“Have you ever been abroad?” I asked the taxi driver in Budapest. “No,” he replied, “only in Vienna.” The answer was not, apparently, intended as a joke. It reflected something essential in the new East European atmosphere: the recrudescence of national peculiarities. Hungary was, after all, part of the Hapsburg empire: Budapest and Vienna are less than an hour apart by air, four hours by road. (The Austrians take their heritage seriously: they seem to have found or made a vocation as a spiritual and economic meeting place for the nations that were once in the empire, the Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles especially.) What I have termed the recrudescence of national peculiarities in the case of Hungary, and the other East European nations, has led to a new internationalism in Eastern Europe. Old traditions, among the intellectuals, of contact with Western Europe have been renewed—and this at a period when the intellectuals and the intelligentsia as a whole have gained more importance than they previously had in the Communist societies, and constitute a much larger social grouping than they did even 15 years ago.
What I have termed the new nationalism cannot be narrowly circumscribed. It ...
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