Viktor Orbán in full armor: a knight or a liar?

Before I begin this post on the Brussels summit and Viktor Orbán’s role in the proceedings, I would like to call attention to a story I read in HVG about a little girl and her ethics teacher. It encapsulates what’s wrong with the present system of education in Hungary.

Beginning in September 2013 every child was required to take either a religion or an ethics class one hour a week. Originally about half of the parents opted for religion, although only about 12% of Hungarians consider themselves religious or attend church. The original enthusiasm for religious education undoubtedly stemmed from parents’ belief that taking religion instead of ethics would be a plus in the eyes of the Fidesz loyalist school officials. I understand that since then religion classes have become less popular. Mind you, as you will see from this story, ethics classes have their own problems.

The girl, along with her classmates, had to write a short essay on her attitude toward March 15th, Hungary’s national holiday. She was honest and wrote: “For me it is a day like any other; it doesn’t really touch me.” The teacher gave her an F.

If that had happened in history class, I would understand the failing grade because presumably the class had already covered the 1848 revolution and its significance in Hungarian history. But in ethics class? What was expected of the pupil? Surely, wild patriotic enthusiasm. Since this particular child didn’t deliver the expected answer, she got punished.

This story illustrates what’s wrong not only with the Hungarian education system but with the whole Orbán regime. First of all, what does this question have to do with ethics, which is “the study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person”? One commonly recognized moral principle is truthfulness, which in this case wasn’t appreciated by the “ethics teacher.” In fact, by giving her class an assignment about their personal feelings toward a state holiday she was practically inviting them to lie. The students knew full well what was expected of them. The teacher in this case was encouraging conformity and punishing those whose opinions differed from the expected values of the state.

This story reminded me a personal experience at a Catholic parochial school in grade five. Christmas was approaching and our homeroom teacher, a nun, made us cut out from a folded piece of paper “little Jesus’s shirt.” Every time we did a good deed we were supposed to draw a little cross in red. If we were bad the cross was drawn in black. For emphasis, we were told that every time there is a black cross on that shirt, little Jesus cries. At the beginning we all tried to be honest, but when the black crosses started to far outnumber the red ones, each of us cheated madly. The only thing these pious creatures managed to achieve was to make liars out of us.

And let’s move on to other kinds of lies, the ones Viktor Orbán concocts before and after every European Council summit. This time was no different. I already touched on Orbán’s attempts before his departure to give the impression that at the summit he will have to fight against the compulsory quotas like St. George against the dragon. In fact, János Lázár’s regular press conference was largely spent on this topic, so the official government site appropriately gave the title to the announcement of the press conference: “Viktor Orbán enters the battle against compulsory quotas in Brussels.” As I pointed out, compulsory quotas weren’t even on the agenda.

St. George on Horseback. Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars 1511-1513

St. George on Horseback. Meister des Döbelner Hochaltars 1511-1513  / Hamburger Kunsthalle

Upon their arrival each prime minister said a few words to reporters in English. Orbán, however, decided to speak in Hungarian This was in sharp contrast to the press conference he gave a few weeks ago when he was the toast of the town, surrounded by a large crowd of reporters from all over the world. The Hungarian reporter on the spot noted that Orbán’s choice of Hungarian disappointed the foreign reporters. Here Orbán repeated that for days he has been working hard to safeguard Hungarian interests, and perhaps today he will be able to convince the European Commission to discard this proposal for mandatory quotas. No wonder that he didn’t want to say that in a language that non-Hungarians could understand. Otherwise, only the state television station was allowed to ask Orbán a question.

On March 18 the head of the press department of the prime minister’s office told MTI that the prime minister and the members of the Hungarian delegation had assessed the results of the summit and admitted that “the European Commission for the time being hasn’t put forth its proposal for the compulsory settlement quotas. That plan will be discussed later, in April or May.” Whether this statement is true or not is hard to say. In general, Orbán expressed his satisfaction with the results of the summit, which he first described as “a success from the Hungarian point of view” but later corrected to “promising.” “The decisive battle” must still be fought in May, he added.

Orbán’s own story became more and more elaborate. In a Hungarian-language press conference in Brussels at the end of the summit he told the reporters that the Hungarian delegation went to the summit “to make sure that a modern-day mass migration doesn’t break the course of Hungary’s development.” He elaborated on another goal he wanted to achieve in Brussels: Hungary’s financial obligations in connection with the crisis mustn’t be “unbearably high.” He was happy to report that Hungary’s share of the six billion euros going to Turkey is manageable, especially since it serves the security of the Hungarian people. He also indicated that Hungary is not ready to take any refugees, even on a voluntary basis. In brief, Hungary is off the hook. Finally, he repeated that “as of Monday we must already prepare for another battle in full armament.”

The problem with liars that, time and again, they misspeak. After all the talk about battles that brought great success to him and, through him, to Hungary, he also uttered a sentence that contradicted the official story. He admitted that “we were lucky to be able to avoid (kibekkeltük) the compulsory quotas for the time being.” Well, one either fights or avoids the fight and hopes for the best.

And finally one more slip of the tongue. According to people who live nearby the Budapest home of the Orbán family, members of TEK (Terrorelhárítási Központ), often described as Orbán’s Praetorian guard, have not been seen lately. No one is guarding the house, and Anikó Lévai, wife of the prime minister, using a small white car, goes in and out with the smaller children without any protection. These neighbors are convinced that Orbán himself no longer lives there.

And that brings us to the Habsburg estate in Alcsút where the by now internationally famous kuvasz Nárcisz (Daffodil) guards the property. Not surprisingly, Orbán tried to make sure that no one knew anything about his newly acquired spacious manor house in the middle of a 13 hectare park that once belonged to the Hungarian branch of the Habsburg family. Officially, we still don’t know that this is the case. Recently, however, he indicated while in Fejér County that he lives “only 12 km from here,” which from the location could only be Alcsút. So, we can be pretty sure that Viktor Orbán, most likely without wife and the smaller children, actually lives on the old Habsburg estate.

Meanwhile Lőrinc Mészáros continues to acquire land around the estate, undoubtedly acting as a front man for Orbán. Orbán’s son-in-law also managed to get hundreds of hectares of land in the last few days, all nearby. Orbán’s political opponents are convinced that he is enormously wealthy. They swear that one day he will stand trial on corruption charges. I fear that will not be an easy job. He is an exceedingly cunning man who has most likely taken care of even the most minute detail. It will be difficult to catch him.

March 19, 2016
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Member

It will not be hard to corner him at all. Simply, the will be crown have to negotiate plea bargains with some of the bigger players. They can simply offer not to take away all their belongings, and leave their families out of jail (accessory to the crime). Not a single one of them would give up the future of their children in exchange to protect Orban, Rogan, and their buddies.

Observer
Guest

Some1
You’re on the right track, if there’s political will it can be done. Not like the socialist gov’s Laszlo Keller farce with yearly 12 mil Ft budget.
I am ready to help, but with the scale of things we’ll need a Saint Just,

Guest

I agree with you, Some1. He will be given up by one of his own buddies. Though it will take a lot of courage, since he will no doubt threaten not just his enemies, but his enemy’s families too. It is only because Hungary is in the EU, that he has not already carried out the sorts of crimes which his much admired buddy, Putin, engages in. No doubt our little Orbi is quite trigger happy.

But like you, I also think it is possible, even now, to expose the extent of his corrupt dealings and illegally acquired assets, including properties.

petofi
Guest

Ethics in Hungary? That’s a laugher.

But besides, why would parents want their kids to see through their own unethical lives?

Rather, give them a dose of that down home religion…

Guest

That ‘red and the black’ experience brought up in my mind the rite of confirmation and Magyar ‘boxing’ the Orban way. He and others in the entourage usually seem to be in ‘battlin’ mode ready to give the quick jabs. Would seem to me that that ‘slap’ on the cheek which goes with confirmation rather than to make one strong and ‘defend the faith’ has hyped some to get back and ‘pop out the lights’ of opponents.

Like ‘red and black crosses , even slaps make one consider that roads to hell are paved with good intentions…;-)….

webber
Guest

First go after Mészáros. That investigation and prosecution will lead to the next.
I’m not sure people will grass. They may well be afraid. But the paper trail will lead in the right direction.

LwiiH
Guest

Ethics????? Who’s ethics? I guess we now know. There was already enough propoganda in the Hungarian school criculum.

Guest

Curious if they still teach it in the country. Or have all who studied some of it fallen off their dinosaurs contemplating some vestige of it?

LwiiH
Guest

Rumour has it that the Sunday shopping law maybe repealed. Is the beast grasping at straw?

webber
Guest

Where’s the news? Don’t see it anywhere online.

petofi
Guest

I suspect that the Sunday shopping law had a subtext–to whit, an attempt was made to extort some huge sums from the major, foreign, multinationals with the threat of Sunday closure.

They–Tesco, Ikea, Auchan, et. al.– it seemed, declined the pleasure…

(“We have power and we’ll use it!” Ahem.)

webber
Guest
OT – Every day more people abandon the Great O’s pirate ship. Three members have resigned from the “National Hauszmann Plan Social Syndicate” (awful in Hungarian, too: Nemzeti Hauszmann Terv társadalmi testület … utterly bizarre), because they say the government’s plans to reconstruct the castle district are aesthetically damaging, dysfunctional and anti-democratic. These people are Fideszniks, delegated by govt., and yet they now denounce plans and government methods as not democratic. Cute.They are right, but still… it might have struck them before they accepted positions on the “syndicate.” Just more rats, swimming away from a sinking ship before it goes under, lest the whirlpool suck them down with the rest of the crew. http://index.hu/belfold/2016/03/18/karosnak_tartjak_a_horthy-korszak_kulisszainak_idetlen_visszaepiteset/ Elsewhere I read that poll data shows Fidesz is now considered more corrupt than MSZP by those willing to answer such a poll (and most people aren’t willing to answer! those who did are most likely to be Fidesz voters, for obvious reasons) 2018 is going to be a very interesting year. The question is not whether Fidesz will cheat in the elections (ballot-box stuffing), but how brazenly. In 2014 a Jobbik fellow said he was certain there had been a miscount. The election board gave… Read more »
polar
Guest

The forged ballots come from Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – and there is absolutely NO way to check whether those absentee ballots were actually filled out by the voters themselves.

Fidesz’ machinery collects them en masse and then fills them out and then sends them to Hungary to be mixed with domestic ballots.

The forgery is a fact and it amounts to hundreds of thousands of votes. It worked in 2014 and it will in 2018.

And there is no method to prove that forgery beyond reasonable doubt, unless you have moles in the machinery on location in Transsylvania, Ukraine or Serbia. And since these are trusted networks you just won’t have that.

Fidesz starts the national elections in 2018 with a conservatively estimated 500k votes in its favor, maybe more (the target is to have close to a million ethnic Hungarian voters, although I doubt Fidesz will attain that, but 500k is absolutely doable). This why fideszniks don’t worry about the elections that much, even without gerrymandearing, that’s an all but impossible advantage to overcome.

webber
Guest

And yet Fidesz lost it’s 2/3s majority….
It won’t “work” in 2018 because Fidesz faces annihilation in the individual districts, and according to the current election law the extra votes (all those not needed to win in the individual districts) go straight to the lists.
As to moles in the machinery – there are increasing indications that they are everywhere, now (see above), because careerists are realizing that it’s all over. It’s just a matter of time. So, you see all sorts of positioning now – Fidesz people trying to establish credentials as opposition figures (see my other note above).

No, votes from outside Hungary will not be enough. They’ll have to stuff ballot boxes within the country, and the careerists might just stop them from doing that, or might blow whistles.

I am heartened by Fideszniks’ confidence that “everything will be okay” (expressed here – your comment can be read that way, too, polar). Slobodan Milosevic entered his last elections with similar confidence, and his own people betrayed him by failing to stuff ballot boxes.

webber
Guest

Assuming the opposition will win in 2018 (looking increasingly likely just now), the first job will be to impeach the prosecutor, Péter Polt. Nothing can be done before he is removed from office before his term ends, and a new, competent, neutral prosecutor is put in place, and new deputies are assigned, and new investigators, etc. THEN investigations can start. As long as Polt is in office, the prosecutor will just block investigation of Fideszniks and will inform the targets of investigation what to hide and how.

polar
Guest

The prosecution doesn’t just depend on Polt (even if the fish stinks from its head).

Remember that Polt remained with the prosecution (as an eminence grease) even when his initial mandate expired (as per the usual Fidesz-MSZP mutyi).

Tamas Kovacs, who eventually succeeded him, was pretty much a lame duck. Polt got to decide on personnnel issues and kept Fidesz in the loop.

The HR decisions of the prosecution favored two types: conservative rural kids with local Fidesz recommendation about their reliability and people from the various security forces who succeeded to get a law degree.

And this has been going on for over a decade. By now the prosecution is really not much more than a Fidesz/state security joint operation. These people will simply not follow a new leadership (assuming Polt and his deputies, similarly corrupt people, can be replaced), let alone a leftist one.

The situation is much worse than people assume. As lawyers, Fidesz knew from the very beginning that owning the prosecution was absolutely key and they did succeed wit that when Fidesz forced the resignation of Kalman Györgyi back during the first Orban government.

petofi
Guest

The Age of Corruption is upon us: Blatter’s replacement is a young gun–who would’ve guessed–comes from a town no more than 20 km from Blatter’s…

Reform?
Yeah…

Observer
Guest
Guys, The list is very, very long, bearing i mind that the Orban regime soiled everything with their dirty paws. But this can be resolved by careful planning the cleaning action – police/spec.services, prosecution, etc. The cadre problem can be resolved too. The main problem is the political will, with some of the democratic intellectuals, opinion leaders we don’t need enemies. I spent years in theoretical discussion on the “we are not like that” question, even as the orban gang kept screwing them. Many there can’t distinguish between desirable and possible, as if they run philosophy debate clubs, not parties. There always ways to go around the cast in concrete Orbanites – e.g. – before the Hungarian Radio Chairwoman K.Kondor’s term expired, she appointed faithful deputies and Fidesz went on obstructing a new chairman election for years, – when the opposition parties tried the same by holding back nominations for supervisory boards, the ruling Fidesz ran the boards without quorum, i.e. illegaly, ozt jó napot, – when the I.Vida, Head of the Tax Office left, Fidesz appointed a A.Talai (OMG) commissioner in charge of some bla bla, who in practice controls, illegaly, the supposedly independent Tax Office, ozt jó napot.… Read more »
webber
Guest

All that is precisely why I said impeachment is required – for breach of duty – and I would say at all level appointments.
Before some namby-pambies suggest it would be a witch hunt, recall: impeachment is not the same as prosecution. It would just enable a clearing of the boards of those who would surely obstruct proper investigation of crimes committed, funds embezzled, etc.
It is a way to (legally!) remove people from office before their term has expired.
In the case of Polt, it is more than justified by the work he has done (and not done) to date.

Member

I agree with everything has to start from the top. Here is my question: Who and where can anyone find any neutral parties in Hungary any more? When I observe westernized countries there are some form of balance achieved. It is never 50/50 but the whole system is close to it. How can any for of neutrality or some balanced achieved any longer in Hungary. With all fairness, there should be room for conservatives, liberals, and even for representatives of the right (not extreme right). Who and how can take on the job to ensure that all voices will be heard but decision will be made on the facts. Show-trials, ad-hoc policies, etc, we know how they look like, but putting a well-balanced system in place would also require time. Unfortunately the next government will not have time, as the system is so broken that immediate actions will be required, bathos it can be impartial?

petofi
Guest

The fact is, Hungarians would sell their mother…if there was any money in it.

Pipe Dream #1–change the bureaucrat for a different result.
Not likely…

Guest

A coward is the antithesis of a knight.
Orban doesn’t dare to meet opposition politicians in televised debates.
Is he a knight or a coward?

Guest

‘He was a veray parfit gentil knight’

Chaucer, that bright light of medieval lit, would no doubt have difficulty in assessing a certain personality’ to an ideal in one of Central Europe’s modern realms.

petofi
Guest

@wrfree

Chaucer–he would not have served in Orban’s government…

trackback

[…] vaan nyttemmin ilmeisesti myös, kuten esimerkiksi mainiosta Hungarian Spectrum -blogista voi lukea, Felcsútin naapurikylässä Alcsútissa oma tarkkaan vartioitu ja julkisuudelta piiloteltu, […]

Guest

Google translate from Finnish:
but now apparently also, such as, for example, ad Hungarian Spectrum blog can be read, Felcsútin neighboring village Alcsútissa own carefully guarded and from the public in disguise

spectator
Guest

Just a small visual reminder of the of the relentless heroic efforts of The Great Leader, as he joins to the other EU leaders.
That’s my hero!
No wonder that there was no word of the compulsory quotas, and everyone recognised the genius, who foretold everything and acted in good time…

A knight, no doubt! Just look at his stature and you’ll recognise too!

Khmm….

comment image

spectator
Guest

Regarding the saint and knight depicted above: the mystery solved, why all the dinos and such died out, just look at how they’ve got slain, apparently to the las one.
Must have been quite busy guy, though.

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