Scholars resign from Hungarian Academy of Sciences after opposition paper shut down

Professor Stevan Harnad of the Université du Québec à Montréal and a founding member of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, resigned as External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia), after Népszabadság, Hungary’s largest opposition daily newspaper, was shut down by the country’s repressive Orbán regime. Professor Harnad’s resignation follows that of the Dr. Thomas Jovin, of Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Germany). We are sharing Professor Harnad’s resignation letter below.

Stevan Harnad

Stevan Harnad

Dear Professor Lovasz,

For some time now I too had contemplated taking the same step as the one Professor Jovin has just taken.

As time goes by and Viktor Orbán keeps dragging Hungary lower and lower with his shameful, shameless depredations on her remaining material and moral resources as well as her historic integrity and legacy, one feels more and more like a collaborator and accomplice if one does not openly dissent.

So I too hereby resign as External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on October 8 2016, with immediate effect.

The Academy, with its proud and independent past, is not honoured by our cleaving to it despite the fact that it is giving no more sign of resisting Orban’s forced-march toward tyranny than other fellow-travellers.

Living outside Hungary, I do not have the right to judge what the Internal Membership of the Academy — the ones that face the dangers of Orban’s vengefulness if they dissent — ought to do.

But I hope that other external members will see fit to make the historical response that Orban’s unopposed outrages mandate.


Stevan Harnad
Professor of Cognitive Science
Université du Québec à Montréal
University of Southampton


  1. Avatar Charlie London says:

    Kudos, Stevan

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  3. Prof. Harnad,
    Dr. Jovin,


  4. Avatar Charles Oppenheim says:

    Well said, Stevan

  5. Avatar Subbiah Arunachalam says:

    Well done, Stevan. When democracy is under threat, when an autocratic leader takes control, scientists and scholars cannot remain silent spectators.

  6. So the MTA is undergoing some long overdue self-clearing, then. Good. Besides, it is precisely these these hissy fit actions that intend to make up with their virtue-signaling the MTA what it used to be under the Commie regime, and what it should not be now: a politicized organization. That what the MTA could do about how and why the Austrian owner closes that garbage of paper, which is blamed on the Hungarian government/Fidesz/Orbán, that is beside the point, of course.

  7. To all leftlib whiners – what did you say when Népszabadság published a fake letter “written” by the then dead Edward Teller, in 2002? Nothing, right? Thought so. And now you are posturing as some beacons of morality, with foaming mouth. Pathetic, but luckilly biology will take care of you.

  8. All those, who care about justice, the rule of law, and democratic governance should applaud Stevan Harnad’s courageous public stand. Civil and Human Rights will never survive, if intellectuals retreat to the privacy of their studies, and do nothing more than circulate their misgivings, with like minded individuals, in private correspondences. Far too many have behaved in this cowardly manner, upon witnessing the affinity fraud being foisted upon us by the Orbán regime. Harnad’s courageous, and principled stand should be applauded rather than condemned. The example he’s setting should be followed by many others.

  9. I think it’s his private matter and I can’t see how his resignation could help improving justice, the rule of law, and democratic governance. Orban will laugh about it and will be rubbing his hands saying “good at least only the elite will remain.” (i.e. my minions.)

    No sarcasm here, and I never condemn his resignation he did because an undemocratic thing happened, neither of the others’ giving back their prize just because somebody else they don’t like also received it, but I personally would appreciate if people like him or good people in general stayed in the front-line getting higher and educate people about justice and democracy.

    Hungarian people should learn about democracy, about their democratic rights and democratic duties. They need well qualified educators who can teach them in a very simple friendly way.

    Resignation, giving back prizes, imposing negative-type boycotts on democratic values such as elections and referendums don’t teach democracy. In my eyes these kind of actions are nothing more than sulky, selfish, self-centered actions to demonstrate their disagreement and to appease their own conscience and pride but will not improve the situation. Yet, I don’t condemn.

    But tomorrow they will be history and no one will remember them.

    Better stay, grab the opportunity that a prize a position grants and fight for the good things.

    Gollner, Harnad, Christopher, or from the previous prize returners Bruszt and many others, I think you’d better stay, use ll your life achievements, change the Academy for better if you are in, and educate. You have a chance, the background and the qualification. But admittedly you will decide what you do.

  10. @ Richard

    I’d like to reassure you, that it’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. It’s possible to resign from organizations that keep silent when confronted by injustice, and to simultaneously engage in teaching people about democracy. Professor Harnad, Christopher Adam and my humbleness are just three examples of people who can multi-task. We aren’t the only ones who possess this capacity, there are millions like us around the world. If you open your mind, you will see and hear us more clearly. Try it, and come back here to tell us all about it. We’d like to be in on your voyage of discovery 🙂

    • No, you come back and tell me when you succeeded. Are you sure you are doing it the good way? Are you sure you are listening to people? I know alternative sources are gaining weight yet it seems to me they are still being ground in the same mill without noticing.

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  12. @ Richard

    Obviously I’m succeeding. I listened to you, didn’t I ? I feel sorry for the “alternative sources who are gaining weight”. They should try weight watchers. If that doesn’t work, try the cha cha cha. Nighty night.

  13. @Gollner,

    will you please read this message through.

    You are missing the point. Try to look it from another angle, from my point, as I see and I bet many others see it like me. You, Harnad and many others have a successful long work achievement behind you. You and Harnad or Bruszt (a nice guy) and many others are not very young and spent all your life with education and intellectual works and saw many PMs and governments one replacing the next one. Some were better some were worse, the next might be better again. But you don’t have to quit just because the present one is the worst. Or are you saying you are only accepting prizes or academic membership until you are satisfied with the ruling government and quit immediately if an ugly one comes? Harnad acquired his membership under the reign of another government, and a new will come again. The prizes came from another government they were honor and will remain even if a presently ruling government gives one to BZS.

    Of course you can continue your work in a different way even if you resign but you can equally do that if you stay and wait for a better government and under their reign you might be able to do more with an academic membership or prizes. Or you resign and return the prizes now and if a better government come you ask it back and are waiting for rehabilitation recognizing how much more you could do with it under their reign?

    The mill and the alternative sources gaining wait I mentioned as positive. I mean all your work, the alternative publications like HFP and many others are getting more important as people are getting upset and are turning away from the mass media. They want to find out about he truth through alternative sources and that’s why killing of NSZ will not help to much for Orban. But the grand mill is grinding and might grind up you/us all. Not easy.

    Resignation, returning prizes, boycotting democratic achievements like elections and referendum. Is this the sample you are showing to people?
    is this what you are teaching. Passive boycott? You are throwing them into passivity and apathy. And next day when they should go to the electoral urn to vote for you or another referendum from you for a good thing for you, they will react the same way, with apathy and will stay at home. Or you think you can control them like toys “today boycott, now go”?

    You are going to lose them.

    I am writing this because apart from whether we can reconcile the differences and disagreement between us, in general I say we cannot wait too much for the politicians. It’s not the politicians but the intellectual layer, its yous who can make things better and when yous miss the right way people will lose to much and things can go beyond repair.

    I hope you consider this and understand my point.

  14. @ Richard

    “You are missing the point. Try to look it from another angle”

    My perspective follows the right-angle. Sorry, but I ran out of time to dwell on your other instructions. Try Lens-Crafters.

    • No problem my message was intended not only you but to many other readers and for those who who were only thinking about doing the same thing.

      Hopefully they will change their mind. Anyway, thanks for your relies.

  15. I saw this vitamin-deficient desperate wretch Harnad yesterday on ATV, blabbering in broken Hungarian – now I can imagine what Suleyman must have looked at the siege of Szigetvár when his body (dead and stinking for several days) was put on display to encourage the faltering faith of Janissaries, but have no idea how and why this hate-filled cheap propagandist has ever become a member of MTA. Possibly his presence makes no difference to the rest of overaged ex-Commie mandarins in that gang.

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