Húsvéti portréinterjúnkban Dr. Pomogáts Zalán, a neoliberális elnyomás ellen lázadó közgazdászprofesszor helyre teszi a teljes magyar politikai elitet, miközben tudományosan is elemzi hazánkat a skandináv modell távlataiból. Megtudhatjuk, hogyan lesz nemsokára Lattmann Tamás miniszterelnök a Harward Analytica úttörő módszerei segítségével és intim részleteket hallhatunk Leslie Mandokival való barátságáról is. Ha érdekel, vajon Jude Law vagy Lukácsi Katalin-e a hitelesebb északi apostol és hogy neoliberális-e a Momentum, görgess lejjebb!
Zalán Pomogáts is a renowned professor, scholar, economist and visionary. He is a Harward Alumni, a good friend of soon-to-be Hungarian Prime Minister Lattmann Tamas, and the author of 17 books that have been featured in The New York Times list of best books, were translated into more than 45 languages, and were shortlisted for among others the Booker Prize (many of them won, but not all of them were written under his real name).
Besides science, he enjoys quality culture, fights for social justice, and is a hobby musician, he is seen as the person who has brought Norwegian black metal and Swedish melodic death metal to Hungary, he has also been the founder of the first Hungarian black metal band Tormentor, which is also the first and only black metal band that has made it into the Mahasz Top 40. His favourite imaginary creatures are Harry Potter, the Kapanyányer Monyók with 7 Szőnys, and the Civil-Szoci-Jeti. He is not a big fan of the Turul, but finds it okay.
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Your munkásság is extensively building on a post-modern (nomen est omen, haha) retake of Straffa's famous kritika of the neoklasszikus termelési függvény. Why is this an important Momentum of your thought (of course strictly in the British sense)?
First of all, let’s start with that this has nothing to do with post-modernism – a term that I truly dislike and I never use because of its muddiness. Secondly, it is an honour to give an interview to you. I have been following your articles at Magyar Idok and Mandiner (sajnos valójában no Hungarian Times yet – a szerk.) for a very long time, and I said to very many of my friend that they are real quality. Azonnali is also a good start-up, very high-quality, except that there is too much German content in it. You need to remember that we have already left the monarchy for hundred years now.
But it is of course your choice what you write about, I am just one keen reader of everything that is press. In the mornings I usually read most of the Hungarian press, left to right, print and online, and then I switch to the big international ones, such as Harward Business Journal, New York Times, Breitbart and Gawker. I also read Skandinavian, and if my time allows also the press of Middle Eastern countries like Kuwait or Dakar. You know, as a Nordic kind of person I am a keen supporter of the freedom of speech, and am really happy about the rainbow-like boom in opinions you can read in Hungary, from Stayer Zsoca to Andreas Hont, from Lofass Pista to Silly Leslie, 444 through 777 to 888, and many others.
How come, that a digó thinker like Straffa (who is on top of that an admirer of Ricardo) became an intellectual lighthouse for you, a self-proclaimed evangelist of Nordic economic theory and practice? Is this because of the overwhelming inclusiveness of Scandinavian societies (not to mention the ridiculously democratic fine dining of Ikea húsgolyók)?
I read the economics first in 1998, exactly 20 years ago. The thing is that the science started with Adam Smith, who was a neoliberal, but really it started with Aristoteles who was not. Anyway, I read every book in economics ever published from Adam Smith to now in 1998, stuff like Ricardo, then Marx, then Hayek (that was awful), then Keynes, etc etc. So I read them all. And the economics literature just stops with Straffa. After him there was nothing published internationally at all, just commentaries on previous works.
I never fully grasped why, but this is the case. What economics journals publish nowadays is just purely statistics and mathematics, and never a new idea in High Theory, such as Straffa’s book. It is such a luck that there was a female economist, Joan Robinson, who managed to publish in the times of Straffa! If she hadn’t, we would have no female economists at all!
Talking about evangelism – I have always wondered why the most elhivatott followers of the religious életstílus, the catholics are promoting such old-fashioned neoliberal policies. While their co-founder Jesus seems to be a true Nordic. Do you think this is the usual capitalist story of exploding startup bubbles?
The answer lies in the current mediatised culture which allows neoliberals to exploit neoliberal TV channels, Wall Street money and lots of other non-Nordic means to be used in order to promote their ideas. I am sure that these days Jesus would have it much harder to convince the people, and he or she would have no airtime in TV or radio. If anything, I can imagine him (or her) as a blogger or vlogger who tries to find souls on the world wide web, and drives a Berniesque revolution from the digital grassroots level.
But even then, I am not sure Hillary Clinton would have accepted it that someone is more powerful than she is. From his/hertory we know that the Clintons don’t shy away from killing and torturing and crucifying and Koppany-style cutting into four parts of the people. As proof, see this important investigative news article on the internet.
Is there a way back to the original Nordic way for Christians? What do you think about progressive reformers such us Lukácsi Katalin or Jude Law (aka. Young pápa)?
Katalin Lukácsi is definitely an important voice in reform. I would probably call her one of the 4 apostles of modern Hungarian nordism, alongside Péter Márki-Zaj, Gábor Máté and Lázár János – just say that the name is ropeing. Jude Law on the other hand is only a bad copy of Pope Franciscus, who is according to all meritgiving scholars and professors the best and most progressive pope of all times (after Jesus, who aber technically wasn’t a real pope).
Only Germans think that they always can cheat the system and get away with it.
On the other hand, do you have theoretical explanation for the great flexibility of the Nordic model? It even supports truly disenfranchised groups like Eastern European kereszténydemokraták, when it comes to reindeer policy. Or is this just the so called Janus-arc of global neoliberalism?
I don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t been following the news in the last few weeks, as I was very deeply involved in my new scientific book. Sorry.
As many analysts, you started to beat a more hopeful tone about Hungary's future after the Independent victory of Peter Habsburg (Marquis de Sai). Why do you think that the takeover of Beaverfieldmarketplace by such an old-fashioned neoliberal monarchist (as renowned opinion leader Martin B. Ede have put it) is a good sign? What was the problem with local Young Democrats backed by Mr. Lázár, who is rumored to be the Frank Underwood of magyar politika?
I wouldn’t dare to say that Mr. Lazar is Hungary’s Pierre Woodman. I know that he has done some of those shoots, some of his movies are still popular on different niche categories on PornHub, but he is far from being a star, or even a household name. That might also be the reason why he was pushed from the throne.
You are a noted proponent of coordination behind the legesélyesebb ellenzéki jelölt, Thomas Lattmann. What are the best karakterjegyek of this különleges európai államférfi?
I think what is most important is his bravery. He didn’t shy away to tell voters that he is the real candidate of the party, even when all Fidesz-financed betrayers, the big money, the public and the remaining small numbers of MSZP-voters were supporting Botka. I would have supported him as a PM candidate of the party, but
Another sign of his bravery is that even without the support of MSZP, with all those fake socialists betraying him, he was ready to stand up and form a new coalition (which is actually a real Nordic coalition with agriculture workers – not many people know but in Scandinavia more than fifty percent of the GDP still comes from agriculture, and employment’s 45 percent is also in this field). For now, the agents of MSZP have managed to kick him out of the race, but I hope he will return. If not now than on the EP election or the municipal election.
I think he would be a good mayor in a small, Nordic town, like Pálháza or Iborfia. Finally, he is a scientist, and I really enjoy reading his work. I have to say that I have even peer-reviewed some of them, and I found them excellent.
Do you think that a Coalition of Democrats uniting behind Mr. Lattmann would really change the picture and provide a real alternative to the Viktoriánus rezsi (as Mr Stumpf, one of the few autonomous reasonable constitutional conservatives of this country would call it)?
It depends on whether you refer to rezsi or regime. I spoke to Professor (!!! and not Mr!!!) Lattmann, and he said he would keep the rezsicsökkentés on the current trend, moreover, he would try to continue it as long as rezsiprices go into the negative. There are some important studies at Harward about how this can be done. The easiest way of course is by turning all households into mini-nuclear plants (this is actually a proposal that Momentum stole from Lattmann Tamás). When you ask me about the regime than I have to say of course, Tamás Lattman is more than an alternative, he is THE ALTERNATIVE.
One more question on Lattmann – I just heard that you are leading a bunch of non-neoliberal data scientists in establishing a startup called Harward Analytica to boost the success of kormányváltás in Hungary with Facebook. How is that different from V18 Group, the think tank already working on the so-called Újbaloldal with fresh faces like George Raskó or Thomas Mellár?
Harward Analytica is utilizing a revolutionary new idea,
From the money we receive, we will start campaigns on Facebook and different blogs to promote the Nordic modell and Professor Lattmann’s campaign.
Aren't you afraid that a coordination with Vona Gábor, a far right MLM agent would be too much of a stretch for the traditionally urbane and enlightened voter base of progressive politics? What if they are not willing to paint it black, as Jagger and Richards have said as early as in 1966? Or is orange the new black for Netflix neoliberals?
I like about Vona the Bear Union idea. It was actually mine but that does not matter now. So it all comes to this: if he can do Bear Union, he is a statesman. Although Mrs. Heller PhD, my philosopher friend believes in him. Also, Jesus was a real soc.dem, and he said that we should turn the other check and give another chance to everyone who wants to become Nordic. Also, only poor people hate other people. If you give them money and szakszervezet, people become Swedish. So if Vona can turn the country Swedish, I am all for it.
Talking about neolibs, there is a new force in the Hungarian party system defining itself on a generációs bázis. The Momentum party is clearly associated with FC Újpest, but also engaging young intellectuals from the so-called faculty dorms. Do you consider it a good sign that these guys (and girls of course) are now not that aggressive in promoting competition (they even organized a boycott of the symbol of túlságosan versengő világkapitalizmus, the olympic games)?
At first glance they seem to be very neoliberal. Lot of them come from Mathias Corvinus University, which is neoliberal since 1990. Others come from this Central European College, which wants to pose itself as the best, though that is of course Northern European University, where I work. So there is some doubt. But then why do they name the party after an Arts College (Moholy-Nagy)? It seems as if they are hiding something. They can be Fidesz’s Ifjúsági Tagozat for all we know (you remember that their founder Fekete György András has said that he voted for Fidesz in the previous election, right?), but anyway, I will give them the benefit of doubt for now.
Can it be that the ifjonti hév of Momentum might later consolidate in a true Nordic vision? I see interesting commonalities between Momentum and Norway stressing about its too many medals on Winter Olympics....
Young man, this is blasphemy. I have to pretend I haven’t heard you say this.
Now let me ask some more personal questions. You often mention that you have close pupil-mentor relationship with the other famous Hungarian Harward Professor, Mr. Leslie Csáprágó. How come that you can maintain such a flourishing emberi kapcsolat with an intellectual so deeply embedded in the other chariot camp (szekértábor) of Hungarian politics?
I don’t believe in chariot camps, I have good relationships with most political parties, because politicians ask me about my expertise. I have been advising Martin Gyongyosi for the bear union in Jobbik, Bernadett Szel about corruption and renewable energies (basically everything she knows about the topic she learned it from me), I help out Zsolt Semjén when he has VISA issues in Scandinavia, and even the Prime Minister has every now and then contacted me, not to mention that I have written recommendation letters for many of his children to Harward.
I also happen to know his son, Gábor, who has fallen much further away from the neoliberal tree, then the LMP guy whose mother is the Fidesz Terrorist House master.
But back to the question of Professor Csaprago, we often meet and talk about important issues, especially economics, the macroprudential policy of the European Monetary Union, the impossible trinity which we have together expanded into an impossible quartet in our soon to be published peer-reviewed article. Sometime, when we have lunch together, I also play the saxophone. He enjoys my music so much, that he has, with the help of dr. Viktor Orban put me in touch with the best Hungarian musician, drummer and multitalentum, Leslie Mandoki.
Mr. Mandoki has invited us to his villa in Tutzing, where he organised a Nordic Modell-themed dinner with everyone who is important (I cannot tell you names, sorry, this was our gentlemen’s agreement), and soon I am going to tour together with him and his Soulmates project. He also gave me a wonderful book about the 1956 revolution, which I really enjoyed reading. This has also be, to some extent, a challenge for me because I was used to harder, more extreme music from my early years.
I was for example the founder and lead-saxophonist of the first Nordic black metal band in Hungary, Tormentor. Later I was manager and songwriter of Sear Bliss (my good friends from Sabbathplace). But this kind of very anspruchsvoll musik, as Leslie calls it is new to me, and a great challenge. We have just been rehearsing the final countdown yesterday, which is a song truly about neoliberalism.
Does it annoy you, that some of the Hungarian public life still mix you together with another anti-establishment economist Zoltán Pogátsa? Do you think the respected docens of West Hungarian Egyetem is emphasizing a good point on the nature of labour union deals in his theories? Or is he just scratching the surface when talking about small munkavállalói alkuerő?
I have to admit that I don’t know him that well. I have seen him once in Alinda on HirTV, and he made a very good impression on me. But I am a serious scientist, I don’t make opinions as long as I haven’t read everything and haven’t made a full and comprehensive picture of him. I have ordered his books on Bookline, so let us hope that we can return to this issue next year.
Mr. Pogátsa is also often referring to his research about minimálwage pushing up termelékenység of Hungarian workers. Do you agree? Does this mean that an increase of bérek is gradually pushing us towards the Nordic way of living (or Hygge with the fashionable word of contemporary pesti szleng)?
In theory this could be possible. A friend of mine from Harward has written about this but for some reason it was partly written in a Greek dialect that is different from what I speak, so I did not fully comprehend the argument. But as I mentioned before, I don’t know enough about this gentleman. The way you describe it has a lot in common with my theory, so it might even be possible that this Professor has stolen ideas from me, but again, I don’t want to start rumours as long as I don’t have proof. In addition, I have to say that I have been a main advisor of the Jobbik party’s proposal for the Bear Union (you might remember it from the very successful poster campaign last year).
I believe that increasing wages in Hungary would for sure make it more worthwhile people to work than it is now, and if we are good enough in raising the wages fast, we can also make sure that the elasticity of the neighbouring countries don’t respond fast enough, thereby we could be the driving force of a braindrain and suck away the smartest people from Czech Republic, Romania and even Germany who is neoliberal but pays small wages (which by the way will probably lead to an economic crisis in the near future).
Do you think that the Viktoriánus think thank End of the Century is on a right path when they try to provide a non-neoliberal but nevertheless right wing interpretation of economic development? What do you think about Leslie George's new book "Let there be equilibrium"?
Gyuri was a student of mine. There is this school of thought in Fideconomics which is very goodwilling and talented, starting from Kopátsy-Matolcsy which is inherently very good and practical, but it has been to some extent corrupted by Orbanites.
In short, they are good scholars, good economic politicians, but very power and money hungry.
Do you think that the creation of a capitalist class that is not multinational, but nemzeti is a righteous cause to fight for? Or is this just a matter of oligarchic competition as renowned finance intellectual Mr. Orbán (the Krisztián one) is putting it?
Look, me personally, I want to exceed capitalism regardless of what type or variety we are talking about, whether it is crony capitalism or whatnot. At the end of the day capitalism is a transformation of slavery (D.G.: 2006). So in general, I don’t really support this enterprise. Rather, I believe in an economic system, that is based on principles such as equality, solidarity, autarky and degrowth. And friendliness.
Being friendly is super important. I like when people are friendly with me, and most of the times I am also very friendly. I believe that we need an economy that is friendly. In my academic works I also show how this can happen, but if you don’t believe me, and you prefer to follow a greater authority, because you are just one of those szervilis Hungarians who does not want to engage with their compatriots’ works, then read Piketty!
On the other hand (even if there was not any one hand), stealing the közös through EU tenders is not about building national burzsoázia (I hate this French word, can’t spell it). This is fényes nappal elkövetett rablás. Not more than that. It’s like sending money by Western Union, that is also just robbery exercised under shining sun. So whereas capitalists in the beginning of the 20th century established and built up factories, and created jobs to the great unwashed, (whom they exploited as fuck but still, reinvested parts of their profit within the country) today people like Mészáros Lőrinc and ISTVN TBRCZ create nothing but steal a bit too much. So I would not even dare to call it as capitalism.
Nem linkgyűjtemény. Olvasmány. A Reggeli fekete hétfőn, szerdán és pénteken jön, még reggel hét előtt – tíz baristából kilenc ezt ajánlja a kávéhoz!
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