Identities and civil society in Central Europe

Konstantinos J. Papadoulis: Political System and Public Policy Process within the European Union: a stable polity?
The most member-states’ traditional formulae for politics and public policy have been threatened by the superimposition of EU  institutional structures and processes on their own ones and by their societal interests loss of  access to decision-taking at national and supranational levels. It is important to note that these threats, damages and demotions of member states’ domestic politics and public policy processes are problem in cases where societal and national interests do not remain convinced that their governments, the Commission and the EU as a whole are representing them and on an equal manner at the national as well  as supranational level. This has the potential of becoming a very important destabilizing factor for national governments, the EU political integration „per se“ in cases where member states’national interests and constituencies feel disadvantaged  by EU politics and public policy. Unless the European polities and the EU per se make their citizens’ interests well- and equally-established within the EU governance, europeanization and/or integration process the overall political and public policy legitimacy of both the EU and the nation-state will be increasingly open to questions and euroscepticisms. The 25 member-states will have to consider how to increase the representativeness of EU political system and public policy processes.

János Simon: The Unfinished Post-communist Transition: Short Notes on the State of Postcommunist Transformations.
Trying to understand the changes taking place in the post-communist region, we must absolutely be familiar with the major matrixes of the transitions. In author’s view the political dimensions of post-communist transitions is composed of four great matrixes. The four matrixes of the post-communist transformation are as follows: 1) democratization of the political system (transition); 2) modernization of the economy; 3) social integration of the society; 4) national sovereignty of the country. In the post-communist region every collective action and activity, political process and the whole political life can only be understood through these dimensions. The different conflicts are products of some kind of combination of these four dimensions, and these four main dimensions determine the conditions and possibilities of resolving the conflicts. The author separated seven approaches, which are the followings: 1.the historical-cultural heritage approach; 2.the political culture approach; 3.the origin of the ancient regime approach; 4.the mode of change of political structure approach; 5.the role of actors (elites and masses); 6.the direction of changes approach; 7.the speed and depth of change approach.

Csaba Varga: Rule of Law, Or the Dilemma of an Ethos: to be Gardened or Mechanicised
Having contrasted two models for transition to rule of law after dictatorships have collapsed (the one standing for post World War Two transition and the other for post Communism one), differing understandings implied by the underlying issues—first, why and where to transit and, secondly, what ideal is meant exactly by the rule of law—are clarified. In the former model, re-education for democracy develops an own pattern through an organic process suitable to get integrated in social processes, while in the latter one, a recipe ready to take is going to be implemented. In cases of radical change, when the peak of the law is also shaken, dysfunctions may prevail by taking the lead for a rather long while. Drawing a parallel with mass global transfers of law ongoing worldwide these days, differing ideals—either of a circus trainer or of a gardener—are conceptualised. The author’s argument holds that preference shall be given to the latter one, in which the historically given particular conditions are respected within the overall ethos and ideal of the Rule of Law so that, without the pattern provider over-writing the needs of those to whom the pattern is provided, due adaptation, adjustment and re-conditioning can be successfully reached. Offering a case study, the example of Hungary is analysed in depth to show the sensitivity of relationship between American traditions, the German instance and the well documented Hungarian efforts (functions & dysfunctions) in becoming a disciple.

Ján Mišovič: Conflict and Cooperation: Attitudes towards Minorities in Czechia
Major changes are taking place in the whole of Europe. Until recently, they occurred in the economically more advanced countries, but now they cover almost all citizens of the continent. An “innovated” European Union is being constituted. Rapidly vanishing boundaries and a growing territorial mobility and immigration may arouse a feeling of imperilment among individuals. On the basis of an analysis of the results of a number of research studies on public opinion, which ascertained the public´s views on relations among nations and nationalities, the paper shows the processes in the Czech Republic and brings the international comparison. Sociological research shows repeatedly that the public opinion on a coexistence of the population majority and minorities is created primarily by media and, to a lesser extent, good personal experience. And so the media should bring more objective information in order to help constitute a more favourable atmosphere for good coexistence of the majority with various minority communities.

Wolfgang Berg: European Identity – Some Remarks
Whether there is a European identity is not an academic question only. With regard to EU it becomes obvious: The more decisions can be made by majorities, and financial means are redistributed, the more it is a question of legitimacy. People do accept politics by the “others” and in favour of “others” if these others belong somehow to the own group. To construct European identity, however, is not that easy. All substantialist approaches which explain what Europe is alike, must fail. As a value-bound institution EU is not exclusive, though values and objectives are important features of the self-image. To make sure that there is the feeling of belonging together, actually, knowledge about each other, communication and common experiences are crucial. But to become a European society, it needs even more: a transnational civil society which is built on various associations, networks, projects across the borders. Thus civic engagement leads to a demos which is more than an electorate in each member state, but a community of Europeans.

József N. Szabó: Hungarian French Higher Education and Scientific Relations  /1945-1948/
French-Hungarian higher educational and scientific connections were not disrupted even during the war. The majority of the Hungarian students studying in France were Jews, who decided to go to university in France because of the numerus clausus introduced in Hungary. The Hungarian Institute in Paris played an important role in propagating the results of Hungarian science, which were less known in the world because of the war. Another indication of good French-Hungarian connections was the granting of the honorary doctoral degree of the faculty of Arts of the University of Budapest The Hungarian cultural government repeatedly raised the issue of establishing a Department of Hungarian Philology in France. The draft cultural agreement, ready in June 1947, included provisions for the establishment of several college and university departments, and also intended to increase the number of foreign language departments with a Hungarian instructor. As negotiations about the agreement were protracted, on 11 July, 1947

Cem Karadeli: Civil Society under the Rule of János Kádár
There are discussions on the possibility that civil society existed under Kádár’s rule. The concept of the second society and that of political dissent in the Kádár era can be seen as a sign of the existence of civil society in Hungary. It is possible to claim that the Hungarian people were already practising some sort of non-governmental social organisation. The Kádárist social contract was based on the provision of a relatively better standard of living in exchange of political obedience, or rather depolitisation. The second society encompassed a combination of a second economy, second culture, second social consciousness, a second level of social networks which made up a monolithic whole. Some parts of the second society were indeed foundations for a post-communist Hungarian civil society, but it has a very different set of characteristics than the current Hungarian civil society.

David Furmann: Two Essays of the Timely of Common Mind
This first paper tries to find the relationship between the tocquevilleian mentality and the critical mind. The result of general changes of the world is totally new characteristic in our social-cultural life, which is very different from all of the former conditions of mankind: it is also about the liberty-equality question. It is more interesting in terms of the tyranny of majority-, we could call it the equalization of the different cultures and values. These offer new dimensions for the concept of the liberty, and surely it could become a lethal weapon against every kind of ethno-centrism. Our old categories are not useful in this situation. The second paper analyze the common mind of Vienna and Budapest: the culture and alienation in fin-de-siecle. The alienation might have been a common cultural inspiration on both sides of the Lajta at the turn of the century, but does not mean at all that it would have had a final and ever-lasting influence. In Vienna this was more homogenous, based on the encounter with big city life, while in Budapest it was more diverse.