Tibor Várady: How and (Why) to Keep a Dissident Spirit in Spite of Transition

Svečana sala Rektorata Univerziteta u Beogradu (Studentski trg 1)

Predavanje u okviru konferencije Transition without Justice

Organizator događaja: Regionalni naučni centar u Novom Sadu Instituta za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju

One of the best products of communism were its dissident intellectuals, who managed to challenge dogmas, and earned reputation both in communist and in Western countries. The question has arisen whether the virtuosity of dissident thinking is sustainable after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and in a period of “transition”.

One of the questions that arise pertains to the concept of transition. Under communism, the party did not say that we were communist countries. What the party said, was that we are building communism, we are on the right road towards communism. Dissidents perceived our environment as a reality, not as a transition towards reality. What should dissidents do today? Is the present perception of “transition” helping, or impeding us to see the reality? Dissident intellectuals were under much more pressure under communism, and this had many damaging consequences, but it also made dissident thinkers truly important. Can such an importance be achieved today? A great danger for dissident thinkers today is to continue to criticize what they courageously criticized under communism. Some observations may still hold ground, but they do not have any more the flair of bold discoveries. Dissident thinkers who stayed with old observations are not dissident thinkers anymore.

The question has also arisen how to find a proper focus in times of “transition”. Under communism, the elections did not yield an actual change of government, and there was no balance or compromise between government and opposition. The government was practically the system. Hence perceiving what the government was actually doing, amounted to demasking the system. And this is what dissidents were doing.  Criticizing the government was a criticism of the system. Today, the party (or coalition) making the government is not the system. Criticizing the leftist or rightist government is not clairvoyance, and it is not a debunking of the system. It is just part of the system. The question is how to return to a critical perception of the system, instead of merging into polarizations within the system.

Rođen 1939. godine u Zrenjaninu. Završio Pravni fakultet u Beogradu, gde je stekao i zvanje magistra pravnih nauka. 1968. godine još jednom magistrira na Pravnom fakultetu Univerziteta Harvard (Harvard Law School), gde je stekao i zvanje doktora pravnih nauka marta 1970. Profesor Centralno-evropskog univerziteta u Budimpešti i predavač na univerzitetima Harvard, Berkli, Stanford, Kornel, Emordž, Sorbona. Ministar pravde u Vladi SR Jugoslavije 1992–1993. Bivši glavni pravni zastupnik Srbije i Crne Gore pred Međunarodnim sudom pravde u Hagu. Redovni član SANU.