Hungary is removing statue of philosopher György (Georg) Lukács – He was Marxist and Jewish

Removing a statue of a philosopher? You may expect something like this to happen in Nazi Germany in the 1930s but not in Budapest in 2017.

A couple of weeks ago the Budapest City Council decided that the statue of György Lukács will be removed from a Budapest park in the 13th district. The renowned philosopher’s statue is currently in Szent István Park, a peaceful urban park in an area that once served as the International Ghetto where many Jews survived World War II in “protected houses.” It will be replaced by a statue of Saint Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state.

The Lukács statue in Budapest – it will be removed.

I’m familiar with the statue; my wife and I walk by it daily when we visit Budapest.

Lukács died in 1971. Imre Varga, a well-known sculptor and winner of the Kossuth-prize, was commissioned to make the bronze figure in 1985. The project was sponsored by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. At the statue’s inauguration János Szentágothai, a respected researcher and President of the Academy, praised Lukács for his contributions to philosophy and in the last 32 years the statue has become an integral part of this beautiful park.

The idea of its removal came from a young nationalist, Marcell Tokody, a neo-Nazi Jobbik party councilor of Budapest. His proposal received support from the Council dominated by ruling Fidesz party politicians and was approved with 19 votes in support, 3 against and one abstention. Jobbik brought up Lukács’s “distractive” Communist past and even cooked up a bogus accusation that he ordered the execution of Hungarian soldiers in 1919. (Read more about the accusation in Hungarian here.) Even Hungary’s right-wing media was baffled and didn’t understand the removal. (Read the Magyar Nemzet article in Hungarian.)

Lukács was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. His book Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (History and Class Consciousness) remains mandatory reading for those studying philosophy. Thomas Mann was inspired by Lukács and portrayed him as Naphta in The Magic Mountain. Lukács had a major influence on forming the philosophical foundations of the New Left, both in Europe and America and his works are taught in major universities all over the world.

Why does Jobbik want to remove the statue? The fact that Lukács was a Marxist and Communist has little to do with it. Today several prominent Communists (e.g.  Zoltán Komócsin) have streets named after them in Hungary.

Likely Jobbik’s trouble with Lukács is with his Jewish roots. Born Löwinger, his father József changed the family’s name to the Hungarian-sounding Lukács in the late 1800s when György was a toddler, and the family was fully assimilated into Hungarian society. They even obtained the status of Hungarian nobility and were part of the country’s rich and educated class.

Lukács has been the target of various anti-Semitic groups.

Lukács has been the target of various anti-Semitic groups.

Although Lukács had nothing to do with Judaism, Jobbik calls him Löwinger to emphasize his background and they even connect him and other Hungarian cultural and political figures with Jewish roots to the blood libel of Tiszaeszlár of 1882! Jobbik-controlled publications often publish lengthy anti-Semitic tirades (only in Hungarian) similar to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Jobbik politicians claim that Hungary’s culture and the “nation’s soul” have been poisoned by Jews like Lukács. This “pollution” must be “cleansed” and the ruling Fidesz party seems willing to assist the Kulturkampf to rid the country from this “Judeo Bolshevik menace. “

The removal of the Lukács statue is part of an effort to please Jobbik’s and Fidesz’s anti-Semitic voters. It is disguised as an anti-Marxist campaign and as usual in today’s Hungarian politics, Jobbik and Fidesz work tightly together as a carefully choreographed tag team.

Hungary under Viktor Orbán is marching down on a dangerous road somewhat similar to Germany’s in the 1930s. It is sliding into a bizarre right-wing nationalist dictatorship with strong anti-Semitic tendencies. The Lukács statue removal is just another step.

(For those who speak German I recommend Joel Berger’s piece about Lukács from the Allgemeine – click here.)

György Lázár

37 Comments

  1. Hungary takes down a statute of a man dedicated to enslaving Hungary to the Soviet Union that was commissioned by Hungarian Communists dedicated to enslaving Hungary to the Soviet Union … errr … yes, he did sort of wter down his ideas in time, but …

    • No, Lukacs wasn’t dedicated to enslaving Hungary to the Soviet Union. On the contrary, he did whatever was possible to resist Stalinism and its vulgar ideologies , e.g. Socialist realism, and develop a mure humanistic, highly erudite version of marxism. He is universally respected as a philosopher everywhere in the free world ( liberal democracies). The removal of his statue is another move on the road to Hungary’s enslavement to Putin’s Russia (who, as is well-known, began his career as a KGB agent in the Soviet Union…) and the extreme right in general.

  2. … and a murderer, and ideologist of a dictatorial Commune in 1919.

  3. dave & lila you earned your daily pay from jobbik/fidesz!!!!

  4. Pingback: Neo-nazi revisionism in Hungary | Serf's Up!

  5. If he had no connection to Judaism why do you defend him so much?…

    Moreover, I get the impression from your article that you concede that being a communist is an indictment as being a fascist and an anti-Semite. So, again, why do you defend Lukas?…

    Your reaction just vindicates Jobbik worldviews!

    • Bear Bogged Down:

      Nothing could ever vindicate Jobbik worldviews!! (That’s NOTHING, and with 2 exclamation points.)

  6. The usual quota of troll-trash is seaping through despite the screening implemented last week. What is going wrong? Is HFP destined never to become a venue of serious discussion?

    That said, “Lukács was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century” is a bit hyperbolic. His influence was more in the sphere of literary criticism than philosophy itself. But that’s no crime.

  7. Below please find the official call for papers for The Legacy of Georg Lukács: An International Conference. Please circulate widely and please submit your abstracts and proposals for papers and/or panels by Feb. 28.

    The Legacy of Georg Lukács: An International Conference

    Budapest, Hungary

    To be held from 27th to the 29th of April 2017

    CALL FOR PAPERS

    The work of Georg Lukács shaped many of the central debates of twentieth-century thought, from politics to philosophy and aesthetics. His ideas once stood at the very center of the historical and ideological conflicts of twentieth century. A progenitor of critical theory, philosopher of extraordinary originality and intellectual power, and a controversial aesthetician and literary critic, Lukács’ work still possesses relevance to our current debates and ideas. Central to his work was a deepening of a humanistic critique of capitalism

    With the collapse of communism, the weakening of the influence of Marxism and the emergence and proliferation of postmodern culture, the conditions of reception of the legacy of Lukács have changed significantly. This has only been accentuated by the attacks against his person and his work, as lastly by the announcement of the closing down of the Lukács Archives in Budapest.

    This international conference will seek to examine, expand, and explore Lukács’ ideas and their continued relevance for contemporary thought. How do Lukács’ ideas retain their salience and importance amid current philosophical and theoretical debates no less than the global dominance of capitalist culture that he so decisively critiqued?

    We would like to raise the question of the contemporary validity of Lukács’ legacy: which aspects of his thought can be regarded as leading ideas for us in philosophy, aesthetics, literary history, the human sciences in general, but not least in politics? How do his central ideas help make sense of a globalized world shot through with commodification, consumerism, political defeatism and the emergence of irrational tendencies in politics, left and right?

    These are some of the questions and themes that this conference, to be held in Budapest in the spring of 2017, proposes to discuss.

    We invite abstracts for individual papers as well as whole panels for this conference to be held April 27-29 2017. Themes and topics are open, but should focus on the continued salience and importance of Lukács’ ideas and work for contemporary debates in the social sciences, philosophy, politics, and literature and the humanities. Papers should be prepared for 15-20 minute presentation. Please send any abstracts and/or panel proposals to the conference organizers below. The deadline for submission will be February 28 2017.

    1. To submit a paper, please include:

    Name

    Affiliation

    Title of paper

    Abstract

    2. To submit a panel proposal, please include:

    Title and Description of Panel

    Names and Affiliations of presenters

    Abstract for each paper

    Please send your submissions to:

    Janos Kelemen: jim218@t-online.hu

    Michael J. Thompson: thompsonmi@wpunj.edu

  8. Claude Karnoouh says:

    I am not a fan opf Lukacs marxism, but when a read he haq inspired Frankfurt school I can mesure the ignorance of the poeple who re commenting his action…
    The inspiration of Franfurt school is Hegel left, partial Marx and Freud… on the contrary Frankfurt school opposed very often Lukacs analysis…

  9. Adrienn Farkas says:

    This statue made by the socialist regim, and they follow his (Lukács) ideology. We have no more interest in Hungary the intellektual heriatage of him (Lukács). Please let us decide wich statue say us something positive, wich negative. Sorry! And just because we left the kommunism, we are not automatic nazi. Nazi to call in the second sentence, please, that not normal. Is the Author a kommunist, or what???
    No, i am not a Jobbik follower.

  10. Pingback: Decizie NAZISTĂ la Budapesta: Statuia reputatului filosof György Lukács este mutată pe motivul că a fost marxist și evreu – Stiri 24 din 24!

  11. Gyorgy Lukacs was a deep thinker about fascism. He published an interesting book about the culture underlying the fascist movement of his time. I presume Jobbik followers should read it. Even when somebody just uses the word “to cleanse” a people’s body from something, I get goose bumps
    Statues are also signs of our past, removing them means to remove a part of it. This is not to say that all statues should remain and some indeed do have to be removed. But I have a very hard time understanding why this one.

  12. Lukács is a serious philosopher in one segment of the Marxist tradition. He is not taken seriously by Hegelians, Aristotelians, Existentialists, Pragmatists, and by most other philosophical traditions. Members of the Frankfurt School – Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse – would turn in their graves, if they heard anyone identifying them as followers of Lukács. As for his political past – let’s just say, it is checkered. Károly Polányi, Ilona Duczynska had major problems with him in Vienna after 1919. He parroted orthodox Leninism for years, and then played an important “niche” role in Marxist theory, by prepping the so-called “Budapest School” (Heller, Vajda, Fehér, et al) which has virtually no influence or impact on how the world is unfolding now, or how it should in the future. Scholasticism is obviously important to some.

    It’s not this esoteric philosopher’s statue that needs to be moved to the trash bin of history, but Hungary’s current autocrat, Viktor Orbán.

  13. Alessandro Rascelli says:

    I’m not communist, i’m not Jewish. I’m for the open society (as well as Popper). In my opinion the marxist philosophy could be a great tool of criticism in this cruel, post- modern financialised society, in used in a hermeneutically way.
    On february 17th, 1600, in Campo de’ Fiori, a square of Rome, was camdemned to death by fire Giornano Bruno, a free thinker friar, who desagreed with the official positions of the Roman Church.
    This crime, still symbol of the intolerance, could be equalized to this decision.

  14. do you know what is going to happen to the statue and if there is a campaign to preserve it, thanks

  15. This is what Lukacs said… “Stalin, unfortunately, was not a Marxist… The essence of Stalinism lies in placing tactics before strategy, practice above theory… The bureaucracy generated by Stalinism is a tremendous evil. Society is suffocated by it. Everything becomes unreal, nominalistic. People see no design, no strategic aim, and do not move…” One should know why he reached this conclusion

  16. In center of BDP there is a beautiful statue of a great hungarian jewish poet: Miklos Radnoti. I fear it will be removed like that of this great thinker. My grandma family name was Loewinger.

  17. It is high time to kick Hungary out of the EU. The ruling party and their voters belong to some other planet, or to another period of time…

  18. Don’t forget “The Historical Novel” – one of the seminal works of Marxist literary criticism, and as valid and acute today as when it was first written.

  19. A frightening and sad world unfolds before our very own eyes. Where have we left our memory? How have we forgotten so soon?

  20. The demolition of a statue can not to change history.

  21. Removing statues, burning books, renaming streets and squares… Why not burn “heretics” at the stake? When will Magyars grow up?

  22. I have been in Hungary many times before the fall of communism and I found most of the folks to be quite tolerant and decent. It is too bad that the fascists have come to power and this regime needs to be kicked out of the EU. Let them stew in their own hatred for Jews alone and outside decent folks company.

  23. Apart from the philosophy, a minister in Imre Nagy’s revolutionary government – and he and his supporters suffered as a result of that democratic socialist commitment. For that effort alone the statue should be retained.

  24. Arun Maheshwari says:

    This is an example of poverty of mind of a pauperised society.

  25. It is clear what ideology the writer of this article supports. There is no place in Hungary after 1989 for a statue of a radical marxist as György Lukács (born György Löwinger) and one of the key members of the Hungarian Soviet Republic (21 March to 1 August 1919) as People’s Commissar for Education and Culture under another radical marxist Béla Kun (born Béla Kohn).

  26. At what point will Hungary be in breach of EU-membership conditions? I am especially thinking of the demand for stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
    And when the breach finally is obvious for all, what will EU do?
    I think perhaps it would profit EU to kick Hungary out. It would be a clear message to other countries that are toeing the line, like Poland.

  27. Geza – G. Lukacs could be a good guy or a bad guy, I don’t know the issues and never heard of him, but I know you are a complete anti-Semitic jerk.

    Thank you for those brackets and “birth names” , very helpful – I usually read opposing views but those brackets told me your opinion was worth shit so one less opinion to consider

  28. Lando Calrissian says:

    He was a great man! He showed us how even those who have lost their homes and families can find their cause. He showed us that there is force within all of us can resist even if the empire strikes back. Finally, he showed us how that even lightning couldn’t save the emperor.

  29. A, H. Kalentzis says:

    Congratulations to Hungarian people for its brilliant struggle to survive.

  30. He ordered the execution of 8 people. It is a historical fact.
    Also true in case of st stephen though.

  31. This is not true at all! That was the emperor alone who ordered their deaths, and even he answered to the supreme leader. It was the emperor’s plan to assassinate the senator, he was the one responsible for the carnage. As for George, he was one of the greatest story tellers in the galaxy.

  32. Pingback: Hungary is removing statue of philosopher György (Georg) Lukács – He was Marxist and Jewish – Shades magazine

  33. Nice to see these pages come alive, all of a sudden, with so many comments. Christopher, what kind of cosmic button did you push, to elicit such an avalanche ??? Keep it up 🙂 It worked magic.

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  35. Robert Morrison says:

    @ András B. Göllner .. Christopher’s secret cosmic button is that he allows György Lázár to publish stupidities that turn the people into debating machines. I believe that the part of the title “He was Marxist and Jewish” itself is enough to get commenters excited. This is an intentional provocation and for that Mr. Lázár should be sent to the penalty box.

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