Heat wave and political discourse

Record follows record. Yesterday 41.9C (107.42F). Today 40.5C (104.9F). The pavement buckles in Budapest, the streetcar rails, although workers water them all the time, also buckle here and there, so buses have to take the streetcars’ place. The number of deaths in the last few days rose by about 20%.

Perhaps it is this heat that had a bad effect on Viktor Orbán, who gave his usual mid-summer speech in Tusnádfürdő in Transylvania (although the speech was not given in the "midday sun"). It doesn’t matter how hard I try to figure out the meaning of Orbán’s treatise on European history since 1968, I can’t. But here is a summary of his speech. Try to make sense of it.

He began by claiming that in Western Europe a new political and spiritual epoch has begun, as opposed to Hungary "where the old political elite is in power." The Hungarian politics of today are "provincial and petty." However, there is good news: it can be changed. (I assume, if the Fidesz wins the elections!)

After these introductory words came a summary of European history in the last forty years. While for Hungary 1968 meant Prague, for Western Europe it was the year of the student revolt in France, which "was a cultural counterrevolution that shook the very foundations of traditional politics." The leaders of this counterrevolution declared that in order to achieve complete individual freedom the individual must be freed of all ties. According to them one must free oneself of the ties that bind the individual to nation, family, language, sexual orientation. But this philosophy–according to Orbán–is destined to fail. Europe at last realizes that it needs a change in philosophy because the ideas of the student revolutionaries "force an unnatural lifestyle on the people." One of the "new thoughts" that has gained ground is that "only a couple can produce new life." (Well, I think this is a revolutionary discovery!) The second great finding is that "family, nation, and European culture, the ones who are already dead, the now living and the ones who haven’t been born yet form one community that is undissolvable. The third "rule": man is not an island, but an integral part of the community, rational and social at the same time.

After this interesting recap of the history of the developed world in the last forty years, Orbán returned to his favorite topic: the nation. "If one talks about the nation, one is accused of antisemitism, if one talks about the family, one is accused of homophobia." According to him Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel are against such an interpretation. (Sarkozy and Merkel? Most observers do not see it that way. Neither Sarkozy or Merkel want much to do with the populist Orbán and therefore it is somewhat presumptuous of the Hungarian politician to call them his ideological partners.)

But, according to Orbán, the parties must change too. "We need a new type of party in Europe. We need a right-wing party that is "national, democratic, and supports fair competition." As for the new left, it is "still internationalist, antidemocratic, authoritarian, monopolistic (whatever that means), and it tries to maintain the privileges of privileged groups." The socialists are actually antisocialists because they put all their trust in economic logic. And finally, he announced that the Fidesz has worked out a strategy for the defense of democracy. The "package" will contain antimonopolist laws and an entirely new program for the impoverished classes. "The poor people can expect help only from the right, because the left has already given up on them. A historical alliance must be established between the middle classes and the three million poor people. The Fidesz’s mission is the accomplishment of the creation of this historical alliance."

The only thing I can think of is that it was too hot in Tasnádfürdő.