The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe

Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher Kings
ISBN: 
978-963-9241-38-1
cloth
Out of Print
ISBN: 
978-963-9241-39-8
paperback
Out of Print
Publication date: 
2003
500 pages


*Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2003* 


Choice, the magazine of the American Library Association has selected The Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe by Barbara J. Falk as a 2003 Outstanding Academic Title 

Discusses one of the major currents leading to the fall of communism. Falk examines the intellectual dissident movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary from the late 1960s through to 1989. In spite of its historic significance, no other comprehensive survey has appeared on the subject.

In addition to the huge list of written sources from samizdat works to recent essays, Falk`s sources include interviews with many personalities of those events as well as videos and films (including Oscar winners).

The author passionately argues that the intellectuals and dissident writers of the region not only contributed mightily to the events themselves, but also collectively bequeathed to the world an oeuvre that constitutes one of the most original, important and useful contributions to political theory today.

Although indeed classified as political theory, The dilemmas of dissidence provides exciting narrative account of the development of thoughts and actions of those brave intellectuals in the dreary Warsaw, Prague and Budapest of yesteryear.

Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1

Section 1

Chapter 2 POLAND: THE HARBINGER OF CRISIS AND COLLAPSE

Intellectual Opposition in Poland: 1956–1965
The Catholic Church in Poland
The Students’ Protest: March, 1968
The Workers’ Protest: Gdask, 1970
The Events of June, 1976: Radom, Ursus, and Beyond
Komitet Obrony Robotników (KOR): The Workers’ Defense Committee
The Alternative Civil Society?
Towarzystwo Kursów Naukowych (TKN): The Flying University
The Pope’s Visit, 1979
Solidarity (Solidarno)
Intellectuals within Solidarity
Martial Law and its Aftermath
Solidarity Underground
Re-Legalization, the Roundtable Talks (RT), and Free Elections

Chapter 3 CZECHOSLOVAKIA: FROM INTERRUPTED TO VELVET REVOLUTION

Czechoslovak Stalinism and the Role of Intellectuals
The Economic Crisis of the 1960s
Proposals for Economic Reform
The Writers’ Union and the Cultural Renaissance of the 1960s
The Student/Youth Movements and Strahov
The Prague Spring
The Action Program and Soviet Response
Independent Currents: The Untimely Rebirth of Civil Society
ierna nad Tisou
Crisis: Soviet Mobilization and the Moscow Protocols
Normalization
The Underground Music Scene and the Trial of the PPU
The Helsinki Accords and Charter 77
viii

Výbor na Obranu Nespravedlivě Stihaných (VONS)
The “Underground University”
Samizdat Publishing and Distribution
Repression and Resistance in the Czech Lands and Slovakia in the 1980s
The Underground Church in Slovakia
The Tide Turns: “Just a Few Sentences”
The GDR Exodus and the Fall of the Wall
November 17 and the Birth of Civic Forum and Public against Violence
Havel na Hrad
The New Year’s Address and the Consolidation of Democracy

Chapter 4 POST-1956 HUNGARY: REPRESSION, REFORM, AND ROUNDTABLE REVOLUTION

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956: Lessons and Legacies
Kádárite Communism
The Politics of Economic Reform: The NEM
Socialist Redistribution and the Second Economy
Intellectuals: On the Road to Class Power?
The Budapest School
“Populist” vs. “Democratic” Dissent
Beszél and Hungarian Samizdat
Toward an Alliance: The Bibó Festschrift and Monor
Lakitelek
Intra-party and Election Reform
The Rebirth of Civil Society
Ellenzéki Kerekasztal (EKA) and the “Pacted Transition”
The “Four Yeses” Referendum
June 16, 1989: The Reburial of Imre Nagy

Section 2

Chapter 5 Intellectuals in Poland: The Tradition Continues

Leszek Koakowski: A Source of Hope amidst Hopelessness
Adam Michnik’s Alliance Strategy: The Church and the Left
“A New Evolutionism”
Non-violence as Theory and Practice
Kuro: A Bridge between Generations
Theorizing Civil Society: The Polish Case

Chapter 6 OPPOSITION INTELLECTUALS IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

Václav Havel’s Theatre of the Absurd
ix
The Evolution of “Living in Truth”: Its Meaning and Consequences
From Playwright to Dissident in Husák’s Czechoslovakia
Theorizing Resistance: “The Power of the Powerless”
“Politics and Conscience” and the Destructive Capacities of Technology
Largo Desolato, Temptation, and the Vank Plays
Letters to Olga: “Being” and the “Absolute”
The Decisive Influence of Jan Patoka
Václav Benda’s “Parallel Polis”
The Collective Oeuvre of the Chartists
Theorizing Civil Society: The Czechoslovak Example

Chapter 7 THE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION IN HUNGARY

The Philosophical Legacy of György Lukács
The Influence of István Bibó
Kis and Bence: Toward an East European Marxism?
The Social Contract of Beszél and “Radical Reformism”
Kis’ Democratic Alternative
Miklós Haraszti: The Nature of Repression for Workers and Artists
Theorizing Civil Society: Konrád’s Antipolitics

Section 3

Chapter 8 THE DISSIDENT CONTRIBUTION TO POLITICAL THEORY

Defining the Problem: Civil Society and the Shifting Boundaries of Public and Private
Toward a Reconstituted Public Sphere: Central European and Western Intersections in Theorizing Civil Society
Reappraising Civil Society: Feminist Critiques
Political Economy as Critique: The Dissidents Meets the Market
Dissident Thought as Reconstructed Liberalism
Political Theory Engages with Dissident Theory
Marginalization or Public Engagement: The Role of Central European Intellectuals in the Post-Communist Era

Bibliography

Personal Interviews
Skilling Seminar, Toronto
Filmography/Videography

Notes

Index

"There are three strands to Barbara Falk's fascinating new book: first, charting dissident acitvity in east-central Europe during the Communist period; secondly providing an account of the relationship and interaction between dissident intellectuals and the societies in which they lived; and third, to convince the reader that dissidents in the region should be accorded a place in the pantheon of political thinkers. ... she is to be commended for highlighting both the importance of links between groups in different countries and the impact events elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc had on dissident activity."
"... a truly indispensable book. ...The examinations of each thinker-politician are well done and will do much to anchor their ideas in the repertoire of the student of contemporary European history. ...The influence of East-European dissent should not be underestimated and we should be grateful to Falk for making this case."
"Studie Barbary Falkové je prvním knižne vydaným pokusem o pohled na dejiny a politické myšlení disentu trí zemí východní Evropy: Polska, Ceskoslovenska a Madarska... tvorí diskuse s Ralfem Dahrendorfem, jeho žákem Timothy Gartonem Ashem a dalšími, kterí disidentskému myšlenkovému okruhu nepriznávají žádný význacný prínos pro politickou teorii... Kniha je záslužná a prípadným "lokálním" autorum nasazuje latku pomerne vysoko."
"Unlike other studies in this field of political science, Barbara Falk takes dissident ideas seriously and shows their power and force in a particular ideological, social and political context. She is also interested in what happened after those often highly speculative and abstract ideas were put into circulation inside and outside the dissident groups. She also addressed the problem of the limited impact of these ideas on political developments in Central Europe after the 1989 revolutionary changes. The study is informative, balanced in its descriptive parts, and provides an original insight into the role of dissidents as committed public intellectuals. It is well researced and includes a remarkable number of details."
"Falk's approach runs against the grain of contemporary postmodern analysis, which privileges the text itself over other sources. Instead she tries to strongly contextualize the emergence of new modes of thought in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, following the kind of path-dependent approach that has been so fruitful to understanding democratic transition and social change in the region... This book deserves a broad readership. Political theorists will benefit from Falk's tour of the accomplishments of the writers of the region."