Author: Csaba Varga
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  • 1 Catholic University of Hungary Institute for Legal Philosophy H-1428 Budapest P.O. Box 6 Hungary
  • 2 Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Professor Emeritus, Institute for Legal Studies, Centre for Social Sciences H-1014 Budapest Országház u. 30 Hungary
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By the fall of Communism, also the past of Central and Eastern Europe is mostly hold eradicated, albeit it cannot but steadily survive in sublated mentality. On the field of l aw, this is expressed by the continuity of text-centrism in approach to law, with the law’s application following the law’s letters in a quasi-mechanical way. Consequently, what used to be legal nihilism in the Socialist regime has turned into the law’s textual fetishism in the meantime. This is equal to saying that facing the dilemma of weighing between apparently contradictory ideals within the same Rule of Law, justice has in fact been sacrificed to the certainty in/of the law in the practical working of the judiciary. Especially, constitutional adjudication mostly works for the extension of individual rights while the state as the individuals’ community is usually blocked in responding challenges in an operative manner. Situation in Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Baltic Republics, as well as Croatia is surveyed through a series of case studies in order to show degrees and variations of worsening. Softening the law by activating juridical inventiveness was used to be pressed on the region during her preparation to accession, a practice that has now been counteracted by stiffening hard law anew. In either case, on the last resort, phase-lag of juridical mentality in the region may have been at stake, preserved at the stage what Western Europe could develop into when reconstruction after the end of WWII started. For post-war West’s new joiners in approach and methodology — like (1) natural law considerations; (2) balancing among interests through assessing them in light of general principles and clauses, either of the law or implied by its underlying legal culture; as well as (3) constitutionalisation of issues — have remained mostly esoteric ideas, alien in mass to the region in question. The damage this condition may cause by cumulation is an added burden on the popular receptivity of catch-words heralded, among other ideals, by the Rule of Law.

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