A few days ago I saw an interview with Anna Vámos about whom I must admit until then I knew nothing. During her conversation with Olga Kálmán (Egyenes beszéd, June 6, 2011, ATV) I found out that she is co-chairman of a new organization called "One Million for Democracy–Civic Control Association." I also learned that the association was founded by a group of people who were involved with a Facebook community that organized several very successful demonstrations for freedom of the press. You may recall that on March 15th it was their demonstration that drew the largest crowd. Well over 50,000 people.
My only objection was that the organizers refused to have anything to do with politicians, present or past. They in fact asked them to stay away from their demonstrations. I thought at the time and still think today that a purely civic organization without connection to all democratic forces, including parties, cannot by itself be successful. That's why I was pleased to hear that "Milla" is joining the "clowns" who were called to the streets by Péter Kónya and Kornél Árok for a demonstration next Thursday. Since then practically all trade unions decided to join, and everyone is invited who would like to vote retroactively against Fidesz. So people will be there from all walks of life: trade unions, civic organizations, members of parties, and anyone else who would like to join this most likely massive demonstration.
Meanwhile I was lucky enough to get hold of the English translation of the new civic association's description of its aims which I would like to share with you. If you want to visit their site on Facebook you will find them at https://www.facebook.com/demokraciaert The association also started a blog: http://demokraciaert.blog.hu/
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Who We Are
By having staged massive demonstrations with tens of thousands of participants, the 85,000 strong Facebook community „One Million For Press Fredom,” has shown that despite all arguments to the contrary, there definitely is an autonomous civic voice and an autonomous civic resolve in Hungary today.
A number of the original organizers of the Facebook group along with some other members have recognized that the time has come to move beyond merely providing a platform for the voicing of views on certain civilian issues, as “One Million” (or “Milla”, as it has become commonly known) has been doing so successfully for months. The time has come to launch a movement that goes beyond single-issue politics and beyond general but vague protest. With that in mind, the group has founded an association under the name “One Million For Democracy – Civil Control Association”. The association is now in the process of being legally registered. The majority of the founders are former organizers and supporters of the original Facebook group. None of them has played a political role of any significance in the past. They come from the ranks of what is known as “civic society”.
The founders of the Association are united in their concern that the country is headed in the wrong direction. They want to live in a Hungary in the political vocabulary of which the word “opponent” is not synonymous with “enemy”. They imagine a country in which causes and issues are judged on their own merit and not on the basis of the political views of the people supporting them. They want to live in a country where those in authority do not try to capitalize on creating conflicts between the members of different social groups, by turning people with jobs against the unemployed, active workers against old-age pensioners, Hungarians living within the country’s borders against those living in the neighbouring countries. A country whose leaders pursue a genuine social dialogue on really important issues; where a change of government is by no means equal to a regime change; a country in which a new government taking office does not imply that from now on fat government commissions will go to a different group of companies. They want to live in a country where promises are taken seriously and lies are unacceptable, and not only when they come from the mouths of those we did not vote for. They want governments that serve – but not their own narrow and selfish interests and those of their close clients but serve us, the people who empowered them. They want to live in a country where the checks and balances of democratic government are fully functional, and not the slightest doubt is cast on the independence of the judiciary from political power.
The aim of our movement is to build a community from critically thinking individuals committed to the republic and to offer allegiance to all those civil, minority and professional organisations which regard the current state of public affairs as offensive and unworthy, to all those who, similarly to ourselves, believe that the staggering extent of voter dissatisfaction with a political elite which has been on the scene practically since the regime change is completely justified.
In the past decades, voters were repeatedly duped by promises without real foundations by political parties whose actions in parliament and genuine objectives had become murky and impossible to follow for the average voter. The political parties and their leaders did not have the courage to face up to the declining social conditions of Hungary and the inadequacies of its institutions. They failed to dismantle the barriers limiting the income-generating capacity of the nation and failed to stop the widening of the gap between the country’s regions. Politicians lost all sense of responsibility in their battle for votes. Scapegoat-creating, exclusion and character assassination have become, for all intents and purposes, almost legitimate weapons of political warfare. As a consequence, the mental state of society has declined to a degree where the ability to face facts, the possibility of a joint search for solutions and the evolution of a sense of individual and collective security have become severely limited. By today, the members of society have either fallen into apathy and passivity or turned into obsessive deepeners of the gulf between “them” and “us”.
Given its current state, society is no longer capable of creative action, whether individually or in groups, let alone the exercise of control over politics and the powers-that-be. Quite to the contrary, it is falling prey to a degree increasing day by day to a political leadership which it elected and empowered precisely to act on its behalf. The Association is convinced that the starting-point and foundation of democratic politics is social dialogue. For that reason the most important of its to aims is to promote and provide a framework for such a dialogue as well as for the development of views based on a realistic assessment of facts, for the evolution of a democratic self-awareness.
Plans include the establishment of “dialogue circles” and discussion forums where the different groups of society will be able to freely articulate and develop their views and even come to a consensus where possible. One of the major objectives of the Association is to create a nationwide network for discussions. The operations and events planned are meant to call attention to the common causes and to the fact that none of us can be immune from what is commonly called “’politics”.
The Association is committed to the creation of an open and modern society in Hungary. Its members will stand up for the preservation of all individual and collective rights and freedoms. Rather than turning towards the glories and grievances of the past, it wishes to seek answers to the challenges of the 21st century. It wishes to exert an influence on all political actors and decision-makers whose activities affect and determine our daily lives and future. Let us have a new start. Let us reboot Hungary. Let us launch Hungary 2.0.
10th June, 2011