Was our life better during communism?

December 13, 2019

30 years since the fall of communism

On November 10th 2019, the Central and Eastern European countries commemorated 30 years since in 1989, the year of miracles, which marked the fall of a system that tore Eastern and Western Europe apart. Looking back at those times across the past decades, the countries of the former Eastern bloc have come a long way. And even though there is still a lot to learn, the struggle of the early years of transition is already past, so now we can remember those days with a smile.

We at Sofia Platform decided to celebrate 30 years since the beginning of the democratic transition in a different and humorous way – through a stand-up comedy show dedicated to the end of communism and the turbulent 90s that followed. The stand-up comedians shared their personal stories from those times. The place was crowded and people of different ages had gathered together in a Sofia club called ‘The Book’ to hear a different perspective on everyday life during communism.

Was our life better during communism?

The aim of the event was to give an answer to this question by presenting the comedians’ personal experience with the final years of communism and the beginning of transition without expressing firm opinions on stage. Those personal stories provided the audience with the opportunity to judge for themselves whether life during communism was in general better than the life we lead now. We are really grateful to the ‘Inside joke stand-up comedy’ team, through whose performance we both learned and laughed.

The personal story as an important perspective

Personal stories are a great way to learn more about given historical eras. Personal stories share examples of how ideology affects the daily life of ordinary citizens. In our case, by sharing their personal experiences from the final years of communism and their life now, the comedians made a comparison between the two periods and let the audience draw their own conclusions. Our experience with students shows that this approach works best with them, since it teaches them how to assess a situation through critical thinking rather than imposing the teacher’s opinion on them. Instead, it lets them form their own opinions, which is one of the most valuable lessons one should learn at school.