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Beyond Dichotomies: Rethinking the Liberal Agenda

The CEU Campus
Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 9:30 am – Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 12:15 pm

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The workshop discusses the history and the current contradictions of the liberal political project and the profile of its principal alternatives. The often-used dichotomy of liberal and non-liberal (anti-liberal, illiberal, etc.) regime alternatives masks both the contradictions inherent to the liberal project and the variation among the non-liberal models. This variation has increased spectacularly since the end of the Cold War. Societies that move towards closed governmental structures often participate in - and sometimes even drive - globalization. The tendency towards closure in certain fields coexists with the opening up to the exchange of ideas, goods, capital, and technologies in other fields. Closed structures benefit from the existence of open structures.
The roundtable discussions address the transformation of the liberal agenda, the changes in the non-liberal alternatives, the current relevance of the post-communist and post-fascist legacies, the vitality of the nationalist challenge, the social coalitions behind the competing ideological alternatives, and the institutions and policies that led to the current state-of-affairs.


09:30 – 09:40 a.m. Introductory Remarks

09:40 – 11:10 a.m. Panel I: Liberalism, Democracy and Globalization
The liberal agenda is under fire from all corners of the ideological spectrum. Most of the critics appeal to democracy and national sovereignty. The panel discusses the merits of the anti-liberal normative arguments as well the possible ways to renegotiate the relationship of the underlying principles of these ideological traditions.


Edward W. Walker | University of California, Berkeley

Janos Kis | CEU

Renata Uitz | CEU

Chair and discussant

Zoltan Miklosi | CEU

11:10 – 11:30 a.m. Coffee break

11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Panel II: Who are the actors and what will be the winning formula?
Political regimes are sustained and undermined by coalitions. The camps promoting and opposing open society are both colorful conglomerates of political actors. The panel discusses the new, post-financial crisis coalitions and the strategies that can prove viable in the new environment.


Jason Wittenberg| University of California, Berkeley
Michael Ignatieff | CEU
Andras Bozoki | CEU
Chair and discussant

Zsolt Enyedi | CEU

01.00 – 02.00 p.m. Lunch break

02.00 – 3:30 p.m. Panel III: The ambiguities of liberalism in the East
Historically liberalism exists in many varieties. The debates of the past are relevant in making sense of the tensions between liberalism and democracy. The panel investigates the answers given to these tensions from the Enlightenment through nineteenth-century national liberalism to the interwar projects of "neo-liberalism" in Central Europe as well as in the Ottoman Empire.


John Connelly| University of California, Berkeley
Balazs Trencsenyi | CEU
Nadia Al-Bagdadi | CEU
Chair and discussant

Anton Pelinka| CEU

03:30 – 03:50 p.m. Coffee break

03:50 – 5:20 p.m. Panel IV: The roots of authoritarianism in the East
Current authoritarian movements and leaders can rely on long-standing intellectual and political traditions and on widely supported frames of mind. The panel discusses the similarities, differences, and possible continuities between the 19th – 20th century autocratic discourses and practices and the current "hybrid regimes" and ethno-populist movements.


Victoria Frede-Montemayor | University of California, Berkeley
Constantin Iordachi | CEU
Alfred J. Rieber | CEU
Chair and discussant

Andrea Peto | CEU


9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Panel V: The contradictions of post-1989 liberalism

The challenge to liberal democracy have been partly results of the way liberal regimes functioned in the last decades. The panel focuses on the current tensions between the people and the liberal order.


Steven Fish | University of California, Berkeley
Don Kalb | CEU
Ivan Szelenyi | CEU
Chair and discussant

Eva Fodor | CEU

11:00 – 12:30 a.m. Panel VI: Institutions and policies
Norms are manifested by policies and policies shape norms. The panel discusses current policies in the fields of education, economy, information, gender, and local administration in European nation states and at the level of European Union from the point of view of promoting or undermining open society.


Laura Jakli | University of California, Berkeley
Laszlo Bruszt | CEU
Sara Svensson | CEU
Chair and discussant

Violetta Zentai | CEU