The book manuscript deals with the views of three Hungarian political thinkers on the idea of democratic Europe and on its state organisation principles corresponding. The three thinkers are József Eötvös (1813-1871), Oszkár Jászi (1875-1957), and István Bibó (1911-1979). They represented three different periods of history: Eötvös was one of the most important political thinkers of the reform period, and the compromise period in Austria-Hungary. Jászi was the most important liberal theoretician and politician of the beginning and the first half of the 20th century, while Bibó played an analogous role after the Second World War period and during the Soviet supremacy. Additionally, the ideas of their most important Central European and Western contemporaries, including their discussions on nation, state and federation, will also be presented. Biographical motivations, psychological analyses of social processes, national images of stereotyped thinking will also be addressed to make ideas on social organization and reality more understandable and enjoyable.
On basis of a large source material and specialized literature the book manuscript shows how well these Hungarian reform politicians and thinkers were embedded in the West European political and philosophical thinking. The main purpose of the book is to present how these Hungarian thinkers tried to move the Central European society (the Habsburg Empire and Hungary) in direction of Western social processes. It concentrates on their search for a democratic political identity, and for democratic state organisational principles for a multinational state. The book also shows that all three recognised the antagonism between democracy and nationalism, as they appeared in the Western idea of democratic nation state. Supporting federative and confederative legal constitutional principles, they developed the idea of democratic constitutional multinational state. While drafting the framework for a supranational identity, they also contributed to the development of human rights, and the emergence of a European identity.
The following topics are discussed in more details: the history of the emergence of the democratic European idea; the challenge of the American Constitution, 1787, the Swiss Constitution, 1848, and of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789 in Central Europe; the period of the democratic reforms of the liberal nobility in the Habsburg Empire, including its Hungarian part; the dead-lock of the social democratization process caused by the emergence of "language fights" and nationalism; a critical assessment of the French idea of a constitutional centralised unitary nation state; discussions on the unitary nation state and federation among nationalists and federalists; ideas on a democratic multinational constitutional state organization, as opposed to nationalism; the idea of personal principle based on equal political and human rights and duties; the idea of separation of nation (cultural nation) and of state (political nation); the organization of people in a double, i.e., cultural and civil administrative structure within the framework of democratic constitutional multinational states; the Hungarian Nationality Law of 1868 - as the first attempt in Europe to solve the national minority problem on a democratic legal constitutional way; democratic association policy; cultural/language "borders" in a federation; discussions on the necessity of a Central European union as the regional part of the European union; the influence of Kant's ideas on the eternal peace and world federation in Central Europe; the meaning of the idea of national self-determination; the discussions on the idea of "Wilson peace"; the interpretation of the idea of democratic European identity.
The works of these Hungarian thinkers are enough forgotten in the West. It is necessary to rethink, and to reintegrate this knowledge, too, into the general European cultural framework, if a true European identity is to be developed. This is also the background of this book.