The Final Revolution

The Final Revolution : Resistance Church and the Collapse of Communism

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The collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe--the Revolution of 1989--was a singularly stunning event in a century already known for the unexpected. How did people divided for two generations by an Iron Curtain come so suddenly to dance together atop the Berlin Wall? Why did people who had once seemed resigned to their fate suddenly take their future into their own hands? Some analysts have explained the Revolution in economic terms, arguing that the Warsaw Pact countries could no longer compete with the West. But as George Weigel argues in this thought-provoking volume, people don't put their lives, and their children's futures, in harm's way simply for better cars, refrigerators, and TVs. Something else--something more--had to happen behind the iron curtain before the Wall came tumbling down. In The Final Revolution, Weigel argues that that "something" was a revolution of conscience. The human turn to the good, to the truly human, and, ultimately, to God, was the key to the political Revolution of 1989. Weigel provides an in-depth exploration of how the Catholic Church shaped the moral revolution inside the political revolution. Drawing on extensive interviews with key leaders of the human rights and resistance movements, he opens a unique window into the soul of the Revolution and into the hearts and minds of those who shaped this stirring vindication of the human spirit. Weigel also examines the central role played by Pope John Paul II in confronting what Vaclav Havel called communism's "culture of the lie," and he suggests what the future role of the Church might be in consolidating democracy in the countries of the old Warsaw Pact. The "final revolution" is not the end of history, Weigel concludes. It is the human quest for a freedom that truly satisfies the deepest yearnings of the human heart. The Final Revolution illustrates how that quest changed the face of the twentieth century and redefined world politics in the year of miracles, 1989."show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 271 pages
  • 152.4 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 14 pp halftones
  • 0195071603
  • 9780195071603

Review quote

"George Weigel's analysis of the 1989 revolution in Central and Eastern Europe offers evidence that it was the power of nonviolent force and citizens' conscience, not the guns and bombs of warfare, that ended Sovietism."show more

About George Wiegel

About the Author: George Weigel is President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington DC. A graduate of St. Mary's Seminary and University of Baltimore and the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto, he is the author of editor of twelve books on religion and public life, and is in frequent demand as a lecturer, columnist, and media commentator on American politics, foreign policy, and Catholic affairs.show more

Review Text

A persuasive argument that the "Revolution of 1989" that brought freedom to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was, at bottom, a "revolution of the spirit." According to Weigel (president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.), customary explanations for the collapse of the Iron Curtain fall short. Gorbachev was no more than a reform Communist who never abandoned his faith in Marxist-Leninism. Nor do economic, political, or historical forces explain the cataclysm. The key player, says Weigel - echoing Lech Walesa's analysis - was Pope John Paul II; the fall of Communism really began in June 1979, during the first papal visit to Poland ("a moral, even spiritual earthquake"); moreover, the '89 revolution was part of what Weigel calls "the final revolution": the turning of humans to "the good, to the truly human - and, ultimately, to God." Detailing the moral degradation of Communism, Weigel argues that it is, at bottom, a sort of monstrous, upside-down religion - and that, as such, its main enemy has always been the Church. The disagreement, Weigel suggests as he traces the history of Church/Communist antagonism, is as basic as can be: While Marxist-Leninism sees people as pawns of history, Christianity proclaims the absolute dignity of the individual. During the earlier years of John Paul II's pontificate, the Church promoted its view energetically. The effort bore fruit in 1989, says Wiegel, when the revolutionary tradition of Jefferson and Madison triumphed over that of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin, restoring "the natural rhythms of history and society." And what of the future? Drawing from the writings of John Paul II and Vaclav Havel, Weigel maintains that society henceforth must be based on metaphysical truths about "the transcendent destiny of human life." God is on our side, updated. And maybe this time God is; Weigel, at least, is convinced, stating that "the Lord of history - the Lord of the final revolution, if you will - is still capable of surprises." (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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13 ratings
4.46 out of 5 stars
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4 38% (5)
3 8% (1)
2 0% (0)
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