I found it strange that the three German-language articles I read on Viktor Orbán’s speech, delivered on the anniversary of the 1956 revolution, called it “scandalous” when, for those of us who are familiar with the Hungarian prime minister’s diatribes, it was nothing out of the ordinary. The German edition of Huffington Post considered the speech too much even from a destructive populist like Viktor Orbán. All three reports concentrated on Orbán’s description of the Visegrád 4 countries as a “migrant-free zone.” All noted that, although George Soros’s name was not mentioned, there were dark references to a “speculative financial empire” that is responsible for Europe’s “invasion” by migrants. You may have noticed that none of these reports had anything to say about the occasion for Orbán’s speech, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It was not an oversight on the part of the reporters because this speech was a campaign speech, pure and simple, and had almost nothing to do with 1956.
Those people who watched the great man’s oration on state television saw that, despite the pouring rain, a large crowd had assembled. A relative of mine sadly reported on this. I immediately set her straight. First of all, the crowd, according to the best estimates, was small, but the state TV camera crew made sure that on the screen it would look much larger than it was in reality. The official estimate was 10,000 people, but independent sources were talking about 3,000-4,000. And even if we believe the government’s figures, most of these people were transported by 30-40 or perhaps even more buses from the countryside and were most likely paid for their trouble. Many of the buses belong to sports clubs, including naturally the Puskás Academy of Felcsút. Therefore, I perfectly understand why a DK politician wants to investigate whether any money from the so-called TAO-program, which is a tax program corporations can take advantage of if they support certain kinds of sports, actually went to indirectly support a Fidesz campaign rally.
I assume that the organizers from the start were worried about attendance. That’s why the event was staged at the House of Terror on Andrássy út, which offers a relatively small area for an admiring crowd. I also assume that because of the bad weather, without these most likely paid Fidesz supporters the whole event would have been washed out.
But it would be unfair to say that in that crowd there were no true believers who were there just to be close to the great man. You and I might find such devotion odd, but, as the reporter of 24.hu who was present pointed out, most of the people weren’t really interested in the other participants, including Mária Schmidt, the “1956 expert,” but wanted to hear what Orbán had to say about current politics, “the oppression by Brussels,” and “the threat of globalization.” And 24.hu picked up a story from the website of Pázmánd, a village of 2,000, where an 86-year-old man so desperately wanted to see his favorite prime minister that he turned to town hall for help when he discovered that his TV set had given up the ghost. The mayor was most obliging. She lent him a tablet.
Was there anything new in the speech? Not much. Many of the old clichés about the freedom-loving Hungarian people were repeated, and the few words Orbán spent on 1956 were full of assumptions about the motivations of those who rose up against the Stalinist Hungarian regime. He put himself in the place of the freedom fighters as well as foreign observers. The former rose up because they realized that if they don’t strike now the thousand-year-old Hungary will be lost forever. As for the latter, they may have admired the Hungarian revolution, but they didn’t really understand it. In my opinion, Orbán is wrong on both counts.
I should also note that a lot of analysts were outraged when they discovered that the totally discredited László Dózsa was listed as one of the heroes of the revolution, together with Imre Nagy, Gergely Pongrátz, József Mindszenty, Péter Mansfeld, Mária Wittner, and János Szabó. It is a strange list, but at least the other “heroes” actually had a role to play in 1956. László Dózsa is a fake. Those of you who don’t remember the story of this inveterate liar should read my post on him. Those who know Hungarian should take a look at 444.hu’s “summary in one sentence” of the lies this man has concocted over the years. Mária Schmidt, despite clear indications that the man is not who he claims to be, refused to admit that her “research team” had made a mistake. He is not the boy who appeared in Life magazine, who was clearly identified as Pál Pruck. Viktor Orbán doesn’t care. He doesn’t give a hoot about what historians of 1956 say. He will stand by Mária Schmidt and the false history she has propagated. It is especially disgusting in view of the fact that a suit brought against Mária Schmidt’s foundation by the Pruck family is still being litigated.
The only novelty of the speech was that Viktor Orbán refrained from mentioning George Soros’s name, but it wasn’t necessary since he had plenty to say about “financial empires” which are “without borders” but which have “media all over the world” and at least “ten thousand paid agents.” They don’t have “fixed structures,” but they have “a widespread network.” Hungary is at a turning point, just as it was in 1990 when the question was “whether we will be transformed into “homo Sovieticus.” Now there is a danger of becoming “homo Brusselicus.”
A lot was made of Viktor Orbán trying to sound hip by making a reference to Star Wars, or to be more precise to Episode VI (1983) of the series, “Return of the Jedi.” Here Darth Vader says to Luke, “You underestimate the power of the Dark Side.” As Star War buffs pointed out, Orbán’s reference is not quite accurate when he warns his people “never to underestimate the power of the dark side.” But younger journalists found it interesting that Orbán turned to Star Wars as inspiration. Perhaps he is trying to speak to the younger generation, which at the moment is not exactly enthusiastic about Viktor Orbán’s messages. I very much doubt that the “dark side” reference will send them to Fidesz in droves.
Orbán’s admirers will find this speech as brilliant as all the others while his critics don’t even bother to comment on his usual clichés and spend time only on trying to ascertain what he could possibly mean by “homo Brusselicus” and what he wants to achieve by quoting Star Wars.