Slavenka Drakulic at Eurozine:
I did survive communism and even laughed. But I've stopped laughing many times since. First of all, of course, because in the former Yugoslavia, the collapse of the old system brought wars. What used to be our advantage over the countries in the Soviet block, a kind of “soft totalitarianism”, turned out to be a disadvantage. It meant that there was no democratic political opposition, except nationalists, ready to take over after the collapse of communism.
Elsewhere in eastern Europe, many people stopped laughing simply because post-communism turned out to be something other than what they had dreamed. It depends on the country, of course – Poland can't be compared to Albania – but many people in eastern Europe have found themselves in a situation of growing poverty and insecurity. While poverty was nothing new, the growing gap between rich and poor was. Our world today might look like a supermarket full of goodies, but most of us are left looking through the shop window.