Momentum’s András Fekete-Győr: “We have one year”

A few months ago I received a most welcome e-mail from Aron Penczu, a young Hungarian-born filmmaker and writer who lives in London, who offered his services as a Hungarian-English translator for Hungarian Spectrum. I eagerly accepted the offer. Here is Aron’s first contribution, a translation of András Fekete-Győr’s May 1 speech at a Momentum rally.

I have written several posts on Momentum’s impressive referendum drive, which ended in Viktor Orbán’s spectacular retreat from submitting a bid to hold the Olympic Games in Budapest in 2014.  I also published a more critical article on some of the political mistakes the inexperienced leaders of Momentum have made.

At the moment it is hard to predict the future of this young party, but their initial showing is impressive. According to the latest Závecz Research poll, Momentum has 3% support among active voters. They have, after a few months of existence, more potential votes than all other smaller democratic parties on the left.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m here with you today to tell you what we need to do in the next year. We need to act. I’m tired of bemoaning what’s wrong instead of acting to make things better – because I’m responsible for my future, responsible for my fate.

At first I was alone and felt powerless. Then we began to grow in number, we founded Momentum, and I understood that in a community we’re strong. Powerlessness was superseded by the strength of action. And now I see that we’re many, and that this means nothing’s impossible: together, so many of us and more, we’re capable of starting Hungary up. We believe, unlike Viktor Orbán, that we need to start things up, not stop them.

He wants to stop Brussels. Stop it because he’s realized that under his leadership Hungary will never catch up with it. It won’t catch up with it because he doesn’t understand the 21st century, and he’s afraid that this’ll come to light. That’s why he closes universities, that’s why he holds Nobel prize-winners so cheap, why he destroyed Origo and the county papers, why he blacklists civil organizations and intellectuals.

Viktor Orbán inspires fear because he himself is afraid. He’s afraid that his incompetence will be exposed. He’s afraid of the press and he’s afraid of free elections, but above all he’s afraid of us, the people.

András Fekete-Győr at the May 1 rally of Momentum

Yet we drew closer than ever to finally beginning to catch up with Europe – which we’ve waited for centuries – when, 13 years ago, on the first of May, we joined the EU. But in his fear of being toppled Viktor Orbán is choosing the world of dumbphones, and instead of regulating Uber he’s chasing it away, he wants to introduce the internet tax, he eliminates IT lessons, and he blacklists everyone smarter than he is. He’s guiding the nation towards Moscow.

Instead of the rich, modern Europe he’s making a poor, underdeveloped and oppressed Russia the model for our home. But those of our generation who have come home and those who have stayed at home are taking our fate into our hands and changing that direction. We’ve been in London, Brussels, Berlin, across the whole world, and now the tide is turning: instead of foreign countries draining away valuable knowledge, WE BRING IT HOME.

We’ve come home to implement the models we encountered abroad, because it isn’t the Lőrinc Mészároses but the István Széchenyis who build the homeland. The time has come for those from Kazincbarcika, from Budapest, and from London, the right- and the left-leaning, the Christian and the atheist, the poor and the rich, the young and the old, to recognize our shared national fate, because we have a task. Let’s set aside our animosities, because we’re all patriots, because we’re all valuable constituents of Hungarian nationality, and our task is no less than this: building an entrepreneurial, cohesive, and modern nation in the Europe of the 21st century.

We’ll start Hungary up with the most important resource of the 21st century: the knowledge we’ve acquired. Instead of stopping Brussels, we’re going to catch up with it.

Viktor Orbán’s Hungary is a tenantless wasteland with a “Let’s stop Brussels” signboard at its center. Even if you can stoop lower that this, you can’t go further back. Viktor Orbán is building a system of fear on Putin’s model. But we won’t let him succeed. We’re going to dismantle this system and start Hungary up.

We’re not afraid of them and we’ll tell them that. That’s what we’ve been saying with all the past weeks’ demonstrations, and that’s what we’re saying here with you today. We won’t say that it’s easy or simple to overcome an omnipresent fear. But we want a country in which you can plan ahead to 2020 or 2030, not the 20th or the 30th.

They can send skinheads at us, but we’ll talk with them instead of growing afraid. We’re not afraid of them. They can fire us, but we’ll find another job, because unlike them, we’re not corrupt, parasitical politicians.* We are not afraid of them.

They can trot out our parents, our grandparents, our cousins once removed, they can tell us about what they did in ’94, and whom they voted for in ’98 – but we’re writing 2017 and we’re looking ahead, not back. We’re not afraid of them.

They can watch us, they can follow us, they can tap our phones, but unlike them, we have nothing to hide. They can send the taxman to investigate the places and the companies who host us or support us, but they won’t find anything because we’re not robbing the country blind. We’re not afraid of them.

The propaganda machine can lie about us, but this debases them, not us. Advertising companies associated with the government can threaten us, they can even put a policeman by every single poster, but all they’ll get is policemen giving us a hand with our stickers. We’re not afraid of them.

The dean, the director, and the mayor can place pressure on is, but we won’t bend because we aren’t spineless. We’re not afraid of them. And you shouldn’t be either!

We want to tell the girl from Komárom who didn’t dare enter our event when she saw the propaganda-machine outside – because she was afraid they’d see her there and fire her – not to be afraid: we’ll protect her. As we’ll protect those members who have been fired because they joined Momentum.

Don’t be afraid, because we’ll protect you. We’ll help. Together we are strong and loud, alone weak and quiet. Momentum is the kind of community in which we protect each other.

We’re not afraid of them. And nothing frightens them more than that: for seven years, no matter how shamelessly they’ve acted, most of the time everybody’s stayed dumb. They’ve gotten used to thinking anyone can be silenced or bought. But not us. We’re not afraid of them. As they sink lower, so we grow stronger.

Not being afraid is only the first step. The second is to act. We have exactly one year until the spring of 2018 and that’s exactly enough. In one year startups become world-corporations, teams marked for elimination become world champions, unknown poets become national heroes.

In the next year we, Momentum, are going to do everything to dismantle the system of fear. We’re going to work day and night. We’re going to continue touring the country and we’re going to get to every settlement to listen to people and talk with them. We’re going to gauge local and national problems, because we want to answer them together: we’re running a real consultation.

How are we going to achieve this? With you. In two months more than 1,000 people have applied to join Momentum, and we’ve built foundations for more than 100 local organizations. And the number is growing with every passing week. We’re building a nation-wide and active community.

We’re everywhere: locally, on the street, at demonstrations – and we’re going to run in the elections. With a program which offers real solutions to real problems. It’s going to be a program of knowledge brought home and local solutions, which we’re revealing to the country on October 15. We’re going to deliver it on time, as we delivered 266,151 signatures for February 17.

But we also know that a good program is only the beginning of starting Hungary up. We need cells of activity too, and people ready for action, because the state has forsaken us. Our healthcare, our education, and our transport are broken. Our weekdays have become dysfunctional.

Millions of Hungarians are uninterested in national problems because they feel they can do nothing to make things better. We’re sending them a message: we felt like that too, but then we learned that in community there’s strength. The cells of activity are going to yield local solutions to local problems out of local experiences. Join us!

A boy from a high school in Kecskemét told us of how IT studies aren’t offered at his school and so he can’t learn what he wants to. Two others already at university instantly offered to teach him how to program – this is what we call a cell of activity, where stories like this one are born. Because Hungarians want to act: only their hands been tied until now.

We’re starting with the basics, the local, tangible problems, and we’re starting Hungary up with the strength of a community. With the strength of a community – and that won’t work without you. It would be futile for us to pledge to work day and night over the next year to dismantle the system of fear, and to build a livable Hungary, if you don’t come with us. We’re going to rebuild, and we need your help.

Many people are fooled by the system of fear. Those reached only by fear-mongering and the propaganda-machine’s fake news. We can’t fight TV2’s lies, or the daily news on MTVA, or Lokál, but you can. You are our media.

You can get to everyone. Speak to the grandparent, the aunt, the cousin, the godmother, the family friend. You need to tell them that if they want to see their grandchild, and not just once a year, at Christmas, because he lives in London, we need renewal.

You need to tell them that you’re afraid of starting a business because if there’s a branch of the industry that works Fidesz takes a shine to it, expropriates it, and divvies it up among its members. You need to tell them that you’re afraid of settling, of growing roots, because who knows where you’ll live in a few years… You need to tell them that you’re afraid of creating a family, because they close schools, nationalize educational texts, and children can learn only what they intend.

We need to break the wall built around us! We’ve started, and with the success of NOlimpia we knocked out the first brick, but we can only succeed at dismantling it with your help. You are our media. Don’t be afraid of politicizing at lunch. A Hungarian never speaks but endures? Enough of that. We endure with full mouths (when we can fill them)? Never again!

And if you have influence, stand up and don’t be afraid. Raise your voice if you’re a musician and you can see we’re headed in the wrong direction. Speak out if you work at a big company, if you have reach others, because maybe in a few years you won’t be able to reach anyone anymore. Speak, if you’re a radio host and you know exactly where we’re headed.

Stand up if you have influence, whether you’re a gastro blogger, YouTube star, or a conservative intellectual. Don’t wait to realize in a few years that when you could have taken action you didn’t. Act now!

Everyone in their own way: what she has strength for, time for, a desire for. But act. Pin up symbols of Europe, support us, call your representative to account, participate in cells of activity, join us, or be our media.

As for this evening: there are Momentum members among you, ask them for stickers, we have thousands, and tonight let’s correct all the propaganda posters that fall into our paths! Let’s paste over them on the street, on the bus, on trams and on the subway too. Make your mark!

And one more thing. Believe in us. Believe that it can work, believe that one year is enough, and believe that Hungary can be started up. We believe it, and we believe you, and we’ll do everything for our collective goals: believe in our collective strength. Believe in us even if we make mistakes. Believe in us even if one day in a statement we say something stupid. Believe in us, believe in yourselves, because we can only succeed with you.

We have a year. We have hope. We have a choice. Come with us!

*Megélhetési politikusok. See http://hungarianspectrum.org/tag/hungarian-language/

June 9, 2017

 

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Guest

A terrific speech. Gave me goose-bumps – and no little hope for Hungary. Thank you to Aron for translating this important speech.

Jon Van Til
Guest

Ditto. Pragmatic humane progress will trump sterile political ideology in the 21st century.

old1956
Guest

Terrific.
An indictment against the regime, and its advisers, like Arthur Finkelstein.
He must be charged with crimes against humanity.

Zsepac
Guest

He is indeed the best student of Orban.

Member

Two words:
Naive.
I forgot the second one.

wrfree
Guest

Momentum’s got alot of hard work ahead of them. The energy to effect change sure looks prodigious. Not only do they have to match the efforts of the right but would need to go over and beyond results to generate various footholds to compete. The group will need much stamina against a deeply rooted Fidesz. Could be a difficult ‘gig’ as they say in the arena.

Could the ‘year’ burn them out? Perhaps Magyarorszag’s upset loss to Andorra in world cup qualifying will show the difficulties in competitive endeavors. The loss almost gives the team no place in the final World Cup teams in 2018. It’s a big pie in-the-sky dream deferred again for a while.

And simply wishing it so will not make it happen. Magyarorszag didn’t get the football job done. It is a failure. And Momentum perhaps already has another place to hang their political hats on.

LwiiH
Guest

Indeed, it does have a lot of work to get done. That said, I have seen a huge cultural shift in Budapest over the last few years. Several successful Hungarians returned from abroad and decided to build community based on cooperative community based efforts. They have taken a model used in London, Silicon Valley, NY, Chicago, Berlin where companies and local governments setup shared workspaces or gathering places where people working on new ideas can mix with those that have already launched successful ventures. These spaces are free to use. It has created a large underwave of people that don’t care about TV2, MTV, or radio because this is not how they communicate. Theses institutions are viewed as relics of the past and are completely irrelevant in the world that they live in. It is a group that isn’t really visible because they out there doing their thing and don’t really become visible until you do things like tax the internet or close down CEU. It’s no wonder that Fidesz has been blindsided by these demonstrations, they just can’t see these people.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘institutions are viewed as relics of the past’

And perhaps that is why if we read Momentum’s speech closely it appears to be a call for individual responsibility since the institutions now in Magyarorszag are not fulfilling their true mandates within the ‘democracy’. In fact the institutions as we’ve seen are inimical to it.

According to Momentum it would seem if anything is to change in the country it will be first and foremost based on individuals actively contributing in what abilities they can to the ‘demos’. Momentum may not realize it but they appear to be going back to Athens’ Golden Age as they work toward a ‘grass roots’ democracy in the country today. Perhaps that strategy may be a lifesaver in that the democratic ideas generated can be infused back into crippled institutions.

Istvan
Guest
Thanks for the plug for Chicago’s tech industry incubation project, here is a link to its website https://1871.com/about/ I am familiar with the project, and its what I would call a garden for venture capitalists, meaning it’s a subsidized environment for tech projects here in Chicago. As yet it has not produced really any production jobs at all here in Chicago. At the tech incubation site itself, called 1871, currently for all 400 incubation firms there are only about 40 jobs currently posted. Hungary should not expect any type of a turn around based on this model. I personally have a small investment in a startup firm related the United States defense industry, located McAlester Oklahoma not far from the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. That firm has created jobs for 22 production workers over ten years from a startup of just 6 people. These production workers make on average $35,000 a year which is relatively high for the area. The company repairs and build machines for Ammunition plant and for similar plants around the world. The firm has been generating a profit for six years, none of the 1871 project firms in Chicago have yet to generate a sustainable profit… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest
A friend of mine works for a VC firm that has offices in the Chicago and I’ve had the fortune to visit him there. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit the incubators in Budapest. I think getting a direct measure of economic benefits of incubators is difficult as most of them are indirect AFAICT. That there are incubators in any city in the first place is a sign that someone sees that there is a healthy thriving tech community that is active enough that there is value in creating a supporting environment to support those engaged in high risk activities. Which runs into the second point, those using incubators are engaged in high risk projects and it is likely that many of them will fail. That is the nature of the beast. That said, even in failure there is much to be learned. Even for those that fail and resort to taking a regular job will be bringing valuable knowledge with them. Plus, it show motivation and initiative. I just had a friend of mine fly in from SF to work with the team here in Budapest. These guys simply were not producing and he needed to fix that.… Read more »
Istvan
Guest

Here the job creation has been relatively small. I sure there are a few start ups in the Chicago 1871 project that get bought out for their intellectual property rights and the developers make big money. But the incubator projects are not generating enough jobs to come near off setting Chicago’s job losses. Those losses are now resulting in an actual year to year population decline. The Chicago metropolitan area as a whole lost 19,570 residents in 2016, registering the greatest loss of any metropolitan area in the United States.

The tech research and administrative sector is growing in Chicago, but the mass of jobs is not large. Most tech workers are in their 20s and early 30s. While some are making good salaries they are transient, going from job to job, start up to start up. Many are highly reluctant to even buy condos let alone an expensive home because of their career need to be able to relocate relatively fast. The rental market is very expensive right now because of that reality.

Our city is actually in a fairly serious fiscal crisis right now.

LwiiH
Guest

This is part of the new reality in tech. You are looking for something you’d traditionally see and yeah, it’s not there in the abundance that you’d traditionally see. There is a lot of fluidity in the job market which both employers and employees are taking advantage of. My view of Chicago is it is a vibrant hub with a lot of activity full of opportunities. I don’t live there but I’ve been fortunate enough to tap into a few of those opportunities.

Istvan
Guest

We are a deeply troubled city here in Chicago, as are a number of major cities in the USA. We are also a magnet attracting very talented young people with superior educations and skill sets. Those young people work incredibly hard and endure long hours. So much so it’s actually difficult for these tech and innovation workers to have and raise families.

They spend significant portions of their income on entertainment and drive a vibrant youth culture in Chicago. But statistically we are shrinking as a City on the macro level and the costs of living are rising.

My family has been here to one extent or another since the 1890s. We helped found
St. Stephen King of Hungary Parish in the early 1900s in the City. During that time Chicago grew either as a City or a larger metro area due to growth in the suburbs. Now we are contracting steadily and people particularly African Americans are leaving the area because of a real lack of work.

Possibly the contraction will stop, but right now based on most reasonable demographic analysis it isn’t going to stop for the foreseeable future.

Member

“The group will need much stamina against a deeply rooted Fidesz. Could be a difficult ‘gig’ as they say in the arena.”

This is why I used the word “naive.” People don’t get motivated by high-falutin’ ideals. Anytime you start trotting out bromides like, “together, as a community, we can make it happen!” without anything else backing you up, the movement is guaranteed to peter out.

A few weeks after this speech, Fekete-Gyor pulled his amateruish stunt at Origo. That hardly inspires confidence in people like me.

aida
Guest

They must have a programme. Change to do what? Social solidarity is a good starter. Uncomplicated

Guest

Couldn’t Momentum become what LMP promised but did not fulfill imho:
A really Green party?

And what imho also is an important part of that definition:
A party that is willing to cooperate with others (unlike the LMP idiots who believe they have to go it alone), actually cooperate with everyone (fascists however need not apply) like the German Greens who have formed coalitions with the Social Democrats, the Left, the Liberals and even the Christian Democrats!

Member

I would say Momentum could become just about anything, but after their inital success with NOlympia, they have not instilled the kind of confidence they need for electoral success.

Ferenc
Guest

Wolfi, did you read anything green in the speech? I didn’t. Did you read anything inspiring in the speech? I didn’t. To me it sounded when I watched it more than a month ago, and now again when I read it in translation, as just empty headed populist talk. Nice to be not afraid of the bunch robbing the country, but what does Momemtum really want? Haven’t read nor heard anything serious about their future policies.
Actually I hope I’m really wrong, but I sense only youthful arrogance, especially in Momentum’s leader himself, for example the way he said so many times “A Momentum, bla bla bla”. He himself looks also very very (too) much like a young OV. Tell me another country where such independent youth parties were more or less successful (which Momentum could become), is this sort of typical for Hungary? If so, WHY?
Also about their financing I’ve become suspicious, I mean they are some 1000 people all together and from some sort of contribution, all what they did could be financed. It’s not impossible, but to me very unlikely.
All I can say, again I sincerely hope to be proven wrong.

Guest

Ferenc, I’m too far away from Budapest – so I don’t know anything about the people of Momentum …
Anyway I wrote this as a question – I’m an optimist at heart.

Wondercat
Guest

Prof Balogh, the speech is good reading.

Might you add to your post a link to the Hungarian text? The work of your collaborator in translation thus could teach others about both languages.

I hope that you will consider this revision, and that you will bear in mind this suggestion when your collaborator again contributes.

Member

On Momentums home page momentum.hu You find a link to the speech https://momentum.hu/egy-evunk-van-fekete-gyor-andras/

Guest
Guest

You who have dreams, if you act they will come true.
To turn your dreams to a fact, it’s up to you.
If you have the soul and the spirit,
Never fear it, you’ll see it thru,
Hearts can inspire, other hearts with their fire,
For the strong obey when a strong man shows them the way.

Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
Who will fight, for the right they adore,
Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
They grow as they go to the fore.
Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

STOUT-HEARTED MEN
From “New Moon”
(Sigmund Romberg / Frank Mandel /
Laurence Schwab / Oscar Hammerstein II)

Guest

These young people are a sign of hope for Hungary, but only time will tell if it’s enough.
we delivered 266,151 signatures for February 17
Not bad …
Rather OT:
This remeinds me of our activities at the university dominated by the “Clerical Fascists” – in West Germany more than 50 years ago.
We sold buttons to the students with “Make love not war” and from the money earned we produced leaflets on the safe methods of contraception e g …
Sex for unmarried people was considered a sin then – and you could go to jail for homosexual activities. And suddenly at the end of the 60s everything changed – Willy Brandt and his Social Democrats won the elections, we were elated! One of the first steps of the new government was an amnesty for most of the students’ “crimes” under the old laws.
So there’s always hope – but I don’t really know whether one year is enough time for Hungary and its people.

Guest

“We are not afraid of them” is a good slogan. “We are not afraid of anybody” would be better because it excludes fear of the other opposition parties.

aida
Guest

Momentum might just work.
In the UK a grass roots social media campaign destroyed this week the May regime. It may yet defeat Brexit and their ignorant supporters. In the safe seat of Kensington the same technique defeated the Ivory Trading Tory by removing her 7000 vote majority.
It is young people who turned out, for a change, to discover they can make a difference.

The fight back against Trump, Putin, Le Pen and Orban, to mention but a few, is now on its way.

Keep Momentum going.

beckmann
Guest

Brexit will happen. It’s what the majority of British people wanted and still want. For right or wrong working class people regardless of party leanings just don’t like the EU and never have. Mind you Corby has also been against the EU for decades. The EU is – Corby saw it clearly – is a glorified free trade zone which is a fundamentally capitalist creation. What’s good – on balance – for Hungary or Slovakia may not be good for thee UK although truth be told the EU is nothing more than a politically correct bogeyman which in Central Europe is usually represented by the figure of the scheming Jew. In the UK no politician could bash openly Pakistanis or Jews or blacks but they could bash the EU (aka “the out of control federal government” for Americans) or the Polish (they are whites so you can hate them without being a racist). Once the UK is out of the EU, the Conservatives will have to invent another convenient political enemy to be hated. Labour (the left-wing of it) disliked the EU for rational, leftist, Marxist reasons.

Member

The fascists are on the run in Budapest post-Olympic referendum, of that there is no doubt. But I do fear that Mr Fekete-Gyor and his ilk are putting the cart before the horse in setting up a party in an attempt to take on the Maffia Kormany at the ballot box. The regime controls “democracy” in Hungary, the best way to inflict damage on the fascists is to continue similar ideas such as the referendum and yes, start instigating civil disobedience against the illegal and immoral “government” presently suppressing its citizens.

beckmann
Guest

Fidesz can be defeated at the ballot box and opposition must try to defeat Fidesz even if the system is rigged. Sometimes power slips out of the hands of the autocrat because the system cannot control everything and the system sometimes misjudges popular sentiments and gets overconfident. Will it be Momentum? It’s hard to say. The political demand is there for a change so the underlying trends are good – but the practicalities like fund raising, people’s fear to come out as opposition activists and so on are crippling.

I can tell from personal experience that the fear of middle-class people to come out as politically active (to shed their carefully built image of being apolitical which has been an important survival tactics in the last few years) let alone to openly support a particular opposition party is unbelievable. It’s nothing short of unbelievable. I guess middle-class people are ultimately afraid to lose their social status and it’s an unmanagable anxiety for most people – they will do absolutely everything to avoid that risk.

petofi
Guest

“Civil Disobedience”? Nice phrase, but I’m willing to bet that less than 5% of Hungarian university students have heard of Henry Thoreau, and even less have read him.

There’s no profit in ‘disobedience’ unless one conducts it the way Orban did in 2006.

But really, Hungarian experience has been–for many, many years–that you better make hay when your time arrives. So, even in the rarest of situations that an honest politician takes the leadership, than he would be constrained by his eager, terminally greedy, family members to thieve to the limit.

Hungaricum!….don’t you know.

Hajra Magyarok!!

beckmann
Guest

OT: index.hu is running the third major Vona-friendly article in maybe two weeks. Whatever happened to index.hu ownership on paper Lajos Simicska is calling the shots and the artsy, hipster index journos are clearly assisting him.

Michael Kaplan
Guest

Wonderful speech! I do though wish the speaker/writer added non Christians and/or Jewish Hungarians. Small point though. Over all-great!

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