Conservative Ideology in the Making

Conservative Ideology in the Making

Iván Zoltán Dénes
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 294
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbmn2
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    Conservative Ideology in the Making
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-78-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Iván Zoltán Dénes

    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. There were and are historians and political journalists who claim that the goals and programs of the liberals and conservatives only differed in tone and timing, and...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Is there a vicious circle of binary forms of political discourses in Central and Eastern Europe—modernity vs. tradition, progress vs. nation, freedom vs. community, self-realization vs. belonging to a community, “Western cosmopolitan civilization” vs. “national identity,” adoption of the European model vs. national self-centeredness? Defining and comparing the roots, history, and variants of these oppositions in different geographical regions of Europe is a task and can be a way forward, so long as caution is taken against the usual schematic models of the original backwardness, the different romantic nationalistic Sonderwegs and their various national mythologies of uniqueness. These false...

  5. Conservatism
    (pp. 11-24)

    In colloquial usage, the connotations of the term “conservative” and its collocate, “radical,” imply an opposition, an antithesis. The most frequent concepts associated with conservatism, suggesting social and political equilibrium and identifying it with the aristocratic social order, are authority, tradition, traditional values, order, history, social and political hierarchy, aristocracy, status quo, custom, and organic social development. By contrast, the somewhat constructed series of concepts associated with radicalism include “the people,” the search for a utopia of social justice (achieved possibly even through violence), and the goal and challenge of radical renewal. Radicalism lays stress on the universalism of natural...

  6. The Liberal Challenge: Nation-Building through Reforms
    (pp. 25-30)

    At first sight Kölcsey’s program may seem conservative, paternalist, with a demand of gradual improvement. A second reading, however, makes it clear that the new role of the nobility differs from the old one in more than just paternalistic protection; it also differs in the interpretation of privileges and constitutionality. The traditional opposition recognized as its task the protection of privileges and fought for the conservation of the ancient constitution. What Kölcsey’s wording conveys is that the privileges should be extended to the bourgeoisie and the peasantry, which implies the reinterpretation of constitutionality and the creation of new guarantees beside,...

  7. The Conservative Answer: Law, Order, and Stability
    (pp. 31-178)

    István Széchenyi wished to put Aurél Dessewffy to eternal rest in his proposed Hungarian Pantheon. A year later a liberal publicist, László Szalay, declared he had been the Alexander the Great of the Hungarians, after whom only the diadochi (his unworthy successors) could come. In 1851 another liberal, Antal Csengery, asserted that Aurél Dessewffy would have been the Hungarian Robert Peel, had he lived long enough. A third, also liberal journalist, archeologist, and art historian, Ferenc Pulszky, only cited the last two lines of Vörösmarty’s poem in 1874, as did a contemporary conservative reviewer of his work in 2007. In...

  8. Myth in the Making
    (pp. 179-188)

    During the period of cooperation between the sovereign and the legislature in the spring and summer of 1848—a cooperation far from being devoid of tensions—the Hungarian conservatives retreated into the background, but in the autumn when an explicit conflict had burst out between Vienna and Pest, the overwhelming majority of conservatives pledged loyalty to the monarch. Most of them chose dynastic loyalty even when it no longer meant fidelity to the legitimate Hungarian king but—after Ferdinand V’s resignation on December 2 and Francis Joseph I’s accession—created a constitutionally entangled situation. Those Hungarian conservatives who became officials...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 189-206)

    The below quoted letter was written by the son of Count Emil Dessewffy, Count Aurél Dessewffy, Jr. agrarian politician and the vice president of the Association of Hungarian Landowners. Count Aurél Dessewffy, Jr. was one of the leading members of the early twentieth-century Hungarian neoconservative political group whose ideology was no longer built on the traditions of loyalty to the throne and the altar, and who organized their party and a newspaper for goals other than the strengthening of the position of an aristocratic group pursuing cabinet politics. The younger Count Aurél Dessewffy was the kind of neo-conservative who deemed...

  10. Primary Sources and Literature
    (pp. 207-252)
  11. Index
    (pp. 253-256)
  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)