Growing Hungarian fascism? Similarities with Ceaușescu’s Romania?

I have the feeling that I will be all over creation today because there are just too many items that caught my attention. Or that people called my attention to. Let’s start with the latter because two bloggers from Hungary have addressed our topic of yesterday: the rather shady football issue.

One blog post deals with the intriguing possibility of a connection between the sudden decision to pull all slot machines from Hungary and the relatively poor performance of Videoton. According to the author’s theory, although an incredible amount of money went to Videoton from MOL, OTP, Strabag and Közgép, just to mention a few of the supporters of the club, the team isn’t performing as expected. They hired the famous trainer Paulo Sousa who managed to sign up big names in football at home and abroad, and yet  Videoton is disappointing both the sponsors and Viktor Orbán. Videoton’s rival, Debreceni VSC (Loki), has been the best team in Hungary ever since 2000.

So, what’s the connection between the slot machines and Loki? It turns out that the majority owner of the Debrecen team is Gábor Szirma, whose business concerns center around slot machines. If Szirma has to close his operations, Debrecen will be strapped for funds and might have to sell some of its best players. At least this is how the theory goes. A figment of the author’s imagination? Perhaps, although in today’s Hungary anything is possible.

The other post, written by “Pupu,” reflects on the football career of young Gáspár Orbán, the son of the prime minister. The title of the piece is “Ruined Lives.” It points out that Orbán’s children will never have the satisfaction of well-deserved individual achievement. Young Gáspár will never know whether he was chosen by Videoton because of his talent or because he is the son of the prime minister. Moreover, “it must be an oppressive feeling that he has to play with the electric trains that his father never managed to get and now he must fulfill his father’s dream of becoming an international football classic…. Did Gáspár ever think of Nicu [Ceaușescu], his late colleague?… And does Viktor think here and there of Ceaușescu in front of the wall?” Nicu, the youngest son of Ceaușescu, also played football at one point in his life.

According to “Pupu,” Viktor Orbán should think of Ceaușescu because those who gave the final word on the Conducator’s fate were all former supporters whom he had trusted.

This is how Viktor Orbán is seen in certain circles, and these circles are widening. Not so long ago using the word “fascism”  in connection with the Orbán regime was considered to be a sacrilege. I think it was László Bartus of Amerikai-Magyar Népszava who first used it in describing the situation in Hungary, and there was an outcry. I also used the word but only in a very general sense. By now, we have reached a point where Attila Mesterházy talks about the ogre of fascism that is threatening Hungary and indirectly asks for Europe’s help in an interview with l’Unitá, the Italian paper. Róbert Friss in Népszabadság describes the Orbán regime as “the soft successor of Mussolini’s corporate state.” Or there is a profoundly pessimistic writing by András Bruck (ÉS, November 9, 2912) in which he predicts that “Viktor will not go.”  This is an answer to Miklós Gáspár Miklós’s gentle pleading at the October 23 Milla demonstration: “Viktor, I’m asking you nicely, please leave!” Bruck is certain that Orbán, given another four years, will finish the job: his dictatorship will be fully established.

And finally, a few more words about the people who are behind Viktor Orbán. For the most part they are as ignorant as the boss himself. Sándor Demján, the richest man in Hungary, with a meager educational background (learning to cater to tourists in hotels and restaurants), suddenly discovered that only productive work–building, manufacturing, and agriculture–is worth supporting. Once I spent a whole post on this profoundly ignorant man, but every time he opens his mouth I get wound up again. This time he expounded on the fruitless expense of training scientists who examine the life of insects and maintained that it is unnecessary for a worker to know anything about history or literature and that there is nothing wrong with being an unskilled laborer.

Obviously one doesn’t have to be educated in order to make a ton of money, but the problem in this case is that this ignoramus seems to be a close adviser of Viktor Orbán. Blind leading blind. The lackeys are all around, with similar educational attainment and knowledge.

Right now Orbán and his minions are hard at work making sure that they will win the elections. The attacks on Gordon Bajnai have already begun. An opinion piece in Magyar Hírlap by the so-called political scientist Tamás Fricz is crawling with outright lies. And more of the same, if not worse, will be forthcoming. It looks pretty hopeless, I have to admit, but one mustn’t spread gloom and doom because of the danger of self-fulfilling prophecy. Somehow this election must be won despite every effort by Hungary’s little Mussolini to win regardless of the popular will.

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gdfxx
Guest

I’ve been saying for a long time that many of Orban’s actions remind me of Ceausescu. If he looks in the mirror and sees Ceausescu (I doubt it because dictators rarely see themselves objectively), he is probably mightily scared, based on how the Ceausescu (and his wife) ended their carrier (and life). Their son, Nicu, was an alcoholic and the only reason he didn’t end his life in jail was medical: final stage cirrhosis.

petofi
Guest

Bajnai’s movement is growing by leaps and bounds–apparently, Laszlo Urban has joined his cause. Urban was a Fidesz stalwart and former advisor to Orban. He’s strongly conservative politically. Wouldn’t it be interesting if he led the opposition with Bajnai as his lieutenant? Now here would be a great recommendation to all those conservative Fideszers to join a legitimate party. It would be the finest of ironies if Fidesz defeated Fidesz in 2014…

Csaba K. Zoltani
Guest

Those who have not lived under Ceausescu can not fathom the abyss and the conditions his regime created. Fortunately, books by Herta Muller, the Nobel laureate in literature (she lived there in those times), as well as Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania, New York University Press, 2005 or Dennis Deletant’s Ceausescu and the Securitate, M.E. Sharpe, 1995, are available to give an insight, to those who want to know, what ‘Ceausescuism’ means.

Julie
Guest

Csaba: Thanks for the recommendations!

Jano
Guest
While Videoton is performing worse than Debrecen in NB1, on the other hand after 4 rounds (two more to go) ranks at second place in its Euroleague (after defeating Sporting Lisboa and Basel and loosing against Genk and Basel) group so one can’t really say that the situation would be dire. This slot machine connection is a little far fetched to me, but of course I have to admit that everything is possible. As much as I heard about Szima, I’m pretty sure he’ll cope with the situation. (Not to mention that he’s not exactly an enemy of Lajos Kósa…) “By now, we have reached a point where Attila Mesterházy talks about the ogre of fascism that is threatening Hungary and indirectly asks for Europe’s help in an interview with l’Unitá, the Italian paper.” By now? Mesterházy has been talking about if for about a decade when it comes to OV. Not that there is no truth in what he’s saying but putting it as if there has been some boiling point reached recently is a little bit of an exaggeration. Also, l’Unita is the paper of the Italian communists (I mean the real existing hard left), which for the… Read more »
Sandor
Guest
I feel like an orphan, sending my prescient and sometimes even clairvoyant, but always modest observations and predictions and never get any respect for them. (Not that I expect any respect for them, but it would be nice, nevertheless.) The first time it happened when I predicted, two weeks ahead, that Bajnai will be chosen as prime minister. And he was. Then again it happened, when I called Orban years ago the “kneeling bust of Mussolini” and that didn’t go far either. Then next I made a comparison between Mussolini and Orban, concluding that the only difference between them was merely the sophistication and learning the former had and the latter hadn’t. Later I even copied in here the 10 point definition of fascism, from the Ecyclopedia Italiana (thanks to the expert of the subject, professor Emilio Gentile), not very long ago to substantiate my claim, inviting the doubters to check out the Oban regime by comparing it to the list and invited all here to pronounce about the progress and about how far the completion was. The only reaction I got for that was feverish disinterest and silence. I think it is time for me to give up my… Read more »
Julie
Guest

So, it’s agreed that the EU/COE/IMF aren’t going to intervene. Would other countries in the region be willing to, say, back away from investments in Hungary? I’m thinking here of Poland’s open support of the democratic opposition in Belarus. Who could/would play that role for Hungary?

Bowen
Guest

Csaba K. Zoltani :
Those who have not lived under Ceausescu can not fathom the abyss and the conditions his regime created. Fortunately, books by Herta Muller, the Nobel laureate in literature (she lived there in those times), as well as Tom Gallagher’s Modern Romania, New York University Press, 2005 or Dennis Deletant’s Ceausescu and the Securitate, M.E. Sharpe, 1995, are available to give an insight, to those who want to know, what ‘Ceausescuism’ means.

‘The White King’ by György Dragoman is also very good, from the perspective of a Hungarian child growing up Ceausescu’s Transylvania.

Tyrker
Guest

I am no fan of Demján’s myself but to claim that he has a “meagre educational background” is simply misleading. He’s got a college degree (so by definition he’s an intellectual, whether you like it or not). To be exact, he’s an economist majoring in catering and hotel management.

The reason I’m pointing this out is that from the way you formulated it, your readers might be misled into thinking he only received some sort of vocational training to be a waiter, concierge or something similar; when in fact he graduated from one of the most prestigious business colleges in the entire country.

That doesn’t make his “strange” ideas any more acceptable, of course.

Member

Former Chief Justice & former President of the Republic Solyom also condemns legal methods of the Orban cabinet as unconstitutional in an article dated today:

http://www.komment.hu/tartalom/20121112-solyom-laszlo-irasa-a-magyar-alkotmanyossagrol.html?SYSref=NONE&cmnt_page=1

Member
It is very obvious by now that financial methods does not curb Orban’s path to stomping on everything that remotely remains as crumbs of democracy in Hungary. Simply he shakes hands with devil when needs to plug up the wholes on his piggy bank dreams. The EU simply brushes the problems aside with the small head shaking here and there, even when the Hungarian government spends millions on various propaganda that spreads lies about the EU. They hear what Orban has to say, and pretend nothing happens. As tappanch rightly pointed out on the previous page, the Fidesz Government just finalizes the finalizes the last steps on chocking any efforts to a democratic election. Fo those who did not follow, Klubradio the most popular opposition radio station still did not get their robbed frequency back even though the EU court ruled against the Hungarian Givernemnet’s decision to choke the station, the main gathering places in Budapest are pre-booked by Fidesz until 2014, so no opposition can gather in large numbers in any places, those places that are left open are closed down for construction that will last until the end of 2014, Orban clearly stated that he did not have… Read more »
Kingfisher
Guest
It seems rather shallow and petty to attack Demján because of his formal qualifications. He may have graduated from a catering school but TriGranit, unlike Közgép, is a genuine company that does operate successfully and internationally (for example, it built the Palace of Arts in Budapest, one of the finest cultural centers in Europe). It is also inaccurate to characterise him as an Orbán supporter. He isn’t. He is an oligarch who lobbies and feeds off whoever is in power. I think it is true from his public pronouncements that he assumed Fidesz would create a more conducive environment for business than Gyurcsány and Medgyessy, and in that sense, he has been disappointed and to his credit, he is virtually the only person who has dared to criticise Orbán to his face, for which he deserves some credit. But he is not a Fidesz supporter in the sense that Simicska is. To be fair though, Demján is a typical Hungarian success story whose initial wealth was the result of his ability to manipulate party contacts, both before and after the change of system. But his company does build things outside Hungary, which is pretty unusual for his ilk. As for… Read more »
An
Guest

@Kingfisher: “If Hungary wants to have a good pension system, a good health service, good infrastructure, then someone somewhere has to create wealth. And that is done through making things, selling things, innovating etc etc.” Hungary’s real problem is not a lack of unskilled workers, as Demjan seems to suggests, but a lack of skilled ones (in certain trades). Also, the lack of capital that would create those workplaces where skilled and unskilled workers “make things”.

True, there may be an overproduction in certain degrees in higher education, and you can argue how many scientists vs. sociologists a country needs. Though even if you are businessman, if you are not absolutely shortsighted, you need to acknowledge science’s and engineering’s role in innovation. I believe that this whole rant against education is fueled by anti-intellectualism and by a short-sighted need for uneducated masses of “slave-labor”, which maybe in Demjan’s personal business interest, but it is not the country’s long term interest.

Member

Maybe I am ignorant, but somehow I missed the Hungarian Government’s PR campaign aimed at the “New Generation” in order to convince them to stay in Hungary(?) versus take on better opportunities elsewhere.
It is a must see!!!!It is a clear testimonaial how out of touch Fidesz is with the real Hungarian youth, Maybe the children of Orban and the other Fidesz members can live the lyfestyle portrayed (iPhone, rental of a glider, motor boating, etc.) but I think after watching this piece of work the average Hungarian youth wold start to walk towards the border to take on some jobs to live the life.

Bowen
Guest

@ Some1
There is lots more high-budget manipulation about how wonderful life in modern Hungary is at: http://www.facebook.com/ujnemzedek.

Jano
Guest

Kingfisher: On the higher education yes, but I don’t think Demján was arguing for the balance towards highly trained engineered, he technically implied that a university degree is sort of useless.

Of course, offensive as it is, the joke

-What does a fresh IT degree graduate say to a fresh liberal arts (bölcsész?) degree graduate?
-??
-A big mac menu with a large coke please.

is pretty relevant, and in that case Demján is sort of right. But again, I’m not sure if he was going for just that.

Guest

London Calling!

Some1 – your link says “this video doesn’t exist”.

Can you post the link un-embedded please?

Regards

Charlie

Guest

London Calling!

Completely O/T

And pure history!

How the BBC did or did not warn the Jews of Hungary about the deportations during the war.

A fascinating article to accompany a documentary.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20267659

Regards

Charlie

petofi
Guest

CharlieH :
London Calling!
Completely O/T
And pure history!
How the BBC did or did not warn the Jews of Hungary about the deportations during the war.
A fascinating article to accompany a documentary.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20267659
Regards
Charlie

Are the Brits strangers to anti-semitism?
Ask the Bronfmans who spent billions on building Canary Wharf but could not get an underground line built out to it. However, when they were divested of their holdings…Presto! The needed tram line soon came into being.

Bowen
Guest

CharlieH :London Calling!
Some1 – your link says “this video doesn’t exist”.
Can you post the link un-embedded please?
Regards
Charlie

I believe this is Some1’s video

Respect Beauty
Guest

I’m hesitant to use the word “fascism,” since it seems very much tied to Mussolini. I don’t want to label any government I don’t like with the fascist label, and Orban’s government can be quite repressive and undemocratic without being in any way fascist.

Do other people here think it furthers the conversation by using this word? Or does it make the discussion of Orban devolve into name calling? Could it undermine the credibility of the opposition by making them seem like knee-jerk liberals who paint every conservative government with the same name? Or does it starkly call attention to the grave dangers facing Europe by the rise of this dangerous ideology?

Guest

Yes, Some1’s video wasn’t available–but I’m wondering if it wasn’t on the FaceBook link that Bowen gave us–it had the smart phones, cars, gliders, motor boats and more (as Some1 described). Not sure it wasn’t meant to invite young people to vacation in Hungary as it incorporated scenes at Lizst Ferenc. Shows a carefree and funded youth life. Only able to catch a few words from the song.

Member

Bowen :
@ Some1
There is lots more high-budget manipulation about how wonderful life in modern Hungary is at: http://www.facebook.com/ujnemzedek.

Thank you Bowen. I love the comments. They say it all!

Member

..and thank you Bowen to including the proper link!

Bowen
Guest

Some1 :..and thank you Bowen to including the proper link!

I just showed the video to my wife. “Just like Ceauseccu” was her only comment.

Member

Bowen :
I believe this is Some1′s video

There was one last year where the Hungarian youth was barfing together on the street (at around 1:30):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NDlXbfZ63ks

Demjan is a dumbass. Just listen to him. I wouldn’t care if he had a PhD. He should stay in the background, run his empire and shut up. I hope somebody shows and translates this blog entry to him.

A little pop psychology on these guys. If they are not entirely brain dead or rotten, they probably have realize already that they are not exactly the archetypes of the self made man. As Kingfisher put it they they used their party contacts to get rich in the confusion in the end of the communist era. Some of them may have a shred of guilt and is trying to be some kind of leader – giving speeches to ordinary subjects, making a false impression, mainly to themselves, that they are actually serving their country. Pitiful.

He’s just an example how rampant is mediocrity and incompetence in the Orban regime.

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