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Photo: “Budapest: Hungarian Parliament“, by Jorge Franganillo licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Kalb, Don. “Upscaling illiberalism: class, contradiction, and the rise and rise of the populist right in post-socialist Central Europe.” Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences 11, no. 3 (2018): 303-321.


Recent liberal political science analysis has highlighted media, manipulation, and populist political trickery in the apparently sudden rise of the new Right in Europe and the USA. I suggest that a robust engagement with the actual social transformations over which liberalism has presided since 1989 is imperative. Anthropological work on class processes and the rise of neo-nationalist populism in Central and Eastern Europe has been strong in developing a more relational, processual, and embedded vision. In the current paper, I am looking at the phases and spaces of the rise of illiberalism as a popular political sensibility in Central and Eastern Europe. In particular, I am interested in its gradual upscaling to the level of the nation state and, through the “Visegrad bloc” to the EU. I argue that both the emergence and step-by-step upscaling of illiberal political sensibilities are explained by class relational processes and the regionally uneven Polanyi-type “countermovements” against liberalizations that they brought forth.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.