Conservative Ideology in the Making

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268 pages + 24 with black and white photos

The fifty years or so preceding the watershed of 1848–49 witnessed the emergence of liberal nationalism in Hungary, along with a transmutation of conservatism which appeared then as a party and an ideological system in the political arena. The specific features of the conservatism, combining the protection of the status quo with some reform measures, its strategic vision, conceptual system, argumentation, assessment criteria and values require an in depth exploration and analysis.

Different conservative groups were in the background or in opposition from 1848 to 1918, while in the period between the two World Wars, they constituted the overwhelming majority of ruling parties. During the one-party system, from 1949 to 1989, the liberals and conservatives—like all other political groups—were illegal, a status from which they could later emerge upon the change of the political system.

The inheritance of the autocratic system frozen up and undigested by the one-party state was thawed after the peaceful regime change, the constitutional revolution and its discrete components began to be reactivated, including the enemy images of earlier discourses. "Liberal” and “conservative” had become state-party stigmas in line with fascist, reactionary, rightist, and bourgeois. In reaction to that, at first conservative then liberal, intellectual fashions and renascences unfolded in the 1980s. The attempts by liberal and conservative advocates to find predecessors did not favor an objective approach.

The first step toward objectivity is establishing distance from the different kinds of enemy images and their political idioms. This is a pressing need because, although several pioneering works have appeared on different variants of the Hungarian liberalisms and conservatisms, there are no serious unbiased syntheses. This work is urgent because the political poles of the constitutional revolution and the ensuing period have up till now been described in terms of different conspiracy theories. 

Modernity and Identity
Liberalisms and Conservatisms
Images of the Enemy
Its Definition and Types
Hungarian Conservatives: Context and Dilemmas
Liberal Challenge: Nation-Building through Reforms
Conservative Answer: Law, Order, and Stability
What to Preserve, What to Give Up, and What to Modernize? (1839–1842)
The Figure of the Founding Father
The Overture to Cautious Progress: The Memorandum
The First Liberal–Conservative Press Debate
Order-Based Modernity
Separation vs. Unification (1842–1843)
Conservative Reform
The Magyar Nation and the Non-Magyar Nationalities
Us and Them: Aristocracy vs. Democracy
Law and Order: Which Kind? (1843–1844)
What is to be Done with the Counties?
Conservative Arguments against the Juries
The Dietal Weight of the Cities
Failure of the Diet: Their Interpretations
Journalists’ Offensive: Issues and Arguments (1845–1847)
Western Models and Hungarian Conditions
Toleration: Its Guarantees
Aristocracy, Nation, and Empire
Two Liberal Interpretations
Programs (1846–1847)
The Program of the Conservatives
The Opposition Program
The Differences
Conservative Politics in Defense (1847–1848)
The Immediate Precedent
Conservative Positions and Arguments
The Defeat of the Conservatives
Myth in the Making
The Conservatives in 1848/49
In Opposition
“Outcasts” of the Ausgleich
The Process of Mythmaking
Symbolic Link between Three Types of Conservatives (1927)
Conservative Master Narrative (1920, 1933)
Metamorphoses Narrationis (1942, 1947)
The Constant Core (1913–1955)
The Ethnicist Re-Reading of the Master Narrative (1939)
Competing Visions of National History

Primary Sources and Literature