Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe

Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe: Citizen Intellectuals and Philosopher Kings

Barbara J. Falk
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 515
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbp37
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  • Book Info
    Dilemmas of Dissidence in East-Central Europe
    Book Description:

    Discusses one of the major currents leading to the fall of communism. Falk examines the intellectual dissident movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary from the late 1960s through to 1989. In spite of its historic significance, no other comprehensive survey has appeared on the subject. In addition to the huge list of written sources from samizdat works to recent essays, Falk`s sources include interviews with many personalities of those events as well as videos and films (including Oscar winners).

    eISBN: 978-615-5211-16-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xxxii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  6. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    Writing more than ten years hence, one cannot overstate the fact that 1989 represents a historical watershed of immense proportions. History either ended or began again. The defining twentieth-century struggle—between liberal democracies with their apparently superior market economies and authoritarian communist regimes with their ossifying and crumbling command economies—came to a sudden and unexpected demise. The former emperors of the Soviet Bloc were left shivering and cold in their newly-revealed nakedness; the vast political and security apparatus of the party-state crumbled like a house of cards. As if the speed of this revolutionary and transformative process was not...

  7. SECTION 1
    • Chapter 2 POLAND: THE HARBINGER OF CRISIS AND COLLAPSE
      (pp. 13-58)

      The frequency of protest and instability in authoritarian communist Poland can be explained according to three competing explanations. First, Polish experiences are seen unique in the region: peculiar factors such as an institutionally strong and independent Catholic Church; the survival of private ownership of land and de-collectivization of agriculture; a history replete with both anti-Russian, anti-Soviet and working class uprisings (in 1831, 1863, 1944, 1956, 1970, 1976, and 1980–1981); the relative power and prowess of intellectuals and the intelligentsia; and the weakness of party-state institutions and elites (Schöpflin, 1983; Ekiert and Kubic, 2001). Second, Poland shares with countries throughout...

    • Chapter 3 CZECHOSLOVAKIA: FROM INTERRUPTED TO VELVET REVOLUTION
      (pp. 59-108)

      The Komunistická Strana Československa, or Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPCz), assumed power by engineering a coup in 1948, ousting their former coalition partners from power.¹ However, the Czech communists had the strongest indigenous support in the region, a point that cannot be overemphasized. The CPCz had been legally operating in the country since 1921 (although was banned in 1938 and illegal during World War II). Reasons for support are also rooted in the Munich Agreement in 1938—when the Sudeten lands were ceded to Hitler’s Germany and Czechoslovakia was effectively abandoned by the Western powers.² Germany, not the Soviet Union,...

    • Chapter 4 POST-1956 HUNGARY: REPRESSION, REFORM, AND ROUNDTABLE REVOLUTION
      (pp. 109-154)

      The failure of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was mitigated by the many “lessons” it provided, not only for the reconsolidation of reform communism under János Kádár in Hungary, but also for the generation of communist reformers in Poland and in Czechoslovakia who constructed their programs with an eye to avoiding the “errors” of 1956. Whereas Gomułka’s accession to power in Warsaw seemed to indicate how far one could go in nationalist deviation from the Soviet model, Imre Nagy’s support for and attempted guidance of an essentially armed uprising and popular revolt certainly demonstrated what was completely unacceptable and would...

  8. SECTION 2
    • Chapter 5 INTELLECTUALS IN POLAND: THE TRADITION CONTINUES
      (pp. 157-198)

      Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski left Poland in 1968 after his expulsion from Warsaw University, and therefore hardly warrants being categorized as a “dissident” in terms of the time frame of this study. However, as a revisionist Marxist who goes beyond revisionism, as a mentor to the generation of Michnik, and as the author of arguably the most important theoretical text of the Polish opposition of the 1970s, he must be included.¹ The influence of his life, his work, and the changing nature of his own philosophical positions was enormous. From outside Poland’s borders, as an emigré writing for Kultura, as...

    • Chapter 6 OPPOSITION INTELLECTUALS IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA
      (pp. 199-256)

      Václav Havel did not make his reputation as a political essayist or social critic, but as a playwright. During his eight-year tenure at the Theatre on the Balustrade in the 1960s in Prague, he honed his writing abilities as a master of the Czech theatre of the absurd.¹ In Havel’s 1986 interview with Karel Hvížd’ala, he muses about the definition and meaning of absurd theatre:

      [Absurd theatre is] the most significant theatrical phenomenon of the twentieth century, because it demonstrates modern humanity in a “state of crisis,” as it were. That is, it shows man having lost his fundamental metaphysical...

    • Chapter 7 THE DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION IN HUNGARY
      (pp. 257-310)

      The “first generation” of Hungarian dissidents—for that is really what the Budapest School was—saw themselves not only as Lukács’ colleagues or students but described themselves as his disciples. Their self-chosen terminology is illuminating, because they both collectively and individually sought to utilize, extend, and reinterpret Lukács’ work not only in terms of his own life and struggle but more meaningfully in terms of their own.

      It is impossible here to summarize the depth of this scholarly and personal interaction, but some generalizations can be made.¹ From Lukács’ early focus on aesthetics (for example, the Heidelberg manuscripts) through to...

  9. SECTION 3
    • Chapter 8 THE DISSIDENT CONTRIBUTION TO POLITICAL THEORY
      (pp. 313-364)

      In the preceding chapters, I have argued that largely in response to the failure of “reform communism” and the various revisionist approaches taken in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, a community of dissident intellectuals began to theorize about and organize against the political and economic stagnation of the 1970s and 1980s in each of their respective regimes. Separately, collectively and with great complementarity they developed an oeuvre of political-theoretical approaches, tactical insights, and recommendations regarding not only the possibility but also the probability of political change. Taken as a whole, the most distinctive features of their thought and activism were: 1)...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 365-398)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 399-462)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 463-479)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 480-480)