In a Permanent State of Transition:
Theorising the East-European Condition

Arpad Szakolczai*


This paper presents a theoretical analysis of the past and present condition of the East or East-Central European region. It will also suggest direct political and policy implications which, I very much hope, will be acceptable, even convincing.

I will make seven points, moving from the abstract to the concrete. They will centre on two key words used recurrently in recent years concerning the problems of the region, 'transition' and 'elite'.

The first point will be quite abstract indeed, dealing not even with ideas but outright with numbers. I will argue that a main reason why the East European situation seems so elusive is the peculiar fascination of modern thought with the number 'two', while the region can only be understood through a conceptual framework focusing on the number 'three'. This is due to its long-term intermediate position between the both mythical and very real entities 'West' and 'East'.

Second, taking up some cues from Zygmunt Bauman (1992), I'll introduce a theoretical framework, relying on the work of cultural anthropologists such as Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner, who theorised transitoriness or intermediate position through the study of 'rites of passage' and the concept 'liminality'. This concept seems to be particularly well-suited for the understanding of an in-between position, and also of a situation of transition.

The third point will be related to the conditions under which the communist regimes were established. I will argue that this happened in Europe not only in a particular region, but also at a peculiar moment, close to or after the end of a world war, in countries where both the institutional order and the tissue of society was much weakened due to the effects of the prolonged war, thus entering a 'liminal' condition. Such a condition only heightened the transitoriness that already characterised these countries, due to their past historical experience, and rendered it possible that a group of marginal drop-outs and outcasts, the communists, could take over state power.

The fourth argument is the central part of my thesis, connecting the conditions of emergence of communist regimes with their lasting effects. I claim that these regimes not only were established under conditions of heightened, acute liminality, but could only function under such conditions. Communism was a unique political system that kept the entire society stuck in a permanent state of liminality: of confusion, threat, and uncertainty, all characteristic of transitoriness.

In the fifth point, I will turn to the 'elite'. The theorists of liminality emphasised that such unstable and dangerous conditions, even when created through the performance of a ritual, require the presence of special kind of 'masters of ceremonies', an 'elite' that is able to keep the sentiments escalated under control and provide leadership for the successful return to normality and order. The aim of the Communist Party, however, was the prevention of the conclusion of the quasi-war conditions and a return to normality. Thus, one of their main, and most successful, undertaking was the destruction of all social elites, and then, through the practice of 'counter-selection', to systematically prevent the formation of an elite.

The sixth point is a resumption of the argument and a diagnosis. I argue that the countries of the region are caught in a maelstrom from which they are not able to get out on their own. This is because the events of the century further and further magnified their precarious, liminal condition into which they became permanently stuck; and because, as its single most important legacy, the communist experiment fatally damaged the only segment of society that could have provided leadership out of this maelstrom, its elite.

The final, seventh point is a policy-oriented suggestion based on the previous analysis. The main tasks are to end this permanent state of transitoriness of the region and to build elites. This makes the joining of the European Union an imperative, and also calls for specific, concentrated efforts and political will, again on the part of all sides, but especially from the part of the EU, to engage in major long-term programmes of elite-building.

1. Theorizing the East European transition

Though exceptions of course exist, it is fairly safe to argue that as a rule the spectacular changes that happened in East Europe around 1989 gave rise to surprisingly little theoretical reflection.1 Much of this discussion was restricted to the question of why the changes were not predicted (Lipset and Bence 1994), or was preoccupied with the question whether the situation and the stakes of the transition or transformation (Bruszt 1992, Stark 1992) process can be analysed using the classical methods of comparative government or require, due to the special historical circumstances of the region, close familiarity with the communist past and even a detailed knowledge of distant history - in one word, that it should remain the territory of area specialists. In all this, vested academic interests were no doubt involved; but there was also a definite view that the way out requires close practical involvement and little theoretical reflection. It was often even implied that, given the amount of problems to be solved, much theoretisation is simply indecent.

As opposed to this, I will argue that the East European case, far from being theoretically insignificant, helps to shed new light on, and perhaps even re-pose, some of the fundamental questions of social thought, and furthermore, that this not only helps to understand the situation but is even necessary for moving towards a proper, long-term solution of the ills of the region.

I will start at a theoretical level as abstract as possible, properly with numbers. It seems to me that much of modern thought, from the heights of philosophy down to the mundane details of politics, is dominated by the number 'two'. In philosophy, from Kant onwards analytical philosophy is preoccupied with dichotomies, while from Hegel onwards critical and dialectical philosophy is using dualistic oppositions and contradictions as its central tool. But the opposition between two sides is also the main framework for much of current economics and politics, as the agonistic model of a competition or struggle between two sides plays an archetypal role in the modern world.

Such a predominance of a dualistic way of thinking in modern Europe is rather paradoxical, given the long reign of number 'three' in Western culture. This is usually associated with the trinitarian thinking characteristic of Christianity. However, as the works of the French comparative historian of religion, Georges Dumézil (1958) have shown, tri-partite thinking has deeper roots, as it is characteristic of Indo-European thought in general. The switch to conceptual dichotomies and dualistic oppositions with the emergence of the modern age provides strong support to Eric Voegelin's (1952, 1968) thesis concerning the gnostic character of modernity.

There have been attempts to break out of this dichotomistic-dualistic way of thinking. One of the most significant undertaking was certainly the work of Norbert Elias which, though it received considerable attention in recent times, is far from being used to its full potential. Still, the dominance of a neo-Kantian thought, and the rule of the number two, prevails. And nowhere else does it represent more of an impediment than in the study of transitions.

2. Theorizing transitions

Processes of transition, it would seem, by definition require a non-dualistic approach, as a period of transition is a third, temporary, intermediate situation between two different stable states. However, in the strongly teleological thinking dominating most, though by no means all, approaches to transitions,2 the transitional period is considered as theoretically uninteresting, irrelevant, the only real question being the quick realisation of the desired end-state. As an exception, one can mention the attention paid to situations of transition by the closely interrelated works of Norbert Elias and Franz Borkenau.3 One of the most important points of their analysis was the idea that periods of transition following the collapses of stable, ordered situations are particularly conducive to joint processes of individualisation and massification.

I would argue that situations of transition must indeed be taken seriously and analysed on their own. The perhaps most fruitful approach to the study of transitions and transitionality was developed not by historically oriented sociologists but by anthropologists: by Arnold van Gennep in his classic 1909 book Rites of Passage, and by Victor Turner who took up this work and developed further the theoretical implications in a series of writings starting from the mid-1960s (Turner 1967, 1969, 1985, 1992). Rites of passage are those rituals that guide members of small tribal communities from one stage of their life-cycle into the other. These rites have a processual sequence, consisting of three phases: the rites of separation, of transition, and of aggregation (van Gennep 1960: 191, Turner 1969: 94). The central part in a rite of passage is played by the rites of transition, in which stable structures and identities are temporarily suspended in order to guide the initiand from one social status to another. Such a transition is 'to effect an ontological transformation, ... not merely to convey an unchanging substance from one position to another by a quasi-mechanical force' (Turner 1967: 102). It is therefore a 'perilous personal journey' (Turner 1992: 132) that, due to the temporary dissolution of stable structures, represent a threat to the entire community as well, therefore require the presence of special 'guides'.

Given the suspension of institutional order and social stability, the standard, static, structural approaches characteristic of social science are not applicable for the liminal phase. Following van Gennep, Turner developed a theoretical arsenal and vocabulary for the study of this phase with terms like 'liminality', 'anti-structure', or 'communitas'. Through these terms, Turner was able to grasp and elaborate the fundamental paradoxicality of the liminal condition: the coexistence of a situation of complete atomisation and submission with the development of strong ties of communality and friendship; of a loss of identity with an excessive preoccupation with and sense of identity; of unquestioning obedience with intense reflection and spiritual fermentation; or of the vulnerability of the initiands who could be insulted and abused freely, but who also, due to their temporary outcast position, also possessed threatening 'powers of the weak' (see also Pizzorno 1987: 39-41).

Furthermore, though Turner very much emphasised that a liminal phase of transition has properties very different from those of a 'state' (Turner 1967: 94), he recognised the possibility that in exceptional cases '[t]ransition [can] become a permanent condition', leading to a paradoxical, almost contradictory 'institutionalisation of liminality' (Turner 1969: 107). However, Turner was perhaps not fully aware of the tragic potentials inherent in large-scale real-life liminal situations, especially when entire populations may remain stuck in them.

In the remaining part of the paper, I will apply this theoretical framework to the East European case.

3. The conditions of emergence of communist regimes

For a historical analysis, I will complement the anthropological perspective outlined with the genealogical method as developed and used by Nietzsche, especially in the Genealogy of Morals, by Weber, especially in his sociology of religions (Weber 1948, 1978, 1995), and by Foucault (1972, 1975, 1979, 1984). The aim of the genealogical method is to reconstruct the conditions under which a certain practice was institutionalised, in order to assess its hidden, lasting effects after its systemic dissolution. The claim is that the concept liminality helps to specify those specific conditions that are bound to exert a hidden, lasting effect.4

In this section, I will argue that two different kind of liminal conditions characteristic of the historical experience of the region did 'stamp' (Weber 1948) such lasting marks on the present.

The first point will be based on the well-known work of the Hungarian historian Jenö Szücs on the 'Three Historical Regions of Europe' (Szücs 1988). Using the work of István Bibó, Szücs argued that both the Eastern and the Western regions of Europe had their own, specific, clearly marked development paths, that differed especially in the respective experiences of absolutism. However, the Eastern-Central European region that geographically lay between them entered the modern times in a peculiar, in-between position socio-politically as well, 'amidst newly developing "Eastern European' conditions, but with defective "Western-like" structures' (Szücs 1988: 322). This resulted in a situation that Szücs, again following Bibó, characterizes in a medical language, 'diagnostising' it as 'a typical "malaise" in its mental structure', 'maladies [that] stemmed from old constitutional diseases', and by giving a list of 'symptoms' (p.330).

The work of Szücs was historical, and his interpreters often used it as an argument for the unique case of the region. I would like to make is quite different point. The peculiar features of the region are not due to issues of content - the special historical events and structural characteristics of the region that render it unique, and therefore restricting understanding to area specialists; but rather due to the form of this development, a special type of historical path that can be characterised by the long experience of transitoriness. If East-Central Europe is indeed a special case, this is because it is a particular example for the usefulness of the concept 'liminality'. In fact, it would not be difficult to recast the precise diagnosis presented by Szücs (and Bibó) into the language of Turner.

I would like to make finally one amendment to the analysis of Szücs. Szücs restricts the peculiar status to the East-Central European region, while takes the Eastern part of Europe, basically Russia, as a fixed point. However, I would argue that Eastern Europe is a much less stable reference point than Western Europe, being itself in an unmistakably in-between situation between 'East' and 'West'. This addition is central for the analysis of this paper, as communism emerged not in East-Central Europe, but in Russia.

Due to its long-term historical experience, the region was rendered particularly receptive to political agitation and adventurism. But for a successful communist takeover, something else was necessary: the heightening of the sense of transitoriness by a prolongued situation of war, characteristic of the last years of world wars and especially the period of post-war reconstruction. The fact that the communist takeovers in Europe only happened under such conditions occasionally received mention (Gross 1989, Schmitter and Karl 1994), but never a full-blown theoretical attention. In the following, I will rely on the on-going research of Agnes Horváth (1997, 1998, 2000).

The communists, in Russia as elsewhere, were a small group of marginal outcasts and misfits around the turn of the century who detracted from the working class movement just when it became stabilised, established, and gaining recognition. They were simply not taken seriously, considered a minor police preoccupation. They could only gain importance and eventually manage to take over state power when, under the highly confusing, liminal conditions produced by a protracted war, the regular institutions of the state and of civil society, in a region where these were always weak due to the long-term transitoriness, and in a country (Russia) that at least since the second part of the 19th century was in a particularly heightened situation of spiritual fermentation, a major sign of liminality (Turner 1969: 105-8), has all but vanished.5

This situation was repeated in the other countries of the region after WWII. The successful communist take-over was not simply a direct consequence of the presence of the Red Army - it was a necessary but not sufficient condition; but also to the fact that after the years of suffering produced by the war, huge segments of the population resonated to the message spread by the Communist Party. 'Big Brother' wanted himself to be loved; and this could only succeed by a conscious playing on the emotions and deprivations caused by the world war.

4. Existing socialism as the transitory made permanent

So far, I have only argued that the establishment of the communist regime was rendered possible by a combination of temporal and spatial liminality: the long-term intermediate position of the region between East and West, and the further suspension of normality due to a prolonged war situation. The central argument of the paper is that not only the emergence but also the maintenance of the communist regime was only possible under liminal conditions. Thus, communism as a regime was based on the perpetuation of temporary liminal conditions into a permanent state.

What I am suggesting here is an interpretive framework and not a causal hypothesis. The question, therefore, is not whether it can be proved or falsified, but whether it helps understanding (by providing insights) and whether it helps the development of a frame of action (by eventually contributing to policy suggestions). I will try to make a case for both.

Let's start with the model case of Russia. The original communist takeover no doubt contained much genuine enthusiasm and self-confidence on the part of the Bolsheviks. In the period of war communism, they sincerely tried to put their ideals - like the complete elimination of the need for money and administrative expertise - into reality. All this, however, soon turned out to be a sheer impossibility. It led to the experimenting with other methods, like the 'New Economic Policy', the attempt to combine Bolshevik power with bourgeois economic and administrative methods and expertise, which made it quickly evident that in this way the power of the Bolshevik Party would be short-lived. This, eventually must have led to the realisation that the conditions of uncertainty, unsettlement and transitoriness that made the communist takeover possible were also the only possible conditions under which the exercise of communist power was possible. With this realisation, the naive innocence of communism was over, and the communist party machinery was slowly but steadily transformed into its final state: not a faceless bureaucratic machinery, but an organisation geared to the handling of an ad-hoc management of the economy and society that, by its continuous, unpredictable and everpresent direct intervention makes its own activity necessary.6

Whether the perpetuation of transitoriness and confusion in the Russia of the 1920s was part of a conscious strategy or it was found on the basis of trial and error, this can only be assessed by further research. At any rate, the work of Agnes Horváth, focusing on the speeches of the first post-war Hungarian Communist Party leader, Mátyás Rákosi, reconstructs the effect mechanisms through which Rákosi, by playing on the war experience of suffering, succeeded in 'tricking and fixing an entire country into the position of the outcast' (Horváth 1998: 344). This started by the endless evocation of feelings of suffering, trying to raise pity for the communists by implying an analogy between their fate in the past and the experience of the entire country during the war. Once the bait was swallowed, the audience was captivated, as if hypnotised, and ready to accept the further and further turns away from normality and reason.

The liminal character of communist power can be further illuminated by a short return to the anthropological work of Turner. According to him, 'between neophytes and instructors [...] and in connecting neophytes with one another, there exists a set of relations that compose a "social structure" of highly specific type. It is a structure of a very simple kind: between instructors and neophytes there is often complete authority and complete submission; among neophytes there is often complete equality' (Turner 1967: 99),7 as '[i]n the liminal period all such distinctions and gradations [related to privileges, rights and obligations] tend to be eliminated'. The authority exercised is not based on legal sanctions, but it is personal, self-evident, and 'absolute', related to the 'common good' and the 'common interest' (pp. 99-100). There is, however, a two-fold difference with the situation as described by Turner. There, authority was exercised by the elders and was based on unquestioned tradition, why here it was violently grasped and abused by the communists; and there, this kind of social structure was restricted to the time of the ritual, while here, it was made into a permanent state.

The communist regimes were certainly less violent in the 1980s than in the 1950s, but the manner in which the lines of command functioned in them, the unpredictable and purely personal exercise of power, was not altered.

5. Elites in East Europe: destruction, counter-selection, absence

I will now turn from the historical argument to a confirmatory point that will directly lead to the present. It is about one of the aspects of the 'transition process' that was singled out for special attention during the past years, the 'elite'.

There is a very close link between liminal conditions and the need for the activity of an elite. This applies for the classical case of 'rites of passage', where the rituals are administered by 'masters of ceremonies' who both possess a special kind of knowledge and preserve a distance from the events, are able to maintain their stability, concentration and composure amidst the disturbing, unsettled conditions. This also applies for any real-world exceptional or emergency conditions, whether due to a state of war or a natural disaster, that again call for out-of-ordinary (ausseralltägliche) actions by exceptional, 'charismatic' individuals and leaders. And it applies especially in post-war conditions of renewal and reconstruction, when the question is not simply a need for guidance, government and leadership, important even in regular, day-to-day political, economic and social life, but the very build-up of the framework and conditions under which normal social existence can be resumed.8 Thus, the very conditions that rendered communist take-over possible were also the conditions whose solution would have required genuine acts of leadership and the presence of a strong-willed and self-conscious elite.

However, as we have already seen, the communists, being mostly outcasts and drop-outs, did not possess the characteristics of a genuine elite; and far from solving in a satisfactory manner the tasks of a post-war reconstruction, they were rather interested in maintaining the emergency conditions of formlessness, normlessness and carelessness. This would imply that the main targets of communism were the elites; that the very existence of elites was incompatible with the principles of communism.

In terms of its official ideology, the main enemy of communism was the bourgeoisie, not the elites. The Communist Party even conceived itself as a kind of elite, the vanguard of the proletariat. Still, in terms of actual policies, these were the elites that were particularly hurt and not just the bourgeoisie. Though the distinction is not easy to make in each and every case, the purges done in the administration or in the scientific and academic sphere provide support for the argument, as they were clearly going beyond the dismissal of those who previously compromised themselves, or those who had a bourgeois background. But the best illustration is provided by the relentless way in which the Communist Party, as the culmination of the phase of terror, eliminated its own elite (in so far as such a thing existed).

Once every section of the elite was eliminated, the Communist Party perpetuated the situation by implementing the infamous pratice of 'counter-selection'. This implied that positions requiring any degree of leadership at any level of state, society or economy were filled not on the basis of ability but loyality to the party, controlled by the 'nomenclatura' system (Harasymiw 1984, Rigby 1990). In this, there was an unbroken continuity between the period of terror and the regular functioning of the post-totalitarian system until its very last days. The aim remained the same: the prevention of the possibility of the formation of a genuine elite.

I would very much like to avoid any misunderstanding here. I do not mean to imply that individuals with ability, if they persisted, could not survive and accomplish decent of work. There is also available today, to a different degree in different fields and different countries, a considerable amount of professional expertise - though not nearly as much as it would be necessary. But the production and reproduction of an elite, a pool of individuals who are ready and able to provide leadership, is different from expertise. It is furthermore a social, not an individual phenomenon, and the conditions that existed during the entire life-span of communism were detrimental to the possibility for the emergence of an elite in this sociological sense. What was particularly missing there has been identified as most central for the formation of an elite in a 1942 article by István Bibó. According to him, the 'calm and creative' activity of the elite requires two things: the existence of a social consensus behind the elite selection mechanisms and the actual assignment of members of the elite to the proper places in the social structure. Bibó furthermore stated that for the successful performance of his tasks the elite has to be self-confident, self-conscious and impartial, without being conceited. In sum, the elite of a society can only perform if it is given stable and calm conditions for its activity, and if his values, his 'chosenness' is generally recognised both by the others and by itself (1986).9 I believe it is not a controversial claim that there was no segment of the population during the entire span of the communist experience that would come even close to meeting the criteria as defined by Bibó in 1942.

6. A diagnosis: eliteless society in a permanent state of transition

The analysis can be resumed in the following, twofold diagnosis: the post-communist countries of East Europe are stuck, as they were forced into, the 'maelstrom' (Elias 1987) of a permanent state of transitoriness; and they have been deprived of the very possibility of having an elite that would be capable of leading them out of this situation.

Both these claims directly follow from the foregoing. Concerning the first claim, the history of the region did not lack spectacular changes and reversals in the past. However, in an important sense, all these changes went into the same direction, reinforcing and rendering permanent an in-between state of transitoriness. This started with the long 'ferry-boat' situation between East and West, continued with the experiences of the two world wars that in the region, due to the historical experience, proved to be more devastating than in the West, were further intensified by the communist experiment that consciously maintained the countries in a liminal post-war state, and was topped with the so-called 'transition to market economy'. The puzzling fact that the collapse of the much-hated communist regime was not much perceived as a break in most countries of the region is due to the fact that it did not end transitoriness, the central characteristic of life under communism, only altered its modality.10

Concerning the second point, after 40 or 70 years of communist rule, the countries of the region may be able to show up individuals who possess exceptional skills or talents, and were even tried through decades of hardship. Most countries also have a population with a considerable degree of learning, expertise and skill. However, they certainly do not possess anything resembling an elite, therefore lack the very potential of leadership that could help them to solve the problems they face.

This is all the more of a problem as the long period of absence of leadership thrust these societies into an acute state of uncertainty and loss of confidence, extending to the most simple and basic aspects of social life. This has been convincingly shown by Elemér Hankiss, concerning Hungary, in a series of highly influential articles published in the late 1970s and the early 1980s (Hankiss 1986). For a similar analysis of Poland, I refer to the recent work of Harald Wydra (1997, 2000).

7. Concluding suggestions

This diagnosis leads to a similarly two-fold policy suggestion. First, no country lacking an elite can come out of a vicious circle of permanent transitoriness on its own. As a consequence, the countries of the region are not capable of solving their problems.

Under such conditions, the perhaps most debated aspect of the European unification process, the loss of national sovereignty, for them represents an unmixed good. The old biblical injunction, according to which one must lose oneself in order to gain it back, applies with particular strength in their case. They need to became members of a larger community of countries that would provide them the stable background frameworks necessary to return a normal rhythm and mentality of everyday life - those that under normal conditions are simply taken for granted. Left purely on their own, they are bound to continue to present a threat to themselves, and to others, being continuously pushed, due to their own sense of insecurity, inferiority and uncertainty, to the search of chimerical feats of sovereignty.

From this perspective, therefore, the eastward extension of the community is not a matter for cost-benefit analysis, but is a political must. The problem is that due to its history and its current structure, the EU is singularly unsuited for the performance of such tasks, being excessively economistic in its orientation.

The second suggestion is about the re-building of the elite. At the moment, the countries of the region would need external assistance exactly in matters of leadership, as they don't possess an elite that would be able to lead them. But in the long run, the only feasible solution lies in the re-building of the elites. This should require specific and concentrated efforts, both from inside and especially outside the region - and first of all, awareness of the depth of the problem. The main problems here are the anti-elitist climate of opinion in the West, and the vested interest of the different kind of pseudo-elites in the East, set to maintain their positions, as shown by a considerable lack of interest in elite building.

Let me conclude by returning to some theoretical considerations, in particular the ideas of Max Weber. In a series of speeches he gave around the end of WWI, Weber paid particular attention to the question of post-war reconstruction, emphasising leadership and elite-building. I think that it is of considerable symbolic value that the most famous of his talks, 'Science as a Vocation' was delivered on 7 November 1917, the exact day of the Bolshevik revolution - as if to indicate that two different roads were suggested on this same day. I would argue that the point is not simply that the choice between them seems evident today - it should have been always evident; but that the disasters caused by the other road can only be repaired by returning to the strategy as outlined by Weber.


1 On this see Somers (1993) and Schmitter and Karl (1994).

2 The classic work on the subject (O'Donnell, Schmitter and Whitehead 1986) strongly argued against a teleological perspective, though even there, the only major uncertainty was whether the transition came to be successful or not.

3 For details, see Szakolczai (2000).

4 For further details, see Szakolczai (1998). As an attempt to situate the East-European transitions in a long-term historical framework, see Szakolczai (1999).

5 The particularly liminal situation of Russia in the second part of the 19th century is visible both in the kind and the quality of literature and thought produced there. One can refer to Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or Chekhov on the one hand, or Berdiaev, Mereskovsky, Shestov, or Soloviev on the other.

6 About this, see Fainsod (1989), Gill (1987), Sakwa (1987), and also Horváth and Szakolczai (1992: 200-3).

7 Not surprisingly, the main part of the work of the communist party apparatus members was to 'instruct' the firms, organisations and institutions put under their charge (Horváth and Szakolczai 1992: 130-64).

8 This emphasis on the individual qualities of the elite has been singled out by Pareto in his classic work. It has also played a central role for Max Weber. As the notes made by Tönnies during the famous 1917 Lauenstein meetings show, in the first time Weber talked with students in a public meeting after a break of almost two decades, during the last period of the war, the central concern for Weber, concerning the reconstruction of Germany, was exactly the quality of leadership (Weber 1984: 707).

9 These points are close to the views of the other major classic of elite theory, Gaetano Mosca's Elementi di scienza politica, especially as they appear in the two-volume second edition, published first in 1923, thus incorporating the experience of WWI (Mosca 1953).

10 The exception of the Baltic countries, where the break was very  much perceived, only reinforces the rule. The communist takeover happened there in the first phases of WWII, therefore in a non-liminal situation, and was always perceived as a foreign oppression, much more than in most other East European countries. This left a still visible mark on the value system of these countries (Szakolczai and Füstös 1998).


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*Arpad Szakolczai  is a professor of Sociology at Department of Sociology, University College, Cork, IRELAND (

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