All political communities need concepts of enemies to consolidate their unity. Postwar European communism, culminating in its Stalinist form, developed a particularly radical narrative of enmity. Questioning the established concept of communist ideology as a static doctrine, this talk seeks to unravel the transformative nature of the communist depictions of enemies during the postwar era: Imperialists, Revisionists, Dogmatists, Sectarians, Zionists—all these concepts were exposed to perpetual reinterpretations, particularly after 1956. The overarching question we should pose to European history in this period is how diverse enmity narratives continued to both compete and coexist throughout the ensuing political upheavals of the time.
Pavel Kolář is Professor of East European History at the University of Konstanz, Germany. His latest publications include Der Poststalinismus. Ideologie und Utopie einer Epoche (2016) and What Was Normalisation? Essays on Late Socialism (2016, co-authored with Michal Pullmann, in Czech). He is currently finishing a book project on the politics of capital punishment in state socialism.