Working Papers

The Working Papers focus on interdisciplinary scholarship in all subject areas from members of the THOMAS MOLNAR INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES, doctoral students and visiting scholars. The papers are published electronically and are available online. The ideas expressed in working papers are those of the authors and do not reflect those of the TMIAS.


Gábor Megadja

Emigrant critics of democracy

The criticism of democracy is as old as the tradition of European political thought. Here, it is sufficient to refer to Plato’s and Aristotle’s remarks regarding the issue of democracy. Whatever similarities our inquiry might suggest (and there are numerous), modern democracy is somewhat different from the ancient one. We must say, then, that we are faced with another aspect of the problem or a different idiom of democracy as such.

In this paper, I will aim at providing a picture of what emigrant thinkers in the twentieth century thought about contemporary democracies. I will deal specifically with the works of Aurel Kolnai, Eric Voegelin, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Friedrich A. von Hayek, Hannah Arendt, Jacob Talmon, John Lukacs, Leo Strauss, Ludwig von Mises, and Michael Polanyi.

Gábor Megadja: Emigrant critics of democracy



Attila Károly Molnár

The problem of good order: Burke's and Tocqueville's tradition of the criticism of modernity

Too much or too little control, and control in general, that is, the problem of order and freedom is one the oldest problems in social and political thinking. My supposition in this paper is that there is not only one kind of control – an idea opposed to the originally Whiggish view of modern history as progress in the direction of more freedom and less control. The paradoxical notion of too much control and too much freedom at the same time is rather modern, at least it is a paradox which became dominant in the critique of modernity after the French and industrial revolutions. Both events questioned the existing controls in social life and focused attention on the possibility of the re-creation of the wished new kinds of control. It has been widely referred to as the phenomenon of decline of religion, old and established customs, morality and authority. But even if the emergence of modernity created new problems, the answers were to be found in the traditional ideas and concepts.

Molnár: The problem of good order



Milán Pap

"Democracy to come": The concepts of democracy of state socialism in the post-war period

After WWII, countries of Central Eastern Europe (CEE) experienced numerous changes of their political regimes. The ideologies of these political regimes, aiming the modernization of the societies in the region, were eager to integrate the idea of democracy in its own way. In my paper, I discuss the ideological and semantic changes of the concept of democracy in the era of state socialism and the transition to constitutional liberalism. I analyze the changes ofthe concept of democracy in its semantic relation to the key concepts of the post-war politics, as socialism, dictatorship of the proletariat, reform, dissidence, liberalization, constitutionalism, capitalism, and liberalism. In the diachronic analysis of these ideological constellations, I will refer the semantic patterns of the concept of democracy: representation of an ideal social order, and the coming of “real” democracy in the future. These features still dominate the idea of democracy in the region, eclipsing the meaning of participation in political decision-making.

Pap: 'Democracy to come'



Szilvia Horváth

Free speech and the construction of political sphere


In a famous passage in Plato’s Gorgias Socrates mentions Athens as the place “which allows freedom of speech above all other cities in Greece.” This account of free and brave speech envisages the high esteem that public speech — or even speech — enjoyed in classical Athens, which may resemble the role free speech plays in contemporary thought on democracy. Although this resemblance can be proved historically and may thus offer thoughts for theorizing classical democracy for modern purposes, free or frank speech was not only a right preserved for individuals; that is, it was not only a human right which secured human freedom against the forceful interventions of the state; it was that eventually constituted the sphere of politics. Free speech did not only appear in political institutions; discussion, debate, argumentation, or practicing logos, was rather the primer mode for acting politically.

Horváth: Free speech



Balázs Böcskei

Repolitisierte Politik und politischer Konstitutionalismus

Ungarische politische Rechte nach dem „Postkommunismus“ und ihr Verhältnis zum Grundgesetz

Die Wahlergebnisse im Jahre 2010 sicherten dem Parteienbund FIDESZ/KDNP eine Zweidrittelmehrheit im ungarischen Parlament. Die neuen Inhaber der Macht meinten, eine neue politische Ordnung ins Leben gerufen zu haben, das sog. System der Nationalen Kooperation (Nemzeti Együttműködés Rendszere). Folglich wurde schon kurz darauf der Prozess der Verfassungsgebung initiiert, was dazu führte, dass sich der verfassungsrechtliche Diskurs in Ungarn sich auf ein neues Gleis gestellt hat. Ziel dieser Studie ist es, Absichten und Argumente der verfassungsgebenden Macht zu rekonstruieren, und zwar unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Beurteilung der Wende in den Jahren 1989–1990, sowie der Frage der Konstitution der politischen Gemeinschaft.

Böcskei: Repolitisierte Politik