Frontier Metamorphoses: Americanization and Otherness
Plamen S. Tzvetkov (New Bulgarian University, Sofia)
The Wall That Fell Down Flat: Some Political Habits in Southern Europe before and after 1989
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 revealed, among other things, that the division line in Europe is between North and South rather than between West and East. Communism turned out to have had a superficial effect on deeply rooted mentalities, and cultural and civilizational traditions. The Iberian Peninsula, Southern Italy and the Balkans were a contact zone between Islam and Christianity with the ensuing system of religious institutions as an integral part of the state and administrative structure, which was combined with supreme state ownership of land. Back in the Middle Ages and up to Modern Times personal wealth in this area depended on the position in the state and administrative hierarchy while in Western and Northern Europe a particular person's influence on society and state resulted from that person's individual wealth.
These traditions seem to have a strong impact on the way political affairs are conducted in Southern Europe. The Balkan countries that had had the misfortune to be under communist rule returned quite quickly to their pre-World War II habits. Moreover, the very alternation of political forces in power offers a number of similarities between Italy and France, on the one hand, and Rumania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, on the other.