In the service of the Orbán regime: György Schöpflin and the pig heads

I would advise György Schöpflin, Fidesz member of the European Parliament ever since 2004, to stay away from Twitter. It is a dangerous instrument in the hands of politicians, especially politicians who can’t keep their mouths shut. And it seems that he can’t. Two weeks ago his name came up in connection with one of his unfortunate tweets about a Hungarian journalist “and his ilk” who in a dictatorship would already be “in the jug.”

But that was nothing in comparison to what happened yesterday when several English-language papers reported that Schöpflin on Twitter suggested placing pig heads on the fence built by the Orbán government. They would be a deterrent and might keep out hundreds of refugees trying to cross into Hungary.

A week earlier HVG published an article about an anti-immigrant group that calls itself “Magyar Rendőrök és Katonák, vele-TEK vagyunk”(Hungarian policemen and soldiers, we are with you). It included photos of frightening-looking masks, apparently carved from sugar beets, that appeared on Facebook. These masks were most likely put up by self-appointed border guards who occasionally make side trips “to hunt” for illegal migrants. The “vele-TEK” group claims that the masks are effective. Perhaps that’s why Hungarian authorities haven’t made any effort to remove them.

Repafejek

The Twitter exchange in which Schöpflin played such an inglorious role began with a remark by Human Rights Watch director Andrew Stroehlein, who wrote: “Refugees are fleeing war & torture, Hungary. Your root vegetable heads will not deter them.” Schöpflin reacted: “Human images are haram. But agree pig’s head would deter more effectively.” Stroehlein retweeted: “Pig heads an ugly idea. Worse is reality of Hungary border abuses with violence against kids.”

I hate to disappoint György Schöpflin, but his idea was not very original. On the Facebook page with the photos of the carved heads, several people suggested the same thing. Here are a couple of the recommendations: “Pigs’ heads cut off would also work” and “Pig’s intestines and heads or huge pictures of pigs with the caption: THIS IS WHAT’S WAITING FOR YOU. YOU EAT IT.” Yes, György Schöpflin, you sank to that level. But at least these people are not university professors as you are.

schopflin2

It seems to me that György Schöpflin must lack emotional intelligence because, as it turned out, he sees nothing wrong, demeaning, or humiliating in his suggestion. In an interview with András Stumpf of Mandiner.hu, which Magyar Narancs described as “the repugnant mixture of stupidity and cynicism,” Schöpflin insisted that he didn’t humiliate anyone. When he “noted in reaction to a raised question that pigs’ heads would be more effective than masks carved from sugar beets, it was a small thought experiment, nothing else.” It was a simple statement of fact as far as he is concerned. And, as is his wont, Schöpflin immediately launched into one of his annoying mini-lectures. This time on the phenomenon of pork consumption. “This is a very interesting question from the anthropological perspective. That for so many people the eating of pork is a sensitive issue while in Europe it is considered to be normal.” He seemed to be surprised that he received at least 150 antagonistic responses, but as far as he is concerned, all that it is just a storm in a teacup. Or, even better, he would use the title of one of the books of his grandfather, Aladár Schöpflin, “Storm in the Aquarium.”

I’m so glad that he mentioned his grandfather because that gives me the opportunity to say something about this important figure in Hungarian literature. Yes, Aladár Schöpflin wrote several novels, but he was best known as a literary critic and literary historian. He supported and promoted modern literature. He worked for the progressive Huszadik Század, edited by Oszkár Jászi. He was involved with the famed literary review Nyugat. He was one of the organizers of the Hungarian PEN Club and co-editor alongside Gyula Illyés of Magyar Csillag. Right after the birth of the Second Hungarian Republic in 1946, he was made a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He died in 1950. He certainly didn’t belong to the official cultural establishment of the Horthy regime. On the contrary. He was highly regarded even during the Kádár regime. It is enough to check the account of his accomplishments in the Magyar Irodalmi Lexikon, published in 1965. The accolades go on for pages. I really wonder what he would think of his grandson’s working for a regime that emulates the Horthy regime, which was not at all to his liking.

Aladár’s son, Gyula Schöpflin, György’s father, was also a writer and translator who as a student joined the illegal communist party and spent some time in jail. Therefore, not surprisingly, he became part of the communist establishment after 1945. First, he worked at the Hungarian Radio and, after the communist takeover in 1948, he was appointed Hungarian ambassador to Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen. But then came 1949 and the show trial of László Rajk when he turned his back on the communist regime and moved to Great Britain with his family in 1950. György was 11 years old at the time.

And with this background György Schöpflin became a Fidesz lackey, lacquering over the regime’s boorishness in Brussels with his impeccable British pronunciation and demeanor. He is the British-educated gentleman who lends an elegant touch to the less than distinguished group of people Orbán sent to Brussels. Every time he is interviewed on some issue that reflects badly on the regime he serves, he is honey-tongued and appears on the surface so very reasonable, but in the end he always manages to defend all the rotten stuff that oozes out of the Orbán regime. I’m afraid that the person who said that he brings shame to the Schöpflin name is right. He squandered the name of his family and whatever reputation he himself had as a scholar.

August 23, 2016
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Member

Semi-OT: “came 1950 and the show trial of László Rajk when [Gyula Schöpflin, György’s father] turned his back on the communist regime and moved to Great Britain with his family.” Laszlo Rajk Jr. also returned his “Hungarian Middle Cross” because of Bayer who likely is a great friend of this Fidesz looser.

Reality Check
Guest

Where is Schöpflin faculty? In the very least he should be censured by his fellow faculty.

Reality Check
Guest

A reminder that the government’ss actions speak louder than his filthy words.

http://budapestbeacon.com/featured-articles/beating-of-refugees-continues-at-hungarian-border-says-ngo/38041

webber
Guest

Nowhere in the West. He lost his job at SSEES after funding ran short there.
He occasionally gives rambling lectures based on his impressions to adoring crowds of Fidesznik youth in Budapest (not joking – I witnessed one such event).
Other than Party events, he avoids Hungary like the plague. He hasn’t lived in the country for any serious length of time since he was a child.

webber
Guest

Corvinus gave him a honorary doctorate in 2013. You could take it up with them – I said at the time “shame on Corvinus.” People thought that was odd of me. It was obviously a gratuitous kissing up to Fidesz then.

So, again, shame! Szégyen!

webber
Guest

When Schöpflin taught in London, he was called George, and he insisted on being called George. He published under the name George. He switched to György after he entered Fidesz. He used to be so vehement about being called George that there are people – one or two Hungarian speakers – who refuse to call him György. These people are not counted among his friends.

Doy
Guest

George Soros.

webber
Guest

George Soros never, ever, insisted that people call him György. He goes by either name, and isn’t bothered by either.
The interesting thing is not what other people call Schöpflin, it is Schöpflin’s insistence that other people call him first one name, then another. Most interestingly, his shift from George to György happened with his turn to Fidesz.

Gabor Toka
Guest

Polished and charming, yes, and that makes him valuable for Fidesz. But as a person he is just an incredibly vain frustrated pig(head), that is why he would do anything for anyone who gives him the elevated position and adulation that he thinks he always deserved and neither political liberals nor the academia awarded him. BTW in the early 1990s he very proudly advertised his LSE affiliation but he was somehow fired from there, which – together with his unhappiness with the British Liberal Party sticking to its policies rather than joining the Labour govt of the late 1970s when Schopflin was an aspiring Lib politician – were major influences on his personality.

webber
Guest

I have heard a theory – and I am not saying it is right – that Schöpflin’s turn to Fidesz came about in part because he was rejected for a position at CEU. I seem to recall that the job he wanted was head of the Nationalism Studies programme, and he wanted it because his job in London was being discontinued.

As to LSE – I don’t believe he worked there. He was Jean Monnet Professor at SSEES, the institution founded by RW Seton-Watson, and now part of the University of London. Again just rumour – some say Schöpflin actually lost this professorship because SSEES “couldn’t find funding” to continue it – but it seems just as likely that he was very happy to leave SSEES when he became MEP, a position that is much, much more lucrative.

Guest

Have to say there’s a bit of irony where Mr. Schopflin was the Jean Monnet professor at the SSEES. Historically, Monnet was a key planner for a European ‘federation’ after the two world wars. He believed that ‘there would be no peace in Europe if the states were reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignity. The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation…’

Not sure where Schop’s illiberalism started and his allegiance to Magyar sovereignity against ‘bad’ Brussels but he probably got the thoughts percolating in Britain as he ‘taught’. Being and thinking in the West arguably always seems to bring out ‘anti’ West stuff. They must like the ‘optics’.

And as he’s moved on his career and his thoughts seem to have gotten ‘smaller’ in more than one way . Surely the Magyar representative’s twitter contribution indicates that in some cases brevity is not the soul of wit but a regurgitation of rank stupidity as he bangs on with the inane key strokes. And that from a ‘rep?’ Sheesh.

Guest

Reading up on Monnet I’d say that pig-headed Schöpflin is quite the Anti-Monnet!
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Monnet

Gabor Toka
Guest

Yes he was at SSEES for a while, but I somehow have this vague recollection that for a short while he had sg at the LSE. Anyway, now that you mention I remember hearing the CEU story too (I would know for a fact), i.e. that he applied for the chair that became vacant when Ernest Gellner passed away. The context was that Gellner’s position stopped being a “chair” and became the task to invent an MA program in Budapest instead of the one-man research institute that Gellner used to have in Prague. The woman who got the job instead of Schopflin gave up a tenured position at the U of Wisconsin in Madison. One of the better choices CEU made over the years, you may think:)

webber
Guest

At the time, a lot of people were scratching their heads at CEU’s decision, because Schöpflin’s publications on nationalism were far, far more impressive than those of the person who got it. Light years better.
Another rumour at the time was that the person who got it got it only because CEU wanted her husband – that it was a “package deal.”

After the fact, however – especially given what Schöpflin has said and written since c. 2001 – I think most people would agree that CEU made the right decision.

Member

We ask the question daily; Can they get any lower? And every time the answer is the same. Yes, they got lower again.

Observer
Guest

Consorting with pigs brought SG to that level and the stinking muck sticks.

As the great Peter Eszterhazy noted: people above certain level cannot go below certain levels. Seems this Schöpflin couldn’t elevate himself above that certain level.
But hey, MEP is so much more than 30 silver.

Doy
Guest

Fuck Eszterhazy’ s. How to treat your Hungarian. And hang him.

webber
Guest

Eszterhazy, who was as Hungarian as anyone you care to mention, died of cancer a few months ago.
Shame on you.

Observer
Guest

Webber

Let the cretins shine, otherwise we may just walk by.

I’m still amazed that even a cretin who obviously can read/write doesn’t know much about one of the greatest contemporary Hungarians.

But here it is, the orbanian level, for all to see.

Guest

Doy could be Bayer or Schöpflin in disguise – from the level of the creature’s comments !

Esterházy was educated as a mathematician – I’m proud to share this trait with him …
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9ter_Esterh%C3%A1zy

petofi
Guest

We’re living in The Age Of The Big Lie–first it was Goebbels, but now we have,

–Pjutin
–Erdogan
–Trump
–Clinton 1.0
–Clinton 2.0
–Chelsea C. 0.5

And the vast array of marketing geniuses who will make two saints
out of a pigs arse, and a sows ear.

Reality Check
Guest

If you think the Clinton’s engage in Goebbelian lies, than you do not know the definition of it.

Putting HRC in the same category as Trump and Putin is shear nonsense.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/28/hillary-clinton-honest-transparency-jill-abramson

She has a perception problem that has been engineered by Republican lies for over 20 years. You are part of the problem if you spread those lies.

petofi
Guest

Ok, guilty of hyperbole…but without doubt, Hillary is toxic and her sheer presence may well allow and end-of-civilization Trump-thing to get elected.

If she had had one elegant bone in her Huma-loving body, she would have stepped aside to let Bernie Sanders take the lead
and make mincemeat, once and for all, of Trump and the Republican Party-

petofi
Guest

But then, wherefore goest the raison d’etre of the money-making Clinton Foundation?

webber
Guest

I’m begging you Petofi – STICK TO THE TOPIC OF THIS BLOG!!!

You hate Clinton. We get it. WHO CARES????

webber
Guest

Not just guilty of “hyperbole”, guilty of sucking up and believing lies, and disseminating them.

trackback

[…] Ja lopuksi vielä jutusta, joka on saanut jo jonkin verran kansainvälistä julkisuutta. Sen keskiössä on György (George) Schöpflin, tässäkin blogissa jo esillä ollut Fidesz-puolueen europarlamentaarikko ja yksi sen harvoista näkyvistä ”oikeista” älyköistä, valtiotieteilijä, entinen Lontoon yliopiston Jean Monnet -vierailuprofessori, Tallinnan yliopiston sekä Budapestin Corvinus-yliopiston kunniatohtori. (Schöpflinin tempauksesta ja taustoista erinomainen kirjoitus myös täällä.) […]

Member

Thank you Eva. Once again, you nailed it. I feel so sorry for the University of Tallinn which awarded this man an honorary doctorate. (BTW, does he have a real doctorate? I didn’t manage to find any information about that on his official homepage. How come did he get the Jean Monnet professor’s post?)

Bowen
Guest

On the Fidesz MEP website, Schopflin calls himself a Dr. (with a capital D) despite only seeming to have an MA from Glasgow University, and a postgraduate certificate from Bruges. http://schopflin.fidesz-eu.hu/aboutus

I can’t find mention anyway of him ever having completed a PhD.

On the official European Parliament site, the guy’s CV is curiously blank. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/28135/GYORGY_SCHOPFLIN_cv.html

What’s interesting for me is that Schopflin seems to spend most of his time on Twitter attempting to insult Human Rights Watch staff (who are doing a great job at the Serbian-Hungarian border). And he’s doing this in collaboration with a tweeter called ‘Leto’ (who in reality is a software engineer employed by a company with very close ties to Fidesz, and has engaged in prolific hate speech against … well, everyone … on sites like politics.hu).

Reality Check
Guest

Some may remember when GS came to the defense of Leto on Politics.hu. When a commenter mentioned that a MEP should consider whether he wants to be allied with a misogynistic, fascist, antisemitic, homophobe, he made some snarky comment akin to how he treated Stroehlein in the Twitter exchange.

GS is also a flower of Leto on Twitter and on Leto’s blog.

Benoit
Guest

Let me add but a short note in honour of György Schöpflin’s family. I happened to meet his father and mother, and live in their house for some weeks back in 1967. They were a remarkable couple. Gyula was a fine old gentleman, a man of letters, utterly disillusioned since he first lost his Communist beliefs, then his country, and lately, his son, György. Katinka, his wife, was a GP in the East End of London. In a brief summary about Katinka as „a pioneer of family planning,” Naomi Marks writes: „…shocked by the poverty of the Indian and Pakistani populations of the East End, she set up postnatal classes and other meetings for the women of the immigrant communities, teaching them family planning practices.” I dare not wonder what they would think about the extreme ideas of their son.

ambator
Member

I have heard Schöpflin speak in a conference setting and found him very convincing and knowledgeable. But exactly for that reason I cannot fathom what on earth can compel a man of his erudition and experience to stoop so low. Surely it cannot be conviction. So, what is it?

pappp
Guest

With Fidesz there is no such thing as “surely it cannot be…”. This is the Western/liberal naivety from which it would be high time to wake up. Anything is possible with Fidesz, just like anything is possible with Erdogan or Putin.

Most leading Nazis just adored Schubert and Beethoven, what does that prove? Schöpflin sounded convincing and knowledgeable? He is still a fanatic Fidesznik who is also a mean and pathetic man who most likely way overstated his credentials and accomplishments.

Mihal
Guest

Lets see if there will be any reaction from the EPP. After all he is a member of that party in the EP.

bimbi
Guest
While today’s post can be passed off as just another report on a boorish ill-mannered, unsophisticated Fidesz hack, I see the problem as rather deeper than that. Five days ago we were given a lesson on the ‘unconventional’ Hungarian of Mr Zsolt Bayer, “Bassza meg” Bayer, as he prefers to be known. Regular readers will be aware that on the recommendation of the Minister for Human Capacities, Mr. Zoltan Balog, Janos Lazar presented Mr. Bayer with the national decoration, the “Hungarian Middle (Finger) Cross”. It is widely recognized that Mr. Bayer was nominated as a reward for his untiring efforts in the diffusion of unconventional Hungarian through the press, so we have him principally to thank for the usage of “Kurva anyád” in almost every line of his writing. That this “race to the bottom” has now been adopted as Fidesz Official Policy, approved and driven by none other than Mr Orbán himself is clear from the fact that “Bassza meg” Bayer’s nomination came from minister of a Christian sect, Mr. Zoltan Balog, one of the senior government ministers. It may not be so well known that Minister B. has a “Certificate as Expert Mental Hygienic” and, while it is… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Bassza meg… kurva…. szar… diszno fejek…..fill in blank’

One generation appeared to have figured much in literature using written language to edify and teach. But another in power practices a fine coprolalia…. the lilting and spoken babbling of obscene and profane language in human discourse. Minds certainly gone adrift as the use of language. The country appears to operate in a language desert. Usually cursing brings with it a physical belligerence. Sorry to say there are hints of it at the border for all to see.

Member

OT: The government ought in an other lie. What’s new? At the time the Hungarian government stated that Bayer received the state honour “on the basis of the proposal from the Community of People Who Preserve the Memory of those Who Were Destroyed in Gulags”.

Historian, Tamas Stark only learned from one of the Hungarian newspapers that the organization he leads is behind the nomination. In short, the Hungarian government lied again! Great surprise.

In fact Tamas Stark reiterated the comment I made. Let me quote from the interview with Mr. Stark:
“– I do not agree [with the Award]. Zsolt Bayor is absolutely not worthy for a state award. On one hand, not only because of his sometimes racist writings. On the other hand, it’s because -as far as I know his work- with his articles he supports such a Russian system, that does not faces the crimes of Stalinism, and tries to downplay and relatives them. It is exactly the memory of the victims of the Gulag that not allow that such a journalist would be honoured.”
http://nol.hu/belfold/bayer-zsolt-botrany-lovagkereszt-rasszizmus-kituntetes-interju-1628967

OLDBOYSOK
Guest

A footnote on GS’s family: his mother Katalin Éva was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the UK for her distinguished work on family planning in the poorest parts of the country. See
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1125948/