Workshop: Thinking Left Dissent

January 15, 2021

The online workshop sought to focus on three mutually interconnected motifs:

1) Whereas a wealth of literature interprets dissent in liberal terms, only marginal attention has so far been paid to aspects of dissent traditionally associated with the political Left. We, therefore, wished to fill this historiographical gap by drawing attention to dissident concepts that derive from other intellectual traditions, such as Marxist humanism, reform Communism, and the New Left, which have defined themselves in contrast to liberal visions of the socio-economic order.

2) At the same time, we also reflected on the limits of the political thought and political imagination of the time, which was shaped by the theoretical and political experience of official Marxism-Leninism. We asked whether left dissidents’ thought was intellectually consistent or internally contradictory, and to what extent it was affected by dissidents’ relative social and intellectual isolation.

3) Last but not least, we were interested in the relevance of the intellectual legacy of left dissent today. Should this legacy be seen as a mere relic of the past, necessarily tied to the existence of state-socialist regimes, or can it be a source of inspiration to those of us seeking ways out of today’s political, economic, and ecological crises?


9:15 – 9:30
Introductory remarks (Kristina Andělová, Jan Mervart)
9:30 – 11:00
Kristóf Nagy, Márton Szarvas (Budapest)
Left Radicalism and Social Trajectory in the Socialist Field of Cultural Production: A Comparative Approach from Hungary
Márk Losoncz (Belgrade)
The Lack of Systemic Dissent and the Possibilities of an Alternative Leftist Tradition
Matyáš Křížkovský, Michael Polák, Ondřej Slačálek (Prague)
The Anti-Authoritarianism of the Movement of Revolutionary Youth in Czechoslovakia: Three Possible Explanations
11:15 – 13:30
Una Blagojevic (Budapest)
The Ambiguities of Left-wing Dissent in Yugoslavia
Veronika Stoyanova (Kent), Georgi Medarov (Sofia)
Inakomislie – Critical Thought at the Sofia University Marx Seminar, 1978–1986
Alexei Penzin (London)
Dissent in Late Soviet Philosophy: “Creative” or “Speculative” Marxism?
Alexander Amberger (Berlin)
Alternative Concepts of Communism among East German Dissidents
13:30 – 14:45
Lunch break
14:45 – 16:15
Ilya Budraitskis (Moscow)
Socialist Dissidents and the Origins of the Conservative Turn in the Late USSR
Milivoj Bešlin, Gazela Pudar Draško (Belgrade)
Left, Lefter, Leftist: Orthodoxy in a Praxis Way
Michał Siermiński (Warsaw)
Cracked “Solidarność”


Information prepared by Jan Mervart.


January 15, 2021



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