The New Republic of Letters

The summer has just begun and we would like to introduce to you a unique project in cooperation with Austrian Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen: The New Republic of Letters. The concept has a pleasantly old-fashioned air as outstanding public intellectuals engage in a debate on Central Europe’s future via letter exchange. Its aim is to offer insight without the benefit of hindsight.

The first iteration of the dialogue over distance embodied in the idea of the new Republic of Letters concerns the visions of future Central Europe in view of the COVID-19 crisis that confronts societies of the region with new or newly dynamized challenges while opening a historical space for thinking through but also acting on political alternatives. While we may yet lack the benefit of hindsight when pondering the effects the crisis shall visit on the region’s polities, the varied group of outstanding public intellectuals whose contributions are assembled here provides a much needed collective insight.


The discussion is initiated by Jan-Werner Müller’s prediction that COVID-19 pandemic and its rally-around-the-flag dynamic will favor the populist politicians. Do his colleagues agree? We will familiarise you with their discussion in the following days.

Read it here.