Hungary and the paradox of the charlatan. Part II by S.K.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Paul
Guest
Is SK Odin’s?? A very similar style of writing. I felt a bit uneasy with SK’s last contribution, and more so with this. It makes me want to go away and start cross checking what SK says (particularly, in this case, the Hitler references). Perhaps this is no bad thing (although, at 5 past midnight, I’m far too tired to do it), but it unfortunately undermines my confidence in the argument put forward. As regulars will know, I am no lover of OV or his methods, but to argue that he is in some way a product of his upbringing by a violent, authoritarian father (as, apparently, were Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini) is stretching things a bit. Especially when SK undermines the whole comparison by pointing out that such a style of fatherhood was all too common in Hungary at the time. And drawing some conclusions from his father giving him and his brother the same name (when in fact, he quite carefully, didn’t) is really scraping the barrel. Even here in the decadent West it is common practise to give your eldest son his father’s name, and I know one man who has given all three of his sons… Read more »
Pete H.
Guest

I expect more from Hungarian Spectrum than the facile comparison of Orban to three of histories most vile dictators that I read above. A psychological analysis like this should be accompanied by a context rich description of events that support each psychological pathology described. Otherwise it comes off as a partisan attack piece and smacks of pop psychology. Any of you that have read my previous posts know that I do not support the changes in Hungary OV has made to weaken Democracy. But, when I read this it didn’t sound any different than the stuff I read from right-wingers describing Gyurcsány. I enjoy the in depth political and economic analysis of Hungarian politics here, even if it is biased against conservative politics (as I am). This blog is usually written from a scholarly perspetive. However, this piece lacked both rigor and perspective.

Jano
Guest

Pete H.: Totally agree.

kr55
Guest

Eva, very well done.
Orban’s destructive methods may kill the patient.
The ordinary FIDESZ members must act like the brave Egyptians.
Go Orban! Exile is waiting for you.

littlelambfound
Guest

Pete H: “this piece lacked both rigor and perspective”. Exactly.
Eva, I do wish some things could be “un-read”, as this posting was pretty childish, and more painfully so coming from Hungarian Spectrum. Please don’t let your emotions drag HS down to the level of supermarket checkout fodder.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Paul unfortunately SK is not Odin’s Lost eye. I know Odin well. He is a cynical old flatulent who likes to spend his time machining metal (when he can get any) and making useless things like steam engines, mechanical clocks and sun dials. Unfortunately he seems to spend most of his time repairing the things his Hungarian relations by marriage break. He knows (or did know) how to design and organise the workings of business. He can (and twice a year does) fix the position of his house using some primitive instruments and the stars. He is ugly (with a capital UG), uneducated, stuffs his head with useless facts. His only saving grace is that perhaps he can cook and sometimes the food is almost edible. SK on the other hand is educated. He can use long words like ‘corrugated’ and ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogoch’ Odin cannot even spell them. The interesting thing about the piece is that the author draws concussions about his subject from his past. This is very valid. Coming events cast their shadow before. He makes predictions as to his likely future behaviour from the subject’s father’s behaviour. The assumptions he makes are based on the early history and… Read more »
Vidra
Guest

Whether it’s because of his childhood or his nature I don’t know or care about, but I think it’s it’s a more significant driver of OV’s personality now that he’s never had a “proper” job, outside of politics, and he’s never had a boss to whom he’s accountable, even within it.

Vidra
Guest

Sorry, he does have a boss – the electorate – and look how he sulked for years when they told him they didn’t want him as Prime Minister – twice.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest
Vidra: “Whether it’s because of his childhood or his nature I don’t know or care about, but I think it’s it’s a more significant driver of OV’s personality now that he’s never had a “proper” job, outside of politics, and he’s never had a boss to whom he’s accountable, even within it.” I have been collecting information on VO’s personality. Interviews with him about his childhood, interviews with his mother and others who know him well and one thing stands out: he can’t stand any authority above him. Thus, he would have had a very hard time working for example for a law firm as the low man on the totem pole. He would have been most likely fired. Everybody know knows anything about Viktor Orbán’s life heard that his hatred of the Kádár regime developed during his year in the army. Prior to that he wasn’t interested in politics and politics was never even discussed at the family table. In the army one doesn’t talk back. I share Vidra’s feeling that working in an office with superiors telling him what to do would have done a world of good. Perhaps he would have suffered a few bumps but possibly… Read more »
Member

The post forgot to mention the numerous kittens Orban was torturing when he was a young boy. Probably the 3rd part of the opus will show hardcore investigating journalism following Orban in his secret past as a drag queen.
Kenny just scored a big Victory.
@Paul No, It’s not Odin. S. K. is Sandor. His interest Mussolini gives him away. He wrote that unforgettable comment about OV: he looks like a kneeling bust of Mussolini (that was funny imho).
Sorry Eva.

Öcsi
Guest

Thanks for the interesting piece, S.K.
Too bad some of the critics didn’t see all your qualifiers at the beginning of the article. Words like “obscure territory,” “my lure and mirage,” “not entirely convinced,” etc. etc. tells me to read the article with a very large grain of salt.
I heeded your cautionary words and fully enjoyed the article.

Joseph Simon
Guest

PSYCHO is the word that comes to mind reading this article. And I am NOT referring to Orbán but rather to the general train of thought of this writing.

Member

I have to agree wit those who found this piece a little to much. I am not sue what was the point of bringing up Orban’s father. Should this vindicate him or the opposite? Whatever is done is done, and he is responsible what he is doing now. Yes, what he has done in his political career is important, but what happened when he was child I could care less about. That is a kind of Vanity Fair thinking (I buy every issue), but I expect more on Spectrum. Keep up the good work Eva!

Öcsi
Guest

I still don’t understand the critics. Everyone has an history and I see no problem in looking at it, studying it and drawing some conclusions.
Perhaps it’s because Orbán only created a “vihar a biliben” and nobody cares. But what if Orbán was the head of government in the US, Russia or China? Would he be seen as more dangerous? If Obama or Putin started acting like Orbán I’d be very concerned. What if Obama started to overrule the constitution? What if he threatened to jail members of the previous Republican government?
Just saying…

Johnny Boy
Guest

This post is so low standard that I’m reluctant to give even my usual grouchy comments.
This is even worse than the Péter Kende-style defamation with all the idiotic accusations and their intentionally “not very reliable” sources that serve only the purpose that the slandering author cannot be brought to book for the comments.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Any, by the way, why not analyze Gyurcsány’s personality?
How come that if Orbán starts to use many flags as a background, Gyurcsány does the same, and even the angles of the flags are the same?
How come that if Orbán uses a VW Transporter to visit locations, Gyurcsány demonstrates that he uses an identical VW Transporter too?
How come that if Orbán annually holds year assessment speeches, Gyurcsány starts to do the same?
How come that if Orbán creates his Facebook profile and posts family and other civil photos, Gyurcsány starts to do the same?
The man is a sore epigon and makes his own inferiority obvious by himself, for all the world to see.

Öcsi
Guest

How come that if Orbán serves two terms as Prime Minister, Gyurcsány will do the same?
Are you looking forward to that, Johnny Boy?

John G
Guest

I rather think Gyurcsany’s aping of Orban’s style is rather funny and clearly intended as a sarcastic comment on Orban’s style. Perhaps it is too subtle for some and miss-read the intention.

Káve
Guest

Johnny Boy: And how come, if Mandiner.hu http://mandiner.blog.hu/2011/02/22/gyurcsany_porges_es_spam_a_facebookon posts a story saying thast Gyurcsany copies Orban in everything including Facebook, you have to pose the same question here in the same form? Kedves kis Trollikám, you’ll have to do better than that if you want to keep collecting your pay stubs from the FIDESZ Spin Doctor fund.

Member

Johnny Boy: I understand that you feel that doing anything Orban does is not the way to go. Maybe Gyurcsany just does it better, so do not worry Johnny Boy.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Öcsi: you’re avoiding my question.
Káve: you envy me for I’m able to read, right?
someone: how do you feel about admiring a sore loser epigon?

John T
Guest

“epigon” – Johnny Boy. Where do you dig these words up from? Did they teach you that one in Edinburgh?
On a more serious note, I’d echo the points made about this article – by all means talk about the man and his deeds, but all the speculation and hearsay about what has made him the man he is is rather pointless and to me a bit self defeating. After all, not liking authority or being told what to do and sulking like a spoilt child when you don’t get your way sums up rather a large percentage of the Hungarian population to be honest.

Sandor
Guest
Paul: It is a very good idea to cross check the references and after you have done so, please don’t forget to call back and confirm the claims of the article. And while you are at it, I recommend looking into the Journal of Psychohistory too: http://www.psychohistory.com/htm/01_journal.html I respect you and read your postings with interest. That is why I consider your present grumblings with sympathy. But I think you dismissed the posting with too much allowance to taste, (admittedly with justification), and too little care to the argument. Pete and Jano: I agree there should be more and deeper detailed evidence mustered to prove the claim. But perhaps the venue is a bit too constricted to present all that. So, all there is room here for, is to call your attention to the eerie resemblances and invite you to make your own conclusions, which you did, if somewhat hastily. Odin’s: I admit with regret that I am not Odin’s, no matter how much I wish that I were. Although I may attempt the occasional cooking and flatulence demonstrations, (I have even been observed machining metal here and there), but my accomplishments are woefully inferior in every respect. It is… Read more »
Member

Johnny Boy: “how do you feel about admiring a sore loser epigon?” I would not know Johnny Boy, as I do not admire him. I put his accomplishments and failed attempts into perspective of the last two decades, and he still ahead of your leof Orban. Thinking that someone is more suited for a job than someone else is admiration? I do not think so. Then again, maybe in your vocabulary it is.

Andy
Guest

Could we forget Gyurcsány for good pls? Even László Kéri is sick of this clown. (Check the last “Egyenes beszéd” with Kéri on ATV). GyF twice had his chance to show, his talent as prime minister and what was the result? Total political and financial chaos.

Kirsten
Guest

@”Everyone has an history and I see no problem in looking at it, studying it and drawing some conclusions.”
I agree with John T here, whatever OV (or those people that he was compared with) had to go through in their lives, there are certainly many more who had similarly “unfortunate” lives and did not become dictators etc. It is a bit of trying to shift “responsibility” for the current state of affairs on one parent (the father of OV) instead on all those people who make OV and his rule possible currently. But I would not underestimate the “shared heritage of ideas” such as the feeling of being (nation-wise) left alone (nobody around us can understand us), not at all.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Andy: “Even László Kéri is sick of this clown.”
Whatever one thinks of Gyurcsány, he is not a clown.
Second if I were you I wouldn’t mention Kéri’s disgraceful interview. A political analyst cannot be carried away by his personal hatred. If he is incapable hiding his feelings he shouldn’t accept invitations discussing Gyurcsány. He was asked to analyze the speech but in more than half an hour (the man has verbal diary, by the way) he was just venting his hatred of this “fráter.” This is unacceptable from a political analyst.
As for Kéri’s excellent political judgment, before the elections he was convinced that a two-thirds majority would be a wonderful thing because in the interim Orbán became wiser and he will do a much better job than between 98 and 202. As it turned out he was dead wrong which he himself had to admit later.

An
Guest
I don’t think that a psychological analysis of leaders’ personality is totally useless, as their personality does have an effect on how history unfolds. And yes, one can argue that there are other forces at work, that the right type of personality becomes the leader at a time when that type of personality or leadership is called for or desired. I think this is too, a simplification, as a person is always in a dynamic relationship with his/her surroundings, that is the relationship is so that neither the leader’s personality is writing history, nor social forces predestining what type of personality becomes leader. This is a two-way and interrelated relationship; to downplay the role of either one (leader’s personality vs. social “forces”) is a mistake. I have mentioned before that I do believe that OV shows narcissistic traits, and the info presented in the above post reinforces that. However, no responsible practicing psychologist or psychiatrist would give a diagnosis without a series of professional, personal encounters (well, psychohistorians are an obvious exception to that rule). Narcissism is also quite common and is not an either-or category, more like something you place on a continuum. So there are different degrees of… Read more »
Johnny Boy
Guest

John T: “”epigon” – Johnny Boy. Where do you dig these words up from? Did they teach you that one in Edinburgh?”
I have nothing to do with Edinburgh, but you could as well do some googling: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/epigon
Does that answer your question?
Sandor: “Further, if you wish to subject Gyurcsany to the same treatment, nobody will stop you. Go ahead, analyze away to your heart’s content.”
No, I’m not willing to descend to the same level. Not my business.
Isn’t worth it anyway, Gyurcsány is out of the picture.
someone: “I put his accomplishments and failed attempts into perspective of the last two decades, and he still ahead of your leof Orban.”
You are entitled to your own perspective, no matter how demented that is. Still ahead, yeah, ruining a country both morally and economy-wise is in your mind ahead of one successful prime ministership of 4 years. Tells quite a lot of your value judgement, no wonder you still stick to the fallen.

Paul
Guest

“Kedves kis Trollikám”
Excellent! I’m in the throes of trying to fix my other PC, which died on me last night, having spent most of the last two days fixing a leaking toilet (a particularly SMELLY leaky toilet as well), so I badly needed a good laugh.
Had some difficulty in explaining my sudden laughter to the good Mrs Paul though, as I had not exactly been Mr Happy for the last 48 hours!

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