Europe from the East and the West Regarded from 1968 and 1989 Moments

  • Abstract:

    In Hungary the lack of dramatic collective experiences did not mark 1968 as a common focal point of collective memory, like1956 remained despite of the toughest censorship in culture and thinking of Hungarians. The general feeling was to survive with the Hungarian reforms successful, an international crisis of the Eastern bloc, an idea of the “Hungarian Sonderweg” embodied in the personal role of the former bloody-handing dictator of János Kádár, who become in 1968 the image of being politically able to survive the special role of Hungary against the radical, but looser Dubcek in Prague. There were no strong official criticism and propaganda on the Czechoslovak experiment, being basically similar to the Hungarian New Economic Mechanism. Its failure made up an important point of internal and external legitimacy of the Kádár regime. One may look upon 1968 in Hungary as a victory of the Kádár regime, over its former anti-revolutionary, dogmatic image and over the revisionism of the Czech Party before the intervention. The period between 1968-1973 become this way an important legitimacy of the reformist character of the Kádár regime which was able to utilize it during the1980’s, in establishing new cooperation with the West and opening up the regime for economic and cultural experiences and more tolerance towards the dissent which made important preparatory steps to the system transition in 1989. 1968 stands for a victory of Kádár and of “Kádárism” which was characterized by Ágnes Heller as the “dictatorship over the needs” or by the Western publicists as “Goulash-Communism”. The regime itself booked it as silent victory, which resulted in very strong and long lasting legitimacy without discussions. After 1989, 1968 could not be established for alternative Hungarian historical consciousness as it become important at least in the Czech Republic, unlike the new Slovakia. In Hungary, 1956 the ant-Stalinist revolution and freedom fight against the Russians and SU become the new source of legitimacy and of republicanism . We may state, that 1956 being the main and genuine contribution of Hungarians to the history the anti-socialist fights. An irony of history, that 1968 which is an emblem for the radicalism and revolution in Western hemisphere and certain extent in the Eastern bloc too, for Hungary went into the history as associated with a “good bargaining” giving autonomy in foreign policy to the Soviets for receiving internal autonomy –for a while- in economic and social affairs, so a moment of world history of radicalism is a momentum of reformism and of clever opportunism in Hungarian history.