Today I enter somewhat obscure territory. My guide, or perhaps my lure and mirage, is the little-known “science” of psychohistory. I am not entirely convinced that psychohistory is really a true science, nor am I fully satisfied by its methods and claims; however, some of the articles I have read in the journal of psychohistory and many of the conclusions expostulated there have given me a good deal of ideas to ponder.
Most of those articles and those claims are based on the understanding, they may even be only assumptions, that a full responsibility is to be attributed to childhood experiences and upbringing of entire nations, or historical personages, for how their history is eventually formed. There are, of course, creditable claims, proofs and evidence provided, psychological and historical in all cases, and if one is willing to accept the thought process and the logic, the theory makes a great deal of sense. The problem is chiefly that there are a lot more factors contributing to the events of history than just the personal, or mass characteristics of the actors. Nevertheless, as I hope to show, there is certainly a fascinating additional dimension to the history and a possible opportunity for forecasting, by deploying the analysis offered by psychohistory.
I intend to examine here the personality of Viktor Orbán with the application and the benefits of psychohistory.
We don’t need too many reminders to describe Viktor Orbán. He is a consummate competitor, sensitive to criticism, and notoriously short on convictions. He is the political personification of a street fighter, constantly looking for the fight where he can win and shying away from any challenge too risky. Orbán is a quick study, but lacks the thoroughness necessary for intellectual credibility and uses superficial rhetoric, often rude and ill-considerate, instead of convincing arguments befitting a true politician or the statesman he purports to be. All this, however, is far from giving a complete description of the man, but may be enough to support an examination for an analysis. Can it be that all the complaints, the derision and sometimes even disgust towards him personally are justified on the grounds of his upbringing? Can it be that looking at him we see a budding tyrant in the making, who, like a few before him, is pitting his will against the circumstances, and with the self-serving help of an increasing number of toadies and sycophants, is bending history to his own purposes?
Benito Mussolini was the son of an ill-tempered blacksmith who was frequently drunk and always violent. Young Mussolini was often beaten and was sent away from home to school quite early. Soon after he knifed a schoolmate and he was expelled. In the secondary school he had three more knifing incidents, but although expelled again every time, he was allowed back to the school on account of his brilliance in languages and literature. The early maltreatment at his father’s hands, however, marked him for life as a brute, and a merciless egoist.
Adolf Hitler’s father was a customs officer, completely devoid of any empathy. Although he lost numerous children shortly after their birth, he was disinterested in parenting; at the time of Adolf’s birth he was also nearly fifty, a violent drunkard. He was considered even by his friends to be “awfully rough” with his wife and children and relieved his distemper by picking on them. Adolf was also moved out of the family quite young.
Joseph Stalin was also the son of a violent, hard drinking man, a shoemaker, who wanted to prevent him from studying. Stalin was sent away to school at age fifteen.
Győző Orbán (Gyõzõ name is the Hungarian equivalent of Victor or Viktor), Viktor Orbán’s father, was a narcissistic, authoritarian father, so solipsistic that he gave his own name to not one, but two of his sons. Viktor's younger brother is also called Győző. He was a local secretary in the Communist Party and was also known to be violent with his children. He was a follower of the nineteenth-century mostly German child rearing methods, perhaps unwittingly, raising children so rough, so as to harden them for life. Viktor was often beaten by his father.This is not at all unusual in Hungary.
Viktor Orbán early on recognized the necessity of education beyond regular schooling. He spent considerable time being tutored by János Kis, Gábor Fodor and others who prepared him for his role as an opposition to the communist regime of the time. But being the pragmatist that he is, when he realized that in the shadow of the true professionals, such as his earlier mentors and the actual real opposition to József Antall’s failed conservative government, the liberals, his party wouldn’t have any prospects of forming the government any time soon, he decided in 1994 to turn his small but noisy party into the replacement of that conservative formation: MDF. He managed to do so in record time, in two years. During this forced march from the left to the right, he discovered the various ways of the street fighting techniques he has been using ever since: nationalism, clericalism, Jew baiting, and irredentism. He also learned the ways of the Hungarian political reality: corruption.
With every move he made since the turnaround in 1994 he was aiming to establish his authoritarian position, first within his party, then with the establishment of the nationwide network of “civic circles” he injected the venom of authoritarianism into society at large. All the while duplicitously claiming to appeal only to the authority of the “people.” This is how he lured the demonstrators to the streets of Budapest in 2006, enticing them to riots, and fomenting a coup d’état, as it turned out unsuccessfully.
All along the way Orbán solidified his absolute power in his party and as a result gradually believed, as he believes today like his inglorious predecessors, that he is anointed to be the saviour of the nation, but what is more, because of his exalted calling he is entitled to do almost anything for the goal; be that legal, or illegal, popular, or not, useful, or harmful, doesn’t matter, he has a calling and he is only willing to follow that. This is why he is not ready to commit himself to any course or program. It must be taken on faith that he will always do the right thing and no evidence to the contrary can dissuade him. That would be deleterious to his nimbus, therefore, he would rather risk any mistake and deny it, than correct the mistake or admit it.
Just like the dictatorial forebears, and in full compliance with the expected outcome of his conditioning, Orbán is fighting the eternal fight of good against evil: he is the Good and everybody else is evil. His statements and declarations of this ceaseless war are couched in the customary religious terminology, to dispel any doubt about its divine nature. Evil is the opposition, the EU, the Americans, the Jews, capitalists and communists, employers and employees, the liberals etc. all of them conspiring against him and his own Nation; his vigilance and fighting spirit cannot rest for a moment. But that is not all. Actually, he is demanding and getting absolute submission from his followers, no differences of opinions are allowed, let alone considered, based on the mutual understanding that he and he alone is called to conduct and win this glorious fight.
Well, what can we expect from the Street Fighter of the Nation, the dear and irreplaceable leader? Where will he lead his docile flock?
I shall attempt to answer that question next time.