Political Cynicism in Eastern Europe

In Transforming Democracy

This post is contributed by Peter from Slovakia

Many people may not noticed the recent death of economist James M. Buchanan. Though few may know this name, almost everybody know his work as a creator of political cynicism. This term includes the theory that politicians are parasiting or stoking on the state and society itself and bend the laws for their and their patrons. But let us go in order.


First he differd the population of a state to four groups: Politicians, Lobbyists, Officials and Voters. While Voters pays all the taxes, he his the most dire threath to the other three groups, though in elections he is highly limited. He also blamed the politicians for the creation of “public debt” spended on private companies of the lobbyists. That is just a very brief description of his life work. I recommend anyone interested to find his publications and study it. It may give you valuable insights of political decisions.
For me as a inhabitant of post- communist state, political cynicism is everyday reality. I don’t even differ the election outcomes on the victory of a party or parties, instead on victory of lobby A or lobby B. If you watch the news in my country (Slovakia) for let’s say a year, you could be 100% sure that parties M, N and O are controlled by lobby A and parties X, Y and Z by lobby B. Some statements from the news to support my statements. These vere all in the news, though it may be hard to find them now. Example one: Ex-minister of Finance was photographed during his vacation in Monako on a yacht which belongs to a lobby group with the CEOs of the group. Or the more recent example two: The president refused to name legally elected general attorney, which is a violation to the constitution. However he argues, that it is not a violation to the constitution, because it violates it only in two paragraphs. I could go on, but i believe you got the idea.
Pardon me for digression from the main topic to problems in my country. I just wanted to show you why I am a supporter of political cynicism. I do not posses much knowledge of the problems in another countries. I just think political cynicism can make a good discussion topic, with personal attitudes, examples, counterproposals,…
Thank you for given space. I hope this topic will be appreciated

3 comments on “Political Cynicism in Eastern Europe”

  1. Kaisa Kuusinen says:

    Before I started to write I had to check where is this writer from (USA). I don’t know the level of corruption in the United States, but in order to some to be that cynical, I would imagine that there is some personal experience in “paraciting politicians”.

    I can actually see where you come from when you told some examples. I had already heard some other stories from Slovakia that were similar to this one. I see Why you would have lost hope and become a cynic, but I wonder is there any result from cynicism? Cynicism is not just about not believing in your politicians or criticizing them. From my point of view it reflects giving up, saying that there is nothing we can do. Not fighting for better tomorrow, but lay back and say this is bad and politicians are rotten. I don’t know if I understood the concept of this right.

    I must admit I have no personal experience with such politicians. I understand your frustration, but have you thought about alternative viewpoints that make an effort to change system.

  2. Laura Casati says:

    I think I can relate a lot to what you wrote, but I would be glad to hear that people believe in the possibility to turn this reality into an old memory. My country has been always addressed as one of the most curropted, anti-moralistic, stuck, false and antimeritocratical of Europe and I can say this does not make me proud of where I come from. At the same time, we should think that every country- maybe in different percentages- has the same problems. Might this be a human problem? Can it be that when someone receive power is not likely to see it vanishing away just for the sake of being fair? Isn’t it true that Lobbys has always existed- in different intention of course? I think the divisions of people outlined makes things appear too Manichaen, while is certainley good to keep the idea simple.

  3. Gabriel says:

    Personally, I have to admit the term “Political Cynicism” was unknown to me. Though I was really overwhelmed how perfectly it fits to a current situation in Slovakia. Since I am a slovak inhabitant as well I can fully relate to the above mentioned situation.
    A differentiation into 4 groups consisting of Politicians, Lobbyists, Officials and Voters seems to be very accurate. Unfortunately a power of voters is decreasing year by year. But why is it so? I assume there are several reasons having an influence regarding to this condition.
    Firstly, people are faithless. They do not believe elections can in fact change something. They are constantly facing some political scandals, corruption, bribery and it is too much to bear so they just do not care anymore.
    Secondly, it is a “post-communist mentality”. Even though it is more than 20 years of democracy many people still consider communist system to be better comparing to what we have nowadays and this attitude remains in their minds.
    Thirdly, under-education in field of economy is an issue. Many people are not familiar with basic economic rules and principles and that is why they blame government for almost everything.
    All these factors together with superior position of politicians and lobbyists contribute to so-called “Political Cynicism”. Apparently it seems to be an insolvable problem in Slovakia. But is there really no solution?

Leave a comment