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Authors Archives: Matthew Killingsworth

Matt Killingsworth is a lecturer in international relations in the School of Government at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

Civil Society in Communist Eastern Europe: Opposition and Dissent in Totalitarian Regimes

Civil Society
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As well as promoting debates about liberal democracy, the dramatic events of 1989 also bought forth a powerful revival in the interest of the notion of civil society. This revival was reflected mainly in two broad tracts of literature. The first was primarily focused on the events surrounding the Solidarity movement in Poland and the tumultuous events of 1980-81. The second was concerned with the ‘Velvet Revolutions’ more broadly. Following the events of 1989, there appeared a number of works sharing the common central argument that civil society played a key role in the overthrow of these Communist regimes in 1989. Challenging the centrally accepted wisdom that dissent in totalitarian regimes was representative of civil society, Civil Society and Communism posits the argument that the totalitarian public sphere, a new theoretical typology, presents a more robust and rigorous way by which to understand dissent and opposition in totalitarian Czechoslovakia, Poland and the GDR.