Thoughts from Attending the ASTP-Proton Annual Conference in Budapest

By: Phyllis Speser, CEO

In a session on the commercialization of Social Science, Humanities, and Arts (SSHA) inventions, the presenters discussed how you measure impact. It struck me as curious that no-one mentioned what was perhaps the greatest example of impact in modern times, especially in light of the fact we were in Hungary. That example is the rise of communism and then it’s replacement by capitalism in Eastern Europe.

Communism is, of course, directly traceable to the humanities. Karl Marx was a student of law and philosophy at the University of Berlin. There, he studied Hegel, who provided the philosophical scaffolding for the movement of history, although Marx transformed Hegel’s spiritual movement into a physical one rooted in the relationships of production. Engels brought a social scientific data-driven perspective which populated this scaffolding. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Prague Spring, and the Grobachev reforms in Russia also have their roots in SSHA, for it was critical theorists and students who were among those at the forefront. The work of Hungarian Georg Lukacs and his students is an example. Written in the aftermath of the Prague Spring, Lukacs book The Process of Democratization was a precursor to many of the Gorbachev reforms.

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