Polemics, Papers and Essays
Preface by Zsolt Németh, Member of Parliament,
Chairman Committee on Foreign Affairs Hungary
Helena History Press
It’s a well-worn cliché that every policy has costs, not just benefits, as well as unintended consequences. The eastward enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and after is a case very much in point. Fifteen years on there is greater or lesser dissatisfaction both in Brussels and in the new member states that joined. This book explores the whys and wherefores from an unusual and original perspective. The author, György Schöpflin, worked for nearly three decades as an academic at the London School of Economics and then as a member of the European Parliament for a decade and a half. By and large, academics seldom have the chance of seeing how theory operates in the real world, what politics is like at the coal-face. The book reflects both dimensions and is indispensable for anyone who wants to know how political theory works in practice.
About the Author
György Schöpflin (24 November 1939 – 19 November 2021) was a Hungarian politician who served as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Hungary. He was a member of Fidesz, part of the European People’s Party. He was a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. Schöpflin was a substitute member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, and a member of the Reconciliation of European Histories Group. Formerly Jean Monnet Professor of Politics at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, he published extensively on questions of nationhood, identity and political power.
Schöpflin was unquestionably among those who could examine political decisions objectively, in their proper European context, and he had an unfailing commitment to see what divides Europe. This book, written in a compelling style, successfully integrates all the relevant perspectives.Pál Csáky former deputy prime minister of Slovakia and former Member of the European Parliament
There was no one on the European political landscape as hard to categorize as the scholar-statesman György Schöpflin. As a university political scientist in England, he stood out as a particularly Central European kind of polyglot Renaissance man. As a member of the European Parliament for Hungary’s dynamic Fidesz party, he brought to some of the bitterest recent EU battles an Anglo-Saxon commonsense and fair play. And for decades he was writing enduring literary political-historical essays that make complicated things clear and crooked stories straight.Christopher Caldwell journalist, author of Reflections on the Revolution in Europe
In times like ours, in the time of polarization, of political anger and value clashes, honest assessment of facts and in-depth analysis are urgently needed, but rare. George Schöpflin’s very insightful book offers an excellent study of the current state of Europe, especially of the relation between “the West”, the EU institutions and the countries of Central Europe—above all Hungary. He shows also how the liberal consensus of our time has become detached from popular sentiments and aspirations. If you would like to know, what is meant by “ illiberal democracy” and why such excellent scholars and moderate politicians, appreciated in the European Parliament across division-lines, as George Schöpflin, no longer feel well in the European polis dominated by the contemporary kind of liberalism, you have to read this book.Zdzisław Krasnodębski Professor of Sociology, University of Bremen and Member of the European Parliament
A committed European and a faithful believer in long-established European values, Schöpflin stands out as a political scientist whose explorations of the current European political landscape bring out its character and latent contradictions in their previously unseen dimensions. His perspective offers much food for thought for students, scholars and practitioners of European national and transnational politics.Zsuzsanna Varga University of Glasgow, Chief Adviser of Studies