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A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central EuropeVolume I: Negotiating Modernity in the 'Long Nineteenth Century'$
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Balázs Trencsényi, Maciej Janowski, Monika Baar, Maria Falina, and Michal Kopecek

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198737148

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198737148.001.0001

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The Politics of Improvement

The Politics of Improvement

European Models and Local Traditions

(p.25) 1 The Politics of Improvement
A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe

Balázs Trencsényi

Maciej Janowski

Mónika Baár

Maria Falina

Michal Kopeček

Oxford University Press

The political thought of the Enlightenment in East Central Europe resulted from the interaction of ideas from various Western European sources and local discursive traditions. Focusing on institutional and socioeconomic features, the new practical approaches (Polizeywissenschaft, Statistik, political economy) catalyzed an awareness of the spatial and temporal distance between Eastern European societies and the Western models, and made the consciousness of “backwardness” and a desire for improvement essential characteristics of Enlightenment thought in the region. Both the supporters of “enlightened absolutism” and those turning to the tradition of the ancient liberties of the estates tried to mix Enlightenment references with pre-existing patterns of legitimization. One of the most visible instances of the ideological and conceptual transformation was the reconfiguration of the concept of the nation, which became increasingly central to the late eighteenth-century political discourse of the region.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, political economy, Statistik, estates, reform, enlightened absolutism, ancient liberties, patriotism

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