EU countries are in a very special, difficult situation and Hungary is facing even greater challenges as she is going through a double transition. Hungary has to tackle a dual challenge, the transition that is happening in the whole world and the switch from a post-communist state to democracy. This double challenge increases uncertainty. That is why those, including Hankiss, in the New Age of Reformation (www.ujreformkor.hu) try to bring new ideas, new responses, new challenges, to prepare the inhabitants here to be able to handle the change.
On power distribution in Hungary, he says he does not wish to make comments on politics and the upper strata, and he certainly does not wish to criticize or interpret what they do. In power, he explains, there are three major factors – politicians, business people and the ordinary people, the society, itself. It is the latter that is on shaky ground, because for 40 years of the communism, rulers did not allow room for civil initiatives. However, there was a latent second society of the courageous, and they did important work until those in power came to obstruct their moves. In 1989, civil movements sprang up, new initiatives and social moves emerged in every field of human existence.
However, we encountered a new set of problems: society as a whole had less directivity anda scarce self-knowledge, and social organizations struggled with a similar lack of knowledge of what they had at their disposal: what resources they could utilize. This is why the New Age of Reformation started to build up a network: to increase the impact of social organizations.
The third problem was innovation. For 40 years, the doors were closed (due to the ironcurtain), so they imported what was needed most: new ideas, as many as they could get from the West to invigorate the social changes. In 1989, the borders finally opened, but people here were accustomed to thinking in their own circles only. The supporters of the movement aimed to import new ideas, initiatives and possibilities by publishing these on their website, in newsletters, to propagate new ideas at conferences.
Regarding the most useful way to propagate ideas, as simply telling people here what they should adopt might prove to be insufficient, his voice turns both more solemn and warm as he introduces his most precious, grand pet project. Two years ago, he says, they formed a think tank, by which they tried to achieve what they now consider an incubator where they accumulate ideas, develop them into adaptable models, to the level at which they can be applied in a wider social context, and entrust the projects to those concerned, or to other foundations.
He is cornered when he is asked to choose the Reformation’s flagship projects, as there areobviously so many. One is his favorites is the Civil Guide, the ‘social Michelin guide’ as they call it. It is a program in which foundations are examined with respect to their reliability.
Social movements are ranked according to the transparency and honesty of financial transactions in terms of donations, so that people can be informed how their money is being used. This work will be continued by another foundation.
Donate a dollar
Another initiative was originally founded in the United States under the name of ‘Donor’s Due’. The idea sprang up when a teacher from a poor college did not know how to request funds when his community, teachers, and students needed musical instruments, or sports equipment. Therefore, a system was concocted in which anyone could donate a dollar ortwo and follow their donation every week to see how their money is used.
The third example is what they call Living Hungary, by which they try to help localorganizations provide support for crafts people to get their wares to the local market. The state provides no support for them and these people cannot help themselves. This initiative tries to help the market participants get familiar with each other and the process of doing business indepth.
Intellectuals centered around and working for the New Age of Reformation movement have started to edit a Talent Map in Hungary. They are looking for people who are doing extraordinary pro bono work: social managers, carpenters, anyone. These workers are put on a map with their specific skills and contact details. It is not true that there is no skilled workforce in Hungary but, in fact, there are a lot of unused human resources.
Hankiss adds with a smile that is both modest and proud that ”as far as I know, itis the first talent map in the world”. Those in public administration offices will have more resources at their disposal.
After suggesting that in order to make use of such a talent map it would be necessary to have an equally talented person at the tiller, he replies that ”the main thing is that there are millions of people with unused skills. With the help of the Talent Map even the GDP could be increased”.
On what could be done in Hungary to utilize innovative ideas, Hankiss’ answer is: a change of mentality. ”As they say, a country without a seacoast tends to be less innovative than one with a coast.“ Here, he says, there are many talented and gifted people but they need to be activated and the social system is not ready to support them.
In the elementary and high schools and colleges, they don’t get the support they need todevelop a new idea into something viable. In the United States, out of ten new ideas, two or three succeed. Here in Hungary, out of a hundred new ideas, only five will get through. In this country, help is needed to educate everyone how to develop new ideas, to learn all the ins and outs of the environment, and how to work the system.
They should learn these during their education. Additionally, there are not enough institutions or lawyers to facilitate patent innovations. Right now, the transmission of good ideas to the market does not work and the government has not done anything to change this. They are responsible for wasting many talents.