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A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Vol II, Part II: Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Short Twentieth Century’ and Beyond, 1968-2018

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Vol II, Part II: Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Short Twentieth Century’ and Beyond, 1968-2018
Editor(s): Balázs Trencsenyi, Michal Kopeček, Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič, Maria Falina, Mónika Baár
Publisher: Oxford University Press (2018)
Language: English

This book has been a product of the research under the “Negotiating Modernity” project supported by the European Research Council and hosted by the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia.

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume II: Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Short Twentieth Century’ and Beyond, Part II: 1968-2018

A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe is a synthetic work, authored by an international team of researchers, covering twenty national cultures and 250 years. It goes beyond the conventional nation-centered narratives and presents a novel vision especially sensitive to the cross-cultural entanglement of political ideas and discourses. Its principal aim is to make these cultures available for the global ‘market of ideas’ and revisit some of the basic assumptions about the history of modern political thought, and modernity as such.

The present volume is the final part of the project, following Volume I: Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Long Nineteenth Century’, and Volume II, Part I: Negotiating Modernity in the ‘Short Twentieth Century’ (1918-1968) (OUP, 2018). Its starting point is the defeat of the vision of ‘socialism with a human face’ in 1968 and the political discourses produced by the various ‘consolidation’ or ‘normalization’ regimes. It continues with mapping the exile communities’ and domestic dissidents’ critical engagement with the local democratic and anti-democratic traditions as well as with global trends. Rather than achieving the coveted ‘end of history’, however, the liberal democratic order created in East Central Europe after 1989 became increasingly contested from left and right alike. Thus, instead of a comfortable conclusion pointing to the European integration of most of these countries, the book closes with a reflection on the fragility of democracy in this part of the world and beyond.

Table of Contents

Authors’ Note
11: Late State Socialism: Consolidation, Legitimization, and Reform from Above
11.1: The raison d’état of ‘really existing socialism’
11.2: National communism: Liberalization or neo-Stalinism?
11.3: The dilemmas of perestroika reformism
12: Political Thought in Exile
12.1: Ideological, generational, and institutional cleavages
12.2: The intellectual battle with communism
13: Dissidents and Opposition Movements
13.1: The emergence of dissident discourses and subcultures
13.2: Dialogue and empowerment
13.3: The identity politics of the dissidents
13.4: Toward a self-limiting revolution

PART III: Farewell to Modernity? Thinking Politics After the’ End of History’

14: Velvet Revolutions and the Thorny Paths of Transition
14.1: Visions of democratic transformation
14.2: The ambiguities of the ‘liberal consensus’
14.3: Coming to terms with the past
14.4: Church, religion, and democracy
15: ‘Rebuilding the Boat on the Open Sea’
15.1: The dilemmas of state-building and constitutional reforms
15.2: The specter of ethnopopulism
15.3: Modes of coexistence
16: In Search of a New Ideology
16.1: The ‘culture wars’ of the 2000s
16.2: Radicalizing democracy
16.3: Centers and peripheries

An interview with Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček on the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog

Reviews and Awards

“The History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe is a brilliant book. It combines the intellectual history of Central East Europe with the regions political, sociological, and legal past for the first time. It is based on a very deep knowledge of the individual development of the various nations of East Central Europe and brings them together in a new, original, and innovative synthesis.” Martin Schulze Wessel, Professor of Eastern European History, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich

“An ambitious collective endeavor by leading scholars of the post-1989 generation to revisit the key issues and rediscover the leading figures shaping the main currents of political thought in twentieth-century East-Central Europe. Its major contribution lies precisely in the transnational approach to the subject, providing a complex historical narrative and original insights into the political cultures of the region and their lasting relevance. Required reading for those who want to understand the intellectual background to the main political trends coming from East Central Europe today.” Jacques Rupnik, Director of Research, Sciences Po, Paris

“Together these volumes constitute an extremely valuable and up-to-date treatment of political thought in East Central Europe, a region that now plays an outsized role in the broader zeitgeist. Covering the crucial period from 1968 to the present, this last volume comes at an auspicious time. It is a must-read not only for field specialists, but for any thinking individual seeking to understand our contemporary moment.” Holly Case, Associate Professor of History, Brown University