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Lukács’ statue removed

April 27th, 2017

Ahead of a memorial event planned in the park where the communist philosopher’s statue stood until late March, two opposing views have been expressed in the press on whether or not György Lukács should be revered as a valuable part of Hungary’s intellectual heritage.

Philosopher Ágnes Heller, one of Lukácss disciples, plans an event entitled psychomancy on Sunday to commemorate the philosopher whose statue was removed a month ago by the Budapest Council on account of his advocacy of the communist dictatorship.

In Népszava, philosopher Sándor Karikó recalls that when Karl Marx’s statue was removed from the lobby of Corvinus University (See BudaPost, January 24, 2014), social scientists of that institution held a conference on Marx in response. This time, it was the Humanities Faculty of Budapest ELTE University that is holding an international conference to express their appreciation of Lukács’ significance in philosophy. Karikó remarks that Lukács is the best known Hungarian philosopher and describes him as a central figure in the history of philosophy, as essential as ‘Plato, Spinoza or Habermas’. The author acknowledges that Lukács ‘made mistakes’, but concludes that even those mistakes provide food for thought for the contemporary generation of philosophers.

In Magyar Idők, László Zoltán Szabó sharply disagrees with that assessment. He concedes that the youthful Lukács produced valuable masterpieces, which were however subsequently abandoned and even disavowed by him. He became an apologist for Soviet Communism, Szabó continues, and was even considered by the neo-Marxist philosophers of the Frankfurt School ‘a cultivated Stalinist’. Szabó underlines that for a few years after 1945 Lukács was the chief intellectual censor in Hungary, who silenced several significant non-communist thinkers and writers. The author complains that intellectual life in Hungary is still dominated by members of what is called the ‘Lukács kindergarten’, i. the second generation of the Lukács School. He calls on a new generation of thinkers to give birth to a new, right-wing school of philosophers in Hungary.


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