Overlapping crises, enforced political passivity, a new political normal: all things that gradually dismantle a democracy. Ferenc Laczó talks the death of democracy in a new episode of Gagarin.
is Assistant Professor in European History at Maastricht University. His recent publications include Hungarian Jews in the Age of Genocide: An Intellectual History 1929-1948 (Leiden: Brill, 2016) and Catastrophe and Utopia: Jewish Intellectuals in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s (ed., with Joachim von Puttkamer) (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017).
A response to John Keane
For all its acuity, John Keane’s theory of democide risks confusing democratic degradation with a transformation of the political debate. Not only that, it fails to account for the radicalization of authoritarian systems once democracy has been killed.
On the interventions of Gáspár Miklós Tamás
An anarchist philosopher turned right-leaning libertarian and anti-capitalist critic of the illiberal order, Gáspár Miklós Tamás (1948–2023) embodied what east European thinkers have tended to be best at: making paradoxes intelligible.
The idea of Europe – and its consequences
The myth of European exceptionalism no longer holds: the continent’s boundaries are arbitrary, its heritage mixed and controversial, and unfit for a unified identity to hold it together. If we give up the commonplaces that have proven insufficient, what can then define and unify this peninsula of peninsulas? True democratic dissent, Ferenc Laczó argues.
Discussing ‘The Legacy of division: Europe after 1989’ with the curators
Was it foolish to expect Europe to unite after the Iron Curtain fell? What kept the wounds from healing? Talking the post-Communist heritage in Gagarin, the Eurozine podcast.
East and West after 1989
When the Cold War came to a sudden end thirty years ago, the two halves of Europe declared in unison their intention to overcome the legacy of the division. Today, the hopes and ambitions of those heady days can be viewed as unrealistic at best. But is talk of a new East–West divide justified?
Timothy Snyder’s ‘The Road to Unfreedom’ critiqued and explored
In ‘The Road to Unfreedom’, historian Timothy Snyder traces the intellectual roots of modern authoritarianism in Russia and how its influence has spread, not least in the West. In the following exchange, three east-central European scholars, brought together by ‘Razpotja’, critique Snyder’s new book – and Snyder responds.
Consolidation and ongoing radicalization
Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party looks well placed to sweep a third successive general election on 8 April. Why is its brand of right-wing populism – famously dubbed ‘illiberal democracy’ by Orbán himself – so successful in Hungary? Ferenc Laczó investigates.
How far has it gone, and how far can it go?
This year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January) was marked by a row over a new Polish law that would criminalize any suggestion that Poland was responsible for Nazi atrocities. In a prescient speech delivered just days earlier, historian Ferenc Laczó observes that the Europeanization of Holocaust remembrance still has a long way to go.