Saturday, 4 June 2011

There are worse places to be politically

Hungary bears close watching

Since writing the previous posting on Conductive World I received a Google Alert for the an extensive contribution on the blog TRANSITIONS (strapline 'Life is a transition from one transition to another') that includes brief mention the Pető Institute. This is the blog of Professor Mario Nuti of the University of Rome. Its latest posting is given over to a very long communication from Hungarian economist Yudit Kiss who lives in Geneva:

Her long letter offeres an extensive round-up on some rather unpleasant features of present-day Hungarian society and, as the following extract shows, within this wider picture the Pető Institute serves an exemplary purpose as an institution already affected by this:

Fidesz [the governing party] is on its way to build a genuine party-state – changing the management of state and public institutions and extending its control over spheres that enjoyed a considerable autonomy before, like regional or local governments or independent institutions, partially financed by the state. According to a decision taken in December, 35 prestigious independent public foundations, including the world-famous Institute Peto for handicapped children, several foundations defending minority rights or the 1956 Research Institute, have been dismantled. The directors of public media, theatres, academic institutions, schools, many public companies and institutions have been changed, when the institution itself is not closed down. Those who occupied leading positions under the former governments, including school headmasters, hospital directors or elected leaders of independent organizations have to reapply for their jobs and many of them are replaced. Party affiliation often overrules professional competence and, if arbitrary decisions are not accepted meekly, sometimes a whole professional team pays for it. In a recent, utterly Ubuesque episode the President of an intergovernmental committee in charge of deciding about geographical names was sacked, because he disagreed with the government's proposed new name for Budapest Airport that left out "Ferihegy", the traditional name that was used for decades. 20 out of 21 members of the professional committee had the same view, but the government's proposal went through and later the whole committee was dissolved.

Fidesz regards its coming to power as a 'revolution' and promises that we have seen nothing yet, hence my occasional attention to Hungary in Conductive World and, more frequently, on my Facebook page. Conductive Education may not be uniquely 'Hungarian' – in the way that Fidesz's Hungaricum narrative would like to convince us – but the world of Conductive Education remains exceedingly dependent upon one vulnerable Hungarian institution for the great bulk of its workforce.

It's a small world

From 1980 to 1983 economist Mario Nuti was Director of CREES, the University of Birmingham's prestigous Centre for Russian and East European Studies, at the same time as I was part of the Birmingham Group that was transitioning from a Cottonist, five-principles understanding of Conductive Education to one more substantiated.

I was also an Associate of CREES. Seeing Professor Nuti's blog today has promptd me to check, and I see that I am still listed as an Associated Member:

I ought not to let this go by.

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