Orbán’s Christmas message

Well, not quite. It is an interview in Magyar Nemzet. A very long interview. Tibor Várkonyi in Népszava thought that the only remarkable thing about the interview was its length. I would agree with Várkonyi  that there is nothing terribly new here as far as policy is concerned. But in terms of viciousness Orbán achieved new heights. No wonder that Gábor Pápai of Népszava drew this cartoon with the following caption: "My dear little Jesus, at least now, at the time of love and peace, please kill those whom I dislike so much!" Jezuska es Orban I think Pápai summarized the message quite succinctly. Várkonyi expressed his doubt that any politician in the western world would use such a "nasty" tone, especially in a Christmas message. But nastiness is actually his trademark. Perhaps he learned it from the mentor of his youth, László Kövér, who specializes in nastiness. One day I should write a list–and it would be a very long one–of words frequently used by the Fidesz leadership. Vicious, nasty words that are spreading like wildfire throughout Hungarian society. And verbal abuse gives birth to physical violence as has become quite obvious over the last two and a half years.

Indeed, the message of the interview is uncontrollable hatred of his opponents. He blames his political opponents for setting a bad example to the Hungarian people; as a result, he claims, the whole country is not only unsuccessful but is actually depraved. "Those in power unscrupulously lie, there is corruption everywhere, not only are parliamentary representatives being bought but whole parties are paid off. This kind of example drags down the entire society into filth and dirt. When the interest of the society as a whole becomes secondary to the interests of a narrow group that leads the country, that indeed leads to depravity."

Therefore, the socialists must pay for the mismanagement of the last six years "in full." The most important question of the next one and a half years will be the decision about how to make them pay. At this point the reporter asked him "why doesn't Viktor Orbán do something" to put an end to this plundering? The answer was long. It started with his limitations as a politician. Then he added: "Once upon a time somebody told me that over forty everybody is responsible for his face. Perhaps because his inner self is drawn on his face." He is a man who strongly believes in "freedom" and he is unwilling to take part in any action that endangers freedom in the long run. Furthermore, he deeply respects human life. But then he adds: "I know there might be moments when the fate of the country is more important than our lives…. Yet I'm convinced that these moments are very rare and today not at all timely. The outbreak of a revolution, desperate men's fight against overwhelming armed forces can serve only the interest of the authorities." My God, this man is actually talking about an armed uprising against a democratically elected government, even if at the end he rejects this alternative and expresses his hope that although his way might take longer it will achieve a kind of peaceful revolution.

All the problems stem from the mistakes of twenty years ago when the democrats (headed by Viktor Orbán himself) didn't eliminate those political "dinosaurs." They didn't realize that the "dinosaurs have babies." They were naive when they thought that with the "peaceful transition" these dinosaurs and their babies would retire. No, they didn't retire. First, they moved into the world of business. "Their political capital was exchanged into economic capital and thus armed they brought back the dusty, petty, hopeless atmosphere of the late socialism." The same people Orbán and his friends fought against twenty years ago are back. Except this group of dinosaurs is less talented than their predecessors. "Of course, to govern democratically is a difficult business especially for those who are accustomed to the instruments of dictatorship." In brief, communism is back and a second change of regime is necessary. That change of regime will come in a year and a half when Fidesz wins the elections.

From here Orbán moved to the IMF credit. "Once the elections are over [and Fidesz is in power] calmly, quietly, without confrontation with the IMF or the western financial world, we have to analyze the details of these loans. It will be worthwhile to compare the conditions of these particular loans to those given to other countries.  It will be worthwhile to study the terms of these loans. It will be interesting to ask the question: why is the number seventeen so attractive to the IMF? Why did they want to ensure Hungary's financial security for exactly seventeen months? Did they want to help the country or MSZP? Perhaps they want to keep the next government in check? We will find out." These are pretty strong words and I'm sure that not only the readers of Magyar Nemzet will read them but those who were responsible for the transaction at the IMF. In any case, Orbán charges that the money will not be used for what IMF intended but will land in the coffers of MSZP in the hope of winning the next elections. However, Orbán is certain that by now the Hungarian people have learned their lesson. "They cannot be led by the nose."

And finally let me quote here Sic who wrote the following in his comment about the opening salvo of this "Christmans conversation with Viktor Orbán." "The darkest hour is just before the dawn (as it appears often in Hungarian variations, though not a native phrase 'az éj hajnal előtt a legsötétebb/napfelkelte előtt legsötétebb a hajnal') means roughly, there is hope, even in the worst of circumstances. (Még a rosszabbnak tűnő helyzetben is történhet valami jó. Azaz, minden rosszban/helyzetben van valami remény.) It can also mean that problems always appear worse before there is a solution (roughly, 'a cél elötti utolsó méterek a legnehezebb'). But the phrase used in the MNO (Magyar Nemzet Online) piece was much stronger in message and tone. It stated that the 'light' would be inversely proportional (fordítottan arányos) with the darkness ('"Minél nagyobb a sötétség, annál közelebb van a világosság") – the 'minél…,annál…' construction is very clear. This is much stronger than awaiting the dawn (of a new era etc…). This is that we are awaiting, the light. It is an almost a direct religious reference: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (http://scripturetext.com/john/14-6.htm). It means that he (Jesus/Orbán) is the light of the world. But He is the Way, and not just the light: 'Then spake Jesus/Orbán again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."' (http://multilingualbible.com/john/8-12.htm)

Yes, this is perhaps the most shocking part of this "Christmans conversation," although this is not the first time that Orbán has obliquely compared himself to Christ or used Jesus's words for his own political purposes.

And one more footnote. Orbán talked about the belief that "one's inner self is drawn on his face." I was surprised reading this because for some time now when I see Viktor Orbán's face I have been thinking of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray is a gorgeous young man whose portrait is painted by a friend. Realizing that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian wishes that his portrait would age rather than he himself. Dorian's wish is fulfilled, subsequently plunging him into a series of debauched acts. The portrait serves as a reminder of the effect each act has upon his soul with each sin being displayed as a disfigurement of his form, or through a sign of aging. By the way, I'm not the only one who is struck by the changes that have occurred in the last couple of years on Orbán's face.