Intellectuals and Politics in Central Europe

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Out of print
Publication date: 
248 pages

Discussing the role of intellectuals in the political transition of the late 1980s and early 1990s and their participation in the political life of the new democracies of Central Europe, this book presents original essays from authors who discuss the eight countries in the region.

In the Introduction, the editor gives a historical overview of the tradition of the political involvement of intellectuals in these countries, especially in the nineteenth century. The chapters which follow describe the typical political and social attitude of Central European intellectuals, including writers, poets, artists, and scientists. A unique feature of the book is that it deals not only with the role of intellectuals in the preparation of the peaceful revolutions in the individual countries, but also critically analyzes their role in the transition and their behavior in the emerging democracies.

The most striking phenomenon, common to all the countries studied, is the disillusionment of intellectuals and their disappointment in the years following the transition, a period when the role of prophet should be replaced by that of politician for those who have chosen to stay in politics. This phenomenon has, in general, been much less subjected to systematic study than the role of intellectuals in the changes themselves.


Part 1: Exits from communism: the strategies of intellectuals

1.   Helena Flam: Dissenting Intellectuals and Plain Dissenters: The Polish and East German Case
2.   Irina Culic: The Strategies of Intellectuals: Romania under Communist Rule in Comparative Perspective
3.   Alina Mungiu-Pippidi: Romanian Political Intellectuals before and after the Revolution
4.   Ivan Bernik: From Imagined to Real Existing Democracy: Intellectuals in Slovenia
5.   Nenad Dimitrijevic: Words and Death: Serbian Nationalist Intellectuals

Part 2: Politics of identity: political intellectuals in the new democracy

6.   Marian Kempny: Between Tradition and Politics: The Intellectuals after Communism
7.   Bill Lomax: The Inegalitarian Nature of Hungary's Intellectual Political Culture
8.   Aviezer Tucker: Politics of Conviction: The Rise and Fall of Czech Intellectual-Politicians
9.   Edward Snajdr: Green Intellectuals in Slovakia

Part 3: The rhetoric of action: the power and poverty of critical intellectuals

10.  András Körösényi: Intellectuals and Democracy: The Political Thinking of the Intellectuals
11.  József Böröcz: Reaction as Progress: Economists as Intellectuals
12.  András Bozóki: The Rhetoric of Action: The Language of the Regime Change in Hungary

List of Contributors