Hungarian Negativism

A Response to Miklós Hadas’s Essay

The paper is a reflection on some issues raised by Miklós Hadas’s essay. Gyula Szekfű edited a book in 1939 entitled “What is Hungarian?”. The articles published there explored current political questions in the face of the threat that the German Empire posed to Hungary’s sovereignty. Although this question lost its fundamental importance, Hadas is able to revitalise and re-contextualize it. As a result of this, we are now able to assess the empirical and practical implications of this question more thoroughly. The present essay unfolds the diagnosis of Hungarian negativism with regards to the following aspects: the negation of the collective Other, a self-destructive way of life, a defensive strategy based on negative representations of ourselves, the weakening of community and solidarity, and an empty individualism lacking trust and with the sole aim of self-preservation. Experiences of deficient sovereignty has been identified as the main reason of this negativism, which hinders actors to take responsibility and act as autonomous subjects. The way out of this state would be to adhere to István Széchenyi’s advice, to learn to trust each other.

Released: Replika 106–107, 267–277.