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September 29 2014


August 23 2013

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June 28 2013

February 11 2013

"Hungary – A Very FIDESZ Democracy" by Carl Rowlands

carl rowlandsAdmiral Horthy may be long gone, but just lately he appears to have become all the rage in modern Hungary. Newspapers sympathetic to the governing Fidesz party continually run glowing editorials about this ‘honourable’ man, along with statues and parks being awarded his name.

Despite their legacy as ‘The Alliance of Young Democrats’, some in the ageing and increasingly authoritarian Fidesz party have found a historical hero who was certainly no democrat. As the 1930s progressed, the electoral franchise was progressively choked off in Hungary, quietly ensuring a succession of increasingly nationalistic and right-wing governments. Areas where the social democrats were strongest were effectively deprived of the vote through bureaucratic manipulation and banning of trades union activity. Meanwhile, in rural areas, landlord control of the franchise was overt. The ‘good old days’ to which many Fidesz supporters refer to, were also the days when Roma were physically segregated into remote slums, invisible but for the occasional presence of the gendarmerie, who would brutally and violently ensure that the locals knew their position at the very base of society.

When a leading Fidesz organizer and friend of the Prime Minister declares in an opinion column that ‘most gypsies are animals’ it is against this historical context. Yet it’s also against the context of a Hungarian Right which has established no clear institutional ethical boundaries against racism, and which has increasingly relied upon nationalist rhetoric in the last 20 years. The ruling party in 1990′s first post-transition government, the MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum) even included Istvan Csurka among its leaders. Csurka was an overtly anti-Semitic nationalist politician, dedicated to restoring Hungary’s pre-World War One borders. His presence at the centre of post-transition political life indicated the weakness of democratic forces, even at the height of their supposed triumph. Even as Csurka was expelled from the collapsing MDF administration, the government engineered a ceremonial reburial of Admiral Horthy’s bones in his home village of Kenderes.

The Hungarian right’s love of ceremony and pageant – in somewhat embarrassing homage to the anachronisms of the United Kingdom – extended to a huge parade marking the relocation of the Crown to Parliament in 2000 – investing Parliament with ‘holy’ authority. Such mystical references are common currency across the Hungarian right-wing, whether supporters of ‘center-right’ Fidesz or ‘far-right’ Jobbik. It’s part of the deliberately mixed messages being sent by Fidesz. One week the Prime Minister can meet for photo-opportunity with rabbis, the next week, the Fidesz Deputy President can attend a commemoration for a Hungarian Nazi writer. There is always an eye for an opening.

Horthy might be a strange hero to many people inside and outside Hungary, but it’s especially alarming to consider that the same political forces who indulge in Horthy-worship are also the people centralising control of the Hungarian state (especially schools), redrawing a constitution and creating a whole new set of apparently ad-hoc electoral laws, the ultimate effect of which would be to make it very, very hard to elect a new government. Having won a two-thirds majority, Fidesz are attempting to exploit an opportunity to remake the administration of Hungary, as well as cementing their dominance over the future electoral process.

Anyone who remembers the 2002 Election, in which Fidesz attempted to defend its position in office against the Socialists, will remember the partial and disgraceful overt manipulation of public media. Government spokesmen and supporters dominated the programming. The editors of the public broadcasting channels even started broadcasting Fidesz rallies live-to-air – risking the ire of those who were looking to consume the normal diet of soaps and cheap cop dramas. The new electoral law attempted to consolidate this control of public media by preventing commercial radio and television channels from running party political programmes or advertisements during the campaign, leaving only the state-controlled media to provide political analysis. The intention was to drive the opposition off air.

Already we can see the beginnings of the 2014 campaign, with posters plastered on buses and placards around the city, blaming the previous government for Hungary’s problems. It seems much of the funding for this is already coming from state sources. When added to a number of bogus consultations concerning the constitution and the ‘job protection’ campaigns, Fidesz are spending an absolute fortune on communications. The next logical step is to remove the official state budget for political parties, thereby ensuring such massive communications machines are funded from either secretive or ‘grey’ sources. If enacted, it ensures a system that retains the outward trappings of democracy, whilst engaging in multiple instances of manipulation at different levels. The open gerrymandering of electoral districts is, from a UK perspective, more normal, but will further reduce the prospects of change in Hungary, whilst the reallocation of seats has been entirely driven by use of the two-thirds supermajority, with no attempt to garner a consensus.

Finally, and in tune with 1930s Hungary, the new electoral laws proposed a move away from a simple system of voter lists, to a system of voluntary registration. It is here that the government have been placed most under pressure, both internally and externally. Originally, the registration process was intended to involve people presenting themselves physically in a governmental office with the necessary forms of ID. Access to these offices could therefore be made as obscure, or as irregular as necessary, and would be a daunting test of organization and finance, as all parties would need to ferry many of their voters to the offices, or at least ensure as many were registered as possible. The Constitution Court has rejected the electoral laws, indicating dissent in the ranks – but it remains the undeniable case that the party leadership, Viktor Orban himself, wanted to push these changes through.

We could argue that Fidesz, at root, is nothing more than an electoral/communications machine, and in this sense is not so different to many other European political parties nowadays. This machine has even provided an easy cultural identity for Joe Public to adopt, a system of patronage for supporters and friends, plus a flexible and easily adaptable set of policies, which vary from economic liberalism, to nationalism, to oligarchy, depending on the lay of the land.

Yet the rancid nationalism and overt racism of many Fidesz supporters stops it being a question of abstract political science, and illustrates the dilemma that Fidesz has built for itself. For such a machine would obviously not want to risk being thrown out of office –a negative democratic verdict would be too costly to the many interests at stake in such a centralized system of patronage. Yet at the same time, Fidesz retains those same people who were part of the democratic opposition in the communist era, and whose political self-image is based partially upon being democrats in opposition to undemocratic communists. Fidesz need to distance itself from the far-right in some ways, whilst also retaining its nationalist rhetoric and feeding the monster it has helped to create.

By understanding that Fidesz are increasingly being torn in both directions, we can surely begin to appreciate that while the Association of Young Democrats may have a somewhat elastic understanding of the word ‘democracy,’ internal rivalries and dubious decision-making increasingly question the viability of Orban’s all-encompassing governing project. Paradoxically, this coincides with the continued consolidation of absolute power.  This should not obfuscate – the prospects for democratic change and political engagement with social realities in Hungary appear singularly bleak, regardless of right-wing factionalism.

Reposted from02myEcon-01 02myEcon-01

January 28 2013

Four short links: 28 January 2013

  1. Aaron’s Army — powerful words from Carl Malamud. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must make justice and knowledge available to all—not just the well born or those that have grabbed the reigns of power—so that we may govern ourselves more wisely.
  2. Vaurien the Chaos TCP Monkeya project at Netflix to enhance the infrastructure tolerance. The Chaos Monkey will randomly shut down some servers or block some network connections, and the system is supposed to survive to these events. It’s a way to verify the high availability and tolerance of the system. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Foto Forensics — tool which uses image processing algorithms to help you identify doctoring in images. The creator’s deconstruction of Victoria’s Secret catalogue model photos is impressive. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. All Trials Registered — Ben Goldacre steps up his campaign to ensure trial data is reported and used accurately. I’m astonished that there are people who would withhold data, obfuscate results, or opt out of the system entirely, let alone that those people would vigorously assert that they are, in fact, professional scientists.

December 24 2012

Four short links: 24 December 2012

  1. Creating The Next Big Thing (Wired) — excellent piece showing Tim’s thinking. Apple. They’re clearly on the wrong path. They file patent suits that claim that nobody else can make a device with multitouch. But they didn’t invent multitouch. They just pushed the ball forward and applied it to the phone. Now they want to say, “OK, we got value from someone else, but it stops now.” That attitude creates lockup in the industry. And I think Apple is going to lose its mojo precisely because they try to own too much.
  2. Nature’s 10 People Who Mattered This Year (Nature) — I’m glad to see The Reproducibility Initiative recognized.
  3. Open Observatory of Network Interferenceto collect high quality data using open methodologies, using Free and Open Source Software (FL/OSS) to share observations and data about the kind, methods and amount of surveillance and censorship in the world.
  4. d0x3d — a network security board game made of win. (via Reddit)

November 15 2012

Play fullscreen
Ellen Brown, Gar Alperovitz, Public Banking In America - YouTube

Veröffentlicht am 11.05.2012 von brightpathvideo

Public Banking Institute President, Ellen Brown, opens the first Public Banking In America Conference in Philadelphia on April 27, 2012, followed by keynote speaker, political economist, Gar Alperovitz.

November 07 2012

Play fullscreen
Gar Alperovitz, Seattle - Oct 3, 2012 - YouTube

Veröffentlicht am 04.10.2012 von ToddBoyle

Gar Alperovitz, Seattle Town Hall - Oct 3, 2012 immediately after the public screening of the presidential debate between Romney and Obama.


// oAnth: a speech which has the quality to become iconic!

- democratization of ownership

- coops

- financing sector

- crisis and creativity

September 27 2012

Four short links: 27 September 2012

  1. Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run. A thesis illustrated with his experience at Microsoft.
  2. Learnable Programming (Bret Victor) — deconstructs Khan Academy’s coding learning environment, and explains Victor’s take on learning to program. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose. This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think. (via Layton Duncan)
  3. Tablet as External Display for Android Smartphones — new app, in beta, letting you remote-control via a tablet. (via Tab Times)
  4. Clay Shirky: How The Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government (TED Talk) — There’s no democracy worth the name that doesn’t have a transparency move, but transparency is openness in only one direction, and being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens.

March 26 2012


  • The great austerity war: what caused the US deficit crisis and who should pay to fix it

  • The right-wing coalition has been so successful over recent decades that the long-run challenges facing the country today are daunting. The US economy no longer serves the needs of the majority of Americans and the global neoliberal capitalist system within which it is embedded is in crisis. A second global financial disaster is not unlikely in the intermediate future. We need radical changes in both our economic and political systems. We have to change to an economic model that can produce reasonable prosperity and security for American families with much less inequality than we have at present. To achieve such an economic transformation, we have to create a functioning democracy in which the informed priorities of the majority are reasonably reflected in the outcomes of the political process, one that will replace the oligarchic control over the politics of the present moment. To achieve a functioning democracy, we need a well-informed public that understands the causes of our economic problems and can distinguish between policies that are and are not in their interest.
  • Quelle: Cambridge Journal of Economics

    Anmerkung unseres Lesers A.G.: Das “Special Issue: Austerity: Making the same mistakes again – Or is this time different?” des Cambridge Journal of Economics ist eine wahre Fundgrube hochklassiger wirtschaftswissenschaftlicher Artikel zu der Finanz- und aus ihr folgenden Staatsschuldenkrise. Das sind knapp 350 Seiten auf sehr hohem Niveau.
    Leider sind einige hoch interessante zur Wirtschaftspolitik der EU oder zum Zusammenhang von Lohnpolitik und Finanzkrise nicht frei zugänglich. Auf die frei zugänglichen Artikel lohnt es sich m.E. hinzuweisen. [...]
    2. “Dangerous interconnectedness: economists’ conflicts of interest, ideology and financial crisis” ist eine Untersuchung zu 19 renommierten Wirtschaftsprofessoren und ihrer Verstrickung mit der Finanzindustrie. Als ersten Schritt schlagen die Autoren einen Verhaltenskodex vor, der die vorhandenen Interessenkonflikte der Wissenschaftler offenlegen soll.
    3. “Making the same mistake again—or is this time different?” ist der Eingangsartikel zum Special Issue: “The problems in Western economies are deeply structural and ideological, resulting from nearly 40 years of economic liberalisation and financialisation. Reversing their effects will require a fundamental reorganisation and reorientation of both national economies and the global economic system of which they form a part.”

  • [...]
    Hinweise des Tages | NachDenkSeiten | Die kritische Website - 2012-03-26

    February 19 2012

    Martha Nussbaum (Philosophy, University of Chicago) February 2, 2012

    "Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs the Humanities"


    Abstract: What is education for democracy? We urgently need to reflect about this, since radical changes in education are occurring without much public deliberation. Narrowly focusing on national economic gain, nations, and their systems of education, are needlessly discarding skills associated with the humanities and the arts, that are needed to keep democracies alive: the ability to think critically; the ability to transcend local loyalties and to approach world problems as a "citizen of the world"; and the ability to imagine sympathetically the predicament of another person.

    Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Philosophy Department, Law School, and Divinity School. She is an Associate in the Classics Department and the Political Science Department, a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. She is the founder and Coordinator of the Center for Comparative Constitutionalism.

    Her publications include the recently released From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (2010), Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010), and Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (2011). Her current book in progress is Political Emotions: The Public Psychology of a Decent Society.
    Martha Nussbaum

    Read review of the event (Stanford News Service).
    Read review of the event (Stanford Daily).

    Excerpt from the February 2, 2012 talk.

    February 10 2012

    Four short links: 10 February 2012

    1. Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) -- nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
    2. Frozen -- flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
    3. Arctext.js -- jQuery plugin for curving text on web pages. (via Javascript Weekly)
    4. Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) -- presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry's campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)

    January 29 2012


    Verfassungsschutz: Das ist ein irreführender, ein falscher Name. Falschnamen gehören in die Welt der Geheimdienste. Und Verfassungsschutz ist der Falschname für den deutschen Inlands-Geheimdienst. Man tut damit so, als sei er so etwas Ähnliches wie das Verfassungsgericht. Das ist eine Anmaßung. Alljährlich präsentiert der Bundesinnenminister einen "Verfassungsschutzbericht", und er tritt dabei auf, als verkünde er ein höchstrichterliches Urteil. Es handelt sich aber nur um die von ihm redigierten Tätigkeitsberichte des Inlandsgeheimdienstes, die man - wie man seit der neonazistischen Mordserie weiß - insoweit auch Untätigkeitsberichte nennen kann.

    Der galoppierende Irrtum

    Der Verfassungsschutz ist kein Verfassungsorgan, sondern ein Behördenkonglomerat, das im Geheimen operiert, von der Regierungspolitik dirigiert wird und von der Justiz nicht kontrolliert werden darf - dessen Überwachungskompetenzen in den vergangenen zehn Jahren aber erheblich ausgeweitet worden sind. Das passt nicht zu der Offenheit, die eine Demokratie auszeichnen soll, und nicht zu der Rechtsstaatlichkeit, deren sich die Bundesrepublik rühmt.

    Dafür passt das Agieren des Verfassungsschutzes zu den Vorurteilen, gegen die er sich vergeblich wehrt, weil er sie selber bestätigt: dass er auf dem linken Auge scharf-, aber auf dem rechten fehlsichtig sei. Jüngst ist öffentlich geworden, dass der Verfassungsschutz Abgeordnete der Linken im Bundestag überwacht. Wenige Wochen vorher waren die zehn Morde der Neonazis bekannt geworden, von denen der Verfassungsschutz nichts mitbekommen hat oder nichts mitbekommen haben will. Ein Untersuchungsausschuss des Bundestages, soeben zusammengetreten, soll klären, wie das geschehen konnte.


    Untersuchungsausschuss - Hilfe, der Verfassungsschutz! | Heribert Prantl 2012-01-29
    Reposted bykrekk krekk

    January 19 2012


    January 18 2012

    En Égypte, l’université Al-Azhar s’engage pour la liberté religieuse

    La plus haute autorité de l’islam sunnite vient d’adresser aux Égyptiens un document où elle souligne la nécessité de respecter les libertés fondamentales du peuple.

    À en croire le P. Samir Khalil Samir, il s’agit là d’un « grand pas en avant » pour l’Égypte. Dans une tribune publiée sur le site d’information italien AsiaNews (*), ce jésuite né au Caire en 1938, professeur de sciences religieuses à l’université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, décrypte un document diffusé il y a quelques jours par l’université islamique Al-Azhar, au Caire.

    Dans cette déclaration dense et argumentée, la plus haute autorité islamique d’Égypte – et l’autorité sunnite la plus influente au monde – se prononce en faveur de la liberté de religion, d’opinion, de recherche scientifique et de créativité artistique. C’est dire si de tels propos sont de nature à rassurer les coptes d’Égypte, alors que le printemps arabe laisse craindre une radicalisation de l’islam égyptien.

    C’est le deuxième document présenté par Al-Azhar à la nation égyptienne depuis la révolte de la place Tahrir. Le premier avait été publié le 11 juin dernier. Mais ce nouveau texte aborde de front les points qui inquiètent chrétiens et musulmans modérés, alors que les dernières élections ont validé le poids des Frères musulmans." (François-Xavier Maigre)




    // oAnth - original URL

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