Skip to content

Lakatos was a Stalinist

Apparently this is well known, it’s just new to me. [Actually, not so new, as this blog post has been sent to the end of the queue twice now, so it will appear about a year after I wrote it. — ed.] Alan Musgrave and Charles Pigden write:

After a brilliant school career, during which he won mathematics competitions and a multitude of prizes, Lakatos entered Debrecen University in 1940 . . . he became a committed communist, attending illegal underground communist meetings . . . In May [1944], Lakatos’s mother, grandmother and other relatives were forced into the Debrecen ghetto, thence to die in Auschwitz—the fate of about 600,000 Hungarian Jews. . . . A little earlier, in March, Lakatos himself had managed to escape . . . Lakatos restarted his Marxist group . . . Lakatos moved to Budapest in 1946. He became a graduate student at Budapest University, but spent much of his time working towards the communist takeover of Hungary. . . . Lakatos worked chiefly in the Ministry of Education, evaluating the credentials of university teachers and making lists of those who should be dismissed as untrustworthy once the communists took over . . . He was arrested in April 1950 on charges of revisionism and, after a period in the cellars of the secret police (including, of course, torture), he was condemned to the prison camp at Recsk. . . . In 1956 he joined the revisionist Petőfi Circle and delivered a stirring speech on “On Rearing Scholars” which at least burnt his bridges with Stalinism . . . Lakatos left Hungary in November 1956 after the Soviet Union crushed the short-lived Hungarian revolution . . . Although he lived and worked in London, rising to the post of Professor of Logic at the London School of Economics (LSE), Lakatos never became a British citizen, but died a stateless person. Despite the star-studded array of academic lords and knights who were willing to testify on his behalf, neither MI5 nor the Special Branch seem to have trusted him, and no less a person than Roy Jenkins, the then Home Secretary, signed off on the refusal to naturalize him . . .

Life was much different back then.

Leave a Reply