Masha Gessen and Susan Faludi on Orbán’s Hungary and Trump’s America

Below you will find excerpts from two fascinating articles in which Hungary’s current regime is compared with what might be coming to the United States under the presidency of Donald Trump.

The first excerpt is from Masha Gessen’s recent article, “The Putin Paradigm,” which appeared in the December issue of The New York Review of Books. Gessen is a Russian and American journalist, author, and activist known for her opposition to Vladimir Putin. Gessen discovered Bálint Magyar’s Post-Communist Mafia State: The Case of Hungary, published in English this year, which inspired her interpretation of Putin’s Russia and her fear that Trump may introduce the world to a post-democratic mafia state.

The second selection is from Susan Faludi’s “Hungary’s sharp rightward turn is a warning to America,” an opinion piece that appeared in the December 5 issue of The Guardian. Susan Faludi is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author of several highly acclaimed books: Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, and The Terror Dream. Her most recent book, In the Darkroom (2016), was chosen by the editors of The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of the year. Susan Faludi is a dual U.S.-Hungarian citizen.

Masha Gessen: “The Putin Paradigm”

“The best available definition of the kind of state Putin has built is provided by the Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar, who calls it a mafia state: it’s run like a family by a patriarch who distributes money, power, and favors. Magyar uses the word ‘family’ to mean a clan of people with longstanding associations; it is important that one cannot enter the family unless invited—’adopted,’ in Balint’s terminology—and one cannot leave the family voluntarily. In this model the family is built on loyalty, not blood relations, but Trump is bringing his literal family into the White House. By inviting a few hand-picked people into the areas that interest him personally, he may be creating a mafia state within a state. Like all mafias, this one is driven primarily by greed.

“The complete term Magyar uses is ‘the post-communist mafia state,’ and he argues that it can take root only on the ruins of a totalitarian state. But Trump may introduce the world to the post-democratic mafia state. In this model, he will still be the patriarch who distributes money and power. The patriarch’s immediate circle will comprise his actual family and a few favorites like General Flynn. They will concern themselves with issues of interest to the president, and with enrichment of themselves and their allies. The outer circle will be handed issues in which Trump is less interested. In practical terms, this will mean that the establishment Republicans in the cabinet will be able to pursue a radically conservative program on many areas of policy, without regard to views Trump may or may not hold, and this will keep the Republican Party satisfied with a president it once didn’t want.”

Susan Faludi: “Hungary’s sharp rightward turn is a warning to America”

“’American media should study Hungary’s record,’ Newt Gingrich declared approvingly after a visit to Hungary last summer, lauding a 13ft-high razor-wire border fence that Orban erected against the influx of ‘foreigners’, Syrian refugees. Gingrich tweeted that the nation has ‘proven a fence can stop illegal immigration’. Orban and Trump have established a mutual-admiration society, with the American retweeting the Magyar’s encomiums. The prime minister hailed Trump’s victory as ‘great news’ on Facebook.

“Anyone looking for a crystal ball for the coming Trump administration would do well to ‘study Hungary’s record’. And not just for clues about how a rightist strongman can permanently reorder a society and its institutions once it controls the legislature (as Trump and Orban do) and a judiciary (as Orban does and Trump is about to) – but also for how such a politician continues to consolidate power as his policies fail….

“Last week, Breitbart News, formerly run by Trump’s new chief strategist, Stephen K Bannon, announced that it ‘is preparing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a major media company for its baseless and defamatory claim that Breitbart News is a “white nationalist website”’. This, despite its hosting articles such as ‘Hoist It High and Proud: the Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage’. Breitbart’s threatened litigation is especially ominous coming after a bevy of suits won by billionaire conservatives against news organizations, as Emily Bazelon chronicled in New York Times Magazine.

“The effects of such actions – presidential demonizing, threats of legal reprisal – are pernicious. As in Hungary, media repression thrives on self-censoring fear to accomplish its own ends. I won’t have to be fined in Hungary to worry about how a media excerpt of my book might be received by the Hungarian government. And I won’t have to be sued or slammed by anyone in the West Wing to know that I live in a less free world of speech. When I return from Hungary to the US next spring, it will be with a certain edge of trepidation. There is no island now.”

December 19, 2016
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Roderick S. Beck
Guest

The essay is a bit of fear mongering. You can’t compare Hungary to the US. Trump got fewer votes than Clinton whereas Orbán won overwhelmingly. Hungary always had weak democratic institutions. The US has a lot more checks and balances. And stronger institutions. So no, I don’t belive Trump can rearrange American society. Reagan and Bush both failed to break the opposition. Let’s get real.

Roderick S. Beck
Guest

Let me add that Americans have always politically braver than Hungarians. There was nothing about Hungarian society after Orbán was elected.

András B. Göllner
Guest

@ Roderick S. Beck

May you be proven right. You are right in saying that Hungary’s political culture enabled Orbán to rise to the top like cream, and to remain there. You are, however wrong not to admit that the two leaders follow similar persuasive strategies. They do so, because they share political convictions political advisors and are ahead of their time. I say the last with a shudder. The question is open about Trump’s ability to remain on top, like his friends in Russia, Hungary and the former Soviet Republics. They are counting on the new technological revolution to keep them afloat. They are counting on their superior use of post-modern communications technologies. And they are counting on their superior use of visceral languages, that emphasize emotional rather than rational discourse. In the age of increasing complexity, emotional language has greater persuasive efficacy with mainstream humanity, a.k.a. white, male Homo sapiens with blue collars, and their mates, and “milenials”, who are glued to their handheld devices, have no time to read, or watch mass media public affairs programming. I would not be so confident about the staying power of the Enlightenment as you are. Just take a look around you.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Yes, I look around me and see the EU is still here. America elected a black President to two consecutive terms and gay marriage is Constitutionally protected. The reality is Trump have a very weak grasp on power. His party is not loyal to him and the majority of educated Americans despise him. In the Senate the Republicans have only a two seat majority. It is worth that the US has a Federal system and many states will not cooperate with Trump. For California has already clear they will not hold anyone picked as an illegal immigrant. The state will immediately release them.

I am sick and tired of excess pessimism. EU did not disappear. Nor the Euro. Greece did not exit. And the US system is radically from the Hungarian system with a totally different historical trajectory.

webber
Guest

Dead right.
Though I would give just about even money on eventual Grexit (and the EU would be stronger for it – would be stronger without Hungary too, for that matter).

Ann Raynd
Guest

You are happy that illegal immigrants should be released? Because, why?

Roderick Beck
Guest

Because most of those illegal immigrants are now part of our communities. They work, pay taxes, and have families, and their children, born on America soil are American citizens. I don’t believe in deporting millions of people is good either for America or its character. I always think it is damn stupid given that America’s strength has always immigration. It allows us to tap the most motivated and talented people in the world. It is why America’s population has grown rapidly whereas European population are aging rapidly and shrinking.

webber
Guest

Roderick – AR is an FSB tool who appears here whenever Russia comes into the conversation. Apparently the name “Masha Gessen” attracts the Great Eye’s attention.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Sure, Anyone who disagrees with you is an FSB tool. And a terrorist, no doubt.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Should we let more illegals in? Surely if the 11m are great, why not another 110m?

Observer
Guest
Guest

Yes, all those brave gun-toting rednecks – most of them racist creationists sure of their white supremacy which their god gave them …

I’m so happy that practically all Americans that I had the pleasure to meet belong to the other side …

Ann Raynd
Guest

and what exactly did your godling give you?

petofi
Guest

@ R.S. Beck

If you wouldn’t be concentrating on your belly-button…you’d know the rubbish you wrote. “The US checks and balances” are not worth nothin’. Or have you failed to see how the Republican power structure, after bad mouthing a presidential hopeful who seemed to have no chance, have now fallen all into line like so many little ducks–witness Ryan, Romney and all those congressman who now cluck their support for the risible Trump. Romney, especially, has been made a monstrous fool.

And what about Trump siding with Putin against the CIA and the FBI? Checks and balances you say? I guess there’s nonse left.

Let’s remember that the Supreme Court will get two new Trump appointees and the court will be little better than a rubber stamp…or have you failed to take note of the Floridian debacle of a few years ago.

There are no csechs or cheques, or checks…or balances.
We live, now, in the post-moral/ethical world of Trump, Putin, Erdogan and Orban. You can start shredding books and forgetting the 2500 years of incremental ‘progress of civiliation’.

How did this all go so wrong…?

aida
Guest

Well at last a question not hard to answer. It is part of the topsy turvey world of politics laced with incompetence, complacency and a large dose of corruption. It will turn out interesting.
Why does Obama complain about Russian cyber hack

Roderick Beck
Guest

If you were even moderately well educated, you would know that the Robert Bork nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated in 1987 and that Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace rather than face an impeachment trial. You would also know Supreme Court Justices serve for life, the a Senate vote on legislation can only be held if 60% of the Senators agree, that the US has a Federal system, and that US Federal courts are quite jealous of their power. You would also be aware virtually all the crimes by the Bush administration were exposed by the US press.

If you want to debate, do so having some knowledge of the facts. Otherwise, I have better things to do.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Obviously you do not have better things to do. At least do not fib.

Ann Raynd
Guest
I think you confuse the reason for “checks and balances”. They weren’t put there to protect your worldview/policy preferences. They were put in place to protect American institutions. Yet it is you who is attacking the institution of the American Presidency presumably b/c you do not like the future occupant. I have little doubt that if Orban represented your policy choices, this blog would not exist no matter his corruption. You’d just rationalize it by pointing out some “worse” (probably Hungarian nationalist) alternative. Comparing the Trump Presidency to Putin’s is ludicrous. The US democracy is alive and well – if tainted by ridiculousness of the candidates. And let’s not forget that it was the lion of the left, Roosevelt, that not only made it his policy agenda to draw the US into a world war in which the US did not need to participate but also threatened US democratic institutions by insisting on running more than twice, court-packing threats, etc. The real threat to US democracy has always been from the left – because, traditionally, it is the left that has formative plans for reshaping societies that naturally require the use of state power – the right generally does not… Read more »
Roderick Beck
Guest

You are deeply confused. The American right did not support equal rights for women, gays or any minorities. Indeed, the American has consistently fought against the tide of social progress and conservative Presidents have routinely broken the law and weakened Constitutional protections.

And the greatest threat to the Republic was Richard Nixon.

You definitely fit into the post fact world.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Yes, Richard Nixon… was a greater threat than threats of court packing and four terms. Do you also believe that pink elephants are omnivores?

webber
Guest

Repeat after me: Term limits, term limits, term limits.

Ann Rand
Guest

Que?

Roderick Beck
Guest

I did not know that being elected 4 times in a row was a crime. I think you are deeply confused if you think it is a crime. Richard Nixon ordered the break in of the Democratic Party headquarters and then covered it up. Both are those impeachable offenses. He was a criminal and his guilt was so obvious that Republican resistance to an impeachment trial collapsed.

Ann Raynd
Guest

I never said it was a crime – I would make a snide remark but the owner of the blog advises against that so I will redirect you to reread what I wrote

Observer
Guest

Ann R
“a world war in which the US did not need to participate..”

It seems you’ve skipped important history lessons, otherwise you’d have known that
– the US set the row materials blockade of Japan,
– Japan attacked on Dec. 7th 1941 and US participation became a fact. There was no choice.

“traditionally, it is the left that has formative plans for reshaping societies..”
Well, President Reagan’s administrations obviously didn’t know that, to offer recent examples. Neither did Adenauer, Erhard, De Gaul or Thatcher.

Pls go back to reading, if not school, or just don’t embarrass yourself here.

Ann Raynd
Guest

it’s “raw” not “row”. Yes, after we basically kept pissing on Japan throughout the Roosevelt administration they attacked us… and then we had no choice. Maybe we should not have been doing that in the first place? Do you think that Roosevelt did not know what he was doing and what that would likely trigger? (I mean aside from the fact that he actually knew about the Japanese heading to PH, before they arrived).

webber
Guest

You are utterly insane. The US “pissed” on Japan, and therefore they had “no choice” but to attack Pearl Harbor….
Not an argument I’ve ever heard an American or even a Brit make. Completely bonkers.

Ann Raynd
Guest

I didn’t say they “had no choice”. I wrote that the US “had no choice” in quotation marks referring to Observer’s statements. Your fingers type faster than your brain processes information – it’s one of the telltale signs of a Homo Liberaliticus

Ann Raynd
Guest

I’m going to have to re-read Ann Coulter’s book on how better to communicate with you.

webber
Guest

Just try to learn how to spell Ayn Rand while you are at it. Look her up. And read her works. They make me shrug.

Ann Rand
Guest

That’s almost clever.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Which is more than you will ever be.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Ann Coulter is an idiot and your knowledge of history is “fragmentary at best”. Japan was an aggressive imperialist power in the 30s and war between Japan and US was inevitable. Roosevelt was a great man who successful led the US through the Great Depression and World War II. America at the end of WWII was the leader of the free world and all real Americans should be proud of that. I guess you are not a real American. Please get lost, trolll.

Ann Raynd
Guest

I am waiting for the owner to intervene over your fowl namecalling.

Roderick Beck
Guest

As I recollect Japan had invaded China and US policy was to make Japan pay a price for its territorial aggression. And no, Roosevelt did know that an invasion was imminent. Face it. You are just a troll.

Ann Raynd
Guest

And no, “Roosevelt did know that an invasion was imminent.”

It’s these kinds of slips that make life beautiful.

Guest

Just one “small correction” re “Orbán won overwhelmingly” :

Orbán’s party Fidesz also got less than 50% of the votes – their large majority also was a quirk in the election system, just like in the USA …

Roderick Beck
Guest

Hi, it was the first election where Orbán overwhelmingly won and allowed to change the political playing field. 2010.

Guest

Come on, Roderick!
In 2010 Fidesz got 52,7% of the votes – but the quirks of the Hungarian system turned this into a two thirds majority.

Hillary Clinton just got around 51% of the US votes – and where did that take her?

Roderick Beck
Guest

Hi,

I thought Fidesz and that shitty little Christian Democratic party got a total of around 60%. Too high?

Guest

Much too high
Just look here:: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_parliamentary_election,_2010#Results
The FTTP aka winner takes all system worked wonders for them against the smaller parties.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Why do I sense that writing “shitty little Christian” comes just a little bit too naturally to you?

webber
Guest

Def. not American. Why do you pose as one?
The so-called “Christian Democrat Party” of Hungary (KDNP) was what he meant, not Christianity.
KDNP is neither a party nor Christian.

Ann Raynd
Guest

You must be the Pope.

webber
Guest

Someone you don’t like?
You remind me of Zsolt Bayer.

Ann Raynd
Guest

Huh? Does Zsolt Bayer also think that it’s Pope’s prerogative to tell who is and is not Christian? To repeat: are you the Pope? Anything is possible on the internets, of course.

webber
Guest

KDNP is Christian in the sense that Pontius Pilate was a humanist.

Ann Rand
Guest

He was just another victim, don’t you think?

Roderick Beck
Guest

Please go away, troll. You are not intelligent and will never be.

Roderick Beck
Guest

How about shitty little Hungarian Christian? Does that make you feel better?

Ann Raynd
Guest

No. And you did not answer the question. Not that I expected an answer.

Observer
Guest

I will second RB re. that shitty little Christian Democratic party, which are neither Christian nor Democratic nor a party.
Some of their statements, eg. re violence agaibst women and re their role, are straight from the Middle Ages, others are idiotic, eg. the call to young expat Hungarians to cone back.
Most of their initiatives are nonsen sical and clearly attention seekers.

And don’t touch this idiotic A.Culter

aida
Guest

I agree with Roderick. I should add that Trump’s win is a major body blow to those who have an emotional, ideological or financial interest and commitment to Trump’s opponents. We are in the world of forecasts as far as he is concerned. If I maybe allowed one prediction? In five years from now we will be wondering what the fuss was all about, unless you are one of those listed in lines 2 and 3 above.
As for the charming Olga Kalman, I can only wish her well in her chosen new position. The political ramifications of the switch are pretty marginal even in the wasps nest world of Budapest politicos. Thanks to Eva for bringing us the news and her thoughts on its background and possible fallout.

Estike
Guest

Masha Gessen is anyway one of the sharpest, most astute observers of Russia and increasingly of the US. (She is totally bicultural just like Prof. Balogh is). It’s always very enlightening to read her because most of her insights have actual relevance to Hungary and to the EU too. She writes often into NYRB but elsewhere too. Her brother Keith is also very interesting (at least his non-fiction work) but writes less.

Roderick Beck
Guest

And yes, she is still wrong. Russia never had a solid democratic tradition nor did Hungary. Christ, Hungarians were serfs until 1848. The Parliament was just a rich man’s club from 1873 to 1918. The came Miklós Horthy and the Communist era.

Look at how the Hungarians responded in 2010-2012 as Orbán dismantled the democratic system. I have never seen such a non-response. It was truly pathetic. It is the same passivity I see every day when I walk down Király utca.

pappp
Guest
You dismiss Gessen at your peril Mr. Beck. It’s actually the other way round. It’s not that Hungary has limited democratic traditions. It is a poor country to begin with and only middle class people understand and demand democracy. What does freedom of press or freedom of assembly or right to a fair trial mean to average, uneducated, rural folks who have no money to even pay utilities? Have you taken a walk in rural Hungary lately or even in suburbs (except perhaps for districts 2 and 12 of Budapest)? I suggest you do – if you can. The smog (especially the smell) is unbearable, in some places it’s worse than in Beijing (I am not exaggerating). In most places it’s not as bad as in China, but bad enough so that you don’t want to spend any time outside. It’s common practice for people to burn plastic bottles, used clothes, any kind of household trash in their home furnaces (and most people have some kind of furnace even if they have connection to the natural gas network). In many villages basically there exists no trash collection services any more – there is literally nothing to collect as everything is… Read more »
webber
Guest

Prior to the elections of 1990 pray, tell me, what “democratic traditions” or experience did Hungary have? Because I can’t see much at all, no matter how hard I look at Hungarian history.

pappp
Guest

But this isn’t the problem, webber. Actually the 1945 elections, or the electoral autocracy style elections, a limited competition of parties are some kind of tradition. Better than none at all.

But I think the Hungarians are not passive because of the “lack of democratic traditions” as such (it may be small factor) but because they are poor and their outlook of the future is bleak and they think it doesn’t matter. They lack the tradition because they were always poor (and the jews were murdered).

In Poland the democratic traditions are not much better but the middle class is bigger and the middle class (civic, bourgeoisie) traditions, behavior is stronger because the towns developed in a different way.

In the entire world the middle is hollowing out but in Hungary there wasn’t much middle class to begin with.

Sadly all the famous Hungarian towns with an independent bourgeoisie which had this independent tradition even in the middle ages (the mining towns like Kassa, Eperjes, Lőcse, Kolozsvár etc.) ended up beyond Hungary’s borders. I dare you to show me one country which is poor (middle income) and has a huge and lively democratic tradition. There’s no such animal.

webber
Guest

Not a problem? I beg to differ.

As I understood it, Roderick Beck’s comment implied that Americans have quite a long experience of democracy and a deep understanding of it, including internal challenges to it, and so have a sort of cultural capital which enables them to restore and repair democracy when it is damaged (as they have done in the past when it has been damaged).

Hungarians? Not so much, ugye? Could be a problem, eh?

At least that’s how I understood RB’s comments.

pappp
Guest

It is a problem, sure. But the cause and the causation are mixed up and that’s important in my view. I reacted to his sentence “i’ve never seen such a passivity”. The passivity I maintain is not because of the lack of democratic traditions as such, but rather that Hungarians have been poor and dependent on the state one way or another which caused the lack of democratic traditions.

If the point is the comparison, I agree that the US is in a better situation – in theory. This is however a complex issue and you wouldn’t agree with me so I’m not expounding on it. (For example the US, given its size, global influence, military power etc. and Hungary might be apples and oranges in the first place).

And Gessen is very smart and even if there are differences between the US and Russia, I suggest people read her. She is very insightful and such differences between the two countries after all may be exaggerated by liberal Americans who can’t come to terms with Trump, his voters etc.

webber
Guest

“liberal Americans”…
Just the term reveals your personal blinders, I believe.
Why use it?
I wouldn’t call Roderick Beck a liberal, by American standards, and those are what matters when we are talking about America.

pappp
Guest
I basically meant non-Trumpist nice American people who are naive because they don’t want to face their adversaries because it would be counter to everything they have learnt about the greatness of the American democracy, the patriotism of all politicians (noble people working for the people) and so on. Trust is important, but verification is also important too. I remember talking a NYC living Democratic activist 4 years ago and he was livid when I told him to be tougher because the Republicans are using dirty tricks and the Democrats in general are living in a naive dreamworld. He was personally offended that I as a foreigner dared to say such things about righteous fellow American people (Republicans). I wonder what he thinks now after seeing the few nominees of Trump and after this crazy and dirty campaign. Probably he’s still delusional because he can’t face the prospect that all of those progressive ideas he held so dear will be wiped out in a the coming years thanks to his fellow Americans. Gessen would force people like Beck and you to contemplate the unthinkable: that America is just like other countries and can easily degenerate into a quasi-dictatorship where basically… Read more »
webber
Guest

“Gessen would force people like Beck and you..”
Stop projecting your frustrations onto me. Your imagination is very weird.
My argument was with you, not Gessen. Read what I wrote above, again, and again, and again.

Democrats being tough on Republicans – look a little harder at the party as a whole, please, and stop projecting your experience with the sole namby-pamby E. Coast Democrat you know onto the whole party.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Papp, who got the most votes in the election? Hillary Clinton. In any other country should be President. I think you are living in a bubble for ignoring Obama’s two terms and a host of other signs of social progress such as gay marriage receiving Constitutional protection. Yes, America had made progress and Trump cannot undo it.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Trump got 2 million votes fewer than Hillary Clinton. If he won the outright voting, I would be much more pessimistic. But he didn’t. He got elected due to the Curse of the Electoral College. In most ways Reagan was far more frightening because he had a genuine majority backing him,

Roderick Beck
Guest

That is the point. There was really close to nothing. And even today there is no basic teaching of political theory and so a so-called Hungarian university graduate can be heard saying that in a democracy the majority has the right to do anything they want.

Guest

Pappp, partially I have to agree with you there – some of the people you describe we have as neighbours.

But there are others too and I think what you describe is a minotity, though maybe a large one.

But the situation is complex:
People throw their beer bottles, cans and other stuff away – even on the street where they live and where they have to watch the trash though they might get a little bit of money from returning them or even reuse them – like we do. They have no regard at all for their and their children’s environment – really sad!

And a bit OT again:
My wife really got angry again yesterday when we saw a delivery van stop by the shopping center – and the driver threw a cigarette butt through the car’s window to the pavement in front of the Drogerie Müller. Now if she or I had been a salesperson there …

Ferenc
Guest

Personal experience: more than 10 years ago I was driving with some Hungarians through a nice hilly area. One of them finished his beer opened the window and through his empty can out. I stopped the car, told him if you can take this to here, you can take it home also, so please get back your can or you can go walking.
Well he looked surprised by my reaction, but got out and grapped his can and we continued. Hopefully it made him better respect the (our) environment, but don’t know lost contact with him later on.

Last time I was in Hungarian nature is more than 5 years ago, but still remember there were hardly any places without rubbish. Some nice places were even used like dumps.
Children at school should be learned a better understanding of nature and our mankind position in the environment. This will result more respect for the environment and clean up the unnecessary mess in Hungary’s nature.

Guest

Ferenc, your observation gives me the chance to say it again: In many respects Hungarians (and the other former Cummunist countries too of course!) are around fifty years behind the West!

What you described happened to me when I was a student 50 years ago – and I “unfriended” the guy who had done this immediately!

And there were many like him at the university – though they should have known better.

Yes, people have to be tought – like financially:
Now in Germany the deposit for a bottle of mineral water is comparable to the price of the water itself – so if you throw it away you can be sure that someone will pick it up!
And of course it still happens – I would be an idiot if I said that all our people are caring for the environment. But the number is larger than ever before and after 30 years of Green politics we Schwabs even have a Green prime minister – I’m so proud!

Roderick Beck
Guest

I think the return fee is two HUF. Aluminum can. It is ridiculous.

Roderick Beck
Guest

There was democracy in the US even when the country was considered a backwater to the might European powers.

Observer
Guest
Petofi, Easy on Beck pls. The US is undeniably a much stronger democracy with freedom loving people, in general. Hungary with no such record at all and the people are of pretty much the oriental character. The dangers of a populism, on the other hand, are real and grave and Trump is a egotistic, superficial, immoral populist as they come. Democracy (or any political structure for that matter) is not a fixed, natural state which we are inherit to enjoy (or suffer) for eternity. These are dynamic systems, even if sometimes no movement or change is obvious, which evolve all the time and rarely explode in a revolution. So the US society has been changing in this direction for some time bringing the Tea Party, a lot of BS and now Trump to crown it. Beck is right in saying it won’t be quick and easy for Trump, but you are aright to worry, as we all should. I would err on the side of action against these threats, rather than just counting on the American democracy to do the job for us. In Hungary the young and feeble democracy was swept away within a couple of years, no sweat,… Read more »
e-1956
Guest

My compliments to Observer, who is trumping Petofi today.

Only those survive who can think acrobatically.

All myths have seconds to live.

Joe Simon
Guest

The US has always been an oligarchy.
Now we have an oligarch for president surrounded by other oligarchs.
So what has changed? The mask is off and the gloves are off.

Istvan
Guest

Andrew Jackson was anything but part of the elite when his populist movement took the White House. Basically he was a hillbilly small landowner that led a militia into battle and wanted to run native Americans out of the southern states, which he did killing thousands. President Eisenhower also was not part of elite, he never owned anything of significance and was in the US Army from the age of 19.

Evenyhough President FD Roosevelt was by birth effectively an oligarch, he passed most of our antimonopoly laws that are hostile to anti-free market oligarchs. Like Hungarian history, US history is not simple.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Exactly.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Except it has not. It is a vibrant multi-cultural democracy with plenty of economic opportunity.

Ann Raynd
Guest

It’s not a multicultural democracy. It is a republic whose main culture (still) is the WASP culture of the 1780s. And that is how it was designed. I’d agree on economic opportunity.

webber
Guest

Having a dominant culture does not mean that a country does not have a multiplicity of other cultures. R B is right. The US has always been multicultural. Here’s a culture thriving within the US that might interest you. It is not AS or P, but it is vibrant:

Ann Rand
Guest

1981? Really?

Ann Rand
Guest

and who is that Arab they seem to be bowing to? Looks like Arafat.

webber
Guest

Since before 1981, and still going strong. Immigrants all, who are still speaking their language, and doing fine.

Roderick Beck
Guest

That is why the President is black. And why Harvard’s undergraduate student is 25% Jewish. And Silicon Valley companies are over 25% Asian. You are a troll!!!

Ann Raynd
Guest

The President is white. Given the Jewish and Asian share of the population it seems to me that having 25% of either group upstairs is not very good for the country, what do you think? Or are you conflicted on that point?

webber
Guest

President Obama is still in office. What you know about American politics and society ain’t much.

Ann Raynd
Guest

I was referring to President Obama my mentally limited friend.

webber
Guest

More proof that you are not American. Why did you lie about that?

Roderick Beck
Guest

I think new blood is always good unless it is a Russian separatist.

Ann Raynd
Guest

As a general matter, this is all nonsense. Of course, you rely on people you know – why would you do otherwise? Clinton was only running because we knew her to be Bill’s wife. Without his presidency, she would not have been a candidate and, probably, not even a senator. Is that a “mafia” state syndrome too?

Ferenc
Guest

May be she lost also, because she’s Bill’s wife.
Wonder what would have happened if 24 years ago she would have run instead of Bill.

Roderick Beck
Guest

Actually she got 2 million more votes than Trump. It was a failure of the Electoral College system.

She would have won the election if it was decided by total votes.

pappp
Guest

yes and if my grandmother had wheels, she’s be a wagon.

Ann Raynd
Guest

and Polish

Roderick Beck
Guest

Pappp, don’t be glib. The reality is that you are constantly exaggerating, taking things out of context, and talking about topics like America about which you are particularly ill-equipped. Have a great day!

Ann Raynd
Guest

The EC worked like it was meant to. Yes, if the rules had been different, she would have won – perhaps she should run in a country that has different rules.

aida
Guest

Or run her campaign to win according to the rules.

aida
Guest

But the system is based on the votes in the electoral college. Trump claims he ran his campaign accordingly. She presumably concentrated on getting ahead in the popular vote. So who is smarter?
Maybe she would or maybe not. Who cares? She is now yesterday’s news.

Roderick Beck
Guest

I think your comments are nonsense. Hillary would have made a fine President and Trump is an embarrassment. How being a public figure makes one a mafia state something is beyond me.

Ann Raynd
Guest

She was only around because of her husband. Not that controversial. Is understanding also beyond you?

Guest

A bit OT – but totally funny, at least if you’re into gallows humour:

Author ‘David King’ wrote a book called “Why Donald Trump deserves trust, respect and admiration”, because he felt that it was needed in the wake of the Republican candidate’s sweeping victory.
https://www.indy100.com/article/an-exclusive-extract-of-a-new-book-on-why-donald-trump-deserves-trust-respect-and-admiration-7487011
A video, which features exclusive extracts from the book, is available at the end of this article. You’ll be surprised … 🙂

And here’s an eloquent critique:
Just amazing. Short sentences. But still good ones. And plus many of the short sentences are repeated. Amazing. You’ll see. I’m telling you, it will open your eyes folks. Open your eyes. And so many won’t want to read it. Because they can’t handle it. Puny people. Puny. But when you do read it. I’m telling you. It will open your eyes. Trust me. Amazing, amazing book

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