Does István Bibó’s concept of the „Misery of Small States” carry a message for the Western Balkans today?

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Hajdú, Zoltán
Rácz, Szilárd
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István Bibó (1911-1979), a lawyer and doctor of political science by profession, became a prominent Hungarian political theorist from the late 1930s. He joined the left-wing populist party and became an expert on constitutional affairs for the National Peasant Party. He obtained professorship at a young age and was elected correspond-ing member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1946. The hereby analyzed work – foregrounded by years of preliminary research – was published in large numbers shortly after the end of World War 2 (1946). Drawing on extensive international theo-retical and historical knowledge, Bibó analyzed the long-term evolution of historical processes in Central-East Europe (addressing the two regions separately and togeth-er), concluding that disruptions in the neighbourhood context, internal conflicts and divisions have been the major factors behind the repeated failures, the „misery” of the small states of the region (Czechia/Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary). Despite not being a „Balkan scholar”, Bibó was well acquainted with the advances of interna-tional and particularly Hungarian research, with an outlook to state-building processes in the Balkans and providing particular insights on the states in question. Bibó became notorious for his involvement, his ethical, principled stance demonstrated during the 1956 revolution but his scientific contributions were recognized only after his death with the publication of his works in foreign languages. Bibó’s state and political theoretical approaches and his insights on ethical peace may have particular relevance for the Western Balkans today. A series of unresolved internal issues within the region can create legitimate grounds for external intervention even in present-day circumstances.
Bibó István , Nyugat-Balkán , Balkán régió
Balkanistic Forum 33:(2) pp. 102-119. (2024)