The Polish intellectual and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Czesław Miłosz, recounts a tale in his The Captive Mind (1953) that revolves around the peddling of what he calls ‘Murti-Bing’ pills. This substance was held to account for the conversion of people towards a ‘new philosophy of life’ within which problems became ‘superficial and unimportant’, questions pertaining to ‘unsolvable ontological difficulties’ were forgotten, and ‘metaphysical concerns’ outmoded.

In Miłosz’s vision, Murti-Bingism was tied to the emerging life of communism in Eastern Central Europe (ECE) within which the new society was organically converted to the writing of marches and odes (where once dissonant music existed), to the composition of socially useful art (where abstract painting was once accepted), and to the adoption of non-dialectical reflection (where once critical thought had prevailed). There is a very good resource library on Miłosz and Polish culture that is available online here. Today, though, it is not difficult to see Miłosz’s vision being fulfilled across the European continent through alternative processes linked to the peddling of new Murti-Bing pills, this time in the form of neoliberal ideology.

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