what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sticks and stones; wine and water

I love these “European etymology maps” which show you how countries divide on lines of ….basic words such as water or onion. “Wine” is one of the few words which is fairly similar throughout Europe – with, interestingly, Hungary and Greece being the 2 outriders, using instead the terms “bor” and “krasi” respectively. They seem at the moment to share two other (rather uglier) features at well – something on which it’s not quite so easy to pin a term. I deleted “inclination to fascism “as meaningless - and resisted the temptation to write the banal “populism” for the same reason. But something nasty has been stirring in these two countries for the past few years which the European media coverage does not adequately cover with its headlines of “unconstitutionality” in the former’s case and “neo-nazist thugs” in the Greek case.
Take the case of a Hungarian writer, 80 year-old Akos Kertesz, who has just received political asylum in Canada - being driven out by a hate campaign launched against him not only in the City Council of Budapest but also in Parliament. I learn this from an amazing blog - Hungarian Spectrum - written by a Hungarian now a retired American academic.
At the insistence of Jobbik, the anti-Semite Hungarian Nazi party, the City Council’s pro-government majority deprived him of his Freedom of Budapest award. The pro-government media openly incited the extremists against him. As a result he was exposed to constant physical harassment and threats. He was physically attacked in public. He felt that his life was in danger.
He was born in 1932 and finished high school in 1950 but because of his “bourgeois” origin couldn’t enter university. So, he worked on the bodies of Ikarus buses for twelve solid years. On the side he managed to finish university at night. Between 1966 and 1992 he worked at Mafilm where he was a screenplay writer. On the side he wrote several novels which were translated into multiple languages. Between 1994 and 1997 he was editor-in-chief of Élet és Irodalom. He received several prestigious prizes, including the much coveted Kossuth Prize. He was also given the freedom of Budapest
bitter words about Hungarians who don’t seem to be yearning for freedom and dignity but who let themselves be enslaved by a party and a government Kertész finds abhorrent, 
Bulgaria and Romania seem untouched so far by this sort of vindictiveness. The Bulgarian protests continue and the Romanian bloodsucking elites remain untroubled.........

A year ago I was writing about..... Privatisation

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