The main target of this new project is the formation, the inner meaning, the distinctive features of „to be a leftist”. Talking about „to be a leftist” we intend to understand more than mere voting for one of the political families or belonging to unions or political parties. We would like to understand the historical ways of how leftist identities are created, what kind of mentalities could be found behind it, how national traits and international features are interrelated, through what kind of cultural transits it was forming, whether are there general „left values” beyond the well known political demands?
During the research we use the term „left” and „leftist” mainly as cultural aspects, results of sociological situation, personal and group education, psychological elements, experiences, theory and theorizing, political life and institutionalization… so that is to say we want to see in a complex form how habitude becomes identity. This way we could talk about the history of left approach (which is not totally parallel with the „history of the Left”, or „leftism”) as an eternal process that is nevertheless not timeless: it is more than a simple set of reactions to wider demands of the society, but less than a complete-total alternative society as many of its protagonists has been formulating.
The focus is on formation and creation of „to be a leftist”, the alterations of its value-complex in time and space, and the role of personal experiences on it. So the research is based mostly on aspects, not on a traditional political history. Main sources are memoires, press and press making, documents of everyday activities and life-styles, reports of police, documents of juridical processes etc.
Actually the main points of our research are the formation and characteristics of the modern political left in Hungary (from 1918 to 1948); the left and WWI – as the most important prelude of the formation of modern left identity; intellectuals and the left identity.
We intend to work on a wider international level, to compare national experiences and international networks of the left (not only based on a theoretical “internationalism”).
Eszter Balázs PhD: Intellectuals and the left identity in the period before and during WWI
Péter Konok PhD: The roots and formation of “to be a leftist” in Hungary