About the Association of Young Christian Democrats

Because one of our readers was so taken with my piece in Hungarian about the similarities between the ideas of the socialist period on culture and those of the Young Christian Democrats (“Rákosi és Kádár kultúrpolitikusainak legjobb tanítványai: Az ifjú kereszténydemokratákról”) I decided that it would be a crime to deprive non-Hungarian speakers of the pleasure of reading it. Just to be certain that everybody understands what I’m talking about, this reader of Hungarian Spectrum announced that it was the worst piece I have ever written. And that must be quite something, considering the source of the criticism. So prepare yourselves.

First, one must understand that although there is a 37-member Christian Democratic parliamentary caucus there is no such thing as a Christian Democratic Party in Hungary. For years pollsters have been working hard to come up with any signs of measurable support but no luck! The nonexistent party not only has a parliamentary delegation but it also has an Association of Young Christian Democrats.

In the past one didn’t hear much about them, but since Bence Stágel (MP) took over the leadership one finds IKSZ (Ifjúsági Kereszténydemokrata Szövetség) in the news quite frequently. He is a very busy boy. Or rather no longer a boy. He is thirty-three years old and a father. His predecessor, Bence Rétvári, is about the same age–the other Bence. Moreover, their backgrounds are also very similar. I guess in order to become somebody in IKSZ it is a good idea to attend the Jesuit High School of Budapest and move on to get a law degree from the Péter Pázmány Catholic University. I might add here that Bence Rétvári is the man who came up with the brilliant idea of dismantling the archives of the state security apparatus of the old regime and allowing everybody to pack up the originals and take them home. Why? Because it was an immoral system. On this basis we should destroy a lot of archives in the world, but Rétvári’s intelligence level doesn’t allow him to think so far ahead.

The second Bence every other day comes up with a new idea. The one that attracted the most attention was his request to the newly established Media Authority to sanction RTL Klub’s Való Világ (The Real World) reality show. At the same time he asked people to bombard the Authority with complaints about the program, and the good Christians obliged. Within two weeks 64 complaints arrived in the Authority’s mailbox.

György Bolgár, who has eagle eyes when it comes to interesting bits of daily news, immediately spotted Stágel’s call for sanctions and asked for an interview with the new leader of IKSZ. During the conversation it became clear that Stágel wants more than sanctions against RTL Klub; he wants to put an end to the reality show’s broadcast. Moreover, he would like to see “family friendly” television across the board. Programming wouldn’t have to be boring, but it should be such that the whole family could watch all programs from morning till night together. As it turns out, this reality show is the most popular television program in Hungary. It became clear that Stágel would like to introduce a kind of officially sanctioned programming based on Christian Democratic ideas on morality and taste.

Upon further questioning Stáger outlined the kinds of high-brow programs that might interest a very small segment of society but in his scheme would be forced on the whole population. No more “junk” but real “value.” Bolgár at this point interjected: “I don’t know whether you have ever heard of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. In those days that party had a Central Committee with all sorts of committees and subcommittees. Among them there was a cultural committee. The Central Committee decided on the programming for the Hungarian Television, how it should strengthen the traditional family, socialist and other kinds of values. I hear practically the same thing from you.” Stáger didn’t see any similarity. A sharp mind.

And here I chimed in and added that I would go even farther back. To the Rákosi regime and naturally not to television programming because in those days Hungary had no television broadcasting. Instead I mentioned what happened to public libraries after 1948. Doctrinaire cultural purists got rid of not only all politically suspicious material but also all light reading. What remained were Hungarian and foreign classics and the mostly unreadable books written in the socialist realist style. Whether people liked them or not didn’t matter. They set out to change public taste. They wanted to create a new socialist man. Never mind that in those days the educational attainment of the country was very low and most adults had only a sixth-grade education, they filled the village libraries with classics or happy stories of Soviet collective farms. I guess the assumption was that if these people just tried hard enough eventually they would be avid readers of War and Peace. As we know, neither Rákosi nor Kádár succeeded. As soon as there was greater choice, most of the people returned to “junk.”

A few days ago I happened upon an article about reading habits nowadays. The journalist asked the owner of a bookstore about the reading habits of her customers. The answer was: “People still read but ‘other stuff’.” Meaning not the same as she was accustomed to in the past.

Then I recalled that during my high school days I was a volunteer in the County Library in Pécs. In those days the collection was meager, especially since we were forced to cull an incredible number of volumes. All light reading was banished. The older ladies wanted to read those bestsellers from the 1930s they were accustomed to: Renée Erdős or Lola Réz née Kosáry. One of our librarians tried to satisfy them with Maupassant and Zola. Older men escaped to travelogues: “I hunted tigers in Africa” type of books.

All this effort came to naught. It might have been that there were scores and scores of classics in Hungarian homes, but I doubt that they were read very much. Books were very inexpensive because the pricing structure was also designed to help create a new, well educated socialist society. It was a total bust. And now the Christian Democrats want to change the Hungarian public. Instead of a communist mold they want to force people into a Christian one. But if Rákosi and Kádár were not successful, the Christian Democrats will fail too.

Just to give an example of how little these people understand what we are talking about here. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read a headline in Magyar Nemzet. “Soon Való Világ will receive serious competition.” And what is this competition? The University of All Knowledge! A series of university-level lectures on various disciplines! An excellent program otherwise that I can heartily recommend to everybody. But it is highly unlikely that the viewers of Való Világ will rush to watch “Mindentudás Egyeteme.”

And finally I recalled an old story, also from Pécs. The university library grew out of the late eighteenth-century collection of György Klimó, bishop of Pécs. The original collection is kept separately in a series of lovely chambers with high baroque bookshelves.

Sometime in the early 1950s the library got a new party secretary who looked around and noticed those carved busts on the top of the shelves. He was outraged. Saints in a library! A socialist library! They must go, and he was ready to order workers to saw off the busts. People tried to explain to him that they are not saints but ancient philosophers. It took some persuasion, the fate of the philosophers hung in the balance for a few days. But there is nothing new under the sun. Today certain people don’t want to saw off the busts of philosophers; they only attack their integrity.

 

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Paul
Guest

What was it that got Fidesz, sorry, ‘Kevin’ so steamed up then?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “What was it that got Fidesz, sorry, ‘Kevin’ so steamed up then?”
I guess because I compared the Christian Democrats’ ideas about culture to those of Rákosi and Co.

GDF
Guest

I guess it would be more acceptable to compare it the ayatollah-regime in Iran, little difference, just a different religion…

Kirsten
Guest

How big can the overlap between the Fidesz voters and the Valo Vilag watchers be? There could be trouble in the making… (it will never need 20 years…).

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten: “How big can the overlap between the Fidesz voters and the Valo Vilag watchers be? There could be trouble in the making… (it will never need 20 years…).”
My feeling is that it is high. Ildikó Lendvai who has a good sense of humor said something in an interview that she wishes–but she immediately added that she was joking–that Fidesz-KDNP would ban Való Világ. That move would make quite a dent in the Fidesz electorate.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

GDF: “I guess it would be more acceptable to compare it the ayatollah-regime in Iran, little difference, just a different religion”
In a way Marxism-Leninism was a kind of religion. I picked these two Hungarian regimes because I know much more about them than about the cultural policies of Iran.

Paul
Guest

I’m interested in this 37 member Christian Democrat caucus – how do the KDNP/Fidesz justify this against the lack of support for KDNP in the polls (and previously in the elections)?
Rather strangely this reminds me of the UK Labour party in the 70s and 80s. In many strong Labour areas the local party would often have a large Marxist/’workers revolutionary’ faction, sometimes these groups were actually in control of the local party or council. And yet they had no democratic mandate at all, as none had been elected on a Marxist/revolutionary ticket.
No doubt ‘Kevin’ will be equally outraged at this comparison.

Member

Eva: You draw the comparison between the socialist and current period, and GDF brought up Iran, I would like to ad Nazi Germany. Beside burning books, they also had a “library”of banned films, one of the very first one, All Quite in the Western Front. That was an easy task in the 30’s with no VHS, DVD, Internet, but today it would be futile trying to control what people can or cannot read or watch.

John G
Guest

The KDNP was nothing more than a financial fiddle-faddle devised to get more public money and property (Party HQ etc) for the Fidesz, as well as a way to reincarnate MIEP, only as a Fidesz colony. They are nothing more than Fidesz who actually go to church. Regularly. It is quite clear that Bence #2 has serious political ambitions. Wonder when Fidelitasz will take care of that.

Mutt Damon
Guest

Sad. Nothing causes more damage to the christian ideas than Christians mixed up in politics. These guys didn’t learn anything from history.
What are these zealots thinking? The season 3 of the show has more than 2 million viewers daily (in a country of 10 million). So much money is at stake obviously nothing will happened. The show will actually benefit from the extra publicity.
Wikipedia has a short article about the show in English: http://bit.ly/gjadQn
There is a funny bit. Hungarians can actually pay to get in the show. One participant once payed 2 million HUF (10k US).

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
The problem with hard line religionists is that they are convinced that they are absolutely right. After all they say that their godhead tells them so. They are not worried about the practicalities of their decisions or the effects that it will have. Also these hardliners have ways of avoiding the outcome of their decisions. One of the Aga Khan’s (The head of the Ismail Moslems) long fathers was rather fond of Champaign. So he announced to one and all that he was so holy that all alcohol turns to water in his mouth. He had to drink it regularly every day to make sure that God was still pleased with his holiness. The Idea of a day of rest will have dire effects on the food supply in this country. Huh? If you can only work 6 days a week what will happen? If one looks at the effect such an edict this will have on the supplies of bread. Hungary has what I call ‘Local Bakeries’. For economic reasons these bakeries are designed to produce the daily requirement for bread, with little spare capacity. On the supply side they work on the principles of ‘JIT’ (Just in Time).… Read more »
Rigó Jancsi
Guest
I don’t like reality shows, I think most of the TV programme is a waste of time, maybe except for Paprika TV… And what do I do about that? I have disposed my TV set. It’s so easy. But I know, that is very selfish, I should worry about my next, too, charity begins with my neighbour. I am so glad that Bence&Bence endanger their salvation by actually watching Való Világ and all the other crap. Must be a fulltime job. How else could they know that this is dangerous stuff? Relying on other people’s reports is not sufficient, the government has told us over and over again that nobody should criticize the media law who hasn’t read the original. So this must be true for TV-shows, too: don’t rely on hearsay! Btw, sounds like islamists talking about the qur’an: You don’t understand it, you have only read a bad translation! And Éva, I’m sure once they’re done with RTL and its likes, they will move on to the libraries to read Darwin’s “Origin of Species” in original, and “The God Delusion” by Dawkins. How else could they decide that this is the devil’s work? Not to mention Harry Potter.… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

@Eva: That move would make quite a dent in the Fidesz electorate.
I hope that potentially in any case: if something were done, the watchers might be surprised, if nothing is done, there could be tensions within Fidesz. Seems to be a good test of how Fidesz’ Christian aspirations (and the orientation of the new constitution) fit into Hungarian reality.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

What puzzles me is why has not Orban Viktor held some sort of public ceremony, oath taking and other flap-doodle to the effect that he represents and acts in the name of the hat of the Hungarian kings (the Holy Crown). Then nothing he does or says can be contradicted by anyone, not even the E.U.
There is a view in the local pubs that OV (The Mighty One) is fighting the Europeans for Hungary’s freedom. The picture I get is that in their minds the E.U. is the sworn deadly oppressor of Hungary and is seeking to enslave it.

Paul
Guest

“The picture I get is that in their minds the E.U. is the sworn deadly oppressor of Hungary and is seeking to enslave it.”
That’s exactly what I hear from the Hungarian side of my family and their friends.
I fear the optimists, especially those living outside Hungary, just don’t understand how the average Hugarian thinks/feels these days. Orbán isn’t a rogue politician, he actually pretty accurately represents many Hungarians.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Reading Hungarian newspapers I understand the fact, that no other nation had so many humorists and satirical writers as the Hungarians. As a matter of fact the only time when Budapest cabaret was closed, was the time of the German occupation. When I read the proposal to have everyone take the document from the historical archive of state security in which he/she is mentioned, I thought the fellow must have drunk a lot when he proposed it.
But then I think there could be another reason, why a catholic lawyer is proposing it.
Looking at http://hollok.hu/ (those of you reading Hungarian can find the reason), the fact that so many church dignitaries were informers of the political police.
Some of the high ranking Fidesz ministers and functionaries have been also informers. So the best thing is for them if this archive does not exist any more.

Joseph Simon
Guest

Let it be noted that the idea of ‘propaganda’, the art of controlling what people should think, was born in the USA. E. Bernays wrote his famous or infamous work called ‘Propaganda’. The Germans burned books but they didnot burn this one. Goebbels wanted to learn from it. Madison Avenue today is still using the same concepts first developed in this work. During presidential elections these same mind-control experts then go to work to ‘sell’ their candidates. ‘We sold Eisenhower like soap’, one of them commented.

Guest

This is what wiki has to say about Bernays:
“As a Jew who had witnessed the critical role that propaganda and mass media had played in creating anti-German sentiment in Britain prior to WWI and again during and after the Nazis’ quasi-democratic rise to power in Europe, Bernays felt that the same unleashing of irrational animosity could happen in any democratic society.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays
Anybody interested in PR (it seems that expresion was coined by him) should read this – a bit different from the image that our friend Simon Joseph tries to show …
PS: Simon, your PR is lousy!

Julie
Guest

Joseph Simon, I really don’t understand your fixation on the United States. This blog is called Hungarian Spectrum, not American Spectrum–yet almost all of your comments are about the US, whether relevant to the post or not.

Joseph Simon
Guest

‘someone’ mentioned here Germany and propaganda. So I just commented on it. Also, the media in Hungary has been discussed here a thousand times. It is impossible to discuss this matter without considering what goes on in the USA: how everything we see or hear is controlled by a handful of powerful moguls. The Washington Post, etc., are all owned by a narrow group of people captive to corporate interests. Unrestrained vertical integration producing interlocking directorates. Result: self-serving censorship of political and social ideas, management of news, editorials, etc.

Member
Joseph Simon: “‘someone’ mentioned here Germany and propaganda. So I just commented on it. Also, the media in Hungary has been discussed here a thousand times.” I only responded to your comment in the previous thread (not in this one), when you brought up the exact nonsense regarding USA and Propaganda. Now, you least looked into the name of the writer, and brought it up again as some new idea. My post was valid at the time you, and it it is valid for your comment again, so let me post it again, as you mat missed it at the first time! (And please give up with this references with the USA, you can look much closer, like Nazi Germany, who Hungary unfortunately shared some common historical steps.) On the thread: Viktor Orbán, Facebook, and truthfulness Posted by: someone | January 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM Joseph Simon: Why are you so obsessed with the USA? What it has to do with Hungary now? By the way, everyone is free to watch whatever program they want, like National Geographics, History Channel, whatever they choose. I haven’t seen one episode of Dr Phil, ANd I haven’t seen Oprah for like 5… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

someone: “He was lso Freud’s nephew. Propaganda was published in 1928 in the USA. Goebbels’s Der Angriff on the other hand was published in 1926 already.”
For some people such facts can be brushed aside. They have preconceived ideas.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

Someone – Please do not feed the sundary trolls, orcs, and other Fidesz cockroaches.
Joseph Back in your cage.
Paul – I do not know if this stems from their own minds or it is something they have been told. If this is so who put the idea into their heads. I have a feeling that they have been lead in this direction.
Posted by: Odin’s Lost Eye |

GW
Guest

“For some people such facts can be brushed aside.”
Sadly for these people, as Stephen Colbert puts it: “Facts have a well-known liberal bias.”

John G
Guest

“You have a right to your own experience but not to your own facts.” Can’t find who said it but I like it .

Member

John G: “Every man has a right to be wrong in his opinions. But no man has a right to be wrong about his facts.” Bernard Baruch

Reforms please, we are Hungarians!
Guest
Reforms please, we are Hungarians!

Just to honor one of our contributors:
“Pfeifer a magyarországi demokratikus ellenzék bécsi hangja volt a hetvenes-nyolcvanas években, de Budapesttel már tízéves kora óta szoros kapcsolatban áll…………„Bevallom, élvezem az újságírást. ……… Egyszer láttam a Keleti pályaudvarnál teljes ünnepi díszben egy magyar fasisztát, csizmával, árpádsávos zászlóval, ….Ezek a nemzeti szamarak, hadd hívjam őket így, pontosabban fogalmazva nemzetieskedő szamarak tulajdonképpen saját országuknak, társadalmuknak okozzák a legnagyobb bajt.”
Gyorgy Moldova is a similar writer. His recent views on FIDESZ: “Ahogy Moldova György mondta nemrégiben, hogy undorral szavazott az MSZP-re a legutóbbi választásokon..”
In this century, I hope, we will find an honest educated enlightened Hungarian politician, who can end the ongoing drama- nightmare in Budapest.

Sandor
Guest

Eva! Tsk! Tsk!
No wonder you are considered as the enemy of the people: there are no tigers in Africa.

kormos
Guest

Ms. Balogh
Quote from Odin: “Someone – Please do not feed the sundary trolls, orcs, and other Fidesz cockroaches.
Joseph Back in your cage.”
I think this British Gentleman has overstepped the boundaries of common politeness.

Kirsten
Guest

@Paul: “I fear the optimists, especially those living outside Hungary, just don’t understand how the average Hugarian thinks/feels these days.”
Optimism is a relative concept… It is not meant that the “average feeling” will change immediately, but it has apparently changed during the past five years, why should it not be “evolving”? If I use the example of this blog: The “national delusion” cannot yet have such proportions that OV will be able to turn RTL Klub into a channel of the catholic church or a history channel covering Greater Hungary (you cannot roll back time). That makes it likely (for an outsider) that the more practical considerations (income, entertainment) will become more important again. I thought people expected improvements in the living standard from Fidesz, that cannot be forgotten. So the “optimism” could perhaps be best understood as “support for Fidesz will not grow anymore”, and “opponents of Fidesz will gain some strength”. Perhaps this does not sound too “fantastic” to you either.

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