Photo: “Passing a village,” by Ingolf Nistad licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue is modified from the original.
Buzalka, Juraj. “8. Post-Peasant Progressivism.” Anthropology of Transformation: From Europe to Asia and Back (2022): 179.
This essay follows Chris Hann’s long-term interest in peasants and their transformations in East-Central Europe. It complements Hann’s perspective on the introduction of post-socialist liberalism in Hungary by presenting some arguments about socialist and post-socialist politics in Slovakia. While Chris Hann has pointed out in particular the consolidation of reactionary right-wing populism under the leadership of the national bourgeoisie as a consequence of the introduction of freemarket liberalism and the reduction of the role of the state in providing social welfare for the Hungarian population, my Slovak examples show that we need to pay equal attention to the values represented in what I call post-peasant progressivism—a kind of autochthonous liberalism— as an important component of social and political emancipation, complementing reactionary post-peasant populism. In short, I argue that the progressive elements have often been overlooked by analyses of post-socialist populism. In what follows, I shall first present my reading of Chris Hann’s critique of post-socialist liberalism. This will be followed by my understanding of populist developments in Slovakia and my own ethnography of progressivism from the perspective of the Slovak village and in relation to national politics. In the concluding section, I will reintegrate my argument that post-socialist populism has both reactionary and progressive moments.