In the introduction to this book I proposed to discuss socialism and tele vi-
sion as win dows into each other. When one makes such ambitious claims
at the beginning of a large research proj ect, they are often understood to be
at least somewhat intuitive and speculative. My original research agenda,
which certainly had intuitive roots, grew out of a twofold dissatisfaction.
Like many other postsocialist subjects, I was first puzzled by and then
became increasingly frustrated with the way the history of socialism was
dismissed and generally forgotten in the victorious post– Cold War lan-
guage of democracy and the free market. This forgetting not only dele-
gitimized the memories of those whose identities were shaped under a
socialist system but also severely reduced the flexibility around the inter-
pretive frameworks that would make sense of the postsocialist transfor-
mations following 1989. To put it bluntly, one’s choices have been limited
to denouncing socialism and embracing the princi ples of entrepreneurial
democracy or wallowing in nostalgia for a world system that proved it-
self unviable. For someone like me, whose coming- of-age coincided with
the end of the Cold War and who has had firsthand experience with both
socialist authoritarian and free- market cap i tal ist socie ties, these choices
seemed severely inadequate. They oversimplified socialism and left little
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