Commemorating István Mészáros


Tamás Krausz writes from Hungary to mark the 90th anniversary of his birth: 

István Mészáros certainly has an important and prominent place in the recent history of Marxism – mainly because in his work he never yielded to the temptation to submit to the siren voices of bourgeois philosophy. Unlike many others, he never sold his soul to the devil – as Lukács called the spirit of capitalism, a system that is always laden with fascism – right up until today.

Just as István knew exactly that it was necessary to sail between the Stalinist scylla and the capitalist charybdis, he already realised at the beginning of his career, right after 1956, what salvation could be. Salvation is to go Beyond Capital – the title of his seminal work. He knew exactly that this was the fundamental problem – the problem of socialism-communism. The loss of this perspective would lead to the death of Marxism, that is, to the death of humanity.

Removing” the anti-capitalist perspective from the agenda, and realizing the right-wing alternative, has always signaled the historical defeat of the social-democratic-socialist-communist left throughout any region of the world system: in 1914, the collapse of social democracy; in 1919-1920 the defeat of the socialist revolutions; the fascist response to the world economic crisis of 1929-1933; Pinochet 1973; the regime change 1989 in Eastern Europe, or the pandemic today, etc. all indicate that Mészáros, the disciple of Lukács, was on the right path throughout his life, working on the philosophy and practice of humanist-self-governing socialism.

He was a philosopher who was deeply convinced that the true renaissance of Marxism after all depends on the global rise of the workers’ movement. This spirit of internationalist solidarity has also been in crisis in particular since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The causes leading to collapse are well known today.

But we also know that one cannot step into the same river twice.

In all his life Istvan remained faithful to the international tradition of Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Gramsci, Lukács and the Latin-American revolutionary spirit of Castro, Che Guevara and Chavez.

The fate of Marxism ultimately depends on the fate of these movements whose philosophical component is Mészáros’s work. As István Mészáros liked to paraphrase Rosa Luxemburg: socialism or the destruction of humanity.

Here, in Eastern Europe, today we are closer to the completion of the second half of the alternative. So there is reason to remain faithful to Mészáros’s work and Marxism.



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