Budapest, Hungary – Hungarian thinker Gáspár Miklós Tamás died on January 15.

Gáspár Miklós Tamás, TGM as he was recognized in Hungary (or Gazsi to his buddies) is rightly lauded as one of many final true public intellectuals of Hungary and an enormous of the Hungarian and world left. He was a Marxist thinker, popularising notions comparable to “post-fascism”, and a really prolific columnist, whose essays and columns had been an essential a part of Hungarian public life.

His life till round 2000 was like that of so many in his technology; born in Cluj-Napoca because the baby of disillusioned Hungarian communists who risked all of it solely to understand that they participated within the creation of one more nationalist dictatorship, he embraced the New Left after which conservative liberalism.

Moving from Romania to Hungary (with its much less oppressive regime and lack of anti-Hungarian oppression), he turned a outstanding member of the Democratic Opposition, a dissident group dreaming of a extra liberal and extra democratic Hungary. After 1989, he turned an MP for the then-major liberal occasion, the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ).

Perhaps he might have been, like the opposite nice thinker of his technology, János Kis, a theorist of this new, liberal capitalist regime. Once the chief of SZDSZ, Kis is a good instance of what he might have been, having spent the final 30 years as the nice Rawlsian prophet of liberal democracy, whereas in fact by no means denying its weaknesses and shortcomings.

TGM as an alternative re-embraced Marxism, at a time when it was considered the fallen ideology of a failed and deeply corrupt dictatorship. This, I consider, is basically all that it is advisable learn about him.

His detractors would usually see his zig-zaggy mental journey as a terrific shortcoming, though not even his critics would see this journey as opportunistic.

However, that might be mistaken. For all his life, he labored on the nice Enlightenment challenge of emancipation, a challenge that he would in his later life see fulfilled not by liberal democracy and capitalism that he efficiently fought for (its later decline was not his making), however by communism that will maybe by no means come.

Unlike these he would dub Rousseauian socialists, he has by no means rejected liberal capitalism as evil, or worse than its predecessors. He precisely emphasised the “Faustian” position of capitalism in Marx’s writing, and its significance in bringing about humanity’s salvation.

This thought may additionally soften the nice contradiction of his very common, extremely ethical columns on each day politics, that he himself, following the poet and journalist Endre Ady, as soon as referred to as his double persuasion.

A fierce critique of Viktor Orbán, he would usually discover himself on the aspect of liberal capitalism towards Orbán’s self-styled illiberalism, whereas being a dedicated communist anticapitalist. Undoubtedly partly because of the dualistic nature of Hungarian public discourse that seeks to classify everybody into one camp or one other, TGM was very acutely aware of his desire of liberalism over what he referred to as post-fascism.

This, too, is smart when learn in a broadly Hegelian mild the place (liberal) universalism, for all its folly and hypocrisy, is a step within the path in direction of (communist) emancipation. As this attests, he was, paradoxically, a extra devoted admirer of the liberal challenge than a lot of his self-styled liberal contemporaries.

He was additionally recognized to all the time suggest “old school” erudition (nice books of literature and social concept, in addition to classics) over the spectacles of the cultural trade, proper till his final revealed essay. Again, it might be superficial to explain this as merely small-conservatism.

For TGM, disdain for the cultural merchandise consumed by the working class was not a contradiction of leftism, however very a lot a part of his Marxian challenge. For him, one of many final true believers of Bildung, liberating the employee from tv by studying the greats was a step in direction of the liberation of humankind.

TGM, in fact, was not learn by an organised working class that might heed his recommendation. He would recognise and lament that there was not such an organised working class to talk of. His viewers was an informed center class that always wouldn’t subscribe to his left-wing politics.

He is kindly remembered not simply by the Hungarian New Left (who in fact mourn in him a terrific good friend and comrade), however by liberals and conservatives as nicely. Even Viktor Orbán thought it essential to recollect his former comrade. It is bewildering now, however they as soon as had related politics.

Hungarians have misplaced certainly one of their most authentic thinkers, and apparently, this a minimum of is a loss we are able to share.

By Ivan Merker

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