Revolution, uprising, civil war: the conceptual dilemmas of 1956

TitleRevolution, uprising, civil war: the conceptual dilemmas of 1956
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsGyáni, G.
Journal titleEuropean Review of History
Pages519 - 531

There were from the very beginning two ways of conceptualising the events of 1956 in Hungary, labelling it as a revolution or a national uprising. There also emerged a third way of conceptual definition when what occurred in 1956 was named an anti-totalitarian movement. From the theoretical perspective of Begriffsgeschichte the Hungarian events of 1956 cannot simply be assumed under the notion of 'revolution', the term first applied to what took place in France in 1789, since it was not the kind of a forceful collective effort leading to an unknown future. The notion of 'revolutio' works better to describe the analytical meaning of the Hungarian anti-Soviet and anti-Communist disturbance. The reason has been that the main thrust of the Hungarian situation in 1956 was similar to the seventeenth-century English and the eighteenth-century American 'revolutions', to return definitively to a point of departure by regaining some of the formerly lost social and political liberties.


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