Post-1989 Lessons: What Can We Learn from Yugoslavia for the Ecological-Economic Transition?

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The conversation on eco-socialist alternatives to the capitalist economy could learn from the post-socialist countries of Eastern Europe. After all, by rebelling against authoritarianism and impoverishment, various social movements in many of these countries radically challenged the prevailing system when they hit the streets at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. Although the resulting transition was catalyzed by neoliberal shock therapies and nurtured new forms of authoritarianism and pauperization, it is nonetheless remarkable that both the sense and the impetus for resistance and solidarity within the populations could not be suppressed. Moreover, rediscovering the legacies of the “communist” and socialist past, there are ambitious attempts (including among younger generations) at repurposing for the present potentially useful elements such as cooperativism and collectivism. What do confrontations with the economic-ecological complex look like in Eastern Europe today? What can we learn from the social movements in the region? At the “After Extractivism” conference workshop “Post-1989 Lessons” Ivana Dražić, Adriana Homolova, Holger Kral, Katarina Kušić, Zoran Pantelic, Christin Stühlen, and Mihajlo Vujasin looked for answers to these questions. At the heart of the resulting workshop project (available here) are audio flashes that describe concepts that played a role in socialist Yugoslavia and invite the listener to think about how they might be applied in the context of a just ecological transition. The audio flashes were recorded during the three-day workshop at the House of Democracy and Human Rights on October 15, 2022 and can be listened to by pressing the play button above.

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