In the following, I would like to share with you my notes on the interviews carried out by the journal World Politics and Economics with Ádám Balog (“We need guidelines for independent policymaking” – „Iránymutatás kell az önálló szabályalkotó gondolkodáshoz”) and Jeffrey Lightfoot (“Ethical business practices and a fair level playing field are universal values” – „Az etikus üzleti gyakorlat és a tisztességes, egyenlő versenyfeltételek egyetemes értékek”). Two interviews have been published recently with the aim of presenting the customer positions behind the newly formed research group, in connection with which we need to formulate the relations of our own aspects, so that the common reflection does not appear as a servile work of interpretation, but as a sovereign critical attitude. In order to represent critique and other aspects, it is nevertheless important to think of the activity that entails a detailed review of their positions and ideas as an aspect of research that is necessarily relevant to itself.
The great task of all research, if not the major one, is to dismantle our false selves in order to develop a researcher/research team grounded in self-awareness, which can then be able to think historically about the world around it by unifying the first and second immediacy in order to understand the world. This is the only way to apply the premise of “Know thyself”, which should also be applied in its entirety to the work of the newly formed research group, which is known as “BKIK, together with the Youth Entrepreneurship Stimulation Association at BCE, has started a large-scale research on the topic of SME compliance awareness.” – „A BKIK a BCE-n működő Ifjúsági Vállalkozásélénkítő Egyesülettel közösen nagyszabású kutatást kezdett a KKV compliance tudatossága témakörében.” In the following, I will elaborate on the lessons of the two interviews in bullet points.
- “We need guidelines for independent policymaking” – „Iránymutatás kell az önálló szabályalkotó gondolkodáshoz” – Ádám Balog.
“Ethical business practices and a fair level playing field are universal values” – „Az etikus üzleti gyakorlat és a tisztességes, egyenlő versenyfeltételek egyetemes értékek” – Jeffrey Lightfoot
Balog’s statement seems quite novel in the context of the social governance aspects prevailing in Hungary today. First of all, I would like to highlight two points from the title of his interview: the need for guidance and for independent policymaking. While the former is meant to refer to the correct recognition of the situation by the BKIK, the latter sees the legitimate condition of socialisation itself as an action of emancipation. The issue can therefore only relate to the conditions and the way in which the Chamber of Commerce points to society as a whole as responsible for the economy and hence for political movements. The responsibility to recognise the potential engagement of the excluded part of society also goes beyond that, since the historical-critical potential that boils or emerges from within must be enabled and the obstacles to its becoming a sea must be removed. Following Károly Makk, we have to choose between the well or the canal, and anyone who ultimately begins to drill the well of truth must be sufficiently obsessed and committed. This issue will also unfold in the interview fragments that will follow, and guidance must be inferred from the commitment to the strongest reality that springs from the depths alone, without forgetting the very important tradition of formal and essential analysis, which alone leads to a false idea of the autonomous creator, since the artist must be more than a partisan, he must be a state-maker, a policy-maker.
Related to this is the aspect in the title of Lightfoot’s interview, which creates a particularly fascinating tension with the contemporary position on globalization, the fact that fair and equal competition is not a universal value, but rather a chased false utopia. This position will also come up, because the fight against false globalization is always necessary in the fight to avoid a historical distortion of the concept of value.
- “Because in fact these rules are designed to allow the business to function well as a (legal) entity, even separate from the entrepreneur and the owners. And if that’s the goal, and I think for many entrepreneurs it is, then it’s much more understandable why we need rules. You can operate by customary law, by hearsay, as one of your ancestors said, or what the village judge has proclaimed, but if there is a written rule that is really ours, that we believe in, then it is much easier to operate. These rules have been developed so that the business can be more sustainable, more viable, and so that the entrepreneur can better achieve the purpose of the business, which can be varied, of course.” (Balog)
In particular, Balog formulates the historical moment which is supposed to bring about the totalitarianism of peripherality, but he does not answer why the independence of entrepreneurs from their enterprises is not the aim. It is a good idea to comment on the dialectic in the regulation objectified by work, following Lukács, but one aspect is missing. Entrepreneurs do not want to detach themselves from capital, and the denial of the relationship of power is precisely the denial of the socialisation that would be the detachment of the entrepreneurial self from the entrepreneurial function. The situation in Hungary is culturally provincialist, which alone can explain its absence, which was largely left out of the interview.
- “By making rules, whether it’s for a business, an association, a country or a region, the law controls us. This is called the rule of law in a country. The rule of law is not a uniform concept in the sense that all rule of law states should have the same laws. A rule of law is when a community votes in favour of a set of rules – now, of course, respecting internationally agreed standards – and builds the institutions to support it.” (Balog)
The rule of law cannot be the ultimate goal as described above. Moreover, the rule of law, in Balog’s interpretation, entails a considerable subordination of creation as a moment, which would entail the recognition of status as a totality. Rule-making is precisely the concept of a regime shift against order. In Balog, on the other hand, the image of the entrepreneur as an organized intellectual can only appear; in his view, entrepreneurs are contextualized, which is a highly erroneous observation today. The juxtaposition of traditionally continental and Anglo-Saxon legal considerations is interesting. One would assume that a society that can formulate law at any given time would have a more social and political conception of itself and its surroundings. Yet we find that in the US, for example, there are significantly socialized ideas and mechanisms precisely because the transition is not imagined in rule-making terms, but in state-making, social-making and ultimately policy-making terms.
- “So the point of the small ‘corporate rule of law’ is not to do it the way a multinational corporation does it, but to learn the process of rule-making and, armed with that knowledge, to develop your own set of rules. It’s a different kind of knowledge to follow the rules and make the rules, this is where the management model often breaks down.” (Balog)
Balog could have drawn the lessons of the previous discussion on this point, but this position also needs further reflection. The correct separation created contradictions in the interview, both for the subject and the interviewer, as it became clear that the creative process could not be separated from, for example, the false consciousness of the followers’ behaviour.
- “Sampling could be industry-dependent and could lead to very specific regulations. It has to be recognised that when we talk about governance or compliance systems, we are trying to explain something to entrepreneurs that they don’t have a map for, in many cases no structure in their minds. The system of chambers of commerce, including the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry, could help this process by showing patterns, for example, on data protection in the workplace, conflicts of interest in the workplace, transactions with owners and affiliated companies, or even accounting for ‘capital’. The Chamber could help with a kind of rule-making know-how, which at the same time gives room for independent thinking by entrepreneurs.” (Balog)
In the last installment, I would highlight the aspect of governance, of guidance, demonstrating the earlier conceptual contradiction and the connection between the meaningless “guidance”. The constitutive, creative aspect, which was introduced from somewhere, has not been explained, and in fact does not show itself as a potential “engine” of either the system of aspects or the conceptual system assigned to the way of thinking. It is this deficiency that I alluded to at the beginning: we must be “torn between the well or the canal and sufficiently obsessed” to do so, otherwise the critical tradition of separation will not produce a productive tension that would point to the mobilization of the real outside the context and realize society as a whole as a substantive system in development, reaching the mode assigned to the catalyst of catharsis.
The contradictory nature of the latter lies in the fact that we are examining the central proposition whose denial is the cornerstone of every dictatorship: it is the party’s duty to invade the state at all times. But to capture and invade it at the same time seems highly contradictory. The moment of catharsis and the moment of social change, which is accompanied by the catalyst that realises the whole of society, can therefore be resolved in the concept of After, and hence the modern concept of dictatorship or democracy, and perhaps the concept of the rule of law is needed to resolve this. This is the dichotomy of the status pollemma: creativity (and the new concept of the creative industry) sees precisely ‘the process of creation as the functioning of the state-maker, the social-maker and the policy-maker, beyond the rule-maker attitude’, while ‘creation thus carries the expansive, performative notion of the gaze as the political aesthetic representation of the change of its domination over realism’ (Lits and Lits, 2023).
Here I would like to translate a little more of what I have written above into the interpretation of economic trends and the drawing out of concrete figures, by expressing to some extent my two unfortunate observations about Hungarian society, which may explain the cause of the misunderstandings. The first is that we in Hungary have been very slow and only step by step, and even then only in a torso-like way (otherwise with local specificities), to develop a framework of understanding for the main guidelines of the neoliberal era, and that we have simply not been able to meet at the social level the dominant figures of the creative industries of the previous era, the self-made men, and the seemingly endless economic sea dominated by the creative authority, which also had a good deal of fascistoid patterns. This may go some way to explaining why the transition to the next medium-term economic era will be an extreme struggle (or shall I say: class-struggle, a Hungarian term (osztályharcos) left over from the existing socialism, which simplistically means struggle related to class conflict while challenging times). The second is that the new concept of creative industries is based on a closer spatial and social link between industry and the service sector, which is already beginning to unfold in the US. And at the moment in Hungary, the main thing that is not being considered is how to facilitate the absolute existential and political mobilisation of ideas and people, because I think that once again the issue of the so-called cultural sector and social roles is being pushed into the background, which will be the almost exclusive basis of the micro-economy of tomorrow, and whose impact is already being felt.
I will now turn to my notes on the approach taken in the interview with Lightfoot.
- “CIPE seeks to promote bottom-up approaches and solutions to promote competitive markets and democratic ideals and values. We look for partners who come to us with their own ideas and challenges, because we recognise that each country has its own context, its own challenges, its own business environment, its own geography and its own culture.” (Lightfoot)
Moving also to the very different positions of the interview with Lightfoot, it can be said that in many ways he already answers the criticism of Balog correctly. Lightfoot’s shortcoming, however, can be formulated as a general problem of influence that goes back a long time. First of all, it is fair to say that globalisation can be discussed partly with the participation of individual societies, but in any case it is necessary to point out the responsibility that leads to the distortion of any bottom-up construction as a function of global finance.
- “We have a concept called constructive capital, which is a high quality investment that respects local standards, integrates local supply chains into the investment, engages the local workforce, upgrades it and leaves something better behind. We contrast this with what we call ‘corrosive capital’, which is really investment that is not accountable, not transparent, where foreign labour is brought in to deliver projects, and which is more of a siphoning off and not really leaving something better behind.” (Lightfoot)
Recognizing what the pollemma of defending non-existent sovereignty is about, we can better observe that constructive capital does not exist on its own, nor does corrosive capital, merely the political content assigned to a given form, a constellation. It has only a dialectical role, which is why it is questionable why it is necessary to delineate manifest influence as if it were merely a matter of the beyond the law. Culture change was the primary achievement of any intervention that guided progress, which is why we must turn instead to a discussion of Lightfoot’s position against the lack of a resolution that would guide the processes of control and creation.
- “The aim is to create a culture that goes beyond compliance with individual laws. Of course, compliance with the law is the first and most important step. […] So they are trying to go beyond what the law requires and develop a culture of effective, transparent advocacy. It is a cultural change, and they are trying to be at the forefront of changing the overall business and advocacy culture in Bulgaria.” (Lightfoot)
The basis for the development of universal values must first and foremost be answered, as the above excerpt suggests. But what is the basis? The context? Or is it its aspiration to be seen as a unity of the internal and the external?
To quote Rilke:
Where is for this inside
an outside? On what woe
lays one such linen? (Translated from the German by Jay Hople)
So how does this idea apply, how does CIPE’s “beneficial” support apply to the various bottom-up dimensions? The answer lies between the lines and the formulations, for when Lightfoot talks about cultural change becoming advocacy, the facts of the present power and the other grassroots ideas being countered are clearly outlined. It is as if in this case too the productive tension is absent and, as we said earlier in relation to Balog, the process itself is only associated with the recognition of status as totality. There is thus a certain identity between the two positions of the ordering that is being pursued, in connection with which I would like to quote the saying of László Áron Lits: “He who sticks to his status in the fight, let him disappear with it.”
If we are to consider the engagement, the possible renewal, at this point the redesign, of the research intentions, then we need to take a more engaged stance, because status as a central category is largely presented in the interviews cited as a conceptual contradiction or a conceptual confusion. If we even link this to a distortion of reality along the lines of the arguments above, taking into account Hegel’s idea that “What is rational is real, what is real is rational”, which seems to be clearly the case in the following statement on Hungarian society, even though the latter does not apply at all to dialectical relations (“Many Hungarian entrepreneurs struggle with the fact that they have to take responsibility for everything in one person, because they are unable to develop a decision-making mechanism.”), then we have to face the very serious and quite fitting words of Viktoria Radics, quoted earlier at the beginning of our paper with Benedek Lits (Lits and Lits, 2023). “), then we have to face the very serious and quite apt words of Viktoria Radics, quoted earlier at the beginning of our paper with Benedek Lits (Lits and Lits, 2023): “The alcoholic denies reality. He is driven by unclear emotional motives, yet he thinks that now, by drinking, he is doing things. It’s slavery.”
Világpolitika (2023). „Iránymutatás kell az önálló szabályalkotó gondolkodáshoz” – Magyar Közgazdasági Társaság – Fejlődésgazdaságtani Szakosztály. [online] Fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu. Available at: https://fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu/2023/07/05/iranymutatas-kell-az-onallo-szabalyalkoto-gondolkodashoz/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2023].
Világpolitika (2023). ‘Az etikus üzleti gyakorlat és a tisztességes, egyenlő versenyfeltételek egyetemes értékek’ – Magyar Közgazdasági Társaság – Fejlődésgazdaságtani Szakosztály. [online] Fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu. Available at: https://fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu/2023/07/03/az-etikus-uzleti-gyakorlat-es-a-tisztesseges-egyenlo-versenyfeltetelek-egyetemes-ertekek/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2023].
Világpolitika (2023). Benedek, L. és Levente, L. (2023). Kreatívipar és a szervezeti etika társadalmasítása – Magyar Közgazdasági Társaság – Fejlődésgazdaságtani Szakosztály. [online] Fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu. Available at: https://fejlodesgazdasagtan.hu/2023/07/18/kreativipar-es-a-szervezeti-etika-tarsadalmasitasa/ [Accessed 8 Aug. 2023].
Translated by Benedek Lits