30 Years On From The Velvet Revolutions: time for a new liberation?

Hosted by The Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, Department of International Development

Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building


Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash

Professor of European Studies, Oxford University

Mary Kaldor

Mary Kaldor

Director of the Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, LSE

George Lawson

George Lawson

Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, LSE


Mick Cox

Mick Cox

Director of LSE IDEAS

In a new edition of his book The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Berlin, Timothy Garton Ash reflects on witnessing these events and explores the long term consequences of the revolutions and subsequent transitions since revisiting all these countries. What went right? More pressingly: What went wrong?

This discussion will bring together scholars in the field who will each bring their expertise on the revolutions of ’89, and their impact on today’s Europe. The peculiar character of populism in post-communist Europe will be explored, and also the considerable forces of resistance to it.

30 years ago, communist rule ended across central Europe in a dramatic series of events ranging from Solidarity's election triumph in Poland on June 4, 1989, through the ceremonial reburial of Imre Nagy in Budapest (with a fiery young student leader called Viktor Orbán demanding the withdrawal of all Soviet troops), to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

Today, Orbán is presiding over the systematic dismantling of democracy in Hungary, the Law and Justice Party in Poland is trying to follow his example, the prime minister of the Czech Republic is an oligarch and former secret police informer, while a xenophobic populist party, the AfD, is flourishing in the former East Germany.

There will be copies of the The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Berlin on sale after the event.

Speaker biographies

Timothy Garton Ash (@fromTGA) is Professor of European Studies, Oxford University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford. He is the author of ten books of contemporary history, including The File: A Personal History, History of the Present, In Europe's Name: Germany and the Divided Continent, and, most recently, Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. His commentaries appear regularly in the Guardian, and are widely syndicated.

Mary Kaldor (@LSE_CCS) is Director of The Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit at LSE and Professor of Global Governance. Professor Kaldor pioneered the concept of new wars and global civil society and her work on the practical implementation of human security has directly influenced European and national politics.

George Lawson (@GeorgeLawsonIR) is Associate Professor of International Relations at LSE. His most recent book is Anatomies of Revolution.

Michael Cox (@lseideas) is Director of LSE IDEAS and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at LSE.

This event is hosted by The Conflict and Civil Society Unit (@LSE_CCS). Building on the work of the Civil Society and Human Security unit, the team was renamed in 2017 to reflect the changing focus of the research being undertaken. The core concern of the unit remains the desire to better understand the ways in which ordinary people seek to shape the decisions that affect their lives, with a particular focus on those experiencing conflict, prolonged violence, or war.

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend that if you plan to attend this event you check back on this listing on the day of the event.

Whilst we are hosting this listing, LSE Events does not take responsibility for the running and administration of this event. While we take responsible measures to ensure that accurate information is given here (for instance by checking that the room has been booked) this event is ultimately the responsibility of the organisation presenting the event.

How can I attend? Add to calendar

This event is free and open to all so please just book yourself a place through Eventbrite. For any queries please contact Amy Crinnion on or call +44 (0)20 7955 6419


LSE Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit LSE_CCS

What impact did the dramatic revolutions of 1989 have on today’s shifting #European landscape? Join us for a discus……

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