Past Events

Book Discussion: Cosmos and Taxis by Friedrich A. Hayek (November 24, 2016)
Peter Baum from SAP moderated the discussion on F.A. Hayek’s essay “Cosmos and Taxis” discussing the conflicting views of society as either a design, a made order taxis, on the one hand, or an emergent system, a grown order cosmos, on the other.

Communism’s Poisoned Legacy (November 23, 2016)
Together with the Danube Institute, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, CSS organized a one-day conference on the impact of communism on culture, law, and society. In the mood of excited optimism that followed the collapse of the Soviet empire, it was possible to overestimate the ease with which the transition to liberal democracy could be accomplished; more than a quarter of a century later it was timely to reach a realistic assessment of the extent to which the communist legacy continues to hinder social, economic and political advance.

Euroatlantic Café: US Presidential Election: The Day After (November 9, 2016)
In cooperation with CEID, the Common Sense Society hosted a debate on 9th November with H.E. Colleen Bell, US Ambassador to Hungary and H.E. György Szapáry, former Ambassador of Hungary to the United States to discuss election results and the future of Hungarian-US relations under the new President of the United States.

2016 U.S. Election Watch (November 8, 2016)
CSS, together with the Elkísér Alapítvány hosted an election night watch party on November 8: we watched the results rolling in and had a panel discussion on the possible outcomes of the elections with, Tibor Mándi from ELTE, Júlia Lakatos from Méltányosság Intézet and Máté Kaló.

Assessing the Spin Factor: Does Hungary have a perception problem or a policy problem? (November 7, 2016)
The Hungarian LSE Alumni Association and the Common Sense Society jointly organized a debate between the current and three former government spokespersons.  In a moderated discussion Mr András Batiz (gov. spokesman 2004-2006), Mr Domokos Szollár (2009-2010), Ms Anna Nagy (2010-2011) and Dr Zoltán Kovács (2014-present) exchanged views on topics such as Hungary’s perception problems, selling what’s hard to sell.

Euroatlantic Café in Eger: Clinton or Trump: A critical election? (November 3, 2016)
Clinton or Trump: A critical election? – was the question discussed in the first Euro-Atlantic Café of the 2016-2017 season, organized in Eger. The panelists of the event were Júlia Lakatos (Méltányosság Politikaelemző Központ), Anita Kőműves (Népszabadság) and Szelényi Zsuzsanna (politician and foreign policy expert), moderated by Edit Inotai Senior Fellow at CEID.

Book Discussion: I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read (October 12, 2016)
Peter Baum from SAP moderated the discussion on I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read discussing the influential essay written from the perspective of a simple pencil, detailing the complexity of its own creation.

Roger Scruton: Why Are We Unwilling to Defend Western Civilization? (September 21, 2016)
A lecture and discussion with Sir Roger Scruton on the state European culture, migration, Brexit and the future of the West.

Book Discussion: Politics as a Vocation by Max Weber (June 23, 2016)
The book discussion focused one of the most important essays in the history of political science where Max Weber distinguishes three principles justifying the legitimacy of political domination of the state. The reading group was moderated by Peter Baum from SAP.

Book Discussion: The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom (June 9, 2016)
Lead by Tibor Mándi from ELTE, the reading group looked at Bloom’s arguments on how the social and political crisis of 20th-century America is really an intellectual crisis.

Book Discussion: Civilization by Niall Ferguson (May 4, 2016)
In “Civilization: The West and the Rest”, Niall Ferguson focuses on the principles or “killer apps” that made the Western Civilization so successful and names competition among western states one of them. Director of Design Terminal Gergely Böszörményi-Nagy moderated a discussion of the book chapter on “Competition”.

Transatlanticism in Hungarian Foreign Policy (April 18, 2016)
Together with the LSE Alumni Association, CSS organized a debate between two former Hungarian foreign ministers about the past, present and future of transatlanticism and Hungary.

Book Discussion: Cities for Living by Roger Scruton (April 17, 2016)
In “Cities for Living”, Roger Scruton laments on the principles of a humane architecture and urban planning. CSS Pannonius Fellow Orsolya Ujj moderated a discussion of Roger Scruton’s Cities for Living.

RETURN U.S. Alumni in Hungary Retreat (April 15-16, 2016)
Following the success of the conference in January 2016 as well as the first retreat back in 2015, the second RETURN Alumni Retreat was organized in Bercel Chateau in Bercel, Nógrád County just an hour drive from the Hungarian Capital, between April 15-16.

Book Discussion: On Being Conservative by Michael Oakeshott (March 17, 2016)
Dr. Tibor Mándi moderated the discussion on Michael Oakeshott’s essay “On Being Conservative” discussing how it is not at all inconsistent to be conservative in respect of government and radical in respect of almost every other activity.

Book Discussion: The Use of Knowledge in Society by Friedrich A. Hayek (March 5, 2016)
CSS held the first reading group of the year on Friedrich A. Hayek’s “The Use of Knowledge in Society” led by Tibor Mándi. Reading Group discussions are held biweekly in English and last approximately 3 hours.

RETURN – U.S. Alumni in Hungary Conference (January 30, 2016)
CSS joined Civic Enterprises and alumni organizations of Hungarian professionals who have returned home after their experiences in the United States to continue the tradition of hosting the annual „RETURN – U.S. Alumni in Hungary” conference.

Monetary Policy Since the Change of Regime (November 30, 2015)
The Common Sense Society, the Hungarian Fulbright Association, and the Hungarian LSE Alumni Association organized a debate between former Hungarian Central Bank Governors, Dr György Surányi and Dr Péter Ákos Bod.

Transatlantic Roundtable Series Budapest (July 9-10, 2015)
The Common Sense Society co-hosted the fourth meeting of the Transatlantic Roundtable Series at Hotel Gellért in Budapest on July 9 and 10, sponsored by the Transatlantic Renewal Project, an initiative of the World Affairs Institute and Journal.

Pannonius Fellows Field Trip to Győr, Monostor and Bratislava (May 11-12, 2015)
US Pannonius Fellows took part in a field trip to Fort Monostor, Győr and Bratislava to learn about Hungarian military history through the system of historic forts, about the notion of advanced colleges, and the situation of ethnic Hungarian minorities abroad.

RETURN – U.S. Alumni in Hungary Retreat (April 10-12, 2015)
Following the success of the 3rd annual conference, the first RETURN Alumni Retreat was held in Chateau Bánó in Felsőmocsolád between April 10-12. The aim of the retreat was to promote cooperation and communication between the alumni organizations in Hungary, to support the reintegration of returnees, bridging between members and sharing information on projects of individual participants.

Pivot to the East or Global Rebalancing? (March, 11, 2015)
CSS held a joint conference with Political Capital Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung on the Political, Economic, and Defense Dimensions of Hungary’s Eastern Opening.

Reading Group: Two Concepts of Liberty by Isaiah Berlin (February 26, 2015)
Berlin’s essay “Two Concepts of Liberty” (1958) contributed to a revival of interest in political theory in the English-speaking world, and remains one of the most influential and widely discussed texts in that field: Berlin’s distinction between positive and negative liberty remains a basic starting-point for theoretical discussions of the meaning and value of political freedom. CSS Pannonius Fellow Joshua Dill moderated the discussion.

RETURN US Alumni in Hungary Conference (January 31, 2015)
The aim of the conference was to promote cooperation and communication between the alumni organizations in Hungary, to support the reintegration of returnees, and to assist Hungarians who wish to study or do research in the US in the future. CSS and Civic Enterprises were organizational partners in this endeavor.

What is Liberalism? And do we want it? (January 27, 2015)
A panel discussion hosted by the Common Sense Society at Centrál Kávéház on January 27, featuring speakers M. André Goodfriend, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy, András Lánczi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Századvég Foundation, and Marion Smith, President of the Common Sense Society and Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

DIP! Discussion with the Ambassador of France (December 2, 2014)
H.E. Roland Galharague, Ambassador of France to Hungary discussed French-Hungarian relations, the future of the EU, as well as energy policy issues, with a special emphasis on ways to fight climate change. The event was moderated by Júlia Lakatos, political analyst and Pannonius Fellow of the Common Sense Society.

DIP! Discussion with the Ambassador of Latvia (October 28,2014)
The Ambassador of Latvia to Hungary, H.E. Imants Lieģis and Kester Eddy, Freelance journalist, contributor to the Financial Times and Business New Europe discussed the history of the Baltics, including the anti-Soviet “Singing Revolution” 25 years ago, as well as Latvia’s NATO membership and its upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2015.

The Power of Social Innovation (May 20, 2014)
Moderated by social entrepreneur Márton AichelburgCSS and Civic Enterprises hosted a panel discussion with Gergely Böszörményi Nagy (Design Terminál), László Radácsi (SmartLab), Gábor Grész (Campus Crusade Hungary) and Robert Tietze (Experience Corps Philadelphia) on how Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good.

2014 CSS Election Watch Party (April 6, 2014)
CSS, together with LSE Alumni, and Liberális Fiatalok Egyesülete hosted an election night watch party on April 6: we watched the results rolling in, threw an Election Night Trivia, and Júlia Lakatos from Méltányosság Intézet and participants  weighed in on the campaign moderated by Márton Ugrósdy.

Parliamentary Elections 2014: Electoral Tactics Under New Rules (March 6, 2014)
New rules of the game, an expanded electorate, heightened international media attention and less than 50 days left until election day in Hungary. How are parties adjusting their campaign strategies to win the hearts and minds of Hungarians the majority of whom remain skeptical or undecided about their choices? Our electoral panel addressed major themes in the current campaign and assess  the political playbooks of the various parties. The event was co-hosted with the Central European Policy Centre.

The Psychology of Winning (November 27, 2013)
If sport psychology is essential to achieve peak performance in sports, what lessons can be applied  in an increasingly competitive environment in other fields? Associate Director of the Common Sense Society Emese Böröcz moderated a discussion with Olympic Gold Medalist sabre fencer Áron Szilágyi and Dr. Róbert Kárpáti, psychiatrist and Head of the Psychiatric Center at St George’s Hospital.

New Forms of Capitalism and the Matrix of Human Rights Governance Networks (September 24, 2013)
CSS held a members-only discussion with Jim Kelly, President of the Solidarity Center for Law and Justice of Atlanta, Georgia USA, moderated by CSS President Marion Smith. The discussion covered ideas as the fairness of “classical” capitalism and new forms of capitalism designed to soften the excesses of the free market system.

CSS Summer Leadership Academy in Bercel, Hungary (August 7-11, 2013)
After a competitive admissions process, twenty young leaders and scholars were selected to spend five days at Bercel Kastély in the Hungarian countryside. They were joined by top scholars and teachers from around the world including Roger Scruton, Roger Pilon, Juliana Geran Pilon, John O’Sullivan, Sam Potolicchio, Thierry Baudet, András Lánczi, Péter Kádas, András Jakab, Philippe de Chalendar and Kinga Petro de Chalendar to debate, ponder, and learn about the fundamental principles of a free and prosperous society.

Public Corruption and the Role of the Judiciary: A Discussion with Judge Edith Jones (June 27, 2013)
Corruption is the enemy of the public good, but the inevitable product of human failings. What can the judiciary, especially in self-governing societies, do to root out and deter corruption? Judge Jones discussed the answers  found in the U.S. Constitution and in recent cases that have come to her court and other courts in the United States.

Europe Debate: Are We Now Too Poor to Save the Planet? (May 2, 2013)
Post 2020 climate and energy policy during the Eurozone crisis. Can Europe afford to go for deep decarbonization in the absence of a comprehensive global agreement? Is a continuous push for renewable energy affordable? A discussion with Péter Kaderják is the director of the Regional Centre for Energy Policy Research (REKK), moderated by journalist, József Péter Martin.

Book Discussion of George Orwell’s 1984 (April 25, 2013)
CSS hosted a lively  discussion of George Orwell’s book, 1984 moderated by Dr. Tibor Mándi (ELTE).

Screening of Debtocracy (April 5, 2013)
CSS hosted a film screening and discussion of Debtocracy, a documentary film by Katerina Kitidi and Aris Hatzistefanou about the causes of the Greek debt crisis in 2010. What was the role of the Greek government, the IMF and the European Central Bank or the population of Greece in the formation of the current situation? What does the case of Greece and Cyprus teach us? The debt crisis from a Greek point of view and a discussion about possible future solutions to the crisis.

Europe Debate: Is the EU a Welfare-, Work-, or Social Investment-Based Community? (March 29, 2013)
What are legitimate social policy objectives in times of prolonged economic crisis and enforced fiscal austerity? Is debt management a realistic priority in an aging society? A debate presented in cooperation with the European Commission featuring Zsuzsa Ferge and Liliána Zúgó, moderated by Antónia Mészáros.

Higher Education Debate (February 14, 2013)
CSS hosted a debate on the motion: “This House believes that higher education is a privilege, not a right.”Arguing the Affirmative were Katka Cseh (International Coordinator at Association of Liberal Students (LiFE), medical student) and Zoltán Kész (CSS Pannonius Fellow, co-founder of Free Market Foundation). Arguing Against were Zsófia Murányi (Summer Leadership Academy alumna, Vice President of the Corvinus Debate Society) and József Berács (Professor at Corvinus University and Executive Director of the Center for International Higher Education Studies)

Chief Justice Paczolay on the Role of the Constitutional Court in Hungary (January 8, 2013)
What are the basic principles behind the Court’s decisions? What is the state of separation of powers in Hungary? And what lies ahead as we enter a new legislative year with foreseeable additional amendments to the Basic Law?  Hungarian Constitutional Court Chief Justice Péter Paczolay addressed these issues at the first meeting of CSS in 2013.

CSS Annual Christmas Party (December 21, 2012)
At our annual CSS Christmas Party, CSS members enjoyed a holiday performance by pianist László Stachó (Senior Lecturer at The Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and CSS Leadership Academy alumnus) and cellist Tamás Zétényi (Classicus Ensemble). In keeping with the CSS tradition of charitable giving, we gathered gift boxes and donated them to children in need.

Memory, History, Extremism (November 29, 2012)
What are the differences between patriotism, nationalism, and extremism? What is the proper place of historical remembrance and respect for national heritage in a post-Communist era? CSS President Marion Smith hosted a distinguished panel of Iván Zoltán Dénes (István Bibó Center), Ferenc Laczó (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Germany) and Miklós Zeidler (ELTE University, Budapest)  for a lively discussion of Hungarian history and Hungarian national identity in the 21st century

Meet and greet with Leonard Leo (October 8, 2012)
CSS members and alumni of the Summer Leadership Academy had an opportunity to get to know one of our long-time partner organizations, The Federalist Society through its Executive Vice-President, Leonard Leo who  has played an active role in both US public diplomacy and politics.

DIP: Discussion with British Ambassador Jonathan Knott (September 19, 2012)
Our DIP series continued with the new Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Hungary, Jonathan Knott who was posted to Budapest in February, 2012. Ambassador Knott discussed Hungarian-British relations, the London Olympics, the upcoming International Cyberspace Conference hosted by Hungary and previously hosted by Britain and various other topics. Hosted by CSS President Marion Smith.

Debate: Should the State Promote Virtue? (September 13, 2012)
CSS held an exclusive screening of a remarkable debate between Roger Scruton (Oxford University) and Roger Pilon (Cato Institute) recorded at the July CSS Summer Leadership Academy. The screening continued with a live moderated debate, with audience participation. Hosted by CSS President Marion Smith.

Summer Leadership Academy (July 25-29, 2012)
CSS hosted the inaugural Summer Leadership Academy  on July 25 – July 29 at Bercel Kastély in Nógrád County, Hungary. Over the course of five days and four nights, twenty-five selected participants gained an invaluable theoretical grounding in philosophy, economics, politics, and law, while also taking part in workshops and simulations.

Visions of America: The State of US Presidential Politics (July 2, 2012)
Will American voters reward President Obama’s multilateral internationalism, or prefer Mitt Romney’s vision of an exceptional “American Century”? Hungarian American Coalition President Maximilian Teleki (bio) and Common Sense Society President Marion Smith discussed the choice American voters will soon make between competing presidential visions for America’s future.

Outer Space: The New Frontier of Private Enterprise (June 28, 2012)
CSS hosted a panel discussion on the future of space exploration. Our guests were  Tibor Pacher, head of the Hungarian private space travel company Puli Space Technologies (currently competing for the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE), László Molnár, astronomer and blogger at “Knights of Cydonia Region” and András Gschwindt, leader of the Masat group at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

DIP: Diplomatic Discussion with US Ambassador (June 13, 2012)
H.E. Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis was our guest for a second time and reflected on the changes in US-Hungarian relations since her talk at CSS, the United States’ international role and leadership, the future of American foreign policy,  her personal impressions of Hungarian politics and the upcoming US elections

Hungary’s Checks and Balances: Alive and Well? (May 31, 2012)
CSS  held an off the record discussion with Constitutional Court Justice dr. Péter Kovács to delve into the realities of Hungary’s new constitutional power structure and the political importance  of the new Basic Law’s judicial interpretation. Dr. Sándor Udvary, advisor to the Constitutional Court will moderate the discussion.

Budapest premier of the movie “Urbanized” (May 23, 2012)
A feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers.  The challenges of balancing housing, mobility, public space, civic engagement, economic development, and environmental policy are fast becoming universal concerns. Yet much of the dialogue on these issues is disconnected from the public domain.

Nation-building in Afghanistan: Myth or Reality? (April 19, 2012)
In an age of financial austerity and following the death of Osama bin-Laden, critics of nation buidling have grown in number. Are these voices merely reflective of war-weary pessimism or do they represent a prudent reassessment of the prospect of large-scale societal and political change in Afghanistan? A panel featuring  experts from Afghanistan weighed in in the issue.

America through European Eyes: 1492-9/11 (March 14, 2012)
A discussion with Alan Levine, Associate Professor at American University, and Founder of the Washington, DC Political Theory Colloquium.Professor Levine asked: What if European thinkers have never been truly interested in getting to know the real America and used it only as an ever-changing symbol to prop up their own political beliefs? What are the implications of such willful ignorance?

Debate: Has Modern Feminism Betrayed Women? (February 22, 2012)
Just like any other school of thought, feminism has been known to exist in various forms. While the accomplishments of first-wave feminism, first and foremost the suffrage for women, are praised by almost everyone, the more recent waves of the feminist movement are very much a subject of controversy.

DIP! Discussion with the Ambassador of Egypt (February 8, 2012)
Our guest for 2012’s first DIP was His Excellency Aly Houssam El-Din El-Hefny, Ambassador of Egypt. He talked about questions related to Egypt’s international and regional role in Africa and the Middle East, Egyptian-Hungarian relations and more.

Reading Group: Machiavelli’s The Prince (January 30, 2012)
Machiavelli’s 16th century advice to the young ruler is a classic work about the relationship between power and politics, both personal and popular, as well as about the shifting understandings of virtue, vices, and fortune. CSS president Marion Smith moderated the discussion.

The Problem with Moral Relativism: A Discussion with Roger Scruton (January 25, 2012)
On both sides of the Atlantic, liberal democracies face economic hardship, continued security threats, and falling confidence in basic institutions of government. A discussion with British philosopher, Roger Scruton.

Third Annual CSS Christmas Party (December 20, 2011)
Our special guest this year was Tamás Zétényi chellist of the recently formed Classicus et Universus Chamber Orchestra, who gave a wonderful Christmas concert.

Swimming Against the Tide: Hungary’s Fight for Economic Sovereignty (December 8, 2011)
As the entire Euro zone struggles with a prolonged legitimacy crisis and an imminent break-up of the much treasured European economic solidarity is in shambles, Hungary continues to come up with “unorthodox” solutions to fix its own problems. Former head of the Hungarian National Bank, previous Minister of Finance, Zsigmond Járai shared his thoughts on money, markets and the borrowing game.

Debate: should voting rights be extended to Hungarians abroad? (November 2, 2011)
Our two guests from Slovakia, Lucia Papayova (Anton Neuwirth Kollegium) and Ákos Melecske (Roundtable of Slovakian Hungarians) argued in affirmative and our Hungarian debaters, András László Pap (CEU) with Péter Józsa (HHRF) argued against the resolution.

Roma Integration: Whose Responsibility? (October 19, 2011)
Social inclusion of the Roma is and will be one of the greatest challenges of Hungarian society in this decade, an issue that we cannot and should not ignore. Rita Izsák, recently elected CEO of the Tom Lantos Institute shared her views and personal experiences on the topic.

Rediscovering the Magyar Magic (October 12, 2011)
Nanushka, Gerbeaud, Brody House, Experidance…our event showcased successful entrepreneurs who promote Hungarian cultural heritage while adapting to the marketing needs of our times. Turn-of-the-century apartments redesigned, hundred-year-old recipes rediscovered, fashion trends reimagined, and folk rhymes reinterpreted. Join us for a discussion about how Hungarian cultural brands are competitive and “in” again.

Film screening: The Birth of Freedom (September 28, 2011)
At our  film screening, we watched and discussed the Acton Institute’s documentary, The Birth of Freedom. Why is the right to pursue our liberty self-evident or unalienable? Why would anyone believe that all men are created equal?

Should the Hungarian State Support Churches…at all? (September 21, 2011)
At our Liberty Forum, panelists Péter Hack (ELTE – School of Law), Renáta Uitz (Central European University) and Orsolya Salát (ELTE – School of Social Sciences) and moderator Marion Smith (Common Sense Society) addressed the long-standing and highly debated topic of the Role of the State and Church.

Is discrimination immoral? (July 11, 2011)
The last event of the summer was a discussion with Roger Pilon, Founder and Director of Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies about why progressive and Western governments aim to champion “equal rights for everyone” by built-in guarantees against discrimination and how this phenomenon relates to the healthy functioning of a free society.

The Legacy of Ronald Reagan (June 28, 2011)
CSS held a private discussion with Ronald Reagan’s special advisor and Attorney General Ed Meese moderated by the president’s speechwriter, Peggy Noonan about the life and legacy of Reagan, and how he thought about this part of the world.

Should the EU have a common military? (June 27, 2011)
The final debate of this season centered around the question of  European security. Arguing in the affirmative were Lt. Zoltán Szenes (Zrinyi Miklós University) and Zoltán Gálik (Corvinus University). Arguing in opposition were former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker (SAIS, CTR) and Csaba Törő(Hungarian Institute for International Affairs).

Should Europe’s Energy Future Include Nuclear Power? (June 15, 2011)
The third of the CSS Europe Debate Series focused on European energy security. The disaster of Fukushima and the recent decision by Germany to shut down its nuclear power plants and turn its energy sector nuclear free, renewed the attention to this decades old question, “Should Europe’s Energy Future Include Nuclear Power?” András Deák (Center for EU Enlargement Studies), Ada Ámon (Energiaklub) and Michael LaBelle (Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy) addressed the question of Europe’s energy dependency and whether it should include nuclear power during their remarks.

Does Immigration Threaten European Identity? (June 8, 2011)
The second debate of our CSS Europe Debate Series focused on European identity. Our debaters, Ágnes Heller (Philosopher), Erzsébet Nagyné Rózsa (Hungarian Institute of International Affairs), Péter Krekó (Political Capital), and Gergely Egedy (Corvinus) addressed the centuries old question about the struggle of Christianity and Islam for the “old continent”.

Make it Grow: The Role of Venture Capitalists (May 18, 2011)
Our Start Up! event featured our Entrepreneur-In-Residence, creator and organizer of the E-Workshop series, Peter Záboji (European Entrepreneurship Foundation) who grilled  Venture Capitalists, Business Angels, and Private Equity Investors. The panel included Iván Halász (Finext), Áron Szabó (Riverside), and András Molnár(Portfolion).

Book Launch – The Constitution of Liberty (May 9, 2011)
Márton Baranyi ( moderated a discussion with our featured speakers András Lánczi (president,Századvég Foundation) and Marion Smith (president, Common Sense Society). They addressed the arguments of our first publication, the Hungarian translation of a book by Matthew Spalding, Az Amerikai Függetlenségi Nyilatkozat és Alkotmány Alapelvei.

Principles vs. Interests? Understanding America’s Role in the World (April 20, 2011)
CSS President Marion Smith addressed the issue of “Principles vs Interests” in U.S. Foreign Policy at our Liberty Forum. The discussion featured the United States’ role in international relations from the era of the Founding Fathers, till the Arab Spring and the revolution  in Libya.

Is There an East-West Divide in the European Union? (April 12, 2011)
Marion Smith moderated a debate between two young scholars, Gergely Romsics (research fellow at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs) and András Rácz (research fellow at the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs), who addressed the economic, cultural and historical differences of the new and old member states.

The Culture of Philanthropy (March 30, 2011)
Susan Hutchison, the Executive Director of the Charles Simonyi Fund spoke at the Liberty Forum event about philanthropy culture in the United States and Hungary. During the discussion she addressed the philanthropy led political culture and the differences between the US and CEE.

Hungary’s New Constitution: Prospects for The Rule of Law and Liberty in Europe (March 21, 2011)
At this critical juncture, Hungary has the chance to provide a model for proper constitutionalism in Europe.  To fail, in the words of Alexander Hamilton, would be a “general misfortune for mankind.”  Americans are watching with expectation Hungary’s new experiment in establishing good government.
The event was co-sponsored by the Hungarian American Coalition and the Heritage Foundation.

Reading Group – Empowering workers in Chile by Jose Pinera (March 16, 2011)
As Minister of Labor and Social Security of Chile (1978-1980), Dr. José Piñera was the architect of Chile’s successful private pension system. With the help of the pension reform, he managed to defeat poverty in a free society and helped Chile to grow beyond expectations and become South America’s most stable and prosperous nation. András Simonovits (research advisor, Hungarian Academy of Sciences) was our guest expert on pension systems around the world and in Hungary.

The Workshop of World Politics (February 28, 2011)
IR Professor Tilo Schabert spoke at our Liberty Forum event about international relations and european integration from a historical and philosophical perspective. During the discussion he addressed the elite-led construction of the European Union, the original French and German ideas of a European federal system and the constitutional lessons learned from the German unification, as well as potential impacts of Hungary’s EU presidency.

Is It Only a Matter of Time Before the Euro Collapses? (February 23, 2011)
Dr Iain Begg (professor, London School of Economics) spoke at a joint event of the Common Sense Society, the LSE Alumni and the Hungarian Europe Society about the effects of the financial crisis on the European Union. His lecture addressed the most important question of the future regarding the financial and economic integration of the EU and the monetary policy problems lying ahead: Will the EU become a United States of Europe or a United Europe of States?

Start UP – Just Do It (Februay 2, 2011)
Young entrepreneurs in action: three myth busting stories that will inspire you, motivate you, and make you believe that yes, you can do it too. Our role models for business creation talked about how to stay in learning mode, how to start-up your own business in Hungary and just do it. Our panel was moderated by our Entrepreneur-In-Residence, creator and organizer of the successful E-workshop series, Peter Záboji (European Entrepreneur Foundation). Our panelists: Patrik Kovács, founder of Young Entrepreneurs’ Association; Dániel Szabó, Your Big Year 2010 global entrepreneurship competition finalist, and Dóra Henger, founder of OurStyle online fashion magazine/boutique.

Should the Holy Crown Doctrine be included in the Preamble? (January 26, 2011)
The 4th event of our Constitution of Liberty program was an interactive discussion with renown scholar of the topic, professor Tóth Zoltán József (currently serving as Deputy State Secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of Defense). We discussed the relevance of the doctrine to the constitutional reform process, its relation to the separation of church and state,  and whether it has a place in the Preamble of our Constitution.
This is a private event for CSS members.

Is Freedom of Speech Threatened in Hungary? (January 12, 2011)
We explored the realities of free speech and freedom of the press in Hungary with a panel discussion featuring dr. Mihály Gálik (Corvinus University), dr. György Ocskó (National Media and Broadcasting Commission), Andris Mellakauls (Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services – Council of Europe), András Stumpf (Heti Válasz), dr. Levente Nyakas (Károli University) and moderated by dr. Sándor Udvary (Supreme Court advisor and professor of law). The main questions included: Does the new media law guarantee freedom of the press? What are the prospects of free speech protection under the new media law?

CSS Christmas Party and Charity Event (December 14, 2010)
CSS’ second annual Christmas Party  featured a Live Holiday Concert by the international renown concert pianist Keren Hanan ( To celebrate the joy of giving we collected more than 100 kgs of winter clothes for the benefit of families in need as a donation for the Interchurch Aid Organization. As a surprise holiday present, CSS officers and core members formed an amateur choir to perform christmas songs. We also held our annual “Christmas Cookie and Cake Constest” where the clear winner was the traditional applie pie by Magdus. Click here to view the photos!

Assessing the New Constitution Draft Document (December 7, 2010)
Dr Péter Hack, professor of law at ELTE university spoke at the fourth Constitution of Liberty event and lead a discussion on the draft document of the new constitution published by the Parliament’s ad hoc drafting committee on December 1, 2010. The event assessed the main prospective changes in the text of the Constitution and the technical aspects of the drafting process.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion with Israel’s Ambassador to Hungary (December 1, 2010)
CSS hosted Aliza Bin-Noun, Ambassador of Israel, for a candid discussion that included the Ambassador’s unique insights as a diplomat of Transylvanian origin posted to Budapest. She also spoke about her career, the relationship between the Israeli army and Jewish identity, the pertinent issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the effects of the wikileaks scandal on Israel, anti-semitism in Hungary, and political extremism in Europe.

Separation of Powers and the Rule of Law in the New Constitution (November 29, 2010)
The 3rd event of our Constitution of Liberty program featured a panel – Sándor Udvary (Károli Gáspár University) Pál Sonnevend (ELTE University) and András Varga Zs. (Pázmány Péter University) moderated by András Jakab (Pázmány).

Impact of U.S. Congressional Midterm Elections on National Priorities and the Obama Presidency (November 3, 2010)
Maximilian Teleki, president of the Hungarian-American Coalition (HAC), gave his post-election analysis the day after the U.S. midterm election. He spoke about conflicting strategies of the Republican and Democratic parties, the effect of the Tea Party movement, and about Hungarian-American relations.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion about the U.S. Mission in Iraq (October 25, 2010)
Paul O’Friel, political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, joined CSS members for an off-the-record discussion and illustrated presentation about his experiences in Iraq. O’Friel is a former Iraq PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) leader. Topics included experiences leading the U.S. post-war rebuilding efforts in war-torn Iraq, the nature of irregular warfare in the Middle East, and other aspects of U.S. military missions abroad.

Should Hungary’s Constitution be Reformed or Transformed? (October 18, 2010)
Our guest debaters were András Jakab (Associate Professor of Law at Pázmány University and editor of the Commentary of the Hungarian Constitution) and István Stumpf (professor of political science at ELTE university Faculty of Law and judge on Hungary’s Constitutional Court). András Jakab argued that Hungary’s new constitution should reflect modest constitutional reform while István Stumpf argued for a more radical transformation of Hungary’s constitution. In addition to our keynote debaters, there were also lively speeches from the floor. This was the second debate of our “Constitution of Liberty” project, a new initiative to raise public awareness about key constitutional concepts and debate the essential questions of Hungary’s political principles.

Political Transformation in Hungary – Past, Present, and Future (October 7, 2010)
Professor Roger Scruton spoke of his experiences meeting underground dissident groups in Hungary during the Communist era. He also offered his thoughts on Hungarian politics since 1989 and the work of the FIDESZ-KDNP government going forward. (Please check back soon for the  online transcript of this lecture.)

Why Beauty Matters (October 6, 2010)
Philosopher and celebrated author Roger Scruton joined CSS members for an intimate discussion about aesthetics, modern architecture, and urban planning.

Does Hungary Need A New Constitution? (September 29, 2010)
This event was the first debate in Common Sense Society’s Constitution of Liberty Project. Guest debaters István Hegedűs (HES – Hungarian Europe Society) and Tamás Szigeti (TASZ – Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) argued in opposition to a new constitution. While Marion Smith (CSS) and Benedek Varsányi (CSS) argued in favor of a new constitution. CSS will host regular debates on important topics related to Hungary’s constitutional process.

Rhetoric & Debate Workshop II (September 20, 2010)
Because no one is born an orator! Ahead of our debate-heavy fall season, CSS members worked on argumentation and debating skills with Marion Smith.

Postmodern Democracy and Political Revival in CEE (September 15, 2010)
CSS members enjoyed a lecture by Fr. Guarnizo on the effects of postmodern thinking, the philosophical foundations of democracy, and how Central and Eastern Europe can play a crucial role in rebuilding our first principles.

The Corruption of Liberty with Tibor Machan (July 22, 2010)
CSS members discussed individualism, ethics, and the state of liberty today with special guest economist and philosopher Dr. Tibor Machan.

Hungary’s Dual Citizenship Law (July 7, 2010)
Resolution: This House Believes that the Hungarian citizenship law amendment is an act of revisionism. On the Hungarian side arguing against the dual citizenship act (and in favor of the House) were Gábor Egry and Anna Stumpf. On the opposing Slovak side arguing in favor of the dual citizenship act were Tomas Surgos and Lucia Papayova. The Resolution failed, but the debate featured a lively, civil discussion on the amendment’s implications for ethnic Hungarians abroad and for Slovak-Hungarian relations, as well as security concerns.

Reading Group: Democracy in America (June 21, 2010)
A discussion of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America, Vol. II, Book 3: “Influence of Democracy on Manners, Properly So Called” led by Randy Grinnan. Reading Group discussions are held monthly in English and last approximately 1.5 hours.

What’s Brewing in America? (June 7, 2010)
A conversation about democracy, populism, and the American Tea Party movement with CSS President Marion Smith.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion with the US Ambassador to Hungary (May 19, 2010)
An informal discussion with Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, the new US Ambassador to Hungary.

Reading Group: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (May 10, 2010)
A book discussion about the relationship between the government and the economy. Moderated by Dániel Nagy. Reading Group discussions are held monthly in English and last approximately 1.5 hours.

Is a strong government enough to turn Hungary around? (May 5, 2010)
What should be the ideal role of the state in post-crisis Hungary? What happened to economic freedom in the global bailout syndrome? What should drive Hungarian GDP in the next 5-10 years? What is a “strong” government anyway? A panel discussion with Imre Hild (OTP Life Annuity), Lászlo Balassy (Citigroup), Stefan Messman (CEU), and Peter Záboji (EEF).

The Politics of Bioethics (April 30, 2010)
What are the ethical considerations behind human cloning, eugenics, and stem cell research? Is human dignity lost on the way to progress in medicine? A discussion about the Value of Human Life in our Brave New World with guest speaker Prof. William L. Saunders, Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs at Americans United for Life.

Reading Group: Democracy and Populism by John Lukacs (April 12, 2010)
A discussion of Democracy and Populism by John Lukacs (born János Lukács). Moderated by Gábor Megadja. Discussions are held monthly in English and last approximately 1.5 hours.

Film Screening: “Incubator” (April 7, 2010)
Can Hungarian identity be preserved abroad? A compelling documentary about having two homelands at the same time – one in real life, and the other imagined and maintained by parents who were forced to flee. The screening was followed by a discussion with director Réka Pigniczky about growing up in an exile community abroad, developing a double-identity, and becoming a hyphenated-somebody. Click here for more information on the movie, Incubator.

Book Launch: The Hungarian Political System (March 25, 2010)
Tóth Csaba (author), Szabó Márk (Nézőopont), and Héjj Dávid (Századvég) discussed the critical elections of 2010 in Hungary and the tectonic changes in Hungarian politics a propos the launch of a new book, The Hungarian Political System.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion with the Slovak Ambassador (March 11, 2010)
CSS members held a discussion with Slovak Ambassador Peter Weiss on the upcoming elections in both Hungary and Slovakia, the language law, and Hungarian-Slovak relations.

Reading Group: The Law by Frédéric Bastiat (March 1, 2010)
Lead by Tibor Mándi, CSS membes discussed the relevance of natural law and the regulatory role of the state in a democratic society.

Multiculturalism in Europe (February 23, 2010)
Guest debaters, Attila Károly Molnár (ELTE) and Tibor Dessewffy (Demos) debated the future of identity, religion and immigration in Europe. The resolution, This House believes that multiculturalism is a sustainable social model for Europe, was rejected by those present.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion with the British Ambassador (February 11, 2010)
HM Ambassador Greg Dorey from the British Embassy in Budapest joined CSS members for a discussion on the results of the London Conference on Afghanistan that was held on the 28th of January and Iran’s nuclear program.

Reading Group: The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek (February 1, 2010)
Lead by Márton Baranyi, CSS members discussed how the idea of the free market economy influences society and how classical liberalism is relevant in times of economic crisis.

Hope & Change: Year One (January 26, 2010)
Professor Tamás Magyarics explained in detail the administration’s take on its flagship project, the healthcare reform and evaluated the Obama administration’s first year in office.

Reading Group: The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis (January 7, 2010)
CSS held the first monthly Reading Group discussion. The discussion led by Marion Smith focused on the conflict between logical positivism and natural law as well as the consequences of debunking traditional morality.

CSS Christmas Party (December 21, 2009)
CSS’ first annual Christmas Party was a success. Attendees brought winter clothes to donate to families in need through our partner Nagycsaládosok Országos Egyesülete (NOE). The evening included a Christmas concert featuring Fanny Szabó-Szende and plenty of mulled wine.

The Power of Ideas in Post-Modern Politics (December 3, 2009)
Dr. Lee Edwards (Heritage Foundation) joined CSS members for an event exploring the role of philosophical ideas in shaping political discourse and policy making.

Film Screening : The Call of the Entrepreneur (November 27, 2009)
A film screening and discussion held at MOM Park Palace Cinemas. The screening was followed by a conversation on entrepreneurship, capitalism, morality and ethics in business lead by Ondrej Socuvka (CEBSI) and Imre Hild (Ivy Plus).

Is Media Really the Message? (November 12, 2009)
Guest panelists Antónia Mészáros (MTV), Péter Vass (HVG), and Gábor Megadja (Konzervató joined CSS members for a discussion on the role and influence of new media in Hungarian political discourse, on the blogosphere’s influence over journalism and the new gatekeepers of the political discourse.

DIP! Diplomatic Discussion with the US Chargé D’Affairs (October 29, 2009)
Jeffrey Levine, Chargé d’Affairs at the US Embassy, Budapest, joined with CSS members for a discussion on US-Hungarian relations in the new visa-free era, the foreign policy changes of the Obama administration and prospects of Central and Eastern Europe within the transatlantic framework.

Start up! Young Entrepreneurs in Action (October 8, 2009)
The panel, featuring guest panelists Novotta Kriszta of Funzine, Aichelburg Márton of Civil Vállalkozások, and Petra Saás of Fruccola, led by Peter Záboji (European Entrepreneur Foundation) highlighted the stories of these successful young entrepreneurs and discussed some of the fundamental aspects of a start up enterprise.

Energy Security & State Sovereignty in Central Europe (September 23, 2009)
Guest debaters Anita Orbán of Constellation Energy Institute and Andreas Goldthau of CEU’s Global Public Policy Institute debate the role of Russia in the region’s energy structure. The resolution: “This House Believes that Russian energy companies are motivated by political considerations in Central and Eastern Europe” was adopted by those present.

Book Launch: American Neoconservatism by Márton Békés (September 10, 2009)
Márton Békés joined CSS members and guests for a discussion of his recently published book, American Neoconservatism: A Counterrevolution Run Astray. The event was in Hungarian focusing on the philosophical roots of Neoconservatism and the movement’s turnaround after the Reagan years.

Film Screening: 33 Minutes (July 3, 2009)
CSS members and guests gathered at Palace Cinemas’ Kossuth Mozi for a screening and discussion of 33 Minutes, a documentary produced by the Heritage Foundation about international security and ballistic missile proliferation. The ensuing conversation, led by Marion Smith focused on missile defense in Central and Eastern Europe.

Democratic deficit and the EU (June 18, 2009)
Recently following the June 2009 EU Parliamentary elections, debaters Tamás Boros (Hungarian Europe Society) and Marion Smith (Youth Atlantic Treaty Association) argued whether the EU represent responsible supranational governance or an undemocratic technocracy. The resolution, This House believes that the European Union is democratically legitimate, was adopted by those present.

The Concept of Freedom in Hungarian Politics (May 28, 2009)
During an interactive forum, panelists Zoltán Balázs & Ferenc Horkay Hörcher shed light on the conceptual and practical development of szabadság vs. szabadosság (liberty) throughout Hungarian political history.

Rhetoric & Debate Workshop (May 14, 2009)
Because no one is born an orator! CSS members enhanced their knowledge of the art of argumentation and debate with tips from Gergely Tamási, international debate coach and professor of rhetoric.

The Future of Trans-Atlantic Relations (April 30, 2009)
Guest debaters Tamás Meszerics, PhD (Central European University) and Gergely Romsics, PhD (Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs) debated the special relationship between Europe and the United States. The resolution, This House believes that the United States remains indispensable for Europe, was adopted by those present.