“Coloniality of power” in East Central Europe: external penetration as internal force in post-socialist Hungarian politics

Agnes Gagyi


Joining a series of analyses of effects of othering, orientalism, or coloniality in East Central Europe, the paper asks how long-term structural-ideological effects of global hierarchies, as reflected in post-colonial contexts by the term “coloniality of power,” can be conceptualized for East Central Europe. In a case study of political polarization in post-socialist Hungary,it examines the effects of global integration,  claiming that two dominant economic-political blocks formed along a division of vertical alliances related to integration with either Western or national capital. From those positions, they developed divergent political ideologies of development: modernization through Western integration, versus the protection of national” wealth from Western capital and its local allies. While both propagated capitalist integration, they each needed to develop ideologies that appealed to electorates suffering the costs of integration. One framing of developmentalist emancipation promised Western modernity through rejection of popular, backward characteristics of the country, including nationalism. The other promised advancement in the global hierarchy through overcoming internal and external enemies of national development. These two, mutually reinforcing ideological positions, which I calldemocratic antipopulism” and antidemocratic populism,” denied the contradiction between elites’ and workers’ interest and perpetuated existing global hierarchies. Within the wider debate over cross-contextual applications of the notion of “coloniality of power,” and of emancipative efforts born from the “colonial wound,” the paper emphasizes the significance of the structural conditions, positions and alliances within which experiences of global domination are born and mobilized.


Coloniality of power; East Central Europe; Hungary; Post-Socialist Integration; Post-Socialist Politics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2016.626


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