The Democracy-debate after the Catastrophy (1945–47)

The paper takes as its point of departure that the democracy-debate itself demarcated the boundaries of Hungarian public sphere, in which the fundamental political conflicts of the post-war system took place. Unlike previous discussions of the subject, which discussed the different meanings attributed to democracy, the paper examines the social conditions of the debate that made utterances on democracy possible. Applying the historical semantical method of conceptual history, the paper maps the constitutive poles of the discursive field through studying the principles of legitimacy of statements about democracy. It is argued that the historical experience after the war and the political institutionalisation of the regime framed the debate in which political forces struggled over the boundaries of the demos. Boundaries of political space were redefined in relation to the remnants of the past (as exclusion of fascism and reaction), and to revolution (as inclusion of the people). By analyzing the political press in 1945–1947, the article deals with two main conceptual oppositions: political vs. economic, and civic democracy vs. popular democracy.

Released: Replika 95, 31–58.