The Magic Lantern by Timothy Garton Ash

3 Points

1) The 1989 revolution in Poland was based on a desire for free elections. Strikes in shipyards led by Solidarity and negations carried out for the reformers by Lech Walesa were central to the reforms that took place. In Poland, the revolution worsened the economic situation because of the chaos and duration.

2) Hungary’s revolution was characterized by the funeral of Imre Nagy, a Hungarian communist leader who was killed in the 1956 uprising by the Soviets. Emotions released in 1989 were built up from 1956 but surprisingly did not result in much violence at all. The student led movement in Hungary contrasted the worker led movement in Poland motions released in 1989 were built up from 1956 but surprisingly did not result in much violence at all.

3) Czechoslovakia’s revolution inspired the title of the book because the brains of the revolution were in the Magic Lantern Theatre. The reformers working tirelessly in the theatre fed material to the protestors in Wenceslas Square. The revolution was started by students. Unlike Poland and Hungary, the revolution did not worsen the economy, mostly because it began and ended in less than a month.

2 Questions

1) At the end of the book, the authors considers the idea that the revolutions were inevitable due to history and geography. He shares his belief that this is false because of the people he witnessed. Which side do you support?

2) The author writes that no entirely new ideas were created therefore, these events were not really revolutions. Were these events revolutions?

1 Interesting Observation

1) Garton Ash notes the idea that democratic revolutions are almost always be carried out undemocratically. I believe this is true because setting up an entirely democratic government is a complicated process best carried out over time. Revolutions must have some speed to them otherwise they will be crushed or fall apart from the inside.

One thought on “The Magic Lantern by Timothy Garton Ash

  1. I like the observation you made about democratic revolutions and how the nature of revolutions prevent them from actually being democratic. The result of the revolution is democracy not the revolution itself.

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