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In Memoriam Győző Lugosi (1952-2021)

Our friend, Győző Lugosi – historian, social scientist, educator, culture worker, editor, former Associate Professor at ELTE University of Budapest – succumbed to complications he developed from a Covid19 infection on April 7, 2021. This is an unfathomable loss for his family, friends, colleagues, students, all his loved ones. After a twenty-eight-year service as editor, managing editor, and author, he left a sore void for the editorial collective of our journal, Eszmélet (Consciousness) as well. He was a deeply committed exponent of the journal and the ideas it represents. We know few examples of such engagement and responsibility in the field of scholarly journals in Hungary.

What he did, he did wholeheartedly and with devotion. That is why he never complained about the arduous, rarely rewarding work of the text editor. He has always worked for the intellectual and social causes of our journal – principles he had held since his youth.

In addition to his public activities, he has always had time for his family. The five children he left behind could testify to that. In addition to his family, he managed to find ways to engage in a broad range of undertakings. In addition to his leading role with Eszmélet, and his job at the University, he served as the Director of the Kossuth Klub (one of post-state-socialist Budapest’s leading cultural institutions that serve the cause of public scholarship), he was an active member of the board of the Free Press Foundation, he accepted an appointment as Vice President of the International Georg Lukács Foundation. He was a coordinator of the Attila József Open University and held a host of other social functions.

It is no exaggeration to say that Győző has always stood with the poor, the excluded, the oppressed, and the persecuted. There was not a trace of career consciousness or narcissistic performance ambitions in him. He was not “a hero of our time.”
He had a very broad and eclectic set of scholarly interests. He was a firm proponent of the world-systems perspective, with Samir Amin and István Mészáros as his two main intellectual interlocutors. From his youth, he had been strongly influenced by the legacies of the Enlightenment and rationalism—solidified in his location in the French Marxist tradition. In addition to Magyar, his main working languages were French—he had strong connections in the Francophone world—and English. His main area interests were focused on the “Middle East” and north Africa, but he has also written brilliant studies on post-socialist small pseudo-churches that work as business corporations, various aspects of Marxist social theory, and on racism. His writings are suffused with an unflinching, genuine commitment to social equality and a broad sense of the idea of liberty.

His love of nature and friendship with animals were legendary. He was considered to be a great expert of wild mushrooms—we are not sure how he found the time for practising that skill. He was a gleeful, excellent cook, often hosting his friends and colleagues – including members of the journal’s editorial and advisory boards – with great gusto. He valued community not only in public but also private life.

It is impossible to write an objective obituary for Győző. He approached the craft of a scholar with humility and respect. He treated his students with much attention and empathy. He brimmed with helpfulness, emotions and a genuine curiosity about others and the world. He never promoted himself to the detriment of others. His quiet, patient and peaceful demeanor was matched only by his resolution and readiness for debate. He was a teacher who never hid his activism. Using an old term: he was a true movement organizer.

A man of strong emotions, he was also to some extent defenseless against malice. He had a certain naiveté—who doesn’t? He would see only the good in people he would “fall in love” with, only to “fall out” of some genuinely good friends. He was not easy to offend though. On the contrary, he knew how to argue very well, he had enormous spiritual strength. He would defend the honor of Eszmélet, and his own, and even those who took offense never questioned his professionalism and commitment.

He knew how to love intensely. Hate was alien to him.
He only hated hatred. He could not stand any form of social exclusion or inequality. He abhorred hatred of the Roma—his commitment to the case of Roma rights was legendary. As Director of Kossuth Klub, he embraced the best traditions of self-help, the socially progressive effects of art and adult education, and organized exhibitions of Roma artists.

He fought against all forms of marginalization. He was a deeply committed antifascist, and it was that conviction that drove his work as an adult educator. He loathed all forms of anti-semitism, Islamophobia, Russophobia, i.e., racism, which he interpreted as the destruction of class consciousness. He read nationalism and neoliberal globalism as two sides of the same coin. As a historian, he was fully aware of the global historical roots of those phenomena. As a well prepared “Tiers-Mondist,” not only did he study the hierarchical-oppressive structure of the world-system; he also criticized those contradictions with strong critical edge and editorial attentiveness. He was particularly incensed by “Eurocentric” perspectives that naturalize the “West’s” rule over the world while sloganeering about “democracy” and “human rights.”

Győző’s life did not feature any dramatic political reversals. Throughout his life, he was a man of the Left, and the collapse of state socialism did not shake his Marxist outlook. He has never belied his progressive origins – he was a proud man with nothing to confess, and a straight shooter. We all loved him. It is very hard to take leave of him.

Almost all his life he worked for the Humanities Faculty at ELTE University in Budapest. His students respected him as a teacher who did all he could to pave the way for their progress. Many of them have given touching testimony about that. As his fellow co-editors and advisors at Eszmélet, we were very attached to him.
The career of Győző, our friend, is over. It is now the responsibility of the editors of Eszmélet to take account of and fortify the legacies of his oeuvre in the interest of the wretched, the oppressed, the working and the excluded majority of the world’s societies. He was convinced that capitalism, with its genocidal character, used not to exist and won’t exist forever. So, Győző dedicated his entire life to a communally organized, collectively liberating society; this is the stand that defined his conduct in his private life as well as in his public engagements. That is our cause as well. Eszmélet and many of Győző’s disciples will carry it forward.

The Editors and Advisory Board of Eszmélet


Hungarian left-wing organizations demand adequate policies for the refugee crisis

The crisis in Western Asia and North Africa keeps deepening. Neither the key North American and European actors in the one and a half decade-long armed conflict, nor their regional allies are willing to abandon the politics of brutal interventions, even if these are indefensible according to international law. The aim of maintaining political violence is clear: gaining control over the arms market, trade routes and sources of raw materials, most importantly oil.

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Women’s emancipation and human emancipation: new approaches to an old question

International Conference, Budapest, ELTE 11 November, 2015

ELTE, Gólyavár, Maria Theresia-room
1088 Múzeum krt. 6-8.

Program

9 a.m.  
Opening remarks:
József Juhász (Head of Eastern European History Department, ELTE)
Joanna Gwiazdecka (RLS Warsaw)
Eszter Bartha(Eszmélet)

9.15 – 11.00 a.m.

Section One

Rethinking the history of women’s activism and human emancipation

Francisca de Haan, Understanding “Women’s Issues as Central to the International Left’s Agenda,” or, a Short History of the Women’s International Democratic Federation

Katarzyna Bielińska-Kowalewska, Partizanke and Powstanki: The Female Participants in the Yugoslav Partisan Movement and the Warsaw Uprising in the Contemporary Polish and Post-Yugoslav Feminist Discourse

Susan Zimmermann, Hungarian Trade Union Women and the Struggle for Emancipation at the Workplace, 1965-1980s

Chair: Eszter Bartha (Eszmélet)

11.15 a.m. – 12.45 p.m.

Section Two

Rethinking concepts of women’s liberation

Mária Adamik, Can Talcott Parsons be silenced?

Ulrike Ziemer, Armenian women’s private and public agency: challenging patriarchy and Western feminisms

Joó Mária, Recognition and liberation

Chair: Eszter Bartha (Eszmélet)

Lunch break

2 p.m. – 3.45 p.m.

Section Three

Social reproduction and human emancipation

Jaroslaw Wojtas, Demanding the impossible? Emancipatory movements in Poland

Andrew Ryder, Althusser, Vogel, and Butler: The Question of Gender and Social Reproduction

Márk Horváth, Ádám Lovász, Critical asexuality: Queerness and Non-reproduction

Chair: Éva nagy (Eszmélet)

4 p.m. – 5.45 p.m.

Section Four

New Challenges to the combined project of women’s and human emancipation

Eszter Kováts, Anti-gender movements in Europe: A challenge for the Left

Paulina Berlińska, Woman and work: Democratization versus conservative backlash against women’s rights in Poland after 1989

Anikó Félix, Women’s emancipation on the far-right

Chair:  Éva Nagy (Eszmélet)

 

In ELTE Library Club (Múzeum krt. 4.)

6 p.m. Reception

7.00 p.m.
Roundtable

Women’s Emancipation and Human Emancipation: Which New Approaches?
Invited Speakers:  Anna Alexandrov, Andrea Alföldi, Anikó Gregor, Kathleen Livingstone, Dagmar Švendová, A Helyzet Workgroup, Absentology Workgroup, Eszmélet 

The Conference is organized by Eszmelet (http://www.eszmelet.hu/en/), a quarterly journal for social critique and culture, and the Doctoral Program of 19th and 20th Eastern European History at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, and supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Warsaw.

The language of the conference is English and Hungarian (translation will be provided).

After 2008, there has been a global revival of left-wing views and in some regions of the world a renewed increase of their influence. It is therefore time to rethink the past and present of the various projects of women’s emancipation. Whereas the old left had always subordinated the ‘women’s question’ to the project of class liberation, mainstream post-1989 feminism on the other hand has prioritized progressive gender policies over other elements of the struggle for social transformation, and thus separated the quest for gender equality from the systemic question. In other words, within these political currents various axes of oppression have been constructed as subordinated to each other rather than mutually constitutive. Both feminist and leftist activism and theorizing have suffered from the ensuing political and intellectual tensions. While the new left has tolerated feminism rather than building sustained coalitions, mainstream feminism has been adopted into capitalist democracy. Scholarly analysis of various projects of women’s emancipation in the present and past more often than not got caught up in the old partisan struggles over hierarchies of oppression.

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Issue no. 104 (Winter 2014)

Our new issue follows the path we have set for ourselves: the studies included reflect in detail on the transformations of the capitalist world-system, its upheavals, and the perspectives of its disintegration. Within the pores of capitalism new opportunities also arise for initiatives of collective self-management, some of which are reviewed in the current issue. In our historical studies the ‘rich’ history of Hungarian anti-Semitism is analyzed along with the current government’s policy of the systematic renaming of Budapest’s public spaces, as part of its effort to relegitimise the Horthy régime of the interwar era. We also present a theoretical analysis and critique of the newly fashionable liberal terminology, which describes the current conjuncture with the concept of a ‘mafia-state’.

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