Ágnes Heller — philosopher, disciple of György Lukács and later his assistant and co-worker — has been one of the major thinkers of the ‘Budapest School.’ She was born in 1929 in the Hungarian Capital, survived the Holocaust, and today she is one of the most vocal critics of Viktor Orbán. Heller is well-known in the West for her theory of radical needs and of the revolution of ordinary life, and for her anthropologic and anti-economic reading of Marxism. Among her work translated into Italian: Marx’s theory of needs, 1974; Radical philosophy, 1978; and Moral philosophy, 1990.
We spoke to her ahead of the Hungarian elections Sunday.
Let’s assess the last few years of government.
In the last four years, the government focused on concentrating power into its own hands and to control dissent. In a nutshell, it tried to wipe out opposition. One just has to bear in mind Orbán’s speech last March 15 [a Hungarian national holiday], in which he talked about repressing those who oppose him, against parties and civil society organizations who oppose his policies, against the organizers of anti-government rallies and against journalists who criticize him. He promised repercussions. The situation got worse, the press has not been free — its freedom has been progressively limited over time. Furthermore, government propaganda lies 100 percent, just like four years ago, when the government promised to reduce the cost of utilities.