The twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall should have been a time for reflection. It has become a cliché to emphasize the “miraculous” nature of the fall of the Wall: it was like a dream come true. With the disintegration of the Communist regimes, which collapsed like a house of cards, something unimaginable happened, something one would not have considered possible even a couple of months earlier. Who in Poland could have imagined the arrival of free elections, or Lech Wałęsa as president? We should, however, note that an even greater “miracle” was to occur only a few years later: namely, the return of the ex-Communists to power through free democratic elections, and the total marginalization of Wałęsa who had become even more unpopular than the man who, a decade and a half earlier, had attempted to crush Solidarność in a military coup—General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
The standard explanation for this later reversal evokes the “immature” utopian expectations of the majority, whose desire was deemed contradictory, or, rather, inconsistent. The people wanted to have their cake and eat it: they wanted capitalist-democratic freedom and material abundance but without paying the full price of life in a “risk society”; that is, without losing the security and stability once (more or less) guaranteed by the Communist regimes. As sarcastic Western commentators duly noted, the noble struggle for freedom and justice turned out to be little more than a craving for bananas and pornography.
– Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times