History of ideas

Heads of section: Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, Wesleyan University and Ferenc Laczó, Maastricht University

This section covers new research in intellectual history and discusses the history of ideas that shape contemporary debates on democracy. Recent and ongoing focal points within the section include global intellectual history; the relationship between democracy, liberalism, and populism; memory and inclusivity, and contemporary European history.

History of ideas

From a Multiethnic Empire to a World of Nation States

The CEU Democracy Institute’s journal, Review of Democracy, the Research Center for the History of Transformations (RECET), the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW/IKT) and the Department of European, International and Comparative Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Vienna cordially organised a book discussion on Central Europe's function as a laboratory of our current world order based on Natasha Wheatley's bold and fascinating new book The Life and Death of States: Central Europe and the Transformation of Modern Sovereignty (Princeton University Press 2023)


History of ideas

Bloodless Murder: Stefano Bottoni on How the Orbán Regime Was Made and What Hungary Has Become

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Stefano Bottoni – author of the new Hungarian-language book A hatalom megszállottja. Orbán Viktor Magyarországa (Obsessed with Power. Viktor Orbán’s Hungary) – discusses how the current political system has been built up in Hungary and which theories might help us analyse this process; reflects on the Orbán regime’s sources of legitimacy and internal contradictions; and explores the changing relationship of the country to the European Union and to Putin’s Russia.


History of ideas

The Freedom to Stay: Eva von Redecker on Positive Ecological Freedom and the Need for a New Temporal Literacy

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Eva von Redecker – author of the new German-language book Bleibefreiheit (The Freedom to Stay) – shows what it means to think of freedom in terms of time rather than space; explains what implications it has that we are actually “born unfree but not alone”; reflects on the personal experiences and intellectual influences that inspired her; and sketches what the realization of positive ecological freedom might look like.


History of ideas

In Need of a Spiritual Renewal of Europe — Modern Counter-revolutionaries 

In this conversation with RevDem editor, Kasia Krzyżanowska, Matthijs Lok answers these questions and more and discusses his newest book Europe Against Revolution: Conservatism, Enlightenment, and the Making of the Past (OUP 2023). 


History of ideas

A Betrayal of Liberalism: Samuel Moyn on the Mistaken Path of Cold War Liberals  

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Samuel Moyn – author of the new book Liberalism Against Itself. Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times – discusses what motivated him to explore the Cold War liberal betrayal of previous liberal traditions; what their redefinition of the liberal canon and silences about crucial developments in their own lifetime may reveal about Cold War liberals; why the liberal establishment has failed to reexamine Cold War liberalism since 1989–91; and what would be minimally needed to make contemporary liberalism “credible enough for salvation.”


History of ideas

Gregory Claeys on Utopianism and Democracy

In this public lecture, Gregory Claeys – Professor Emeritus of History – reviews the development of the anxious relationship between utopianism and democracy, touching on the fundamentally anti-political aspects of the utopian tradition, and the charge that the eternal search for near unanimity of opinion is fundamentally anti-democratic. The lecture examines the (mis)interpretation of utopia as "perfection", and the optimal role played by consent in utopian relationships. Finally, it asks whether we can achieve an environmental consensus in time to avert the catastrophic destruction of the planet, and what we can do in the absence of such a consensus.


History of ideas

“Neither Amnesia nor Nostalgia” Discussing the Non-Aligned Movement with Chiara Bonfiglioli, Agustín Cosovschi, and Paul Stubbs  

In this conversation with RevDem contributor Una Blagojević, Paul Stubbs, Chiara Bonfiglioli, and Agustín Cosovschi discuss the different meanings of the Non-Aligned Movement and the need to rethink the “West–East–Non-Aligned” trajectories; approach Yugoslav foreign policy critically and explain why they attach such importance to imaginaries; show the importance of developing a “perspective from below” and analyze what a gendered perspective on the movement can yield; and reflect on possibilities of future research.


History of ideas

A Savage War of Russian Decline: Serhii Plokhy Discusses the Russo-Ukrainian War

In this conversation co-hosted by Marta Haiduchok (Visible Ukraine) and Ferenc Laczó (the Review of Democracy), Serhii Plokhy – author of the new book "The Russo-Ukrainian War" – discusses why Ukraine was so crucial to the Soviet collapse and how Ukraine and Russia diverged subsequently; explains what made Ukraine a focal point of competition in the post-Cold War decades and which factors enabled the current devastating war; dissects the origins of Russian imperialism and Russia’s current war aims; reflects on the state of Ukrainian Studies and suggests new questions concerning Ukrainian nationalism and Russian imperialism; elaborates on the stages of the unfolding war and the reasons behind Ukraine’s ability to fight back; and ponders what major geopolitical shifts the Russo-Ukrainian war might signal or reinforce.


History of ideas

Black Knight and Pied Piper. Silvio Berlusconi: Populist Pioneer or Symptom of Italy’s Crisis?

In this op-ed, Stefano Bottoni discusses Silvio Berlusconi's political legacy in Italy.


History of ideas

Germans and Genocide after the Holocaust. Andrew Port Discusses How Germans Have Responded to the Global History of Mass Atrocities

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Andrew Port – author of the new book Never Again. Germans and Genocide after the Holocaust – describes and compares the German responses to mass atrocities in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda; explains which were the consensual and the most contested issues in German debates; discusses the “softer,” societal responses connected to German memory work and how these mass atrocities across the globe may have impacted the interpretations of Germany’s own past; and reflects on what might be most striking about the rather conflicted German response to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine.


History of ideas

How Europeans Live Now: Ben Judah on Capturing the Arc of Life in Our Time

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Ben Judah – author of the new book This is Europe. How We Live Now – discusses what motivated him to tell stories on a continental scale, which authors and books have inspired him the most, and what has been his approach to narrating. He also reflects on key themes have emerged from his extensive travels and reportage and on what he sees as the most consequential new aspects of how Europeans live now.


History of ideas

The Art of Generous Critique: Adam Shatz on the Radical Imagination – and an Overdue Humbling

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Adam Shatz – author of the new collection Writers and Missionaries: Essays on the Radical Imagination – discusses his approach to painting portraits of engaged intellectuals, clarifies his concept of “radical imagination,” reflects on how the history of Algeria has served as his prism, and explains why the predicament of Arab intellectuals may be much more similar to those in the West than is often assumed.


History of ideas

Nested Stories of Persecution: Ari Joskowicz Discusses the Asymmetrical Entanglements of Jews and Roma in History and Memory

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Ari Joskowicz – author of the new book Rain of Ash: Roma, Jews, and the Holocaust – discusses the ways Jewish and Romani histories have been entangled and what motivated him to write a relational history of the two groups; illuminates why he considers it essential to explore the conditions of knowledge production and how to try to avoid reproducing injustices; shows what it has implied in concrete setting that the stories of persecution of one group of people have been nested within those of another; and reflects on what has truly changed in memory culture and what new dialogues could be pursued in the future.


History of ideas

The Curse of the Margin? Central Europe before and after Communism

In conversation with RevDem assistant editor Lucie Hunter, Dr. Aliaksei Kazharski discusses his newest book Central Europe Thirty Years after the Fall of Communism: A Return to the Margin? (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022, 2022).


History of ideas

Danielle Allen on Power-Sharing Liberalism

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Danielle Allen – author of the new book "Justice by Means of Democracy" – discusses her proposal of a power-sharing liberalism and explains why she calls herself a “eudaemonist democratic pragmatist”; shows why it is essential to foster a connected society and measure that society by the principle of “difference without domination”; reflects on what a paradigm change in political economy could look like and which model of citizenship would be most suitable for our times.


History of ideas

The Curse of Russian Imperialism: Martin Schulze Wessel on Imperial Optics, False Dichotomies, and the Need to Reconsider East European History

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Martin Schulze Wessel – author of the new book Der Fluch des Imperiums. Die Ukraine, Polen und der Irrweg in der Russischen Geschichte (Imperial Curse. Ukraine, Poland, and the False Paths in Russian History) – traces the ideas that have shaped Russian imperialism and reflects on their devastating contemporary force; explores key moments in the parallel and entangled histories of Poland and Ukraine and how those histories have been shaped by Russian imperialism across the centuries; dissects what he calls Germany’s “imperialism of a second order” and emphasizes the urgent need to revise Russia-centric interpretations of East European history.


History of ideas

Can the Center Hold? Thomas Biebricher on the International Crisis of Conservatism

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Thomas Biebricher – author of the new book "Mitte/Rechts: Die international Krise des Konservatismus" (Center/Right: The International Crisis of Conservatism) – discusses conservatism’s various types and how each relates to the political center and to authoritarianism; illuminates the contemporary crisis of the center right in three major European countries; explains what has driven the culturalization of politics and the redrawing of enemy images, and why the authoritarian right has been a prime beneficiary of those trends; and reflects on how his approach and special emphases relate and add to other contributions to the ongoing debate on the present state and future prospects of liberal democracy.


History of ideas

A Paranational World — Naturalization, Fiction and Edges of Nationality

In conversation with RevDem editor Kasia Krzyżanowska, Dr. Stephanie DeGooyer discusses her recent publication Before Borders: A Legal and Literary History of Naturalization (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2022).


History of ideas

The Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought: George Steinmetz on French Sociology and the Overseas Empire

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, George Steinmetz – author of the major new monograph "The Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought. French Sociology and the Overseas Empire" – sketches the manifold entanglements of French sociology with the French Empire and colonialism; discusses the key ideas and innovations that have emerged in this context; dissects how indigenous scholars fared within the vast network of French institutions over time; illuminates his own approach to intellectual history he calls a historical socio-analysis of the social sciences; and reflect on how contemporary agendas of decolonization could be made more convincing and fruitful, not least by drawing on what French sociologists of colonialism have “partially and tentatively foreseen.”


History of ideas

Thailand’s Conscription: A Threat to Democracy and Freedom

Thailand is about to hold a general election in May 2023. Several progressive political parties are proposing to pass an act to abolish conscription. But the military, which has always meddled with Thai politics, has indicated it will block any efforts in this direction.


History of ideas

Navigating Hierarchies and Balkanist Discourses in Europeanization: A Conversation with Vjosa Musliu

In this conversation with assistant editor Lorena Drakula, Vjosa Musliu discusses her book "Europeanization and State Building as Everyday Practices. Performing Europe in the Western Balkans" (Routledge, 2021). The conversation critically examines mechanisms of Europeanization, discourses surrounding international interventions, and the processes of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.


History of ideas

Clara Mattei: Why is austerity so persistent in spite of its incapacity to achieve economic growth and balanced budgets?

In this interview with RevDem assistant editor Giancarlo Grignaschi, Clara Mattei – Assistant Professor in the Economics Department of The New School for Social Research – talks about her new book "The Capital Order: How Economists Invented Austerity and Paved the Way to Fascism" (University of Chicago Press, 2022). The manuscript explores the historical origins of austerity and its intellectual underpinnings in interwar Britain and Italy. During this interview, the author presents the main arguments of the book, the comparison between the two countries, the role of politics and the decline in electoral participation, the relationship between austerity and populism, and the recent problem of rising inflation.


History of ideas

A World Without Democracy: Quinn Slobodian on jurisdictional cracks and the crackpots who made capitalism as we know it

In this conversation with Ferenc Laczó and Vera Scepanovic, Quinn Slobodian – author of the new book "Crack-Up Capitalism: Market Radicals and the Dream of a World Without Democracy" – discusses the unusual legal spaces and peculiar jurisdictions that have multiplied in recent decades and the libertarian ideas that propelled their rise; dissects the relationship of such zones to existing states and their sovereignty; shows how legal unevenness of contemporary globalization relates to earlier forms of imperial and colonial rule; and reflects on the more normative  elements of his critique and on the future of the zones in an age of ‘de-globalization.’


History of ideas

Be Realistic, Demand Significant Change! Daniel Chandler on What a Progressive Liberal Society of the Future Could Look Like

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Daniel Chandler – author of the new book "Free and Equal: What Would a Fair Society Look Like?" – discusses key principles that a better and fairer society could be based on; shows what makes John Rawls’ ideas so exceptionally relevant today and how they could help improve the democratic process; explains how placing questions of power, control, dignity, and self-respect at the center of liberal economic thinking would foster new economic arrangements; and discusses where egalitarian liberalism has already been practiced and with what consequences.


History of ideas

Playing Hardball: Political-Ethical Challenges of Illiberal Regimes

In this conversation with Kasia Krzyżanowska, Zoltán Gábor Szűcs discusses his newest book Political ethics in illiberal regimes. A realist interpretation.


History of ideas

No Justin, No Martin, No Peace

Representative Pearson is part of this tradition of American political protest – a tradition that conservative conceptions of civility and peaceful protest mischaracterize and aim to delegitimize; a tradition against which Tennessee Republicans and Obama fundamentally stand, despite appearances. There’s no peace, Representative Pearson reminds us, without confrontation.


History of ideas

Permanent Negotiation: Balázs Trencsényi on how new projects at the CEU Democracy Institute relink knowledge production, education, and civic engagement

Delving into the research conducted at the Democracy in History group of the CEU Democracy Institute and ongoing initiatives such as the Invisible University for Ukraine and the Academics Facing Autocracy Program with Lucija Balikić, Trencsényi provides historically informed insights into the modalities of relinking these structures and offers inspiring reflections on their potential for strengthening democratic societies across the globe.


History of ideas

The Challenges of Public History Under Illiberal Rule: Gábor Gyáni Launches the Jenő Szűcs Lecture Series

On February 21, 2023, the Democracy in History workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute launched its Jenő Szűcs Series. The first public lecture in the series was delivered by Gábor Gyáni under the title “Telling the Truth (or Not?) About History. Dilemmas of Public History.” As emphasized by co-organizer Gábor Klaniczay in his opening remarks, the ongoing lecture series honours, adopts and develops the critical approach of the late Hungarian historian Jenő Szűcs regarding the ideologically defined viewpoint of authoritarian states on history and society.


History of ideas

Rule of law and the structural inequalities of the European project: Europe and its dissenting peripheries

In this op-ed by Peter Agha, PhD, he argues for a different analysis of the current trouble with Europe, one which starts from the recognition of the irregularity of the rule of law policies and highlights how the clashes between the populist movements and the rule of law doctrine reflect the structural inequalities of the European project. This important aspect is often neglected because of the way we currently frame the discussions – as “the rule of law crisis”. As a result of this, our debates focus on juridical arrangements, whereas the distributional consequences of the EU and the role the legal structure plays in its maintenance remain (almost) invisible.


History of ideas

Listening for Silences: Michael Freeden on the Role of Silence in Political Thinking

In this conversation with RevDem assistant editor Lorena Drakula, Michael Freeden – leading political theorist and author of the new book Concealed Silences and Inaudible Voices in Political Thinking – discusses the various forms of political silences; the problems of superimposing and inventing voices; the effects of the unnoticeable and the unknowable in political thinking, with the aim of understanding the complex and often hidden aspects of silence that shape our political beliefs and actions.


History of ideas

The Greatest Hits — Populist Edition. In conversation with Johannes Voelz

In this conversation with Kasia Krzyżanowska, Johannes Voelz discusses his theory of the aesthetics of populism, explains how Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias can help us understand contemporary populism, elaborates on the concept of a (Trump) rally, talks about the culture of a dichotomized world, and shares his insights on the role of culture in helping to ease the deep political conflicts. 


History of ideas

Orbán as Ideologue

In this post by Zsolt Enyedi, Senior Research Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute, he argues that Orbán's regime "advantages a well-defined set of values through the allocation of resources and its signatory policies are based on a coherent set of ideas."


History of ideas

Constitutionalism — An Opium for the Lawyers

In this conversation with Kasia Krzyżanowska, Martin Loughlin discusses his newest book Against Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press 2022).


History of ideas

Aakar Patel on His New Toolkit to Protest and Peaceful Resistance

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Aakar Patel – author of "The Anarchist Cookbook. A Toolkit to Protest and Peaceful Resistance" – discusses why he considers dissent essential to improving society; what lessons we can draw from successful recent examples of protest; which options activists have to amplify and maximize their efforts; and how egregious laws on the book, practices of denying rights, and the extreme disparities of Indian society have shaped activists’ possibilities and agenda.


History of ideas

Reacting to Globalization’s Discontents: Tara Zahra on Anti-Globalism and Mass Politics

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Tara Zahra – author of the new monograph "Against the World: Anti-Globalism and Mass Politics Between the World Wars" – discusses the common features of anti-globalist agendas between the 1910s and the 1930s; explains what the main phases of anti-globalism looked like and how its various forms related to globalization; shows why centering women – as key actors as well as objects – and focusing on Central Europe amount to fruitful approaches; reflects on the long-term consequences of interwar anti-globalism – and how our present predicament may help us reconsider this history.


History of ideas

Conscious European, Critic of Hubris: Timothy Garton Ash’s Personal History of Contemporary Europe

Ferenc Laczó reviews "Homelands", Timothy Garton Ash’s personal account and interpretation of contemporary Europe, a history book illustrated by memoir. A “post-68er” who is equally accomplished as a historian and as a journalist, and a highly reputed member of the British and European liberal establishments, Garton Ash proceeds chronologically on the book’s pages to cover “the overlapping timeframes of post-war and post-Wall.”


History of ideas

Merchant of Ideas: Jerry Z. Muller on Jacob Taubes

In the conversation with Vilius Kubekas, Jerry Z. Muller discusses the life of German Jewish intellectual Jacob Taubes.


History of ideas

Why is the Russian bureaucracy failing in the face of war?

Vladimir Dubrovskiy, senior economist at CASE Ukraine, explores why the Russian state, which is based on the principle of "vertical power", appears to be inept in the face of war.


History of ideas

Dóra Piroska on Financial Nationalism

RevDem assistant editor Giancarlo Grignaschi in conversation with Dóra Piroska, assistant professor at CEU in Vienna at the department of International Relations, about her chapter on financial nationalism in the Elgar Handbook of Economic Nationalism, edited by Andreas Pickel.


History of ideas

Democracy First: Shadi Hamid on Why and How to Support Democratic Change

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Shadi Hamid – author of the new book "The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea" – addresses democratic dilemmas that cannot be wished away; explains how he distinguishes between liberalism and democracy and why he proposes a democracy-first strategy; assesses the democratic record of Islamist political movements and parties; and discusses how the US could use its leverage in the Middle East to support or even foster democratic change.


History of ideas

Fantasy and Trauma: Dan Stone on Writing the History of the Holocaust

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Dan Stone – author of the new book The Holocaust: An Unfinished History – discusses various ways the history of the Holocaust has been misunderstood; addresses the challenges of narrating the Holocaust and clarifies his own interpretative framework; sketches the European dimension of the genocide and how German and non-German perpetrators interacted to execute it; and reflects on how perspectives on the Holocaust have changed over time and what studying it meant in the current moment.


History of ideas

Taming the Anthropocene: Zoltán Boldizsár Simon and Lars Deile on a New Era of Historical Understanding

In this conversation, our guest contributor Alexandra Medzibrodszky talks with Zoltán Boldizsár Simon and Lars Deile, the co-editors of the recently published volume "Historical Understanding: Past, Present, and Future" (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022). The conversation focuses on the theory of history, reflecting on our changing perceptions of historical time; the relationship between the past, present, and future; the concept of the Anthropocene and its importance for historians; as well as on the legacy of Reinhart Koselleck and the extent to which he remains significant to contemporary debates on the theory of history.


History of ideas

Dictionary of Received Ideas (About Fascism)

Engaging with the difficult task of deconstructing firmly rooted myths, Corner’s main goal is to answer two questions: (1) How far does the affirmation of “many good things” done by Fascism corresponds to the historical reality?; and (2) Why do so many people today share a “permissive memory” of Fascism?


History of ideas

Beverly Gage on J. Edgar Hoover and the American Century

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Beverly Gage – author of the new biography "G-Man. J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century" – discusses how Hoover built and shaped the FBI and what made him enjoy such an exceptional and long-lasting career; dissects his contradictions, reflecting on the sources of his popularity and why his reputation got so badly damaged; and explains what original sources and innovative scholarship a new biography of him can utilize and what placing him at the center of the American Century can teach us.


History of ideas

5 Key 2022 Books: Ideas

Ferenc Laczó, editor of the History of Ideas section at the Review of Democracy, presents five key Ideas books in 2022.


History of ideas

Westernization by Preemptive Rejection: How Viktor Orbán Sells to U.S. Conservatives Their Own Obsessions

In this op-ed, Ferenc Laczó explores how Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's regime "has been succeeding to a remarkable degree at translating key aspects of Hungarian ethnic nationalism into a wider panic about the future of Western civilization."


History of ideas

How the Necessary Cold War Ended – and Why an Unnecessary One Followed It: Archie Brown on the Political and the Personal in the Relationship Between the West and the Soviet Union/Russia

In this conversation with RevDem assistant editor Iker Itoiz Ciáurriz, Archie Brown – author of the recently released book "The Human Factor. Gorbachev, Reagan, and Thatcher, and the End of the Cold War" – explains why he approaches the end of the Cold War through the study of political leaders; explores the different personal formations and the varying relationships between his three main protagonists before and after 1985; elaborates on his views on when and how the Cold War ended; and elucidates why the relationship between Russia and the West has deteriorated in the post-Cold War decades.


History of ideas

Emancipating Jews from Narratives of Victimhood and Redemption: Susan Neiman Discusses Germany’s Current Memory Culture

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Susan Neiman dissects what has made the articulation of universalistic Jewish commitments increasingly difficult in the German public sphere; explores why debates concerning global colonialism and the Nazi-colonial connection tend to be so fraught in the country; explains what post-colonial criticisms misunderstand about the intellectual heritage of the Enlightenment; and shows how both ignorance regarding Eastern Europe and social solidarity with the victims have shaped German responses to the ongoing Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.


History of ideas

How 2000 people made an impact at a time when society was silent: András Bozóki on the rolling transition of Hungary

In this discussion, RevDem Managing Editor Michał Matlak discusses with András Bozóki about his last book, "Rolling Transition and the Role of Intellectuals: Case of Hungary", published this year by Central European University Press, which tells a compelling story of the role of intellectuals in political and social change that took place in Hungary between 1977-1994.


History of ideas

Liberalism Hasn’t Provided Adequate Answers to Today’s Major Crises: Luke Savage on Contemporary Liberalism and Its Democratic Socialist Critique

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Luke Savage – author of "The Dead Center. Reflections on Liberalism and Democracy After the End of History" – discusses key aspects of his critique of contemporary liberalism; reflects on the role of generational experiences in shaping the search for a political alternative; offers a detailed assessment of Joe Biden’s ongoing presidency; and ponders whether democratic socialists have managed to challenge the hegemony of liberal ways of thinking and transform the political conversation.


History of ideas

Why film matters: Oksana Sarkisova on the importance of documenting society

In this conversation with RevDem assistant editor Lucie Hunter, Oksana Sarkisova – Blinken OSA Research Fellow and the Director of Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival – discusses the role of filmmaking in today’s society; how festivals are reacting to contemporary global conflicts and challenges; the importance of safekeeping visual archives; and how micro-histories help us understand the wider context.


History of ideas

Why Do Autocracies Last? Lucan Way on the Longevity of Revolutionary Regimes

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Lucan Way – co-author, with Steven Levitsky, of the new book "Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism" – introduces what revolutionary autocracies are; explains why they tend to prove much more durable than other kinds of authoritarian regimes; discusses how the revolutionary sequences so crucial for the emergence of such regimes have played out in the various cases across the globe; and reflects on the contemporary relevance of the book’s findings concerning autocratic longevity.


History of ideas

The Trouble with Fortune: Zsuzsanna Szelényi on Hungary’s Tainted Democracy

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Zsuzsanna Szelényi – author of the new book "Tainted Democracy. Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary" – analyzes the main characteristics of the Orbán regime and the techniques Hungary’s current rulers have employed to establish their dominance over the country’s economy; reflects on the dilemmas and strategies of the Hungarian opposition; examines the role of gendered practices in Hungarian politics; and discusses the reasons behind the sharp democratic reversal and decline of the early 21st century.


History of ideas

Why Waste Our Data in Online Malls? Ben Tarnoff on Democratizing the Internet

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Ben Tarnoff – author of the new book "Internet for the People. The Fight for Our Digital Future" – discusses how the internet was created and how it has been privatized; how its current version fuels inequality and the rise of the political Right; why finding the right metaphors is crucial; and why the ongoing anti-monopoly push is not enough.


History of ideas

Democracy as a Way of Facing Obstacles: Lilia Moritz Schwarcz on Brazilian Authoritarianism and the Unfinished Project of Full Citizenship

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz – author of the book "Brazilian Authoritarianism" – contrasts mythological and critical-realistic versions of Brazilian history; discusses the main facets of authoritarianism in the country; compares the Bolsonaro phenomenon with the Trump one; and elaborates on her vision of democracy and full citizenship.


History of ideas

Building Majorities is the Essence of Democracy: Timothy Shenk on His New Biography of American Democracy

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Timothy Shenk – author of "Realigners: Partisan Hacks, Political Visionaries, and the Struggle to Rule American Democracy" – discusses what motivated him to explore the making of majorities and key members of the democratic elite who made those majorities; how the strongest and strangest coalition in American history – the New Deal majority – was assembled; what a study of the parallel maturation of the civil rights revolution and the liberal establishment may reveal about the making and unmaking of that coalition; and why it has become so difficult to sustain majorities today.


History of ideas

Is There Something We Can Salvage of Universalism? Till van Rahden on Conceptual History and Liberal Democracy

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Till van Rahden discusses his last book "Vielheit. Jüdische Geschichte und die Ambivalenzen des Universalismus" (Multitude. Jewish History and the Ambivalences of Universalism)


History of ideas

How to Best Manage the Unfolding Crisis of Everything: Gaia Vince on Key Implications of the Climate Crisis

In conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Gaia Vince – author of the new book "Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval" – sketches the transformations climate change and the accompanying rise in global average temperature are likely to bring in the coming decades; reflects on the most promising innovations when it comes to mitigating temperature rise and moving towards a circular economy; discusses ways to plan for lawful and safe mass migration at a time when large parts of the Earth are becoming uninhabitable; and addresses the key political questions of how to set the right priorities at the global level and how to act to enforce them.


History of ideas

A Path to Democracy Without Destabilization: Joseph Wong Explains the Types of Development and the Patterns of Uneven Democratization in Modern Asia

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Joseph Wong – co-author with Dan Slater of the new monograph "From Development to Democracy. The Transformations of Modern Asia" – discusses when and why regimes have chosen to democratize in modern Asia; how come types rather than levels of development have shaped countries' democratic prospects; why Singapore and China remain significantly less democratic than one might expect; and how studying the patterns of modern Asia can help us rethink democracy promotion today.


History of ideas

Down-to-Earth Machines of Exploitation. Andreas Eckert on Colonialism, Slavery, and Current Debates

In this conversation with Norman Aselmeyer, Andreas Eckert – author of German-language overviews of the history of colonialism and of slavery – presents his approach to the history of colonialism.


History of ideas

Ambiguous Tests of Loyalty: Franziska Exeler about the Second World War and its Long Shadow in Belarus

In this extended conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Franziska Exeler – author of the new monograph "Ghosts of War: Nazi Occupation and Its Aftermath in Soviet Belarus" – discusses the extremely violent history of Belarus during the Second World War; analyses the various choices people made under the dire constrains of the Nazi German occupation and the challenges of drawing on Soviet sources to analyze those choices; zooms in on the issue of Soviet retribution and its ambiguities; and reflects on how the partisan experience and narrative has continued to shape the country.


History of ideas

In conversation with Francis Fukuyama: “Russia would not have invaded Ukraine if it had been a democracy” 

In this interview with Francis Fukuyama, hosted by Laetitia Strauch-Bonart (Editor of the Ideas section in the French weekly L’Express) and Michał Matlak (RevDem Managing Editor), they discuss his latest book, the status of liberal and illiberal democracies in the world today, how this relates to Russia, China, and the US, the threats to American democracy today, and more.


History of ideas

What Does Right-Wing Anti-Gender Mobilization Have to Do with Progressive Gender Trends? Eszter Kováts Investigates the Politics of Fidesz and AfD

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Eszter Kováts discusses the conclusions she has drawn from her comparison of the discourse coalitions around AfD in Germany and Fidesz in Hungary.


History of ideas

A turning point of democracy?

To mark the International Day of Democracy, we present an op-ed by Wolfgang Merkel examining the state of democracy around the world.


History of ideas

How Socialism Went Global – and Why It Withdrew. An Alternative Global History

RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó interviews three authors of the new collective monograph "Socialism Goes Global. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the Age of Decolonization", Péter Apor, James Mark and Steffi Marung.


History of ideas

Democracies Proved More Successful at Breaking Promises. Fritz Bartel on the End of the Cold War and the Rise of Neoliberalism

RevDem section heads Vera Scepanovic and Ferenc Laczó talk with Fritz Bartel, author of "Triumph of Broken Promises. The End of the Cold War and the Rise of Neoliberalism".


History of ideas

It is a mistake to see the Eastern vision as undemocratic. Peter Verovšek on European memory

In this conversation with RevDem editor Kasia Krzyżanowska, Peter Verovšek — author of “Memory and the future of Europe. Rupture and integration in the wake of total war” — discusses the importance of foundational stories for communities; explains the influence of personal experience on the European integration; shows differences in remembering the past in West and East Europe and ponders on the consequences of Russian aggression on Ukraine for the European memory. 


History of ideas

Repairing the Damage to Our Ethical Categories. A Conversation with Charlotte Wiedemann

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Charlotte Wiedemann – author of the just released German-language volume Den Schmerz der Anderen begreifen. Holocaust und Weltgedächtnis (To Grasp the Pain of Others. Holocaust and Global Remembrance).


History of ideas

Rehabilitating the Principle of Hope in Modern History. Enzo Traverso on Revolutions

In conversation with Una Blagojević and Iker Itoiz Ciaurriz, Enzo Traverso discusses key themes in his newest book Revolution: An Intellectual History (Verso, 2021).


History of ideas

“Post-War Christian Democracy Was Relatively Short-Lived” Fabio Wolkenstein on the Dark Side of Christian Democratic History and Politics 

In this conversation with Ferenc Laczó, Fabio Wolkenstein – author of the new book Die dunkle Seite der Christdemokratie. Geschichte einer autoritaeren Versuchung (The Dark Side of Christian Democracy. The History of an Authoritarian Temptation) – sketches the broad variety of Christian politics across modern Europe.


History of ideas

“War is for the Weak”: Stella Ghervas on the European Divorce between Peace and Empire

RevDem Editor Ferenc Laczó reviews Stella Ghervas’ major new monograph Conquering "Peace. From the Enlightenment to the European Union," a stylishly written, often stimulating, if slightly unusual scholarly monograph. Inspired, among others, by Robert de Traz’s 1936 book De l'alliance des rois à la ligue des peuples, Sainte-Alliance et SDN (From the Alliance of Kings to the League of Nations: The Holy Alliance and the League of Nations), Ghervas has penned what she calls “a theatrical dialogue in five acts that portrays Europe’s resistance to empires while trying to keep free of armed conflicts” (p.3).


History of ideas

Beyond the “mafia-state”: a comprehensive and innovative approach to post-communist regimes

Gábor Illés, Research Fellow at the Department for Democracy and Political Theory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence, reviews "The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes: A conceptual framework" (CEU Press, 2021) by Bálint Magyar and Bálint Madlovics.


History of ideas

Democracy Depends on Those Who Are Harder to Fool: Daniel Treisman on the Changing Face of Dictatorship

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Daniel Treisman – co-author, with Sergei Guriev, of "Spin Dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century" – discusses how ‘spin dictatorships’ differ from ‘fear dictatorships’; why such a new form of dictatorship has emerged and spread in recent decades; what might explain the at times notable popularity of such regimes and whether they are likely to represent the wave of the future; and why an informed citizenry should be seen as crucial to the defense of liberal democracy.


History of ideas

A Global History of Hungary: In Conversation with Ferenc Laczó, Bálint Varga, and Dóra Vargha

In this conversation with Bence Bari and Orsolya Sudár, editors Ferenc Laczó and Bálint Varga and contributor Dóra Vargha discuss the new volume "Magyarország globális története, 1869-2022 (A Global History of Hungary, 1869-2022)". The conversation focuses on some of the innovative questions posed by trying to reconceptualize the history of a Central and Eastern European country in a global frame; how the subjects of the volume’s one hundred chapters have been selected; the relation of this new book to other narratives of Hungarian history; and the more political stakes of releasing such a publication today.


History of ideas

Free Speech, Equality, and Tolerance Are Mutually Reinforcing: A Conversation with Jacob Mchangama

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Jacob Mchangama discusses central ideas of his new monograph "Free Speech: A Global History from Socrates to Social Media". The conversation reflects on how to write a global history of this subject; contrasts egalitarian and elitist conceptions of free speech; explores facets of the free speech recession experienced in the early 21st century; and explains why the counterintuitive principle of free speech should be seen as essential.


History of ideas

Davide Rodogno on the Troubled History of Western Humanitarianism

In this conversation with guest contributor Nikola Pantić, Davide Rodogno discusses his new book Night on Earth: A History of International Humanitarianism in the Near East, 1918-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2021). The conversation focuses on the reasons why the Middle East became a popular destination for Western humanitarian agencies in the first decades of the twentieth century, how these agencies operated among the local populations, what role religion played in these missions, and the ways in which the writing of history can give some agency to those whose voices have been omitted in the archives of these humanitarian institutions.


History of ideas

How to Avoid Further Escalation? A Conversation with Wolfgang Merkel on the Scholz Government and German Foreign Policy Today

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Wolfgang Merkel talks about German foreign policy, describes key decisions and non-decisions of the new German government and reflects on the reasons that led him to sign the Open Letter to Chancellor Scholz.


History of ideas

The ‘New Europe’ Campaign: The Failure of Liberal Internationalism and the Resilience of Imperialism

Historians of the Habsburg Empire and the First World War analyze the fascinating story of Robert William Seton-Watson's propaganda for the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of a 'New Europe.' They historicize ideas concerning the 'balance of power', European integration, anti-imperialist liberal internationalism, and the making of the post-Habsburg nation-states in Central Europe. The panel argues that while Seton-Watson's campaign was progressive in its ambition to reconcile ethnic diversity and democracy, it was also rooted in a primordial view of nationhood.


History of ideas

In Conversation with Eva Fodor: How the Carefare Gender Regime Shapes Hungary

RevDem Editor László Bence Bari in conversation with Éva Fodor, Professor at the Gender Studies and Pro-Rector of the Central European University about her latest book “The Gender Regime of Anti-Liberal Hungary”. In this book, she argues that the anti-liberal government of Hungary has established a specific kind of gender regime, the ’carefare’ policy which allows the government to stabilize and expand its rule over society and to support its ideological and political goals.


History of ideas

Brazilian Intellectuals and the French Social Sciences: Ian Merkel on Writing Anti-Diffusionist Intellectual History

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Ian Merkel discusses why Brazil in the 1930s offered such a precious opportunity to innovate in the social sciences; shows the ways in which Brazilians were crucial interlocutors for French social scientists; explores how the terms of exchange between French and Brazilian scholars evolved over time; and reflects on the broader implications of these fascinating encounters for the writing of global intellectual history.


History of ideas

Change of framing and the need for peace in Ukraine: A reply to Szulecki and Wig

Responding to critiques of their op-ed on why the war in Ukraine should not be discussed using the "democracy vs. autocracy" framework, authors Irina Domurath and Stefano Palestini further develop why orienting the discussion around Russia's abuse of international law could draw more international support and avoid escalation into a Third World War.


History of ideas

The First Revolution Born in Oxford: Simon Kuper on the Tory Elite’s “Betrayal by Mistake”

In conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Simon Kuper – author of the new book "Chums: How a Tiny Caste of Oxford Tories Took Over the UK" – discusses why Oxford University was so crucial to the formation of the current Tory elite; how this highly influential generational cohort of Tories may be placed into the long continuum of British history and what might make it rather distinct; and which ideas and concerns shaped their attitude and relationship to the EU on the path to Brexit.


History of ideas

Chamstwo. A Story of the Polish Serfdom: in conversation with Kacper Pobłocki

In a conversation with our editor Kasia Krzyżanowska, Kacper Pobłocki discusses his recent book Chamstwo and reflects on how Polish society was historically based on violence; elaborates on the historical sources of the name “Cham”; compares Polish predicament with other European states and discusses current state of the academia.


History of ideas

Boyd van Dijk on the Making of the Geneva Conventions: The Most Important Rules Ever Formulated for Armed Conflict

In this conversation with Ferenc Laczó, Boyd van Dijk – author of the new monograph "Preparing for War: The Making of the Geneva Conventions" discusses what makes the Geneva Conventions such defining documents when it comes to formulating rules for armed conflict.


History of ideas

Interrogating the Fantasy and Impact of Displacement: A Conversation with Lorenzo Veracini on Settler Colonialism as a Political Idea

In this conversation, Lorenzo Veracini reflects on key ideas in his new intellectual history of settler colonialism The World Turned Inside Out. He outlines the transnational coherence of the political sensibilities and rhetorical traditions of settler colonialism and shows how attention to ideas and practices of displacement might help us make sense of the historical paradox that democracies are based on genocide and racial exclusion.


History of ideas

Realist Thought Between Empire-Building and Restraint: Matthew Specter on Why a Flawed Tradition Endures

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Matthew Specter discusses key concepts and tropes in the language of realism; the comparisons across the Atlantic that have defined the realist tradition over the generations; the broad appeal of this manner of thinking despite its notable intellectual weaknesses; and the more normative elements of his critique.


History of ideas

Sarah Shortall on the Counter-politics of Theology

In this conversation with RevDem assistant editor Vilius Kubekas, Sarah Shortall discusses the history of the nouvelle théologie movement in France and brings into focus the political dimension of theology.


History of ideas

Can they ever win? The past and future prospects for an opposition victory in Hungary’s competitive authoritarian regime

By analyzing the recent parliamentary elections, the authors attempt to answer a key question for Hungary and Europe: is Viktor Orban and his ruling party defeatable?


History of ideas

Gary Gerstle on the Neoliberal Political Order: An Elite Promise of a World of Freedom and Emancipation (Part II)

In part II of this conversation with Gary Gerstle, he discusses opposed moral perspectives and their compatibility with the neoliberal political order; why the neoliberal order used the coercive power of the state to incarcerate millions; and the ways in which we can observe the retreat of neoliberal hegemony today.


History of ideas

What is Christian Democracy? A Book Discussion with Carlo Invernizzi Accetti

In September CEU Democracy Institute and the Review of Democracy held the symposium "The Past and Present of Christian Democracy" where leading scholars discussed the historical significance and contemporary state of Christian Democracy. The first panel was dedicated to Carlo Invernizzi Accetti’s book "What is Christian Democracy? Politics, Religion and Ideology". The book was discussed by three speakers, Giuliana Chamedes, James Chappel and Martin Conway, which was followed by a response from the author.


History of ideas

Gary Gerstle on the Neoliberal Political Order: An Elite Promise of a World of Freedom and Emancipation (Part I)

In this conversation with Ferenc Laczó, Gary Gerstle discusses key questions tackled in his new "The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era." Part I covers Gerstle’s interpretation of the longue durée history of liberalism; his encompassing approach to the study of political orders; how the neoliberal order became hegemonic in the US; and why the Soviet Union is crucial to the history of the US.


History of ideas

Book review: Giuseppe Martinico, Filtering Populist Claims to Fight Populism: The Italian Case in Comparative Perspective (CUP 2021)

Julian Scholtes, a lecturer in EU and Public Law at Newcastle University, reviews "Filtering Populist Claims to Fight Populism: The Italian Case in Comparative Perspective" by Giuseppe Martinico, "a wonderfully written in-depth analysis of the constitutional dimensions of populism in Italy."


History of ideas

The war in Ukraine is all about democracy vs dictatorship

A dictatorship has just brutally attacked its democratic neighbor. It’s not the first time in history that happens, but there are good reasons to see the war in Ukraine as the first one defining the conflict lines of this century.


History of ideas

Mark R. Beissinger: Revolutions have succeeded more often in our time, but their consequences have become more ambiguous

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Mark R. Beissinger introduces his unique global dataset and probabilistic structural approach to revolution; analyzes the prevalent form of revolution in our age he calls “urban civic”; dissects how the consequences of revolution have shifted over time; and reflects on how revolution may be changing again today.


History of ideas

Historians and Populism: Regional Perspectives and Entanglements

In light of the recent solidifying of what could be named as ‘populist international’, we are opening a conversation on one of the first areas and people that were targeted: history and historians. Populist regimes and their supporters feed themselves on historical myths, distortions and subversion of the public debate on historical themes.


History of ideas

George Soros’ philanthropy is based completely on values: A conversation with Peter Osnos

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Peter Osnos discusses his new edited volume "George Soros: A Life in Full".


History of ideas

Joshua L. Cherniss on Liberalism and Ethical Commitment in Dark Times [LONG READ]

In this conversation with RevDem assistant editor Vilius Kubekas, Joshua L. Cherniss discusses the central role ethical commitment played in twentieth-century liberalism.


History of ideas

Ukraine: not a war about democracy

In this op-ed by Irina Domurath and Stefano Palestini, they discuss the war in Ukraine and why the West should leave behind the narrative that this is a "war of values."


History of ideas

Caroline Mezger: Youth and the Politicization of Germanness in Interwar Yugoslavia

A conversation with Caroline Mezger about her book, "Forging Germans: Youth, Nation and the National Socialist Mobilization of Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia (1918-1944)."


History of ideas

In conversation with Robert Zaretsky: Irresistible Simone Weil 

Simone Weil’s figure poses a challenge to each reader of hers. In this conversation, our editor Kasia Krzyżanowska speaks to prof. Robert Zarestky (professor at the University of Houston), about the heroine of his recently published biography: Simone Weil.


History of ideas

Crisis as a trigger for new ways of thinking about politics

A conversation with Cesare Cuttica, László Kontler, and Clara Maier concerning their recently released volume, "Crisis and Renewal in the History of European Political Thought."


History of ideas

5 Books on Putinism

Our editors Kasia Krzyzanowska and Michal Matlak have selected 5 books that encourage a better understanding of the aggressor: Vladimir Putin and the system he has created.


History of ideas

We’re looking for assistant editors!

The Review of Democracy is looking for five assistant editors interested in one (or more) of these thematic fields: history of ideas, debates on the future of Europe, the state of democracy in various parts of the world & political economy.


History of ideas

Maarten Prak: Democracy in medieval and early-modern towns was stronger than democracy post 1789

In this interview with Maarten Prak, hosted by Karen Culver, they discuss Maarten’s book Citizens without Nations: Urban Citizenship in Europe and the World c. 1000-1789. Maarten comments on how citizenship functioned in medieval and early modern Europe; why the term “urban governance” is preferable to “urban democracy”; how accessible guilds were at this time, and more.


History of ideas

Dunstan: Black thinkers have contested the principles of democracy in ways that are central to the experience of these democracies

Sarah Dunstan in conversation with Ferenc Laczó talks about her new monograph "Race, Rights and Reform", maps the landscape of Black activist thought across the French Empire and the United States from World War One to the Cold War; shows how gender operated in tandem with the dynamics of race and class; underlines how the end of empire connected rights to national belonging; and reflects on how positionality continues to define the canon in ways that need to be critically examined.


History of ideas

The competitive element in competitive authoritarianism is still very pertinent. Dimitar Bechev on Turkey Under Erdogan

Dimitar Bechev in conversation with Ferenc Laczó discusses the current shape of the Turkish political system.


History of ideas

Marlene Laruelle: Russian society is very different from its regime

Andrea Pető in conversation with Marlene Laruelle about illiberalism studies, whether Russia is fascist, the nature of Russia’s illiberalism, as well as its conservative softpower.


History of ideas

Kiran Klaus Patel: The European Union has unexpectedly become too important to ignore

Ferenc Laczó discusses with Kiran Klaus Patel his latest book "Europäische Integration. Geschichte und Gegenwart" (European Integration: History and the Present Day).


History of ideas

When Christian Democratic Youth Read Herbert Marcuse

In this conversation conducted by Vilius Kubekas, Anna von der Goltz discusses her recent book The Other ‘68ers: Student Protest and Christian Democracy in West Germany.


History of ideas

Suzanne Schneider: How the Apocalypticism of the Islamic State Reflects Global Transformations 

Suzanne Schneider discusses the modernity of new forms of jihad; shows how the Islamic State’s organizational structure, understanding of the law, and spectacular violence reflect broader contemporary trends.


History of ideas

Michael Ignatieff: Liberalism has been weakened by its bloodless cosmopolitanism

Michał Matlak speaks with Michael Ignatieff about his recent book On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times, the role of religion in the modern world, whether conservative liberalism is possible today, the cancel culture, the (im)possibility of European integration, and much more.


History of ideas

Stefano Bottoni: How a Child of Kádár’s Time Built a Post-democratic Autocracy [Part 2]

Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič in conversation with Stefano Bottoni, author of a recent Italian-language book about Viktor Orbán.


History of ideas

Montás: Why liberal education is the bedrock of modern-day democracy

In this conversation, hosted by RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Roosevelt Montás discusses his recent book "Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation".


History of ideas

Stefano Bottoni: How a Child of Kádár’s Time Built a Post-democratic Autocracy [Part 1]

Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič in conversation with Stefano Bottoni, author of a recent Italian-language book about Viktor Orbán.


History of ideas

The Rise of the EU Marked the End of the Universal Welfare State. Varela on People’s Histories

In this interview, Agnė Rimkutė discusses with Raquel Varela the importance of seeing the working classes as actors in the historical process and the implications of people’s history for our understanding of democracy.


History of ideas

Feinberg: De-Pathologizing the Recent History of Eastern Europe

Melissa Feinberg in a conversation with Ferenc Laczo on Her New Textbook Communism in Eastern Europe


History of ideas

Dirk Moses on the Diplomacy of Genocide and the Sinister Ambition of Permanent Security [Part II]

Dirk Moses in the second part of his conversation with Ferenc Laczo on the diplomacy of genocide and the deeply sinister ambitions of permanent security


History of ideas

5 Key 2021 Books in History of Ideas

Ferenc Laczó, editor of the History of Ideas section in the Review of Democracy, presents five key books in intellectual history published in 2021.


History of ideas

The Problems of Genocide: Dirk Moses on the Language of Transgression and the Genocide Convention in Context

Dirk Moses in conversation with Ferenc Laczo on his last book "The Problems of Genocide. Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression".


History of ideas

Marius Turda: The idea of race across centuries and our current moment of reckoning

Marius Turda in conversation with Ferenc Laczo about A Cultural History of Race.


History of ideas

Laszlo Bruszt: The EU confederal regime weakens vulnerable member states

In this interview Laszlo Bruszt, Co-Director of the CEU Democracy Institute and Editor-in-Chief of RevDem, explains the inspiration behind the CEU Democracy Institute and RevDem, how East-West and North-South divisions define Europe, and why the EU confederal regime weakens vulnerable member states.


History of ideas

Dimitry Kochenov: Why we shall abolish citizenship

Professor Dimitry Kochenov in conversation with Michał Matlak explains why he believes citizenship is a “perpetuation of the ideas of aristocracy,” sexism, and racism; what can be done to fix this issue; and what motivated him to write “Citizenship” (MIT Press, 2019).


History of ideas

Emily Greble: European History via the Experience of Muslims

Emily Greble in conversation with Ferenc Laczo discusses what foregrounding Muslims’ agency implies for the writing of European history; what were key legacies of the Ottoman Empire and how Muslims became a distinct legal minority; in what ways they related to the major political movements of the twentieth century; and how focusing on their experiences can help us reconceptualize questions of secularism and citizenship.


History of ideas

Linking sexual diversity to otherness is an old phenomenon 

Bence Bari interviews Tamás Dombos, the representative of the Hungarian LGBTQI organization ‘Háttér Society’ concerning the recently adopted Hungarian anti-LGBT measures, their transnational and historical background with respect to the global dynamics of acceptance, and homophobia between the Western and Eastern hemisphere.


History of ideas

‘In the Name of the Family’: Conference Report on the Budapest Demographic Summit

The authors summarize and contextualize the content of the summit to argue that the conference not only provided an opportunity for its participants to address the ‘demographic crisis’ in Europe and the ‘family politics of conservative’ governments,’ but also amounted to an attempt to develop a transnational narrative for such self-declared conservatives that could unite political and ideological actors on various continents.


History of ideas

What After the Pandemic?

Kasia Krzyżanowska reviews for us “Pandemonium” by Luuk van Middelaar, a book that summarizes the crisis he deems as most important for the EU in decades: the coronavirus pandemic.


History of ideas

Emily Levine on the Hard Compromises behind Academic Innovation

In conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Emily Levine (Stanford University) discusses key ideas in her new book "Allies and Rivals: German-American Exchange and the Rise of the Modern Research University", a transatlantic monograph that draws on extensive historical research and applies sociological theory to study how the academic social contract was repeatedly renegotiated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


History of ideas

The Price of Optimism. A Conversation with Geert Mak about Europe in Our Times

In this wide-ranging conversation occasioned by the release of his The Dream of Europe. Travels in the Twenty-First Century, Geert Mak discusses why he chose to write a sequel to "In Europe. Travels Through the Twentieth Century".


History of ideas

Márki-Zay would be a Never Trump Republican in America

In this conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczó, Gábor Tóka talks about the Fall 2021 Hungarian opposition primaries


History of ideas

Zsolt Enyedi: Is it still possible to win an election in Hungary, if you’re not Viktor Orbán?

Michal Matlak interviews Zsolt Enyedi about the development of Church-State relations in Hungary, Viktor Orban’s vision of Christian Democracy, why the Democracy Institute plays an important symbolic role in Budapest, and about his recently published book, “Party System Closure: Party Alliances, Government Alternatives, and Democracy in Europe”


History of ideas

Lea Ypi: Ideas of freedom across a historical rupture

Lea Ypi in conversation with Ferenc Laczo about her new memoir "Free: Coming of Age at the End of History" and how the people who populate its pages help her connect historical experiences with philosophical thought; how she experienced and dealt with the rupture of 1990 that forced her to reassess her childhood; how that rupture placed her country, Albania, on a seemingly new trajectory with liberal-sounding concepts soon filling the conceptual void that emerged; how the new regime violently collapsed in 1997, just when she was about to graduate from secondary school; and how she relates to the overlapping ideas of freedom in the liberal and socialist traditions.


History of ideas

“History as Democracy”: Interview with László Kontler

In this podcast, our assistant editor Bence Bari interviews László Kontler, the research affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute’s History workgroup project, titled “History as Democracy.”


History of ideas

The Chancellor. A conversation with Kati Marton about Angela Merkel

Ferenc Laczó in conversation with Kati Marton about her biography of Angela Merkel. The conversation focuses on Kati Marton’s motivation to paint a human portrait of Angela Merkel, on Merkel’s personality traits and how they have impacted the style and substance of her political leadership.


History of ideas

Thinking like Hannah Arendt

Our editor Kasia Krzyżanowska (EUI, CEU) talks with Samantha Rose Hill, professor at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, about her recently published biography of Hannah Arendt. 


History of ideas

Aldo Madariaga: Neoliberalism is not a solution for democracy

Aldo Madariaga discusses his latest book “Neoliberal Resilience: Lessons in Democracy and Development from Latin America and Eastern Europe” with our editor, Giancarlo Grignaschi.


History of ideas

From Socialist to Capitalist Walls

Gábor Scheiring reviews „Taking stock of shock. Social consequences of the 1989 revolutions” by Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell Orenstein


History of ideas

Why is the collective protection of democracy in the Americas doomed to fail? The Inter-American Charter at 20

Stefano Palestini writes about the Inter-American Democratic Charter on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.


History of ideas

An Authoritarian Liberal Europe? In Conversation with Michael Wilkinson

Oliver Garner interviews the author on his book ‘Authoritarian Liberalism and the Transformation of Modern Europe’


History of ideas

Democracy Rules. A Book Discussion with Jan-Werner Müller and His Critics

Gráinne de Búrca, Jan Kubik, Jeffrey Isaac, and Karolina Wigura comment on the new book by Jan Werner Müller. Afterwards the author responds to the commentators.


History of ideas

Deadlock of Western liberalism. Petr Agha Reviews a Book by Krastev and Holmes

The Light that Failed: A Reckoning fails to deliver a fresh interpretation which would venture beyond the traditional liberal mantra. It is a representation of the contemporary deadlock of Western liberalism.


History of ideas

Invernizzi Accetti: Christian Democracy That Can Counter Right-Wing Populists

Vilius Kubekas in conversation. with the author of the book "What is Christian Democracy? Politics, Religion and Ideology".


History of ideas

Will the EU survive the rise of democratorships within? Karolewski and Leggewie on the new quality of politics in the Visegrád states

Ireneusz Paweł Karolewski on the new quality of politics in the Visegrád states.


History of ideas

The West’s Strategic Mistakes and Broken Resolve. Jonathan Holslag on World Politics Since 1989

Our editor Ferenc Laczo interviews Jonathan Hoslag (Free University Brussels) on his book "World Politics Since 1989" (Polity Press).


History of ideas

LaTosha Brown: Culture will eat strategy for breakfast

RevDem editor Ferenc Laczo interviews LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the voting rights group Black Voters Matter.


History of ideas

Talisse: To Be a Democratic Citizen

Katarzyna Krzyżanowska talks with Robert Talisse, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, on epistemology of democracy.


History of ideas

Konrad Jarausch on Realistic Progress

RevDem editor Ferenc Laczo interviewed historian Konrad H. Jarausch, Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about his latest book Embattled Europe: A Progressive Alternative, a rich and finely balanced portrait of contemporary Europe.


History of ideas

New Crises: Science, Morality and Democracy in the 21st Century 

Wolfgang Merkel in his op-Ed analyses three aspects of democracy crises: scientistation, moralisation and polarisation.


History of ideas

Samuel Moyn on the US’ Attempt to Humanise its Imperial Burden

Ferenc Laczo in conversation with Samuel Moyn (Yale University) about his book "Humane. How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War".


History of ideas

A Not Wasted Life. Conversation with Zygmunt Bauman’s biographer Artur Domosławski

Artur Domoslawski, the author of a monumental Zygmunt Bauman’s biography in conversation with our managing editor, Michał Matlak


History of ideas

Rising Inequality in Egalitarian Societies

In conversation with our editor Ferenc Laczo, Mitchell Orenstein, Professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses post-communist transitions.


History of ideas

Contesting German Memory Culture. A Conversation with Jennifer Evans on the Catechism Debate

Ferenc Laczo talks with Jennifer Evans (Carleton University) about the new Holocaust memory debate.


History of ideas

Can Technology Save Democracy?

How can we employ technology to facilitate the democratic process? Which platforms are more democratic than others? These and more questions are answered by Kevin Esterling, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of California in a conversation with the RevDem assistant editor, Catherine Wright. 


History of ideas

Statelessness and the Global Political Order. A Conversation with Mira Siegelberg

Ferenc Laczo discusses with Mira Siegelberg her latest book "Statelessness", the story of a much-contested legal category.


History of ideas

How East-West Dynamics Define Europe

In his article, Ferenc Laczo writes about the roots of the division of Europe into East and West and its consequences for European politics today.


History of ideas

What Are the Sources of Democratic Legitimacy? Till van Rahden on Democracy as a Way of Life

Elias Buchetmann talks to Till van Rahden about his latest book Demoracy: A Fragile Way of Life, which focuses on the history of democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany and raises fundamental questions about the nature of democracy around the world.


History of ideas

An American in a Strangely Familiar World. Ben Rhodes explores the world the U.S. has made

Ferenc Laczo reviews "After the Fall. Being American in the World We've Made" by Ben Rhodes.


History of ideas

How the U.S. decided to lead the world. Wertheim on the transformation of American internationalism

Ferenc Laczó spoke to Stephen Wertheim about his new book, Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of US Global Diplomacy. The book explores the moment in which the US decided to lead the post-war world.


History of ideas

A limited and cautious democracy. Interview with Martin Conway

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins and Ferenc Laczo discuss with Martin Conway his latest book "Western Europe’s Democratic Age,1945-1968". You can listen to the podcast or read the edited transcript below.


History of ideas

Remaking politics in response to the assault on natural world

RevDem Editor Ferenc Laczo is discussing the book "Planet on Fire. A Manifesto for the Age of Environmental Breakdown" by Mathew Lawrence and Laurie Laybourn-Langton with its authors.


History of ideas

[RevDem Launch Event] Conference on the Future of Europe: Democratic Innovation or Business as Usual?

May 9th marked the opening of the Conference on the Future of Europe. In the debate we organised one day later, the panellists discussed its objectives, how to achieve them and whether it can give a new impetus to European integration.


History of ideas

The New Logic of Democratic Politics [Podcast and Interview]

Our editor Ferenc Ferenc Laczó talks with Chris Bickerton about his latest book Technopopulism.


History of ideas

Ernst Fraenkel – a Jewish lawyer who resisted the Nazis

Kasia Krzyżanowska talks to Douglas G. Morris, a legal historian and practicing criminal defense attorney with Federal Defenders of New York, about his newest book on Ernst Fraenkel.


History of ideas

Stasavage: Democracy requires continuous effort (PODCAST AND LONG READ)

David Stasavage (New York University) in conversation with RevDem editor Ferenc Laczo (Maastricht University) about his recent book “The Decline and Rise of Democracy”, which presents the global history of democracies since ancient times.


History of ideas

Sustainable Democracy after 25 years. Conversation with Adam Przeworski

Our editor-in-chief Laszlo Bruszt asks Adam Przeworski about the contemporary relevance of "Sustainable democracy", a seminal book published 25 years ago.


History of ideas

Fascism to Populism and Back Again? [PODCAST AND LONG READ]

RevDem editor Ferenc Laczo (Maastricht University) talks with Federico Finchelstein (New School for Social Research, New York) about his two recent books: “From Fascism to Populism in History” and “A Brief History of Fascist Lies”.


History of ideas

We are looking for assistant editors!

Take a look at our Internship & Mentorship Programme for PhD students from CIVICA network.


History of ideas

A Certain Anachronistic Appeal. On Conversations with Francis Fukuyama

On the 3rd of May, the Georgetown University Press will publish "After the End of History. Conversation with Francis Fukuyama". Our editor Ferenc Laczo from Maastricht University reviews the volume.


History of ideas

We cannot analytically divide reason from emotion

In the second part of the conversation, Jan-Werner Müller interviewed by Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič talks about populism and employment of emotions, and on bipartisanship and political conflict.


History of ideas

DI and RevDem Event: What Price the Rule of Law?

On 25 January the CEU Democracy Institute hosted Commissioner Didier Reynders and MEP Katalin Cseh for a debate on the new EU Regulation on Rule of Law conditionality. In this first editorial of the RevDem Rule of Law section, editor Oliver Garner and assistant editor Teodora Miljojkovic reflect on the implications for constitutional democracy of the impression that the Rule of Law comes at a price.


History of ideas

Far-right Demonstrations — They Are Not Going Anywhere

Michael Zeller, in a conversation with Kasia Krzyżanowska, talks about far-right mobilization campaigns and the processes of their de-mobilization. 


History of ideas

For what does democracy need political parties?

Jan-Werner Müller, in an interview with Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič, talks about the functions of contemporary political parties, the role of the constitutional courts and the future of European Christian  Democracy.


History of ideas

The Politics of Antipopulism

The mainstream media and academia as well as political elites identify populist movements as the most important threat to the current liberal democratic regime. Populist actors have indeed unsettled and begun reshaping the European political landscape.


History of ideas

We’ve Gotten the Ogre Out of the Way

Samuel Moyn in an interview with RevDem editor Katarzyna Nowicka talks about the legacy of Donald Trump and the presidency of Joe Biden.


History of ideas

Enemies at the Liberal Democratic Gates

Is America living in the shadow of the post-Cold War liberalism? Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins argues that some liberal intellectuals are still looking for an enemy who can give a cause to their political actions.


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