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The Legacies of Totalitarianism
A Theoretical Framework

$99.99 (C)

  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107121263

$ 99.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • The first political theory of post-Communism examines its implications for understanding liberty, rights, transitional justice, property rights, privatization, rule of law, centrally planned public institutions, and the legacies of totalitarian thought in language and discourse. The transition to post-totalitarianism was the spontaneous adjustment of the rights of the late-totalitarian elite to its interest. Post-totalitarian governments faced severe scarcity in the supply of justice. Rough justice punished the perpetrators and compensated their victims. Historical theories of property rights became radical, and consequentialist theories, conservative. Totalitarianism in Europe disintegrated but did not end. The legacies of totalitarianism in higher education met New Public Management, totalitarian central planning under a new label. Totalitarianism divorced language from reality through the use of dialectics that identified opposites and the use of logical fallacies to argue for ideological conclusions. This book illustrates these legacies in the writings of Habermas, Derrida, and Žižek about democracy, personal responsibility, dissidence, and totalitarianism.

    • Presents a new theory of post-totalitarianism
    • Integrates political philosophy and theory with comparative politics
    • Offers a new theory and interpretation of post-totalitarian transitional justice
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Discussion about post-communist Central and Eastern Europe has long been tethered to imprecise, ideologically driven thinking. This book reframes the conversation in a manner befitting the region's unique history and plugs a lingering gap in political theory."
    Benjamin Cunningham, Prague correspondent, The Economist

    ""Only dissidents can save us now. This will be the one truly positive legacy of totalitarianism (maybe together with public transportation)", writes Aviezer Tucker. His book deals with the negative aspects of this legacy, though - and there are plenty of them, not only in the East. Essential reading at a time when the history of Central and Eastern Europe seems unfinished, again."
    Aleksander Kaczorowski, editor, Aspen Review Central Europe

    "In this superb and long-awaited book, Aviezer Tucker writes from a deep understanding of totalitarian and post-totalitarian regimes, mainly under Communism but also elsewhere. In his vivid phrase, "Totalitarianism is not dead, it merely disintegrated. Its pieces are spread all over and they can be put back together again". Ranging from painstaking empirical documentation to acute conceptual analyses, written with passion and irony, the book will undermine the complacency and wilful blindness of many Western intellectuals and politicians."
    Jon Elster, Robert K. Merton Professor of Social Science, Columbia University

    "Aviezer Tucker does not let us forget the totalitarian past - and with good reason. In this admirably comprehensive book, he revisits the much-debated (but later ignored) notions of totalitarianism, late totalitarianism, and post-totalitarianism and offers a powerful, thought-provoking interpretation of their legacies. Tucker discusses interrelated issues in elite change, lustration, transitional justice, property rights, and the configuration of post-totalitarian thinking in a way that opens new insights for academic debates. This book is a welcome contribution to studies in both political philosophy and historical sociology."
    András Bozóki, Central European University

    'Tucker’s book is an exciting read. It will be of interest to political theorists and to those who work on issues of transitional justice in a range of geographical and historical contexts.' Martin K. Dimitrov, The Review of Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107121263
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The adjustment of elite rights to interests
    2. Post-totalitarian rough justice
    3. Rough justice: post-totalitarian retribution
    4. Rough and shallow: post-totalitarian rectification
    5. The new politics of property rights
    6. Old to new totalitarianism: post-totalitarian higher education
    7. Short-circuiting reason: the legacies of post-totalitarian thinking
    Conclusion. Only dissidents can save us now.

  • Author

    Aviezer Tucker, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    Aviezer Tucker is a philosopher and social scientist, author of The Philosophy of Politics of Czech Dissidents from Pato ka to Havel (2000) and Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography (2004). He published extensively in journals such as The American Interest, Critical Review, Foreign Affairs, History and Theory, Independent Review, Philosophy, Politics Philosophy and Economics, and Telos. He spent a decade working and conducting research in post-totalitarian Europe at the Central European University in Prague, Palack University, and Charles University in the Czech Republic. He also taught and held fellowships at Columbia University, New York University, Trinity College, the Australian National University, the University of Texas, Austin, and Harvard University.

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