Democratic Round Table’s Manifesto to the People of Hungary

The development in Greece may hopefully be more than an encouragement of the anti-austerity forces in Europe (so today’s huma). This is ONE important point, the other is to move Europe towards a different direction altogether … – May be there is some movement also in Hungary now. Actually the same day as Greek people went to the ballots …

Hungarian Spectrum

It was on January 16 that four people who are concerned about the fate of Hungary announced the formation of a new Democratic Round Table (Demokratikus Kerekasztal or DEKA). People familiar with the period of the regime change in Hungary will recall that it was at such a round table that the foundations of the new democratic Hungary were laid.

The four patriotic people are Zsuzsa Ferge, a sociologist whose primary interest is social stratification with special emphasis on poverty; Gábor Iványi, the Methodist minister who works with the homeless and the poor; András Horváth, the whistleblower who revealed the rampant corruption within the Hungarian Tax Authority; and Zoltán Lovas, a journalist who was one of the organizers of the long demonstration against the erection of the memorial to the German occupation. They are convinced, as are many others, that Hungary is in a social, political, and economic crisis, and they are trying to stave off a “national catastrophe.” Due to the growing…

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wishes … – on the Greek elections, and the time that follows

Whatever we are able and would like to do, presents itself to our imagination, as without us and in the future ; we feel a longing after that which we already possess in secret. thus the passionate anticipating grasp changes  the truly possible into a dreamed reality. Now if such a bias lies decidedly in our nature, then, with every every step of our development will a part of the first wish be fulfilled – under favourable circumstances in the direct way, under unfavourable in the circuitous way, from which we always come back again to the other. Thus we see men by perseverance attain to earthly wealth; they surround themselves with riches, splendor, and external honour. Others strive yet more certainly after intellectual advantages, acquire for themselves a clear survey of things, a peacefulness of mind, and a certainty for the present and the future.
Goethe: Truth and Poetry. From my Own Life; Translated from the German by John Oxenford, Esq; London: Henry G. Bohn; 1848


Unsere Wünsche sind Vorgefühle der Fähigkeiten, die in uns liegen, Vorboten desjenigen, was wir zu leisten imstande sein werden. Was wir können und möchten, stellt sich unserer Einbildungskraft außer uns und in der Zukunft dar; wir fühlen eine Sehnsucht nach dem, was wir schon im Stillen besitzen. So verwandelt ein leidenschaftliches Vorausgreifen das wahrhaft Mögliche in ein erträumtes Wirkliches.

Quelle: Dichtung und Wahrheit IX

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

Just doing there final work – proof reading etc. – A book under the title

Opening Views against the Closure of the World

should then soon ready for publication at Some overview in the following. 

The contributions collected in this volumes are all centred around challenges we face globally – and saying globally means that they are taking such perspective seriously as one that “concerns us all”. Too often social science remains explicitly limited by understanding the process of globalisation as a matter of (i) maintaining the old developmentalist perspective, presuming the superiority of what is today called global north or (ii) as suspicious, i.e. defending in one way or another indigeneity. A possible further move consists in (iii) claiming some form of merger, the caminare insieme, for which the present pope can claim some fame, is then reduced on some moral statement, translated into demanding collective rationality against greed and the appealing to the mercy, facing the invisible hand with the negative effects of pure individualism. There remains a huge gap here and there – when it comes to developing an understanding that goes fundamentally further, actually seriously discussing the autochthonous mindsests. And saying this, it is also necessary to remind ourselves that these concepts are anything else than autochthonous. History calls for caution – and though the contributions cannot claim the present a radical rupture in thinking, it is at least an attempt to push considerations further into that direction. In this way the book also tries to give space for questions instead of coming up with answers.

TOC (page numbers provisional)

Preface and Acknowledgements……….. 6

Research on demand Academics between self-consciousness and self-chastisement……….. 14

European Policies of Social Inclusion – Fatality of Good-Will……….. 32

Capability and Social Policy – The Search for Social Quality……….. 63

Social Quality – Social Anomie. Two Sides of one Coin?……….. 88

World Systems Theory and Theory of Social Quality as Proposal for a Methodology for Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation……….. 105

Environmental Democracy – New Challenges……….. 133

Crisis and no end !?……….. 152

Austerity wrecks economy and society

Haircut or “Grexit“? Two weeks before the early elections in Greece where the left coalition Syriza stands to win a majority, the German media are concerned with little else. Axel Troost, the financial policy speaker of the parliamentary group DIE LINKE in the German Bundestag, met with leading Syriza politicians. In this interview, he explains why a debt cut is not the most immediate issue, and how Syriza aims to re-build the mismanaged Greek state. The primary challenge, he says, is an end to the devastating austerity policy.


Interview with Axel Troost, member of the German Parliament ….


German interview text here


An interesting collection on the topic Greece, compiled by Troika Watch, can be found here

Freedom of Opinion

Some facts – from
Alexander Kentikelenis, Marina Karanikolos, Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, David Stuckler:
Lancet 2014; 383: 748–53
drastic reductions to municipality budgets have led to a scaling back of several activities (eg, mosquito- spraying programmes20), which, in combination with other factors, has allowed the re-emergence of locally transmitted malaria for the first time in 40 years. (748)

Researchers from the Greek National School of Public Health reported a 21% rise in stillbirths between 2008 and 2011, which they attributed to reduced access to prenatal health services for pregnant women. (751)

It is about
Denial …
The cost of adjustment is being borne mainly by ordinary Greek citizens. They are subject to one of the most radical programmes of welfare-state retrenchment in recent times, which in turn affects population health. Yet despite this clear evidence, there has been little agreement about the causal role of austerity. There is a broad consensus that the social sector in Greece was in grave need of reform, with widespread corruption, misuse of patronage, and inefficiencies, and many commentators have noted that the crisis presented an opportunity to introduce long-overdue changes. Greek Government officials, and several sympathetic comm- entators, have argued that the introduction of the wide- ranging changes and deep public-spending cuts have not damaged health59,60 and, indeed, might lead to long-term improvements. Officials have denied that vulnerable groups (eg, homeless or uninsured people) have been denied access to health care, and claim that those who are unable to afford public insurance contributions still receive free care.However, the scientific literature presents a different picture. In view of this detailed body of evidence for the harmful effects of austerity on health, the failure of public recognition of the issue by successive Greek Governments and international agencies is remarkable. Indeed, the predominant response has been denial that any serious difficulties exist, although this response is not unique to Greece; the Spanish Government has been equally reluctant to concede the harm caused by its policies. This dismissal meets the criteria for denialism, which refuses to acknowledge, and indeed attempts to discredit, scientific research. (751)
Further references are omitted and can be found in the original; and it has to be emphasised that similar denialism can be found not only also in Spain but in Italy and …. – and in some way also in the so-called rich countries, thigh the situation is by no means as bad as in Greece.
Frightening as it is, the situation is made much less bearable if we look at the various denunciations and rebukes of Greek claims to return to control of the countries situation and to reject the external control under the heading of Washington consensus and Troika.
It may be somewhat naive that I still expected the German Green Joschka Fischer not to support openly this reactionary policy and to show more responsibility and circumspection when it comes to looking for solutions. But …
He has nothing better to do to suggest an end of the crisis, saying
Die Euro-Krise scheint vorbei zu sein. Zumindest haben sich die Finanzmärkte beruhigt, auch wenn der Wechselkurs gesunken ist und die Wirtschaft in den südlichen Krisenländern der Europäischen Union nach wie vor darniederliegt.
And he speaks of political risks, due to the lack of a sound stability after the crisis and the fact that austerity policies did not end in the promised results:
Aus dem politischen Raum droht daher großes Unheil für das europäische Projekt.
He rightly sees the problems in Italy too, but then dares to state comment on the result of the Greek elections on the 25th of January with the words that there is
… the high risk that the left socialists of the party SYRIZA will be elected.
… mit dem hohen Risiko, dass die Linkssozialisten von der Partei Syriza gewählt werden.
Joschka Fischer: Worauf wartet ihr noch?; 15. Januar 2015, 12:07; Süddeutsche Zeitung
The rest of Fischer’s comments show that he lost his sense for assessing what is important and real (well, perhaps her never had it).

Important is to accept the right of the people to elect THEIR government – there is some “risk of democracy” that the governing forces do to like it

Important is to fundamentally work towards a solution of the crisis, which means to move to an economy that does not need austerity but on the contrary is there to enhance social quality, well-being and welfare for all

Important is to recognise that the solution is not about


real european solutions in the direction of increased economic growth

echter europäischer Lösungen in Richtung auf mehr Wirtschaftswachstum

To be fair, Fischer highlights the serious problem of the emergence of nationalism, the staple food of the extrem right. Going beyond Greece he states


that the resentment of the Italians is increasingly not solely directed against austerity policies, but also against the Euro itself. And if the Italians are captured (by Anti-EU/nationalist sentiments, P.H.) we likely will also face a crisis in France.
der Unmut der Italiener richtet sich zunehmend nicht mehr nur gegen die Austeritätspolitik, sondern auch gegen den Euro als solchen. Und wenn Italien erst einmal erfasst wurde, dann droht eine französische Krise.

As said, democracy is dangerous. But a factor of utmost importance is that there had not been any democracy yet when it comes to the EU and Euro-policies – taking a metaphor: It had been a one-sided European strategy, geared towards the establishment of a fortress of which the walls had been standing firm against those who wanted to enter, but also standing firm against the Landsknecht, sacrificed on the altar of competitiveness. Then, if the colorful uniforms of the European army fall and are burning in the ablaze of the failed strategy of enhancing competitiveness, we should not be surprised by nationalism and fascism.

As we know from Brecht’s “Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui [The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui]”


Der Schoss ist fruchtbar noch,
aus dem das kroch
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.
See in this context also (In German only)


Once upon a time humankind said

the world is flat

and they did not dare to sail out, remained neat the shore to be safe, and not falling off.

With knowledge progress arrived – or with progress humankind was becoming more knowledgable. And it became common knowledge:
the recognition that it is a sphere.
Progress had been made, allowing humankind to move in circles ….
May be this is also the problem of Europe, aiming to re-establish itself as a kind of New Princedom, and neglecting the complications of claimed value orientations.