Love at Christmas time in Hungary

Gusztáv Megyesi, whom Péter Esterházy described as the best Hungarian journalist of our time, wrote his usual weekly opinion piece in Népszabadság, which happened to appear on Christmas Eve. Normally, Megyesi’s pieces are very funny, but this time the topic was somber. He described a couple in their early thirties who had just purchased a 5 kg box of laundry detergent and a 2-liter container of fabric softener as presents for the woman’s mother. She asked the store to wrap them, adorned with golden ribbon. The store employee said to her: “Are you serious?” Yes, she was serious: everybody gets practical gifts because whatever they get, they need badly. They have three children, which they didn’t plan on, but fate surprised them with twins. The husband is a bricklayer and she is on family assistance with the little ones. There is very little money. Although on some family programs there was a lot of talk about the evils of the consumer society and that what really counts is love and thoughtfulness, unfortunately grandma wouldn’t be terribly pleased with a walnut painted silver for the Christmas tree. This laundry detergent she herself couldn’t afford is enough for a whole year. For her, it is either food or detergent. The other members of the family also got much needed articles, like socks and shirts from the MDF market where they sell cheap Chinese imports.

This article infuriated right-wingers. One early commenter called it “vomit on Christmas Day.” According to another, “it is outrageous that someone is unable to put aside what he does all year.” A third person considered the article nothing more than a “mockery of Jesus” because Megyesi talked about the “propagation of Hungarians” in connection with László Kövér’s infamous reference to women’s duty to produce grandchildren for his generation. In general, all right-wingers agreed that Megyesi was mocking not only Jesus and reproduction but also the struggling middle class. Another shining light of the right found the word mockery insufficient to describe Megyesi’s attitude. Instead, he talked about the “hatred of Jesus.” The most interesting comment came from “szalkai,” who would give Megyesi only a silver medal in the hate-speech category because the gold surely must go to Origo, which published an interview with Krisztián Ungváry, the historian, under the headline: “There was a Hungarian soldier who killed voluntarily.” He was referring to Ungváry’s latest book, Hungarian Occupying Forces in the Soviet Union, 1941-1944.

Today Megyesi, back to his usual funny self, decided to comment on the commenters. His latest piece is titled “Holiday drudgery” (Ünnepi robot). In historical times “robot” was work that had to be performed by the serfs for the landlords, but in a modern setting it means very hard, repetitive, boring work. Megyesi can’t understand what these commenters were doing on Christmas Eve when for hours on end they were commenting on his and on each other’s comments instead of devoting themselves to their families. One comment after the other appeared from early evening until midnight. “The government must know about this. When other Hungarians, among them even the unbelieving liberals, suddenly come to their senses and devote every minute to the family, these unfortunate souls spend the Holy Night reading Népszabadság articles…. While the real Christians are already at midnight mass, they still brood over the Hungarian-hating liberals who insult the family and dishonor Jesus and the devout Hungarian people. It’s almost as if many little Antal Rogáns were pounding on the keys.” Such diligence should be rewarded, and Megyesi hopes that the government will give them an extra Holy-Night bonus.

Those were the days

Those were the days

At the end of the piece Megyesi recalls an article of his that appeared at the beginning of the Advent season when he noted that in the nativity scene the government set up in front of the parliament building the Child was missing because after all he wasn’t born until the 25th. But then, he asked, what are the Magi, the angels, and the lambs doing there? After all, they couldn’t have known that a month later Jesus would be born. At that time “the commenters didn’t get involved with such complicated thoughts about the hatred of Christians, they simply called me a Jew.”

And finally another interesting story. This is about an interview conducted by Sándor Révész, which also appeared in Népszabadság on December 26. It was an interview with Mihály Dés, who until recently was better known in the Spanish-speaking world than in Hungary. Before he left Hungary in 1986 he worked as a freelance translator of authors like Jorge Luis Borge, Alejo Carpentier, Julio Cortázar, Garcia Márquez, and Vargas Llosa. In 1986 he settled in Barcelona where he became well known as a writer of short stories and editor of the most influential Spanish-language periodical, Lateral. He returned to Hungary, and his first novel ever–Baroque á la Pest (Pesti barokk), which appeared in 2013–became a bestseller. In any case, at the end of the interview there is a short passage which, as we will see, greatly bothered a far-right contributor to Magyar Hírlap. It goes like this: “Viktor Orbán is only a final product. This is what came out of the body of the nation after a painful digestive process. This dictator was not foisted upon us from the outside; he is the result of self-development. Hungarian society, especially the elite, is responsible for his appearance.”

The reaction was swift. Four days later Pál Dippolt, a writer who slowly moved further and further to the right until he now regularly contributes to the far-right newspaper Magyar Hírlap, wrote an essay titled “They hate.” I have no idea whether Dippolt is a good writer or not, but he certainly has a chip on his shoulder when he accuses his liberal colleagues of not considering him a writer because he doesn’t “belong to their filthy canon, can’t brag about [his] past full of knavery and [doesn’t] spew hatred all around.” Of course, Dippolt’s real problem is Dés’s less than complimentary description of Viktor Orbán as the final product of a painful digestive process. “These are vile, filthy, lying sentences. They insult and vilify everybody who doesn’t follow the unbelievably conceited muck-raking elite of Budapest. If it were a real dictatorship here, the bodies of Révész and Dés would be dangling on the lampposts of Andrássy, pardon, the Road of the People’s Republic. Their only decoration, as poison-dropping traitors, would be the Colombian necktie.” In case some of you, like me originally, have no idea what a Colombian necktie is, you should get acquainted with the term. After a man’s throat is cut, his tongue is pulled through the opening.

In the first story what struck me was the right-wing commenters’ refusal to face the facts of life. At Christmas to talk about poverty, hardship, and hunger shouldn’t be done. One should simply talk about love of one’s fellow man without being reminded of the darker sides of love. Just devote yourself to your closest family and forget about everything else. And if one does write something honest, as Megyesi did, he does something that is almost against the wishes of the Almighty. On the other hand, someone like Dippolt who “doesn’t spew hatred all around” in his Christian purity envisages bodies dangling on lampposts with their throats cut. He accuses his adversaries of hatred and, by the end of his article, points his finger at himself. Quite a feat.

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ambator
Member

Didn’t Dickens, the writer and grandfather of all christmas stories, write about poverty and misery in his Christmas Carol? Or even Jokai, who started one of his christmas tear jerker with the everlasting sentence: “her mother was a washer woman and his father was mowed down by a ship’s mooring rope.”
IN fact the most popular and most traditional subject for all christmas stories are poverty and misery. Your journalist at Magyar Hirlap is typically the ignoramus who write, without ever reading.

Guest

Hans Christian Andersen: “The Little Match Girl” (1845)

http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheLittleMatchGirl_e.html

Guest

Regarding Prof Balogh’s acting gig…

Looks like we both tried our hand on the stage. On some Christmastide night many moons back I got picked to be St Joseph in our grade school play. I knew my lines. That didn’t bother me. Thing is when you ‘play’ a part like that you have to be perfectly grounded in knowing who the Saint and the Sinner is under the circumstances. Nothing like using the stage to help in vocations. After that I did not go into the priesthood…;-)…

Observer
Guest

This Dipl character’s couple of sentences are worth a thousand words – they open offer a glimpse in the dark and twisted souls of these thugs. The Dip.. piece is shocking, but the comments are visciously rasist befitting einsatzkommando volunteers. If MH and commenterd are not prosecuted for these, it’ll be another proof that we have fascism here again, “light” for now.

Ndy
Guest

A+++ Luvly article. The hatred, narrowmindedness surrounding us by our fellow “brethren” within the close confines of this country is stifling…

Guest

I can only repeat what I keep harping on over and over again: the Hungarian right is mentally and psychologically very, very sick.

And dangerously so, because unfortunately, the Fidesz and Jobbik voting public together make up over 80% of the electorate, which means that mentally and psychologically the overwhelming majority of Hungarians is desperately sick.

The whole country seems transformed literally into a kind of giant lunatic asylum.

tappanch
Guest

Well, 80% is not true. Poll taken December 2 to 5, sample size 1000.

Fidesz+Jobbik: 37%
MSzp+DK+LMP: 17%
Uncertain+other: 46%

https://www.vasarnapihirek.hu/fokusz/politika_a_fagyasztobol

The problem is that the democratic opposition is leaderless.
I hold the current MSzP bosses responsible. They have no
ideology, no plans, their only aim is to get their fat salaries
as members of Parliament. They legitimize the Orban regime
without challenging it.

Guest

Could it be psychopathology run amok? A veering to extremes usually produces the result. And those who suffer from it are ostensibly the ‘caretakers’ of Magyarorszag and her grandiose dreams.

Slowly and inexorably it just looks as if those ‘caretakers’ once again have slid into ignorant hate and revenge. As if these two qualities can heal the sickness within its soul. In a psychological sense it seems they have lost her gene for ‘love and charity’ I’m afraid. But bit by the country is slowly becoming unmoored by a sort of natural selection where the ‘good’ has been arguably continually eased out of existence in relationships both community, individual and familial.

And speaking of love and selflessness, I’d think a story about a husband’s watch and his wife’s hair would go over the hearts and minds of some who are in the ‘right’ frame of mind. O’Henry’s ‘Gift of the Magi’ would be too too obtuse for them in its presentation of ‘love’ in action.

Guest

OT: Those who want to see and listen László Kövér’s interpretation of Telekom vs. Ákos story can watch it from the 17. min. : https://youtu.be/ha12dAoJPFM . (Warning! The whole interview is extremely disturbing but provides a very good glimpse of the thinking of FIDESZ elite.)

Guest

I’ve also been astonished at first when the right wing haters on politics.hu complained about the “Left wing Libnazi Hungary haters” , called them all kind of things and in the end also asked for their physical termination or atleast for their forceful expulsion from Hungary …
And then they get angry when their hateful comments are deleted on other,on-Hungarian sites which they also are trying to flood with their racist, xenophobic, homophobic ( and you name it …) comments …

Observer
Guest

@ndy @ambalint

These extremities are typical for a sect or any closed society where a faith based narrative is circulated in a vicious circle reinforcing itself at every round, e.g. the sects of Jim Jones/Guyana, Kuresh/Waco, French revolution/Committee of State Safety, Stalin’s paranoia/purges, USSR‘s gerontocratic politburo in the 1970s, etc.

These are symptoms of a dangerous process.
In such an environment the factual, logical discourse is replaced by faith based shouting, slandering match; the adversaries loose their common language and don’t/can’t communicate. With some luck this can continue as a kind of parallel existence, like the different religious/ethnic communities around the world; in the case of the Orbán regime it is rather apartheid with ruthless domination. In both cases there is a constant tug of war, in critical circumstances turning into violent civil fighting or war.

BTW Fidesz + Jobbik won approx 70% of the votes with 65% participation or appox. 45.5% of eligible votes.

Guest

For those who can read German, an interesting article on Europe – people in different cities are interviewed.
Among them in Budapest:
Agnes Heller!
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/europa-von-gortyn-wroclaw-budapest-london-bruessel-riga-nach-marseille-a-1068978.html

tappanch
Guest

Average net salary in Hungary (1 euro = 316 forints):
530 euros/month

Average social security in Hungary (after a 1.6% raise in January)
382 euros/month

http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_qli018d.html?down=180
http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20160103_120_ezer_lett_az_atlagnyugdij

tappanch
Guest

Hungary is #1 in the European Union in “[net] social security/net salary” ratio, but look at the subsistence level amounts!

tappanch
Guest

Correction. Latest, October official number:

Average net salary in Hungary :
546 euros/month

tappanch
Guest

The Statistical Office does not include the less than 200 euro net salaries of the “fostered” workers to get to this 546 euro average.

The median net salary is lower than the average by a further 14% (Budapest)

http://24.hu/fn/gazdasag/2013/12/07/az-orszag-ketharmada-rosszul-keres/

webber
Guest
News for Fideszniks: Christ was a Jew. Christ was the greatest advocate for the poor ever born. Christ did not have a word of solace for those who were rich, corrupt, and powerful. St. Luke 4:16-21 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; an, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.’” Luke 6:20-22 “And… Read more »
Spectator
Guest

Reluctant to admit, but in recent times I have the recurring feeling that basically we (as Hungarians) are nothing more that just a bunch of uncivilised and cruel creatures, which temporarily managed to have a façade of culture, but it eroded and washed away for good.
Once again we are just as rude barbarians as ever before, seemingly not much has changed from the life on the steppes but the technology.
And I didn’t even mention the great opportunity to get reconnected with the very place!
Thank for that to the Orbán/Putin ‘love affair’, what goes on for the interest of all the Hungarians..!
Or else…

Love conquers, after all

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