Eva Fodor and Laszlo Bruszt
Rolling Stones: Dissident Intellectuals in Politics
by Andras Bozoki & Agnes Simon
Q&A, INFORMAL DISCUSSION
ABSTRACT/ Extant studies about the role of Hungarian dissident intellectuals during the regime change focused mostly their vanguard role in party formations, political negotiations and radical economic reforms. In our paper we offer a more nuanced view of dissident intellectuals’ contribution to Hungary’s democratic transition. Looking at their activity from the late 1970s, when they worked to undermine the Kádár-regime, until the mid-1990s, when they lost their political influence, we depict the model of rolling transition. Identifying different forms of political activities and using descriptive statistical methods, we show that rather than constituting an unchanging coherent group, in the longer run both the membership and the political activity of the dissident intellectual movement changed periodically. Yet, the goal and some characteristics of the group has lived on. It was this constant renewal, certain level of continuity, and adaptation to the changing circumstances that made them so effective. The process of rolling transition was a mode of change that helped them to overcome fragmentation in a crucial historical period.