, Coeditor, Journal of Democracy


about the speaker

Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Board of Trustees of The International Crisis Group, and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. In 2018-19, he holds the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress.  His latest books in English are After Europe (UPenn Press, May 2017); Democracy Disrupted: The Politics of Global Protest (UPenn Press, May 2014); In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don’t Trust Our Leaders? (TED Books, 2013). He is a co-author with Stephen Holmes of The Light that Failed (Penguin), a forthcoming book on the perils of the politics of imitation.


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