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Before Agnes Heller’s contribution…

… to this book, Promises of 1968: Crisis, Illusion, and Utopia, an essay by Karol Edward Sołtan appears (UD‘s too lazy to slash the l).

But put that aside. This post is about Heller. (Mr UD remembers walking Heller back to her hotel from the Promises of ’68 conference.)

It’s about Heller and four of her colleagues in philosophy departments in Hungary. From an article in Science Insider:

It began last summer with what authorities describe as an anonymous tip to police that taxpayer-funded grants for philosophy research were being misspent. A police investigation began, but nothing was heard about it until last month. On 8 January, the office of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, announced to the press that it was launching its own investigation into the use of grant money awarded to five Hungarian philosophers. The scholars have received grants totaling 440 million forints—about $2 million—to support dozens of research projects, postdocs, and students. The commissioner in charge of the investigation, Budai Gyula, did not name specific charges but implied that there was evidence of wrongdoing.

Outside Hungary, some journalists have called the move a government attack on dissidents. But the right-leaning Hungarian media took a different tack, according to critics. “The press has depicted these philosophers as a criminal gang,” says István Bodnár, a philosopher at the Central European University in Budapest. One of the accused philosophers, Agnes Heller, has appeared on YouTube (in English) to make the case that they are being persecuted.

Here’s Heller’s YouTube.

Here’s an open letter from members of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to the president of that organization. There’s an online petition.

This latest attack aligns nicely with the Hungarian government’s new law repressing free speech.

Margaret Soltan, February 6, 2011 9:20AM
Posted in: democracy

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