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Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market by Janine Wedel

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CHAPTER THREE

Flex Power in the Wild East

I MIGHT NEVER HAVE COME UP WITH THE NOTION OF FLEXIANS IF I hadn’t met the woman I came to call Mama. Mama headed the family I lived with in Warsaw beginning in early 1982. Mama was by no means a flexian herself, but through her dexterous self-presentations and shrewd ability to get the best out of her interlocutors—from sales clerks to the secret police—she gave me the first inklings of flex activity.

As a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, I was lucky to win a Fulbright fellowship to study Polish society at a time when the Solidarity movement was making headlines ...

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