Our Liberty Forums consist of debates, panel discussions, and lectures on a wide array of topics centered on the institutions, understanding, and practice of responsible liberty in Hungary.

Past Liberty Forums

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

The Culture of Philantrophy (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.

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?

Is Freedom of Speech Threatened in Hungary? (January 12, 2011)
At a panel discussion on January 12, 2011, we explored the realities of free speech and freedom of the press in Hungary.  The panel 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).

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Is Media Really the Message? (November 12, 2009)
Guest panelists Antónia Mészáros (MTV), Péter Vass (HVG), and Gábor Megadja (Konzervatórium.hu) 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.

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.

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