My interest in the latest examples of nationalist ideology began with an interview Viktor Orbán gave to Új Ember, a Catholic weekly. I will not have time here to analyze all my related sources in depth, so I will merely quote without much explanation some of the themes that emerged in this interview. I find them rather frightening.
According to Orbán “the lack of religiosity and the scientific worldview shepherds the natural order of faith, religion and creation toward a godless cosmos.” But Hungary “is moving in the opposite direction. We have a different notion of the civilization and culture of Europe.” So, if we take Orbán seriously, Hungary is moving away from a scientific view of the world and espousing a world whose functioning is based exclusively on faith. Back to the Middle Ages.
The question is whether one country, meaning Hungary, can escape “the influence of an intellectual pursuit which is secular and anti-family and which considers the existence of nation states to be no longer relevant.” This secular Europe is in decline, and most of the European politicians and thinkers hold different views from his own and the country he represents. He and Hungary are marching in a direction that, if I understand Orbán correctly, will show the rest of Europe the right way to renewal. So, Hungary is leading the way.
The numerous comments that followed the report on this interview in Népszabadság are almost uniformly negative. A few months ago there were a lot of pro-Fidesz comments even in Népszabadság, but by now most people think that Orbán has lost his mind. Demokratikus Koalíció issued a statement that also emphasized the muddled thinking of the prime minister but added that Orbán’s ideas stem from his lack of understanding of history and social developments. He espouses a misleading, fundamentalist worldview. DK considers the interview an attack on “the noblest traditions of European culture, the spirit of the Enlightenment, rationality, cultural diversity, and the freedom of daily life.” Orbán’s emphasis on Hungary’s separate road toward a renewed Europe against antagonistic foreign forces only strengthens Hungarians’ feelings of being besieged.
How do these ideas that Orbán has been advocating for some time get translated by his “subjects”? Antal Kiss, one of Pál Schmitt’s trusted advisers in the Office of the President, wrote an article in which he insisted that Schmitt had never plagiarized. The former president is the victim of evil forces that planned his “political murder.” And who is behind this political assassination? “Dark foreign forces who are laughing loudly at the tragedy of the Hungarians.” These forces united to turn Hungarian against Hungarian. “The goal has remained the same in the last ninety years, sixty years, twenty years, ten years or two years.” And this goal is that Hungarians lose their far-sightedness and their capability to resist. The goal is to reduce their numbers. Hungarians, by the design of these foreign forces, “must stop being Hungarians who populate the whole Carpathian Basin…. After the satanic murder of Pál Schmitt by the media one can only hope for God’s mercy.”
Who is this Antal Kiss? He used to work for Viktor Orbán’s “cabinet office” even after Orbán lost the elections in 2002. He was one of the organizers of a “roadshow” called “The High Street of History” in 2004 staged by Fidesz’s civic circles and dreamed up by Viktor Orbán. The far-right Magyar Demokrata was also involved. So, it looks as if Antal Kiss “was assigned” by the prime minister to serve Schmitt after he became president of the Hungarian Republic.
Antal Kiss is a representative of the far right within Fidesz. I found that he published an article praising Dr. Lajos Papp in Barikád, the official paper of Jobbik. For anyone interested in this particular nut, I wrote a post about him some time back. Kiss quotes András Csókay, a professor at Semmelweis, who claims that Schmitt is innocent of plagiarism. Csókay publishes in Magyar Hírlap, another far-right publication.
And now let’s move on to Echo TV, which is owned by Gábor Széles, a wealthy businessman. (He is also the owner of Magyar Hírlap.) There is a program on Echo TV called “World Panorama” under the direction of Ferenc Szaniszló, whose ideas on world affairs and on Hungarian history are truly frightening. His misleading nonsense seems to be popular in certain circles, and one can easily see after watching a couple of Szaniszló’s shows how all the historical nonsense that we encounter on the far right is being propagated on Echo TV. I wrote a Hungarian-language article in Galamus about Szaniszló, who has had a rather checkered career.
Today Szaniszló had a guest, Zsuzsa Bunyevácz, a right-radical “writer” who publishes in Magyar Jelen, a bi-weekly published by a Canadian group that was described to me as an outright Nazi propaganda rag. Bunyevácz’s ideas reflect the Hungarian persecution complex in certain circles, including the above mentioned Antal Kiss. According to her, “the roots of the struggle against Hungarians go back thousands of years.” When the Hungarians arrived in the Carpathian Basin “they upset the European balance of power.” An especially important consideration is “our language.” More and more linguists are certain that “language determines our way of thinking.” The Hungarian language follows an entirely different logic from those languages belonging to the Indo-European language family and thus Hungarians think differently.
Here I would like to remind everybody how often Viktor Orbán talks about the peculiar Hungarian way of thinking. Who influenced whom in this case is hard to say, but according to Bunyevácz “Europe simply didn’t know what to do with this new kind of thinking.” Just to give you an idea of her linguistic prowess, according to Bunyevácz the fact that in Hungarian there is no distinction between “him and her” means that “for the Hungarian people there is only one thing that is important, the Creator before whom all are equal.”
What else is unique in Hungarian existence? That the Hungarians are prepared “to conduct a flourishing self-sustenance and their progress doesn’t depend on fleecing others.” Again, it is worth recalling Orbán’s repeated self-illusory vision of economic independence.
As far as Bunyevácz is concerned, “the duty of Hungarians is to bring back the true radiance of real Christianity to Europe. Mankind is in the darkest phase of history and in the coming new age it will be necessary to possess the kind of outlook that is already enjoyed by the Hungarians.”
Yes, we are back at Viktor Orbán’s vision of Europe where the rest of the continent will learn from Christian Hungary. Hungary will save the old continent and lead the rest of Europe to everlasting happiness and prosperity. All in the name of religion. Is Fidesz that different from the far right? I for one don’t think so.