A True Hero of Liberty


Baron József Eötvös de Vásárosnamény

I met my old friends Ivan Csaba, whom I knew from the old days, as well as from Oxford, and Tamás Meszerics, whom I had not seen in ages (and who is now teaching political science at the Central European University) today. Tamás suggested we meet at the statue of József Eötvös, whom he knew to be one of my heroes. I have read a few of his books, and was especially influenced by Die Nationalitätenfrage, in which he offered a classical liberal diagnosis and remedy of the conflict of national identities. Only one of his books, also one of his greatest, is available in English, Der Einfluss der Herrschenden Ideen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts auf den Staat, translated as The Dominant Ideas of the Nineteenth Century and Their Impact on the State (Vol. I, Vol. II). I recommend the work highly. (The three dominant ideas are freedom, equality, and nationality, and he warns that they are incompatible unless one — freedom — be made the idea by which the others are interpreted.)

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