It is not too late yet …

It was in the dreary month of November,

The gloomy days grew shorter,

The wind tore the foliage off the trees,

….

No, not the time I visited Germany, as Heinrich Heine did, writing A Winter’s Tale about Germany

 

We ended a European conference: social services, the meaning of care with its various facets, not least the pressure from marketisation and the neglect of a system of which it had been said in 2013 that this capitalism kills.

 

I said good bye to a colleague from Hungary – I did not know her, mentioned en passent my position at the Corvinus University and ….

… Could I only recite that then

She sang of love and its woes,

Of sacrifice and meeting again,

High above, in a better world,

Void of suffering, void of pain.

I heard another story instead

Orban finally took him away

– so on the occasion of my next visit I will not see the Marx statue that stood in the central hall of the university. Of course, it had been only a monument, a symbol – but yes: it had been a symbol: a manifestation of a writer, scientist and activist. And it had been a symbol for a writer who had been recognised as important contributor to the development of world culture – part of the heritage of Western culture which means in the understanding of the UNESCO a recognition not only of the importance but also in terms of the positive contribution.

With the news about Orban’s recent coupe I leave the venue – a stale feeling, weakness and disgust …

Indeed, Orban and his myrmidons learned what their recent victim said:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.

Of course, it is important, necessary to accuse this infringement of respect of Western culture, this arrogance of a snooty-nosed little upstart who is known for his pathological outages, his populist megalomania. Still, there is a wider perspective.

Some may recall the sentences by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.[1]

And indeed, it is cum grano salis also relevant here:

  • First they came for the social commitment of property and established the radical freedom of the market – but we enjoyed it: choice and being able to decide
  • Then they came for the regulation, and dismantled the systems of regulating at least some standards – but we always objected bureaucratic rule and did not bother, assuming that reason will win anyway
  • Then they took the last public services away, establishing the market rule across the board – didn’t we complain for a long time of the lack of quality of public services …
  • Finally, there had indeed not been such thing as society, only individualists, pretending sociality by the commodities they buy, the brands by which they exhibit themselves … and even the memory of alternatives had been wiped out – then it will be too late …

Not yet – if we are serious now in interpreting the development correctly and, indeed, change it fundamentally.

[1]            There are different versions and there is along discussion on the statement – see here… And here.

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