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What Was This?

"Blitzconference" - Rapid Conference on the Commemoration of the Revolution's Fiftieth Anniversary

On the philosopher, György Bencze's initiative, the School of Social Philosophy and Ethics of ELTE University's Humanities Department, jointly with the Budapest Review of Books, organized a rapid conference. Held on December 7, 1990, the conference bore the title "Did we see it coming? (The Successes and Failures of Social Sciences in the Political Transition of Eastern Europe)". Thirty brief papers were presented at the one-day rapid conference. The texts of the lectures were published by T-Twins Kiadó in 1991. The Open Society Archives organized a rapid conference on December 1, 2006 with the title "What (Was) This? (On the events of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1956 Revolution)". The organizers have decided to dedicate the symposium to the memory of György Bencze, the founding editor of BUKSZ and first chairman of the editorial committee.

György Bencze invited thirty speakers for the 1990 conference. As heexplained it in his introduction: "we decided to have a broad range of speakers. We have invited not only political scientists, sociologists, economists and psychologists, but also philosophers and teologicians, historians and journalists, theoretical and practicing legal experts, literary and art critics, and even creative artists." In inviting speakers for the symposium dedicated to an analysis of the events of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 revolution, we followed György Bencze's intentions.

We do not want to set the agenda of the symposium. Our aim with the rapid conference is just to analyze the connection between 1956 and 2006, as well as to examine the commemorations, the memorials, and the traces and effects of the revolution's cultural and ideological heritage. It is not our intention to interpret the direct political consequences of the commemorations, even though it would be rather difficult to understand the events of the fiftieth anniversary without an analysis of the current political situation. (The suggestion that the political developments of the past months would have been different without the rapidly approaching anniversary does not seem like an outrageously bold assumption.) We would like to find answers to the problem of what to do with the revolution, with its history and its memory, in the light of the spectacular and dramatic events fiftieth anniversary. Also, a comparison between the places that the 1956 and 1848 revolutions respectively occupy in Hungarian public consciousness would not be without advantages.

The conference will take place between 9 am and 6 pm on December 1, 2006 at the Open Society Archives.

Our intention is to present nearly twenty brief lectures (of about fifteen minutes' duration). After each presentation, there would be time set aside for two brief questions and answers. The lectures would be audio taped and the speakers would have an opportunity to refine their text before the electronic publication of the conference's material.

List of the speakers: György Báron, Géza Boros, Ildikó Enyedi, Gábor Gyáni, Péter György, Péter Kende, Géza Komoróczy, Mihály Kornis, Mária Ludassy, András Mink, Antal Örkény, János M. Rainer, Sándor Radnóti, István Rév, Sándor Révész, Miklós Sükösd, Rudolf Ungváry, László Varga

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