A sociological study about political radicalism

I cannot give a full description of the results of a sociological study about Hungarian radicalism in speech and action conducted by researchers of the Institute of Sociology because the results have not yet been published. I am reporting on the basis of an interview I heard with Pál Tamás, the head of the team, on Klubrádió.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 1,500 people, and the results are somewhat surprising. First, the researchers concluded that the Hungarian people loath the idea of any visible protest, demonstration, any kind of force, chaos in general. They even dislike strikes. Seventy percent said that they wouldn’t take part in one.

On the other hand, the findings of Tamás and his colleagues tell a more frightening story. What we considered a few years ago to be slogans and causes of the far right have found a home today in the middle of the political spectrum. Hungarian society has been radicalized. Among the many questions there were twenty-two that were provocative in the sense that the answers would give a fairly clear idea of feelings on such issues as antisemitism, xenophobia, hatred of Gypsies, Trianon, the Árpád flags, and so on. For instance, six questions were designed to elicit opinions about Jews. People were asked to rate their agreement or disagreement on a scale of 1 to 5 with such statements as “There is too much talk about the holocaust” or “Jews have too great a role in business, culture, and education.” Among those who vote for right-wing parties the percentage of antisemites is 50%. Among the left-wingers 20%. In the population as a whole 30% is strongly antisemitic (Tamás called it “harcos antiszemita). Only 20% indicated strong disagreement with these statements. Trianon is another important indication of radicalism. Here 20% of the sample believed that the lost territories should be taken back, if necessary by force. What is even more disconcerting, this number is 40% among those aged 15 to 29. Sixty-five percent are openly and unabashedly anti-Gypsy. Fifty percent said that one shouldn’t just talk but do something against Gypsies. Forty percent think the red and white striped flag is perfectly all right. They don’t understand what all the fuss is about. (It was a historical flag used by the Hungarian Nazis in the 1940s.)

The sociologists who worked on the study don’t think that this radicalization of attitudes will translate into action because Hungarians not only have a horror of demonstrations and chaos but they are also “afraid to act.” So for the time being talk remains only talk. This afternoon I heard an interview with Albert Takács, former minister of justice, who reminded us of the often causal link between talk and action. But let’s hope that the Hungarian phobic reaction to mass movement will prevail. It certainly has until now. Despite the opposition’s nudging citizens to participate in widespread mass demonstrations that would topple the government, nothing materialized.

But it’s not enough to hope that Hungarians will stay at home, go about their normal routines, and harbor ugly thoughts. Somehow attitudes have to change. For instance, I don’t expect to see a Gypsy prime minister in the near future, but providing an environment where this is conceivable would be a worthy, if daunting, undertaking.

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Te Jó Ég!

I think the situation is more serious than what Eva described. Even though the gipsy background of Mr. Orban has often been discussed, he is not know to push more progressive agenda. I believe that the freedom fight for the right of the gipsies must be driven by progressive intellectuals for the time being.


As the socialist era’s attempts to husband the “socialist type of man” so miserably failed, so will all attempts to “change attitudes” fail.
It may seem a bit pessimistic, but by now I cannot imagine anything to change those attitudes other than the election of a right wing government.
In my fortunately detached position I increasingly root for a good little experiment for the good little people of Hungary, in which they receive, at last, what they yearn for: a good little semi-nazi government.
Yes, you may ask, but as daft as they are, would they be able to derive any learning from that?
No, I answer humbly, they wouldn’t notice the effect, with angelic, happy smiles on their faces, would continue blaming the “enemy,” i.e.: everyone else.
These people are so dumb, that they are willing to believe that the whole world is conspiring just to hurt the Hungarians. The enemy surrounds them within and without and if Orban and his merry men had not kept them at bay, the Slovaks and Rumanians long would have taken the poor little country over.
There is no help. Let them get the “bitter black soup!”


I am sorry to be posting twice at the same time, but conveniently appears just on time, the interview with the Fidesz’ economic guru in Nepszabadsag.
Apart from the excessively conceited manner of the guru, it is simply astounding how stupid is the remedy he offers.
There is no economist of any self-respect who would dare to talk like this, showing the arrogance combined with ignorance, as this guy does.
And if you look at his “credentials” you understand about the whole sorry state of the country, the education, the press etc. This is the guy who has access to infect with his ideologically tainted, ignorant ideas all over the place.
I don’t think this to be the place to “debate’ his “ideas,” but to support my damning opinion I am willing to elucidate if asked.

Odin's lost eye
What an indictment of the Hungarian electorate! However there are excuses for it. Over the past 50 to 60 years the chances to practice of democracy has been very rare for the Hungarian people. So I guess that the Hungarian people are politically rather naive. As an example of what I mean about politically naivety. A few years ago I was teaching some young Spanish people ‘Computer Literacy’. Every now and then as light relief they would raise some point about the U.K. Of course one day the question Gibraltar raised its ugly head. I said that the whole thing was a question for the Gibraltarian people. They pointed out that Spain was a democracy etc. so why could not the Gibraltarian people accept a union with Spain. My reply was could they (the Spanish) vote for a party lead by a ‘Morro’ (a Moore – a person of Moorish descent)? They replied with an emphatic No! Ok I said and then asked ‘could you vote for a party lead by a Jew?’ They replied with an even more an emphatic No! I then asked them who was the Chief Minister of Gibraltar – Sir Joshua Hassan -. There was… Read more »

Thank you Odin’s lost eye!
You are right about the Arpad flag.
Originally it had nothing to do with the nazis. Just like the swastika originally had nothing to do with the nazis.
The nazis stole both of these symbols as this was very characteristic of them, just as what they did with artwork, etc.
The swastika has been around for thousands of years in Indian culture and originally meant ‘good hope’.
In the case of the Arpad flag, what it meant originally is foundation of a state, heroism, patriotism. And most of all I belive cooperation and comradeship in blood.
What the Hungarian people crave for so much after this century’s happenings.
Let me thank you for taking the time for being thorough in your research.