The End of the Cold War: The Night the Masks Fell

This week we bring you the fifth in a series of six podcasts on the “Political Cultures of the European Union”. The series of thirteen events was organized by Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration and Director of the Center for International Relations at Boston University, as part of the Institute for Human Sciences European Commission sponsored project “Getting to Know the European Union: European Culture(s) in Focus.” The lectures explore the diversity of political perceptions and traditions among the citizens and member states of the European Union, addressing philosophical issues as well as empirical ones.

On November 17, 2009, Igor Lukes, Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University and an expert on the history of Central Europe in the 20th century, joined William Keylor, former Chairman of the Department of History at Boston University and Director of the International History Institute, to discuss the lead-up to and the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall ten years earlier.  Lukes and Keylor engaged in a dialogue regarding local actors and their role in the events of 1989. Lukes suggested that the West did not necessarily desire change and while the local actors may have wanted change, they did not have power to obtain it.  Instead, he argued, the communist leadership was the agent of change. Although Gorbachev’s reforms contributed to the destruction of communism, Lukes claimed this was not their intended purpose. Keylor responded to Lukes’ points but with a focus on the West’s reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall and on to broach the topic of German reunification.

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