a(nother) sad day, a(nother) sad policy development, a(nother) sad country

 

I received a mail from, Zsuzsa, a good friend of mine – she sent it also to others; Adrian and John, also fiends of mine, circulated it via some mailing lists – and I want to do my part in distributing this news, hoping also to contribute to mobilisiation of as many as possible. Thank you for standing together, the only way to overcome. — While sitting here, writing …, no, I will not cry; and I will not answer in the biblical way of Exodus 22-25

22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

But I will make use of the energy, that comes from the confrontation with evil …

Here now

Zsuzsa’s mail

Yesterday [=August 8th; p.h.) (full vacation time, nobody at the universities) the government sent a government decree to all universities. There  was no previous consultation or discussion. The decree forbids the teaching of GENDER STUDIES.  Almost all universities have some such subjects, CEU and ELTE Masters degree studies. The decree allows those already enrolled to finish their degree, but nothing else. Despite the exceptionally hot weather there are already many signs of indignation and outcry, and some started to organise conferences or petitions. Civil associations will send open letters, etc.

Do you see any way foreign organisations – including SPA, BSA –  could join us? Maybe open letters to  our government? And how should it run?

Dear Prime Minister , or

To Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Viktor Orbán!

We have been informed by…? that a government decree enacted  without previous consultation with the interested parties have been sent out ordering the closure of the teaching of gender studies. (We understand that those already enrolled at MS courses may finish their degree but no new courses are allowed.)

Our understanding of the legal and real autonomy of higher education excludes such measures. However, even if it may be legal according to Hungarian legislation, it seems to us a major attack on social science. Gender studies form since … an integral part of …etc.

(If somebody  has official contacts with Hungarian teachers of gender studies, this may be mentioned.,)

We ask (?) the Hungarian government to withdraw the decree in order to…

….

Please, help with the letter, with possible forms of support, with whatever you think.

I have to add that 2-3 years ago they already prohibited the courses of anthropology and andrapedagogy, but then noise was not loud enough. (The original Law of higher education made it the right and duty of Univ Senates to found  or close faculties, degrees etc., but this was altered too, in 2015. Hence the current step is “legal”.)

sad greetings from a self-revelating  dictatorship,

Zsuzsa

Adrian’s mail, sent via mailing lists, accompanying Zsuzsa’s lines

I have just received this email from Zsuzsa Ferge whom I have known and admired for nearly 50 years. The first professor of social policy in Hungary, she has made a major contribution to the social sciences, and especially social policy and sociology. Recently there have been increasing attacks on the universities, reducing their powers and that of the Hungarian Academy of Science ( Zsuzsa was made the first social policy member some 15 years ago). This is the latest development.

I have a very poor record in getting my own government to change decisions, let alone another one. But it does seem to me important to show that there is wide concern at developments such as this one. I do not know whether many individual letters or group ones will have more impact – both probably.

Best wishes, yours, Adrian

Finally John’s mail

Thanks, Caroline. The BSA and European sociological networks have it in hand already. But as it hasn’t reached me via ESPAnet or the European social policy jiscmail, I’ve added them here and would encourage maximum further dissemination to all the networks we are linked with in whatever subjects even at the risk of overlap and duplication.

John

*******

Still, I may add one point – I discussed it actually frequently with John, with Zsuzsa and so many others: It is not just about Orban and Hungary, as little as the discussion about Turkey is about Erdogan and Turkey, as little as Italy is a just one single case, as much as “we are all Greek” – we are all …, if we are ready to be!

Annunci

«LOSERS, GOOD GUYS, COOL KIDS» THE EVERYDAY LIVES OF EARLY SCHOOL LEAVERS

eeeeeeA small study, titled

«LOSERS, GOOD GUYS, COOL KIDS» THE EVERYDAY LIVES OF EARLY SCHOOL LEAVERS

and authored by Judit Csoba and Peter Herrmann had been just published.

 

ABSTRACT

The article describes an empir- ical study concerned with the NEET gen- eration in Hungary. The NEET generation (Not in Education, Employment or Train- ing) is represented by those young per- sons who do not work or study anywhere due to a number of social, economic and political reasons. The authors pres- ent the results of qualitative interviews revealing some of the problems of sec- ondary school graduates. The findings point to deep public misunderstanding of the situation of the NEET generation and help the authors to draw up several proposals on the modernization of youth policies.

The complete reference is as follows:

Правильная ссылка на статью:

Csoba J., Herrmann P. “Losers, good guys, cool kids” the everyday lives of early school leavers // Мониторинг общественного мнения : Экономические и социальные перемены. 2017.

No 6. С. 276—293. DOI: 10.14515/monitoring.2017.6.15.

Csoba J., Herrmann P. “Losers, good guys, cool kids” the everyday lives of early school leavers. Monitoring of Public Opinion : Economic and Social Changes. 2017. No 6. P. 276—293. DOI: 10.14515/monitoring.2017.6.15.

university ranking …

I am wondering why ranking of universities is used though it may well put them in highly negative light:

Those counting Oxford as their alma mater are arguably better known. They include … Hungary’s premier Viktor Orbán …

Is it a warning: never go to Oxford if you want to maintain mental health and democratic responsibility?

Migration: overestimation and underestimation …

I personally think that the German “good will” is occasionally much overestimated, for instance also in a blog post by Yanis Varoufakis. There is also in that country a huge pressure and one can hear Maximum Capacity to Take in Refugees Reached, Germany Says. In general one can easily get the impression that governments are much harsher than a greatly appreciative population, though it has to be acknowledged that for instance the president of the Italian Parliament, rebuked harshly and not only morally any hostility – she mentions this as question of rights and a matter of taken them seriously.

Even more so it is dangerous to underestimate to which extent we see a Hungarian dictatorship emerging under Orban, neglecting even basic principles of law. A EURACTIV report today is simply shocking:

EXCLUSIVE/ A Hungarian journalist has revealed government plans to create an airtight system designed to prevent asylum seekers from entering the country. The measures will be introduced on Tuesday (15 September).

Writing for Index, Kata Janecskó, disclosed shocking details of the Hungarian plan. Refugee Crisis in Hungary offers a crowdsourced translation. …

….

It is a disgrace and  one can only hope that the EU-institutions and other member states are seriously stopping this destruction of anything that may left from the idea of Europe as social and even progressive and peace oriented force.

Though I frequently made clear that one should not expect too much from the claimed European Social Model (see also the book, going back to the antimilitarist conference last year in Berlin), Orban is simply a immediate and great danger for any kind of peace and democracy.

Austerity

Austerity policies (for some more general considerations on austerity see here)  in Belgium are not new – and a 2013 study by Oxfam about

THE TRUE COST OF AUSTERITY AND INEQUALITY

may provide a glimpse at the problem. And it clearly shows the tensions that are not least caused by the European Union policies. So, it is no wonder that we find no measures against countries as Hungary where we find an ongoing battle about the attempts of the Orban-Government to criminalise homelessness and the homeless – relative success stories, informing us that the

Hungary Supreme Court Allows Homeless Back on Streets

are surely overshadowed by the fact that the same policy is now pursued by different means, as according to the same source now

The bill allows district local councils to rule certain areas as prohibited for the homeless. [1]

Of course, it still is a success, not least as we have to recognise in this context that

Civil Rights Groups Rally against Ban of Homeless from Public Areas

But, coming back to Belgium, there is more to it:

In short we may speak of a “convergence” of policies in Europe against homelessness as policies against the homeless.

Noteworthy is that austerity policies in Belgium are increasingly virulent.

In consequence not least of this Belgio-European political course we find that the scale of poverty increased tremendously recently, doubling in just four years.

But that is not all – these dramatic cuts in personal lives are going hand in hand with the redefinition of public spaces and the responsibility of private.

If EUrope really wants to claim its roots in ancient traditions (which is surely dangerous in some respect, e.g. if we think about the abduction of Europe by Zeus)[2]/[3] there would be good reason to revisit for instance Cicero’s work stating in paragraph 22 of the first book of De Officciis

Sed quoniam, ut praeclare scriptum est a Platone, non nobis solum nati sumus ortusque nostri partem patria vindicat, partem amici, atque, ut placet Stoicis, quae in terris gignantur, ad usum hominum omnia creari, homines autem hominum causa esse generatos, ut ipsi inter se aliis alii prodesse possent, in hoc naturam debemus ducem sequi, communes utilitates in medium adferre, mutatione officiorum, dando accipiendo, tum artibus, tum opera, tum facultatibus devincire hominum inter homines societatem.

Steven Hill argues that

Europe … was founded on a feudal and Catholic value system which believed that the exercise of privilege by the wealthy came with wider social obligations beyond mere charity. Typical of this view, St. Augustine in the 5th century AD declared, “He who uses his wealth badly possesses it wrongfully.”

But even in Northern American law we find, according to Gregory S. Alexander the notion

that American property law, both on the private and public sides, includes a social-obligation norm, but that this norm has never been explicitly recognized as such nor systemically developed

Sure, engaging in this debate would open a wide field – Aquinas, for instance can be interpreted in both ways, as supporter of equality and inequality alike, as advocate of accumulation and modesty. And there would also be the need to discuss the “translation” of ancient traditions (not only of Christianity but also of Islam and all the others) into “modernity”.

In any case, the reality is rather simple: the public, the common, the general interest had been redefined by these European institutions – and they are further redefined – giving the power away to private bodies that are now building their fortresses within the fortress.

Looking at this fortress then, here the recent excessively violent form, it remains to be discussed if it is in line with Article 1 – Protection of property of the Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms [4]

Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Sure, looking at the formulation of this passage from the protocol shows the entire dilemma: lawful is what is said by the law and the law says what the lawmakers say.

There can only be one conclusion then: we need a law made by the people and not for the people …. – and of course, for this we need the public spaces.

Otherwise, there are too many ways of people being killed – and some are slower than this, but not less brute.

 

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[1] Hmmmm …: I opened the Wall Street Journal website for several times now and there is always the same ad coming up: “Discover your Perfect Home”

[2] see Maria Mies: Europe in the Global Economy or the Need to De-Colonize Europe; in: Peter Herrmann (Ed.): Challenges for a Global Welfare System: Commack, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.; 1999: 153-171; here: 160 f.

[3]            see in this context also the reflections SURELY PROVOCATIVE – THE STAGING OF ‘RUSALKA’ and EUROPE ANCIENT AND PRESENT

[4] as amended by Protocol No. 11 (Paris, 20.III.1952 – according to the provisions of Protocol No. 11 (ETS No. 155), as of its entry into force, on 1 November 1998)