[Marxism] Hungarians long for communism.

Haines Brown brownh at hartford-hwp.com
Thu Jun 5 05:58:34 MDT 2008

It is interesting how some people from the US (whom I presume
contributed most of the commentary on this article about an opinion
poll taken in Hungary) tend to see the measure of their well being in
terms of political forms. Many here in the US are so taken in by the
propaganda fed to them by the media that quality-of-life issues for
them reduce to such formalities. To the extent this is true, I believe
it is both significant and dangerous.

Of course, democratic forms or civil rights are important and do
affect the quality of our lives, but if we are really in touch with
the working class, even here in the US, political forms are not the
primary way that we assess our situation.

One might object that this is because we take them for granted, but if
we think at all about it, this is not so. Many people understand that
we don't have any real democracy and either choose not to participate
at all or do so for a few minutes only every two or four years. Civil
rights are often empty as well, as most people realize. What counts is
their substance - their actual implementation and impact on our
lives. One can't separate form and content, and form without much real
content has little value. And, to the extent this describes our
situation, we should not take seriously what has little value.

What do people here think of when discussing the quality of their
lives?  For example, my impression is they think about the buying
power of their income in relation to both basic subsistence and
cultural expectations. Can we put appetizing or nutritious food on the
table? Do we have the assurance of stable decent housing?  Do we have
job security, and is our work experience appealing? Do we have decent
medical care? But social relations contribute perhaps as much to the
quality of our lives as our economic condition. Do we have a rich
social environment that is stable, reliable and rewarding? Are family
relations stable and positive? And there are also cultural factors. Do
our children get a decent education? Are there social norms that are
positive and give purpose to our lives and which we can offer our
youth as direction in their lives?

I believe that economic, social and cultural matters such as these are
really what are on people's minds. Of course, they also have an
opinion on such political issues as foreign policy and the goings on
in Washington, but it is often in disgust and disappointment, only
becoming a bit more positive during the heat of an election every four
years. But even then, it resembles passive entertainment such as a
circus or sporting match. In any case, such matters are not directly
private, but have to do with the state institution and as such may
seem to contradict our real personal and social interests.

The majority of the comments appended to the article were dismissive
of the Hungarians polled: they are fools, ignorant, liars. Assuming
the poll is at all valid, it strikes me as unwise to discount the
opinion of others just because it fails to accord with our own biases
and prejudices. This is especially so when we are blind to anything
that does not accord with the capitalist ideology that we all too
easily swallow.

There are various definitions for fascism, but an important one
emphasizes that it subsumes private life under the state. If political
formalities becomes a surrogate for our real economic, social and
cultural interests, are we not open to fascism?

Haines Brown 

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