A few weeks ago an incredible “documentary” was shown on MTV entitled “War against the Hungarian nation.” The production is available on YouTube. I don’t know whether anyone will have the patience to listen to the entire hour and a half of nonsense, I certainly didn’t. But I heard enough to be horrified at the message that is being sent far and wide by Hungarian “public” television. What is especially frightening is that 43,357 people have already watched this far-right view of Hungary, past and present. Two-hundred and thirty people “liked it” and only eight expressed disagreement with the message conveyed.
I might mention right at the beginning that in Hungarian “public” as an adjective before “radio” and “television” can be translated verbatim as “public service” radio or television. It is supposed to serve the public, especially in the sense of transmitting accurate and impartial information for the edification of the public.
I don’t know whether the newly appointed editor in charge of cultural programs has anything to do with the noticeable shift to the right in this area, but it is becoming evident that the Hungarian far right is having a heyday on MTV and Duna TV, both directed from a government-controlled media center. The new man in charge of cultural matters is Zoltán Rockenbauer, who is allegedly an ethnographer and art historian. He most likely received the job not because of his great achievements in his chosen fields but because he was a Fidesz member of parliament between 1990 and 2006 and minister of national heritage, a defunct position, between 2000 and 2002. So, Rockenbauer is one of the “originals” in the party.
But let’s return to the “War against the Hungarian Nation.” It begins with some fairly incomprehensible ramblings by József V. Molnár, who describes himself as a researcher of the national psyche (néplélek kutató). He looks slightly mad. We hear about his little house, his bigger house, a collection of houses and the really big house, the nation, headed by the Holy Crown.
It doesn’t get any better. Izabella Bencze, a lawyer, talks about the role of the Carpathian Basin as the center of the world. Whoever rules this area rules the world. It is the “heart center” (szívközpont) of the world. It is also the strategic center of earth, and that is the reason for the constant war that has been waged against the Hungarians.
József Ángyán, until recently undersecretary of agriculture, talks about the nation as the depository of sacred qualities. The man who has lately been hailed for his stance against the oligarchs is launching a verbal attack against foreign capitalists who stole the nation’s wealth, which “must be taken back.”
From Lajos Papp, a cardiologist who in the last ten or fifteen years discovered his inner prophet, we hear about “the history of mankind that is the history of the Hungarian people.”
A lawyer who thinks that he is a linguist goes on and on about the origin of the word “Hungaria,” which naturally he thinks has something to do with the Huns. The accepted etymology of the word is that it comes from the name of the Turkic tribe Onugor (which means “ten arrows” or “ten tribes”).
Another “expert” talks about foreigners who “want to steal our souls.” Papp shows up again a few minutes later with the idea that “our genes contain the known knowledge” or, in other words, “the divine knowledge.” Other people are jealous of this sacred knowledge. Hence, the persecution of the Hungarians by others.
According to a far-right “economist,” the Habsburgs have been the greatest enemies of Hungarians, including György Habsburg, currently living with his family in Hungary. One of their sins was that they brought a “business spirit” to the country, until then untouched by greed. Certainly a major sin in the eyes of these fanatics. According to one of the “historians,” the real reason for the revolution and war of independence of 1848-49 was the question of who “will privatize the national wealth.” A unique interpretation of the events of 1848. Surely, goes the argument, the Austrian businessmen were ready to pounce on Hungary and rob the Hungarians blind. Of course, the truth was that Hungary was seriously underdeveloped in comparison to the western parts of the Habsburg Empire.
While this nonsense was being aired on MTV, Duna TV was spreading the gospel of the far right with the help of “literary historian” Mihály Takaró and “experts” on the runic script, László Sipos and Gábor Hosszú. Sipos is the head of a foundation that promotes runic writing, a favorite hobbyhorse of the extreme right. Hosszú is an electrical engineer who decided that his real calling is the analysis of runic writings. The teachings of both of these men are, according to Klára Sándor of the University of Szeged, a real expert on Szekler runic writing, utterly unscientific.
Takaró’s “speciality” is the far-right literature of the interwar period. He is most likely the force behind the introduction of Cécile Tormay, Albert Wass, and József Nyirő into the Hungarian curriculum starting this September. Very recently he was a member of the editorial board of Trianoni Szemle, known to harbor anti-Semitic sentiments. Thus, the above mentioned anti-Semitic writers most likely are close to his heart.
Takaró’s series is called “Száműzött magyar irodalom” (Exiled Hungarian Literature). Videos of the program can be seen on the Duna TV website. The program on runic writing could be seen a couple of days ago in a series called “Hagyaték” (Heritage).
According to the “experts” on runic writing, Hungarian children should be taught runic writing already in first grade instead of the Latin alphabet because it “would strengthen the children’s self-identity.” I couldn’t help but recall Bálint Ablonczy’s description of “the fortress of the right,” a construction that has “its own myths, its own hymns, its own heroes” but which “becomes incomprehensible to the rest of the world.”
Thus the Fidesz government is propagating a worldview that has nothing to do with either science or rationality. Such notions about Hungary’s place in the world lead to political isolation and economic ruin.