Conspiracy theories in Hungary

Five years ago Political Capital, a Hungarian think tank, published a survey on Hungarian attitude toward conspiracy theories. The result of that study showed that it was mostly Jobbik voters who had a strong predilection for believing in theories suggesting that secret forces are responsible for the state of our world. Publicus Intézet recently conducted a similar survey, which found that the “disease,” most likely due to Viktor Orbán’s consistent, relentless propaganda, has since spread to include a large minority of Fidesz voters as well. Although in Publicus Intézet’s assessment, the typical paranoid who believes in conspiracy theories is someone with a low level of educational attainment who votes for either Jobbik or Fidesz, paranoid impulses are widespread in Hungarian society.

One good piece of news, even though it might be categorized as quasi-conspiratorial, is that 41% of the people surveyed think that it is not the cabinet, the government if you will, that runs the affairs of the country. The spread of opinions on who is in charge is wide. Sixteen percent of the respondents named Viktor Orbán as the sole decision maker, saying that members of the government are powerless tools in his hands. Left-wingers especially (35% of them) think that Orbán is a kind of dictator. But those (11%) who claim that domestic business groups run the country are also most likely not exactly friends of the Orbán government. The same should be true of those who named “a few Fidesz politicians, Habony and Fidesz oligarchs” (7%) as the culprits. Finally, there is another 7% who rather vaguely point to “people, groups of domestic political life.” Forty-one percent is a very high number, especially since 30% of those questioned either didn’t have an answer or refused to respond.

The above group thinks that Hungary is being run by domestic forces, just not the government. There is a second group that accuses foreigners of interference in Hungary’s internal affairs. Thirteen percent are convinced that the country is actually run by international financial circles (13%) which may be a code name for Jewish financiers and businessmen. Six percent believe that the strings are in the hands of the European Union while 4% blame the United States. Specific references to Jews were low (2%).

Once these figures are broken down by party preferences, it becomes clear that Jobbik and Fidesz voters are the most prone to fall for conspiracy theories. The difference between the two groups is marked on only one question: 10% of Jobbik voters are certain that Jews are the ones who actually run the country while among Fidesz voters this number is only 2%.

George Soros was one of the subjects of the survey, which was appropriate in light of the government’s furious anti-Soros campaign of late. Soros became a prominent scapegoat  through Viktor Orbán’s mysterious references to “háttérhatalom/háttérhatalmak,” which I translated as “clandestine power/s.” As far as I can figure out, this clandestine power consists of the U.S. government, the Clintons, George Soros, and the civic organizations financed by him. According to government propaganda, Soros is supporting Hillary Clinton financially for the sole purpose of electing someone president of the United States who has an unfavorable view of the Orbán government. This propaganda, interestingly, seems to have fallen mostly on deaf ears. Only 19% of the people think that Soros and unnamed “clandestine powers” influence Hungarian politics, and a whopping 65% think that “this is just a communication strategy to direct attention away from other serious domestic problems.”

Soros’s name came up on two more occasions. The answers to these questions show that about 30% of Hungarians believe that “George Soros personally has something to do with the refugee crisis” as opposed to 41% who believe otherwise. Note that a lot of people couldn’t or didn’t want to answer. The same was true about Soros’s attitude toward the Hungarian government. To the question whether “he intends to overthrow the Hungarian government” 29% answered in the affirmative. These are high numbers, especially since only 40% think that these accusations are bonkers.

General questions about the refugee crisis show the depth of Hungarians’ confusion over the issue. Seventy-one percent of the respondents believe that “the goal of the refugee crisis is the weakening of Europe.” It is equally worrisome that 53% of the people believe that “American interest groups intentionally generated the refugee crisis.” It is also discouraging that 62% think that “a small elite controls the whole world.” Finally, on another level, 25% of the population believe in the deliberate spraying of people with poisonous materials (chemtrails).

New World Order

It seems to me that Hungarians are more prone to these bizarre conspiracy theories than some other nations. Given my time constraints, I checked only a few U.S. figures on identical questions. A few years ago PPP (Public Policy Polling) found that 28% of American voters believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world. Compare that to the Hungarian figure of 62%. As for chemtrails, only 5% of Americans believe the story of poisonous spraying as opposed to 25% in Hungary. I might add that Republicans are more prone to believe such theories than Democrats, just as in Hungary right-wing voters are more apt to believe in conspiracy theories than liberals and left-wingers.

Although a large majority of Hungarians (79%) admitted that the problem with these theories is that we cannot know how much is true and how much not, still 41% of those questioned think that by “following these theories one gets a more realistic picture than if one tries to get information through official channels.” Decades of government secrecy and disinformation are at the bottom of this skepticism. Unfortunately, the Orbán government’s strategy of blaming “hidden forces” of conspiring against the defenseless Hungarians heightens the paranoid strains that are already strong in the population. The number of believers in these incredible stories has grown in the last five years. The negative effects of the Orbán government’s views can be felt everywhere.

June 19, 2016
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John3
Guest

The alternative title could read: How easy is it to dupe the majority by well crafted disinformation?

Istvan
Guest
Eva writes: “It is equally worrisome that 53% of the people believe that American interest groups intentionally generated the refugee crisis.” It should be noted that this is actually the Russian line as presented in RT broadcasts. See for example http://www.dw.com/en/putin-blames-us-for-migrant-crisis-in-europe/a-18694852 the Jobbik have also repackaged the Russian propaganda line for Hungarian consumption see http://www.jobbik.com/west_to_blame_for_refugee_crisis_anti_russian_warmongering_hungarian_mp The Russians understand the Hungarian affinity for conspiracy theories and exploit it well to attempt to turn Hungary against the United States and the West. To be honest the affinity for conspiracy theories exists in numerous Central European countries and not just Hungary. The Russians launched a very effective propaganda campaign against NATO forces in 1999 in relationship to our actions against Serbia. As we later learned the Russians used the propaganda offensive to prepare for a direct intervention in Kosovo. So on June 11, 1999 the Russians approached the Ukrainian and Hungarian foreign ministries with a low-key request for over-flight clearance for six Russian IL-76 transport planes headed for the Balkans. The Russians conveniently neglected to inform their diplomatic counterparts that the planes were filled with elite Russian paratroopers to be deployed in Kosovo. Hungarian officials granted what they thought was a routine request,… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Istvan,

I generally have to don an oxygen mask before beginning your usually long-winded offerings, but in this case it was worth the effort-

John 3
Guest

My friend Petofi said it right! Istvan’s logic is excellent.

Let me repeat it briefly. the Russian State is the main corrosive factor in the world affairs.

Hungary has been its long term victim.

webber
Guest

“The Russian state is the main corrosive factor in world affairs….”
I beg to differ.
May I remind you of Islamic fundamentalism, ISIS and Al Qaeda?

Russia and Serbia fought in two world wars on the side of the United States.

As a matter of fact, we have never been in a shooting war with Russia.

Putin is a threat? We were allied with Stalin. Compared with Stalin, Putin is no threat whatsoever.

I trust and pray that if there is ever a third world war, the United States will be allied with Russia again.

Give me Putin over Osama Bin Laden and his ilk any day.

petofi
Guest

Webber, you schmaltz, you.

Where exactly did Russia stand in 1940 when they signed the pact with Hitler?

You’re rather selective in your facts. In fact, if the US had not supplied Russia, the country would be inhabiting a small corner in the northeast of Siberia!

webber
Guest

Pefooti you schlemiel, get glasses. Who said the US didn’t supply Russia?
Why don’t you mention the fact that the US didn’t enter the war until after Pearl Harbor, too, while you are at it?
Even Churchill found nice things to say about Stalin after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union.
5.7 m. Russians died in WWII.
I’m glad they were on our side.
But hey, if you prefer that they stayed on the Germans’ side, what can I say?
Self-hatred is well enough understood by now – not at all an uncommon neurosis.

webber
Guest

After that comment, you schmuck, I’m expecting you to say something about colonialism causing Al Qaeda.

John3
Guest

Petofi is on the right track again.

This matter has to reconsidered.

The Russian state has a horrible record.

If you carefully analyze their acts, it is easy to see that they have accomplished a shocking damage.

Their disinformation skill is the best,

Millions of Intelligent people fall for their tricks.

webber
Guest
Istvan, I suggest you read the memoirs of General Mike Jackson, the senior British officer serving in the Kosovo intervention (title: Soldier: The Autobiography). Here is what Gen. Jackson says about Gen. Clark and : “Wes Clark was something of a loner, a driven, intensely ambitious man with a piercing stare. Often described as “tightly wound”, he seemed to bring a disturbing zeal to his work. He had a reputation as a very political sort of general, antagonising his military superiors by going over their heads when they did not give him what he wanted. He was not popular among many of his colleagues, who knew him as the “Perfumed Prince”. … Following my conference call with Clark, I emerged to find a Russian colonel in full dress uniform, waiting for me. I was introduced to Colonel Gromov, the military attaché in Skopje. He handed me a letter from the Russian ministry of defence, informing me that “the leading element of the Russian KFOR contingent” now controlled the airfield at Pristina. So Gromov had been told by his superiors in Moscow to come and see me. This bizarre performance was confirmation that the Russian column in Pristina wasn’t just a… Read more »
webber
Guest
Istvan
Guest

I am totally familiar with the position expressed by the British General. General Clark was correct in his assessment of the situation and his strong actions prevented the creation of a Russian protectorate in Kosovo and if a similar aggressive stance was taken in relationship to the Ukraine that invasion might have been prevented too.

The British were correct that US actions could have put the world on the brink of WWIII. When dealing with Putin that is the reality of the situation. The other reality is that many Hungarians have adopted the world view of Russia as the polling data presented by Eva demonstrates. The movement of NATO forces into the Baltic states and Poland on a rotating basis is an admission at the highest levels of that the Russians are a aggressive force attempting to restore the hegemony of the Russian state over vast parts of Central Europe.

The recognition of the danger of Russia towards Europe will continue under either a Clinton or Trump administration, there is no turning back now. We are committed and the US must show leadership in this conflict.

Guest

Yes, a very challenging time ahead. Vlad has a few ways of working initiatives against European solidarity as the ‘union’ dream’ of coming together in harmony and economy succumbs to great pressures. The burrowing and tunneling will never stop now. And as we know an adversary must never ever turn his back in the face of aggression of any kind. NATO has to be sharp and attentive now. The big cat is in play.

webber
Guest

Istvan
There is one major problem with your narrative. Putin was not in power in 1999. Yeltsin was.

The British General had it right.

Istvan
Guest

Putin in 1999 played a very major role in Russian strategic policy and in December 1999 he became President of the Federation. Early in 1999 Putin was Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Chapter 3 of the book by Putin expert Fiona Hill titled “Mr Putin Opperative in the Kremlin” discusses his rise during that time.

webber
Guest

Istvan, I don’t believe any sane patriot wants the United States to start WWIII because of “some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.” (Bismarck)

What is our interest in Kosovo? Can you tell me that? Because I cannot see it. I’m very glad for Kosovar Albanians – glad they got their independence, and sorry they are still so poor. I wish them well. I also wish the Serbs well. Now, tell me, what is our vital interest there?

Henry Kissinger couldn’t see it. Can you?

Back to today: What Putin has done is an irritant, in the larger scheme. Nothing more. Compare what Putin has done and is doing with what ISIS has done, with what Al Qaeda has done. Which is the real threat? I think we both know the answer to that. And that threat is a threat to Russia too.

As I pointed out above, Russia and Serbia were on our side in two world wars. God willing, we will be on the same side again.

I, for one, never want to see war with Russia. Never.

If we could be allies with Stalin, surely we could find a modus vivendi with Putin.

webber
Guest

Also – I recall a senior Pentagon general giving a press conference during the crisis in Georgia some years ago (and that WAS during Putin’s time). When asked what the United States would do to back up its ally Georgia, that general pointed out that Georgia was not a member of NATO. He also said something that has stuck with me since – he said that for the past 70 years the Pentagon has worked on avoiding war with Russia, and as far as he can see that policy has not changed.

I trust the top brass in the Pentagon are still thinking that way – God bless them!

webber
Guest

P.S. Istvan – on re-reading what you wrote, I believe you too think starting WWIII for Kosovo would have been idiotic, to put it mildly. In fact, I can find little to disagree with in what you’ve written above.

Guest

Re: ‘If we could be allies with Stalin, surely we could find a modus vivendi with Putin’

It is imperative the US and Russia should have some understanding with each other when it comes to global affairs. With the stipulation and understanding though that parlaying with Vlad is like chatting with Uncle Joe. When you get a ‘Nyet’ it’s a NYET. When you get a ‘Da’ well they’re going to have to think about it. Courtesy of British diplomatic experience while discussing political affairs over the samovar with Koba.

Istvan
Guest
The theory as taught to me was called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Its questionable whether it was ever fully accepted as doctrine by the US Joint Chiefs. President Jimmy Carter in 1980 did issue Presidential Directive 59, Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy that stated in part: “To continue to deter in an era of strategic nuclear equivalence, it is necessary to have nuclear (as well as conventional) forces such that in considering aggression against our interests any adversary would recognize that no plausible outcome would represent a victory or any plausible definition of victory. To this end and so as to preserve the possibility of bargaining effectively to terminate the war on acceptable terms that are as favorable as practical, if deterrence fails initially, we must be capable of fighting successfully so that the adversary would not achieve his war aims and would suffer costs that are unacceptable, or in any event greater than his gains, from having initiated an attack.” From what I can see in President Obama’s most current Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) his position is consistent with what President Carter argued back in 1980. But as I said every conflict with the Russians does indeed raise the specter… Read more »
Joe Simon
Guest

Few people in the US are aware of some basic facts.
The top 5 percent of the populatuion own 59 percent of all wealth.
The top 20 percent own 80 percent of all wealth.
Six corporations control 90 percent of the media in the US.
Indocrination of the population is surely inherent in such concentration of power.
Noam Chomsky, MIT professor, has a few insightful observations about this.
There is little discussions in the US of basic social issues.
Pierce Morgan at CNN tried. Now how dared he.
We donot need conspiray theories, people need facts.

petofi
Guest

Here’s some facts for you, Mr. Simon:

The bottom 30% in the US live a helluva lot better than the bottom
30% in Hungary or Russia.

petofi
Guest

Piers Morgan on social issues?
You daft Russky troll…get your facts straight.
Morgan was an entertainment interviewer.

And, by the way, the KGB boys don’t need facts…they manufacture them, don’t you know.

Jean P.
Guest

“Few people in the US are aware of some basic facts.”

This blog is about Hungary. Few people in Hungary are aware of any basic facts. Where would they get the knowledge? The cardinal law of the land is omerta.

Guest

Re: ‘This blog is about Hungary’

That’s what I thought. I’m getting the feeling some would like to call it ‘American Spectrum’ and let the vitriol spew. If they are Magyar/Russian government apologists it is evident where the electorate get their views of the US. Par for the course. To be expected. And all in the game. The mote in their eye is apparently displacing their paternalistic and ‘protective’ vision of their ‘subjects’.

Baksis
Guest

“Where would they get the knowledge?” From the internet. However stupidity also spread on the internet with light speed too. The expansion of conspiracy theories is based on the internet too.

tappanch
Guest

I am happy to report that Orban’s oligarchs [Vajna, Szima and now Garancsi] have

completely monopolized gambling in Hungary.

comment image

http://mfor.hu/cikkek/127813.html

tappanch
Guest

Voila. a genuine conspiracy:

Matolcsy & friends have manipulated the protocols of their public money spending through their PADations.

http://444.hu/2016/06/20/utolag-manipulaltak-a-matolcsy-alapitvanyok-jegyzokonyveit

For the American readers:
Since the US is about 30 times Hungary, this is the equivalent of

“the FED chairman sets aside $30 billion for his own purposes & employs the wife of the Attorney General in this activity. When the scandal is published, President O. publicly defends his friend, the FED chairman and no official investigation is permitted. The protocols about the money spending are falsified retroactively.”

Andrew J Chandler
Guest

Apparently, 44% of British voters are xenophobic and believe that all migration to the UK is bad, while the same number want to remain in the single EU market of goods, services and labour!

Guest

I’d be very interested in your source, please.

Many people here are against immigration – but they are not xenophobic.

There have been so many EU workers here plus the ‘commonwealth’ non-EU immigrants that schools and doctor’s surgeries have been inundated. They just can’t cope with the influx. It’s very very difficult for me even, to get an appointment.

In addition many jobless people can’t (or won’t) get even the most basic jobs and say that so many workers coming from low-wage economies are driving down wages.

They have a point. It’s basic economics.

But it’s not xenophobia.

I’d accept that there’s possibly been bad planning in anticipating these surges.

It will be easy for the wealthy, older generation to vote leave, of which a subset will undoubtedly be xenophobic.

It’s the youngsters who will vote ‘in’ for their futures – as I would recommend.

But I intend to spoil my vote – for ‘in’ – qualifying it with “provided Hungary stops getting funds and is chucked out for making a monkey of democracy.”

I voted in 1975 for ‘in’.

It’s looking decidedly even stevens as the campaigns resume .

Interesting times.

Guest

I forget to add: there’s a natural divide in England North versus South. The North are dependent on more manual jobs where immigration has driven down wages.

In Boston Lincolnshire where traditionally the fruit and vegetables season has relied on immigrant workers, there is resentment due to the very large congregations of nationalities – and wages are low.

The pressure on schools, surgeries, A&Es, and housing are much higher.

Us Southerners have it easy with the less manual jobs and decent wage levels.

So to put it crudely.

The North want ‘leave’ – The South want ‘in’.

Guest

In case I’ve mistaken some on here who might give a damn – I beleve that the ‘inners’ will win by a small margin – which in itself will be problematic due to a lack of an ’emphatic’ margin (I’ve borrowed the word ’emphatic’ from the footballing fraternity as it has been hijacked by the football madness here.)

So it’s the ‘inners’ then.

And Hillary too.

Guest

Curious how the ‘West Country’ will vote. My recollection of meeting up with our b&b hosts on Bodmin Moor was that they had had enough of London what with the ‘demographics’. It certainly was exit stage left for them. They preferred to be far far away from what was going on. I thought they were looking for both physical as well as psychological distance from that ‘ London’ experience.

That was 10 years ago. Looks like that was a gestation period as now all of Britain is apparently seeking ‘distance’ from the continent. Good luck. But really for those who want distance is it wise to look for the doors when you just don’t really know what’s going to hit you on the other side? I revere the ‘sceptered isle’ being a sort of Anglophile and I would be very disappointed to see the land perhaps risk losing its scepter.

PALIKA
Guest

The following news item belongs really more to yesterday’s law based discussion, nevertheless it is interesting that the Appeal court has acquitted Juhasz from the political prosecution dressed up as corruption. It seems OV and his chum PP do not have as much power over the judges as they would like. Seems to be along the lines of hopeful results such as the Rogan libel case.

webber
Guest

They have not been able to get all the convictions they want, true, but PP is able to foul up investigations of Fidesznik crimes so thoroughly that the statute of limitations will pass before anyone in Fidesz gets to the dock. (Watch the Quaestor investigation, for example)

PALIKA
Guest

If you lower your expectations just a tiny bit you maybe able to celebrate the minor victories before they turn into watersheds. Judges are key players but they are not willing revolutionaries. These are two cases with welcome results.

webber
Guest

a tiny bit?

petofi
Guest

Orban is a 12-yr. old joyously flaunting rules and laws and enjoying the mayhem that he’s creating.

I suppose the conservative backers know something: to whit, that once bankrupted and flattened, Hungary can approach the EU mouthing mea culpas and playing the victim–the country’s preferred role–and that the EU will swallow it; and the Christian-Judaeo, knee-jerk guilt complex will weaken and rebuild the mess that Orban and Fidesz will leave behind.
A can’t-lose-proposition that Hungarians always think they can set up….

Guest

To be a Hungarian is a collectiveb neurosis!

PALIKA
Guest

There is something in this. But where is it relevant?

Istvan
Guest

By way of an update to Eva’s post yesterday about the Antal Rogán lawsuit against Péter Juhász there is a new interview with Péter Juhász that can be read at http://nol.hu/belfold/juhasz-peter-teljesen-nyilvanvalo-hogy-rogan-hazudott-1620331

Observer
Guest

So there’s
a heap of evidence (provided earlier by P. Juhasz) that A. Rogan have passed dozens of council properties to cronies at half or well under market prices,
Rogan lives far beyond his visible means,
Portik testifies that he has personally handed over large bribes to said Rogan
And still nothing happens, ie P.Polt is earning his keep.

The judiciary still functions properly from time to time, DESPITE the regime’s efforts to subjugate them. Eventually it will happen, unless the Orban maffia is defeated and destroyed before that.

wpDiscuz