Civil society in Central Europe

Andrzej K. Koźmiński: Economic Patriotism
The article deals with the notion of economic patriotism from Polish perspective. It dwells into the links between economy and patriotism in Polish sociological and economic literature and political texts in the 19th and 20th centuries. Public opinion surveys are quoted to document key “patriotic” demands addressed to contemporary economic agents. The notion of competitive advantage is used to address pragmatic question whether and what way national interest can play an active role in economic policy choices. The economic nationalism (especially in its traditional form shaped in the period separating the two World Wars) is today regarded as a harmful anachronism, most of all, due to the fact that in view of the ongoing economic integration and globalisation, there is no chance for its implementation. All attempts of economic discrimination or protectionism may only bring about radically negative consequences.

Jody Jensen and Ferenc Miszlivetz: Expanding Horizons: The Concept of Civil Society before and after 1989
From the mid-1990s there has been a sudden explosion in the understanding and interpretation of the role of ”civil society” in democracy, democratization and development.  The confusion, however, about the meaning of the notion has not only grown but has contributed to the abuse of the concept by players (mostly authorities, governments, transnational organizations and politicians) in whose interest it is to keep the politically correct discourse moving ahead creating the impression of openness and readiness for change; but whose interest de facto lies somewhere else. The language of civil society has become a crucial determinant of the game of ”Who Speaks to Whom?” In author’s definition, civil society is the terrain of self-reflection, self-articulation and autonomy which inherently presupposes and necessitates a self-organizing public arena, where the critique, the control and containment of existing and prevailing power-monopolies can be practiced. Critical discourse is the key to the survival of the meaning of civil society. The authors were able to differentiate according to the user’s attitude quite a few languages of civil society. Some of the most outstanding are: Innovative; Patronizing radical; Global enthusiasts; Civil society fakers: Practical practitioners.

Máté Szabó: New Tendencies of the Extreme Right in Hungary in the New Millennium
The democratization of Communist regimes in Europe 20 years ago produced a more and less stable political system with pluralist character, rule of law, constitutionalism. However the pre-communist tradition of these countries was infected by fascism and anti-Semitism and other anti-democratic and anti-liberal ideas and political movements. These traditions of non-democratic political thought and culture were also part of the repertoire used by the new populist politics after transition. Our aim in this study is to focus on one of the countries, Hungary, where different political directions use again and again the vocabulary and the mythology of interwar political tradition, but in new context. To make the relation between the interwar period and today, we give a brief overview of different generations of the political discourse and conflict. The underlying idea of this contribution is to show differences and similarities of these processes from the 80’s until today, characterize three waves within the post-communist political movements of the extreme right in Hungary. It is a discourse based study, and does not claim to give any quantitative analysis of the mass support, material resources, media coverage of the political directions covered in the study.

Csaba Varga: Post-modernity in Politico-legal Transitions: Tempted for Radical Changes with Tradition Left Behind
With post-modernity diagnosed, politico-legal transitions themselves undergo certain transformation in character. Empirically, radical changes are preferred that will lead to radical uniformisation in outcome. As symptoms, unpreparedness, utopianism and what will be called Bibó-syndrome can be distinguished amongst them, as accompanied by a necessary choice without alternatives, between the West – and the West. Such brave new starts are used to leaving tradition behind them, so a growingly artificial politico-legal construction will follow without the chance of a genuinely social feed-back. Or, ahistorical voluntarism is to replace organic processes in a successful way in the short run, without the ability to foresee eventual consequences, if any, in the long run.

Thomas Glaser: Reviving the Coffee-House Culture
The meaning behind the coffee house the central argument is that the sociological underpinnings of the Habsburg monarchy did not collapse with the political dispensation of 1918. Throughout central Europe there remained a vast German-speaking ‘kulturkreis’ and the class structure to support it. Made up to a very large extent of assimilated Jews, this German-speaking world, of actors, journalists, painters, writers, theatrical people and academics recognised only partially the existence of the successor states. Nothing would be lovelier than being, as the French might say ‘utile et agreeable’, at a Stammtisch in a Budapest café, but I fear that economics, sociology and technology all militate against the idea.

Budapest Analyses: Slovenia – The Composition of the New Government
After four years of a central right intermezzo Slovenia has a left wing-liberal government again. On the September 21 elections the Social Democrats (SD) lead by Borut Pahor got the most votes. Considering the difficult circumstances, Pahor had promised an expert government and has 7 unaffiliated ministers in his cabinet. The left wing and the liberals managed to create such an extent of power concentration now that has been unprecedented since the Socialist one party system. They have practically got free hands to govern the country. The coalition agreement hardly contains specific details regarding the way the Pahor government conceives solving the open questions and the economic-financial problems inherited from its predecessor.