Nine years after the domino-like collapse of East Central Europe's Communist regimes, the near-unanimity of the conclusion, in retrospect, that the collapse was inevitable stands in stark contrast to the failure of nearly all observers and participants to anticipate it (or at least to say so publicly) at the time. In looking back at the year preceding the collapse, the nagging question that still presents itself is why practically no one saw the “unavoidable” coming. Phrased more positively, it may prove instructive to ask what evidence was available to external observers, to eastern elites, and to ordinary citizens that should have alerted us or them to the impending catalysm.

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