Hungary in State of Exception seeks to analyze the transboundary exchange of political and economic ideas through the global neoliberal hegemonic struggle. Neoliberalism, as a economic and political ideology, defined the history of Hungary not just in the 21st century, but in the troubled 20th century. Eastern Europe played a crucial role in neoliberalism’s rise to control globalized capitalism, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have constantly an incubator of and experimental laboratory for new types of neoliberal capitalism. Antal arguesthat neoliberalism, like populism, is historically embedded in Hungarian political history, its the political form is economic and governmental exceptionalism. This book reveals the common history of Western- and Eastern-style neoliberalism from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the contemporary COVID-19 crisis. Without emphasis on the century of neoliberalization of CEE, the contemporary rise of regional authoritarianism cannot be understood. Antal also details the relationship between Orbán’s rise and contemporary neoliberal politics in CEE.
Attila Antal is senior lecturer at Eötvös Loránd University Faculty of Law and a coordinator at the Social Theory Research Group at the Institute of Political History.
Introduction: Historically Embedded Neoliberalism and Exceptional Measures in Hungary
Chapter 1: The Neoliberalism as a Permanent State of Exception
Chapter 2 The Heritage of the Habsburg Empire: The Historical Impact of Neoliberalism
Chapter 3 Neoliberalization of State Socialism
Chapter 4 The Neoliberalization of 1989 and the Collapse of System of Regime Change
Chapter 5 Authoritarian Populism, Neoliberalism and Exceptional Measures
Conclusion: The Semi-Peripheral Fate: Neoliberalism and Authoritarian Populism
Anyone with an interest in the fate of Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe will enjoy reading Antal's work, which contains many original observations and analyses. Understanding how neoliberalism integrates into Central and Eastern Europe and became a Zeitgeist is a key issue from a historical perspective and also for the contemporary Hungarian situation. Neoliberalization has been under-researched in many respects and the volume aims to fill this gap with the tools of critical thinking. It also highlights how the management of the COVID crisis is deeply embedded in the neoliberal political and economic-social 'tradition'. This work, which is essentially a history of ideas, shows how Hungary has contributed to the development of neoliberalism, first and foremost by constantly suspending normality. The book is an important document of independent, autonomous thinking. I can only recommend reading it.
In this overarching political history, Antal weaves together insights from an impressively large body of scholarship. He convincingly demonstrates that in the last 50 years, neoliberalism has been the norm throughout Hungary's three different political regimes. The book also serves as a helpful guide for scholars and students, offering a comprehensive introduction to neoliberalism and Hungary's political economy.
In this exciting book, Antal, a leading Hungarian political theorist, argues that neoliberalism is far more than just a recent trend: It is a historically embedded phenomenon in the eastern part of Europe. Antal not only demonstrates that neoliberalism is inseparable from biopolitics and from the state of exception, but he argues convincingly that neoliberalization is a strategy of disruption, not of stabilization.
Hungary in State of Exception convincingly argues that neoliberalism - conceived both as an economic and political ideology, as well a politico-economic regime - needs to be understood from a historical and transnational perspective. In the case of Hungary, Antal shows that, far from being an exception from the norm, the contemporary authoritarian turn under Viktor Orbán is in many ways a deepening of state practices exercised by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the state socialist regimes. An important contribution to the literatures on 'illiberalism' and 'varieties of neoliberalism'.