“This article was written as a reaction to the latest developments in the Hungarian student movement. The student occupation of a building on the campus of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) represents an escalation of the struggle of over the future of the higher education in Hungary. Today students allowed a group of neo-nazis to enter a forum they were holding and allowed them to speak. Fredrick Schulze, an American anthropologist and PhD student at Central European University, Budapest, offers this important critique.
No-Platform: Notes on the Hungarian Student Movement
by Frederick Schulze
February 12th, 2013 in Budapest
Today at ELTE
Today I watched as about fifteen nationalist footballers walked calmly into the forum of the student blockade at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest and participated in the discussion. Their participation was defended by the student organizers on ‘democratic’ grounds. This brief paper will explain why this is a massive mistake and what this mistake says about left organizing in Budapest as well as a simple concrete solution on how to correct this.
Liberal democracy is to real participatory democracy what capitalist equality is to real equality; it is a formal appropriation of an effective method of counter-power restricted and directed in such a way that it in fact reproduces a power inequity. In capitalism this is simple; the labor contract under a condition of legal equality reinforces a condition of power inequity via a property relation. Liberal democracy, though equally as simple, is so ingrained in the European psyche that it requires at least a couple short paragraphs.
Liberal democracy replaces the ‘force of the common people’ – the etymological definition of ‘democracy’ – with allowances given by power to the popular class. The most important of these allowances is the freedom of speech – a thoroughly disgusting concept – which stipulates that absent the ability to actually-physically-durably DO something, one must be grateful that they can at least talk about it. The ability to replace deeds with words, however, is not the most insidious aspect of this ‘right’; it is its ability to disguise power relations in a mask of equality and remove any view of the underlying system which has created them. Real democracy is the antithesis to liberal democracy, not its extension.”
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