While socialists and would-be socialists in Worcester and elsewhere were marching out of their left-wing universities on Inauguration Day to resist a supposedly right-wing president, my wife and I were exploring the capital of Hungary, where anyone over 30 can tell you how socialism works in the real world.
Budapest is a city of beauty and bitterness, remembrance and forgetfulness.
Seven bridges link hilly Buda on the Danube River’s western shore with Pest on the eastern floodplain. Ice floes drift past the Parliament, or Országház, a Gothic masterpiece that has witnessed Hapsburg hegemony, the Soviet heel and 1989’s joyous birth of the Third Republic.
The Great Market Hall at the southern end of Váci utca, the famous pedestrian shopping mall, oozes with riotous reds of paprika and sausages, pale plum fire of pálinka, and delectable dreams layered in chocolate, nuts and poppy seeds. Bars and coffeehouses abound, where cheap, satisfying beer and conversation flow freely.
It was not always so.
As we enjoyed the city, I kept thinking of the late Robert Nemeth, who fled following the Soviet Union’s 1956 invasion to crush the rebellion. Bob and his family settled in the United States, where he mastered English and rose to become the Telegram & Gazette’s chief editorial writer.