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Stephen Holmes on Xenophobia - Dictionary of Arguments

Krastev I 74
Xenophobia/post-communist countries/Krastev/Holmes: The rise of authoritarian chauvinism and xenophobia in Central and Eastern Europe has its origins in political psychology not political theory. Where populism rules, it does not do so intellectually. Whatever popularity it has stems from a deep-seated disgust at a perceived post-1989 Imitation Imperative with all of its demeaning and humiliating implications. And it is fuelled by the rejection of the minorities-centred cultural transformation that followed the 1968 protest movements in the West. >Imitation/Krastev.
Anti-Liberalism: The origins of Central and Eastern European illiberalism are therefore emotional and pre-ideological, rooted in rebellion against the ‘humiliation by a thousand cuts’ that accompanied a decades-long project requiring acknowledgement that foreign cultures were vastly superior to one’s own.
„Colonialism“: Illiberalism in a philosophical sense is a cover-story meant to lend a patina of intellectual respectability to a widely shared visceral desire to shake off the ‘colonial’ dependency; an inferiority implicit in the very project of Westernization. When Kaczyński accuses ‘liberalism’ of being ‘against the very notion of the nation’(1) and when Maria Schmidt says, ‘We are Hungarians, and we want to preserve our culture’,(2) their overheated nativism embodies a refusal to be judged by foreigners according to foreign standards.
The same can be said of Viktor Orbán’s expressions of anti-immigrant nostalgia: ‘we do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed … We want to be how we became eleven hundred years ago here in the Carpathian Basin.’(3)


1. Adam Leszczyński, ‘Poland’s Leading Daily Feels Full Force of Jarosław Kaczyński’s Anger’, Guardian (23 February 2016).
2. Cited in Oltermann, ‘Can Europe’s New Xenophobes Reshape the Continent?’.
3. Viktor Orbán, ‘Speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Cities with County Rights’ (8 February 2018).


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

LawHolm I
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
The Common Law Mineola, NY 1991

Krastev I
Ivan Krastev
Stephen Holmes
The Light that Failed: A Reckoning London 2019


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-15
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