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Radicalism and indifference

Memory transmission, political formation and modernization in Hungary and Europe

Domonkos Sik

Most theories of radicalization focus on the birth of antidemocratic ideas, semantics, behavior patterns and organizations. However, such focus is one-sided: radicalization is as much about the forgetting of historical lessons and the weakening of a democratic consensus, as the spreading of populist ideas. A case study of public and private processes of memory transmission in Hungary reveals how the ambiguous relation to modernization affects political formation: the failures provoke populist reactions, while the successes result in political indifference. The combination of these two political cultures creates a dangerous compound including both the opportunity for the birth of antidemocratic semantics and their ignorance. The author analyzes the potential of such «incubation of radicalism» on a European survey.

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Concluding remarks: incubating radicalism in Europe

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At the end of the line of thought it is worth looking back and drawing some con- clusions. In the introductory chapter the question was raised: what are the precon- ditions of the emergence of an antidemocratic political culture in a democratic institutional setting and how can the divergent constellations of European mo- dernity be evaluated from this perspective? In order to answer the first part of this question, the recent antidemocratic transformations of Hungary’s political culture were analysed. Firstly, the specific characteristics of Central European horizon of modernity framing the social epistemology and ontology of the region were identified. The conclusion of these analyses was that Central European countries experienced modernization since the beginning in a distorted way. They could not access its universal emancipatory potentials and misinterpreted its pathologies ac- cording to various ideologies. This has led to a chronic identity crisis in the post- transition era including alienation or the futile regression to already discredited semantics of interpreting social phenomena. In the second chapter the question was posed: how are the processes of institu- tional memory transmission affected by the distorted relation to modernization? The conclusion of these analyses was that the political dividedness colonizes the sphere of memory transmission resulting in the vacuum of mutually accepted in- terpretations of the 20th century traumas capable of grounding a democratic col- lective identity. As a consequence of the memory vacuum, on the one hand an apolitical, on the other hand a radical political culture emerges, except in those...

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