The Orbán regime: Mind control and banning free thought

Before the 2010 elections Viktor Orbán promised that if Fidesz attained a two-thirds majority in parliament the changes would be substantial. If he did not receive the much desired two-thirds he would have to remain more or less within the existing democratic boundaries. But if the Hungarian people were careless enough to allow Fidesz-KDNP to have practically unlimited power in the legislature, the consequences might be unforeseeable.

Even the most pessimistic opponents of Viktor Orbán, however, didn’t imagine the extent to which he was prepared to go to remake the country according to his vision. And this vision is a frightening one. He has been rapidly moving away from the fragile achievements of Hungarian democracy over the last twenty years. In the last two years he managed to turn the country upside down politically as well as economically. The Constitutional Court is packed with his lackeys, the judicial system was reorganized in such a way that through his underlings he can have direct influence over at least the prosecution. The older judges were fired, and it doesn’t seem to matter what the European Union thinks of all this. He views himself not only, and perhaps not even primarily, as the democratically elected and internationally constrained prime minister of Hungary. He is “the leader of the Hungarians.” At least this is how he defined himself in a speech delivered during his trip to Vilnius, Lithuania.

The changes introduced in the last two years have been so fundamental and so undemocratic that when six associates of the Eötvös Károly Intézet, a legal think-tank, sat down to analyze the task of a government that might be formed after Viktor Orbán’s departure, they were astonished at the enormity of the task. I will summarize their observations in the near future because it is an important document. They made eight points about “the sins” of the Orbán regime. Here I would like to concentrate on #6 which talks about “a state that makes a certain ideology and a certain view of history compulsory.” In their view such an attitude precludes the equality of all citizens because it distinguishes between people with different worldviews. In a modern democratic state the constitution cannot represent a single given ideology or set of beliefs. But the current Hungarian regime does.

Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more obvious that the Orbán regime and its constitution represents only that segment of society that is ideologically committed to the set of principles of the Hungarian right. And this ideology is not the kind espoused by moderate right-of center parties found in Western Europe but rather that of the militant far right that existed in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1930s.

Orbán’s eclectic ideology has been steadily moving in the direction of the far right, and his underlings are following him without hesitation. Orbán, who knows that his voter base is shrinking, keeps appealing to the neo-Nazis of Jobbik. Orbán’s latest speech at Ópusztaszer could have been delivered by Adolf Hitler or Ferenc Szálasi.

The Horthy cult that was set in motion by Jobbik has been embraced by Fidesz. It started with the restoration of Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian parliament to the way it looked before March 1944. Getting rid of FDR’s name from another square in Budapest followed. Jobbik demanded the removal of Mihály Károlyi’s statue. Mission accomplished. Getting rid of the word “republic” from the official name of the country? Done. Rename “Republic Square” to Pope John Paul II Square? Done.

Then there is the latest demand of the Christian Democrats. All names “associated” with the working class movement, the communists, or the communist past should be banned. The amendment they are proposing is so vague that perhaps the oldest Hungarian newspaper still in existence, Népszava, might have to change its name because after all it was the official newspaper of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. Népszava, by the way, is the mirror translation of the Austrian communist newspaper, Volkstimme. 

Leó Frankel (1844-1896) was just banned in Pécs. After all, he was a Lassalist communist in Germany and Switzerland and fought in the Paris Commune. After 1876 he returned to Hungary where he edited a German-language socialist paper called Arbeiter Wochen-Chronik and founded the Hungarian General Labor Party in 1880. So, he was an important figure in the Hungarian Social Democratic movement in the second half of the nineteenth century. He has a commemorating obelisk in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, but in Pécs he cannot have a street named after him. There is still a Frankel Street in Budapest, probably not for long.

The overzealous right-wingers in parliament want to ban the word “liberation” because in their view the Soviet troops that fought the German and Hungarian troops were no more than occupiers. They don’t distinguish between the actual liberation from foreign occupation and the subjugation that occurred a couple of years later. By denying the state of liberation in 1945 the Hungarian right-wingers side with Nazi Germany. Moreover, what can one say about a regime that denies people a choice in interpreting a historical event? It cannot be called a democracy. I can think only of  communist Hungary between 1948 and 1989. Mind control with a nationalist overlay.

Józsi Jenő Tersánszky
Portrait of József Szalatnyai

Mayor István Tarlós of Budapest is determined to “cleanse the city of former communists.” Street names are the easiest targets. The Budapest City Council voted today to change fourteen street names. Among the banned is a street named for one of the greatest Hungarian prose writers of the twentieth century: Józsi Jenő Tersánszky (1888-1969). According to literary historians he can be compared only to Zsigmond Móricz and Gyula Krúdy. People simply don’t understand what is wrong with Tersánszky. As someone said today on György Bolgár’s call-in show, “He wasn’t even Jewish! Or perhaps the problem is that he managed to get false papers to escaping Jews in 1944.” Moreover, Tersánszky wasn’t exactly the favorite of the communists. According to people who knew him, he was a brave, often fearless, opponent of the Rákosi regime. One example of his fearlessness was the story that he wrote for a volume celebrating Mátyás Rákosi’s 60th birthday and that, like so many things he wrote during that period, never saw the light of day. The title was “Suspenders.” Rákosi was very short and and did in fact wear suspenders. The servile editors of the volume considered the piece a mockery of Rákosi which, knowing Tersánszky, it most likely was.

So, what’s wrong with Józsi Jenő Tersánszky? Who knows, but it really doesn’t matter. Endre Aczél, a well-known journalist and an admirer of Tersánszky, phoned György Bolgár today in response to the desecration of his favorite writer’s memory. Aczél was so upset that he could barely talk. He finished his tirade by saying that as far as he is concerned the people who are responsible for these atrocities can go straight to hell. Actually, the Hungarian wording was quite a bit stronger.

The street that used to bear Tersánszky’s name will now be named after László Somogyi, a parish priest I’ll bet few people ever heard of. These people must be stopped before they ruin the country, its people, and its cultural heritage.

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houswife77
Guest

rewriting the history, the memories is a very good long term investment for the conservative.

apro-deak
Guest

My conservative friends love their country and nation.
In the manner of the good sons of the tribe, they can not deny their love for the great leader.
I am suspecting that the ultra-conservative web portals receive grants from the Nemzeti Eroforras.

An example: http://www.huszadikszazad.hu/partnereink

Member

We have barely escaped a Miklos Horthy street in the 11th district (today it is still Szeremi street). This was a Jobbik initiative but the city council ignored it for now.

We got a a Pal Teleki street on the other hand. Teleki was a prime minister and a number of anti-Jewish laws were enacted during his time in office.

Tersánszky’s case is really tragic. It’s a good example how hopeless the Hungarian society is. László Somogyi was indeed very well known in the 18th district and he was a well respected public figure. So one can say he deserves a public place named after him. What makes me bang my head in the wall is this bully behavior. Why not to pick another street? There is the Havanna street in the neighborhood, named after the Havanna public housing complex. Who cares about the capital of a Communist country?

I don’t believe this wasn’t an ideological decision. Tersánszky supported the 1919 soviet republic in Hungary, married a Jewish women, criticized very heavily the pro-German government and he was saving Jews.

You know,I don’t care if Horthy gets a street. Just leave my streets alone.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Orbán will not be vicepresident of the European Peoples Party anymore (EPP). Angela Merkel will receive him in Berlin. Will she retire soon?

By the way “Volksstimme” was the daily of the communist party of Austria.

Kingfisher
Guest
petofi
Guest

Nothing more clearly delineates the somnambulant anti-semitism of even the left-leaning Hungarian than the caller to Bolgar’s show who said:

“He wasn’t EVEN jewish.”

Kingfisher
Guest

Not sure I agree with you there Petofi. The speaker was clearly trying to anticipate the motivations of the censors. I detected no sense of latent sympathy.

Kingfisher
Guest
Kingfisher
Guest
petofi
Guest

Kingfisher :
Not sure I agree with you there Petofi. The speaker was clearly trying to anticipate the motivations of the censors. I detected no sense of latent sympathy.

Perhaps: I may be a touch too sensitive on this issue…but the ‘even’ suggested that (to me), that somehow, it might’ve been more easily understood…

petofi
Guest

Ah, I missed Eva’s comment above…

Ok, Kingfisher and Eva, I will re-focus; and admit that
I am probably over-sensitive on this topic.

petofi
Guest

The Ranschburg Jeno interview is instructive: he states that Orban’s appeals are strictly to the emotions and most Hungarians are attuned to such to the exclusion of logical, intelligent thought.

These sign changes are ‘signals’ (with an imagined wink) to their believers. Barely believable, even for us who experience it daily, these techniques are the long-ago abandoned efforts of the Romantic period of the 19th century.

Member

The Fidesz party has made injustice into law and made sure that this new system cannot be changed inside this system (stuffed Constitutional Court, commissar or Unterfuehrer positions for 9 years or for life).

The democratic opposition should convene a Constitutional Assembly.
First, accept a “Declaration of Independence from the Fidesz Basic Law”, along the lines
of the US in 1776:
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,”

Then establish a new constitution with referendum. Of course, the Fidesz government will not give a penny for such referendum, the democratic parties must get it from abroad.

Once the majority of people approves the restored democratic Constitution, the Fidesz government either will resign or people will rise up against them.

Member

“Remember, Where You Have a Concentration of Power In a Few Hands,

All Too Frequently, Men With The Mentality of Gangsters Gain Control.

History Has Proven That …

POWER TENDS TO CORRUPT; ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY.”

Sir John Dalberg-Acton, 1887

Member

Fidesz Chairman-in-vice Kosa on the new election process:

http://magyarinfo.blog.hu/2012/10/04/kosa-karacsony_vita_a_regisztraciorol_onalazas

Guest
Tappanch: “The democratic opposition should convene a Constitutional Assembly. First, accept a “Declaration of Independence from the Fidesz Basic Law”, along the lines of the US in 1776: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,” Then establish a new constitution with referendum. Of course, the Fidesz government will not give a penny for such referendum, the democratic parties must get it from abroad. Once the majority of people approves the restored democratic Constitution, the Fidesz government either will resign or people will rise up against them.” I agree with you that the opposition should wake up and make ready to cut the gordic knot of the Orban constitution. Hungary cannot live with this anachronism for many years. I have previously suggested on this blog, that the opposition should unite behind an internet site where a new costitution would be developed under the eyes of the public, and with possibilty for suggestions and criticism by the public. The resulting draft constitution should be used as the common election program of the opposition parties. It may sound a bit utopian… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Jean P : Tappanch: “The democratic opposition should convene a Constitutional Assembly. First, accept a “Declaration of Independence from the Fidesz Basic Law”, along the lines of the US in 1776: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government,” Then establish a new constitution with referendum. Of course, the Fidesz government will not give a penny for such referendum, the democratic parties must get it from abroad. Once the majority of people approves the restored democratic Constitution, the Fidesz government either will resign or people will rise up against them.” I agree with you that the opposition should wake up and make ready to cut the gordic knot of the Orban constitution. Hungary cannot live with this anachronism for many years. I have previously suggested on this blog, that the opposition should unite behind an internet site where a new costitution would be developed under the eyes of the public, and with possibilty for suggestions and criticism by the public. The resulting draft constitution should be used as the common election program of the opposition parties. It may sound… Read more »
petofi
Guest

I need the economic minds to weigh in here:

With all the disasters–both political and economic–that have befallen Hungary in the last three months, the exchange rate hovers around the same 220 HUF / 1 USD as before…when it should be well above 250 by now.

So the questions is:

Who is supporting the Forint?

Member

petofi :
I need the economic minds to weigh in here:
With all the disasters–both political and economic–that have befallen Hungary in the last three months, the exchange rate hovers around the same 220 HUF / 1 USD as before…when it should be well above 250 by now.
So the questions is:
Who is supporting the Forint?

The strong US stock market supports the weak currencies like HUF.

In the years after presidential elections the stock market falls with greater probability,
so I expect a weak forint in 2013.

Member

Look at PLN/HUF data 67.86 (July 4), in this minute it is 69.68.

So another weak currency, the Polish, became stronger than the forint.

Member

My little son in elementary school just received Orban’s party propaganda booklet (the preamble to the basic law) as every pupil in his class. He had to sign the teacher’s list.

Indoctrination of children has started – like under Horthy or Rakosi. Shameful.

spectator
Guest
“Orbán’s eclectic ideology has been steadily moving in the direction of the far right, and his underlings are following him without hesitation. Orbán, who knows that his voter base is shrinking, keeps appealing to the neo-Nazis of Jobbik. Orbán’s latest speech at Ópusztaszer could have been delivered by Adolf Hitler or Ferenc Szálasi.” What Orban delivered in the shadow of the huge vulture, quite a bit more than resemblance. If it goes on like this, pretty soon he will face copyright charges: ‘How can the peasant in his village, the labourer in his workshop or factory, the employee in his office – how can they all grasp the extent of the total result of their innumerable personal sacrifices and their struggle? … All of them … will be able to come to the same conclusion: we are truly the witnesses of a transformation more tremendous than any the German nation has ever experienced.’ – Adolf Hitler, September 1937 If we are at it, yet another parallel: ‘[Hitler] has set us the goal for our generation to be a new beginning – he wants us to return to the source of the blood, to root us again in the soil –… Read more »
spectator
Guest

As I see it renaming the streets and indoctrinating “recommended” literature clearly lies in line with the sad intellectual state of the ruling elite.

As Eva expressed it another day, the lack of the classical “liberal arts education”, the acceptance of being an illiterate as politician is simply frightening.
When a bunch of boor decide over the future of the culture in Hungary, one better be prepared to just about anything.

Bernard De Raadt
Guest

What a mess ,poor hungarians just a bunch of amateurs in governement and oposition the smart ones are doing fine all over the world and will never return unless this generation face facts and start looking for non socialist upbrining.

Bernard De Raadt
Guest

If the oposition would at least be construxtive instead of destructive

Member
Bernard De Raadt : If the oposition would at least be construxtive instead of destructive The opposition named “Fidesz” was pretty destructive in 2002-2009, blocked even the meaningful ideas of the not very creative Socialists. The current opposition is powerless in the current tyranny. It takes 2 days for Fidesz to change their own “Basic Law”. It takes 24 hours to make a new law [Orban told his surprised cabinet last Monday morning (day 0) that he wanted to monopolize the gaming industry, the law was rushed through WITHOUT debate by Tuesday afternoon (day 1) using Orban’s Ermächtigungsgesetz, and the whole industry minus three privileged establishments has to close down and lay off several thousand employees on day 7. Orban’s policies are anti-Socialist etatist [= Fascist] cum maffioso. He reignited class warfare in Hungary. During the 2010 election campaign he claimed to be to the left of the Socialists. But after the election, he actually said that there was too much equality in the country. The introduction of the flat tax (which was explicitly denied during the election campaign) meant that the poorest wage earners lost 10% of their net income, while the highest earners gained as much as 40%.… Read more »
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