Viktor Orbán: In praise of nationalism

According to Fidesz’s by-laws, the party must hold a congress every two years, where the designated delegates choose the chairman, his deputies, and several other key party leaders. Of the 1358 delegates present, not one had the guts to abstain or vote against Viktor Orbán, the only candidate for the post of chairman. Naturally, a long speech by the newly elected chairman followed, which was in large measure devoted to the glorification of nationalism and national virtues.

There are many definitions of nationalism, but I decided to use Ernest Gellner’s for the reason that Gellner, who was described as “one of the world’s most vigorous intellectuals” by Karl Popper, the idol of George Soros, came from the Central European region where the roots of Viktor Orbán’s nationalism were planted. Gellner, although born in Paris in 1925, grew up in the German-speaking Jewish community of Prague. He and his family were steeped in the ethos of the multi-cultural, multi-linguistic Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

According to Gellner, “nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent.” National sentiment is the feeling of anger aroused by the violation of this principle. After outlining the different ways in which the nationalist principle can be violated, he continues: “there is one particular form of the violation of the nationalist principle to which nationalist sentiment is quite particularly sensitive: if the rulers of the political unit belong to a nation other than that of the majority of the ruled.” And “this can occur through the incorporation of the national territory in a larger empire.”

Hungary can be seen as suffering from this violation of the nationalist principle. According to the latest statistics, almost 1.9 million Hungarians live in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Moreover, as Viktor Orbán so often reminds us, Brussels is the modern equivalent of Moscow or, when he ventures further back in history, Vienna. Therefore, if we accept Gellner’s schema, modern-day nationalism should fall on extremely fertile soil in Hungary. On the one hand, there is the pent-up resentment of Hungary’s “mutilation,” and on the other, the Orbán government’s misleading communications about the mechanisms of the European Union.

Orbán’s speech was long and full of self-praise, which can be dismissed as mere fluff not worth spending time and energy on. But his casuistry when it comes to justifying the superiority of the particular over the universal deserves a second look. The taste and outlook disseminated by powerful global firms and political organizations all over the world, which necessarily results in uniformity, is illusory. What is real is the people’s strong attachment to “their cultural identity,” and these people are “in the overwhelming majority” in Europe. It is only a matter of time before “we will win not only in Hungary but throughout Europe and even in the whole western world.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? But then it was the socialist system that was supposed to conquer the West.

Orbán’s nationalist vision is allegedly superior to the western view of the world, in whose center a kind of monster holds the stage, someone deprived of his culture and his national and sexual identity, who relies merely on his instincts. “Politics that discard the natural order of life have always led to barbarity independently from the erudition of its protagonists.” Here nationalist culture and civilization are posited against savagery, cruelty, brutishness, everything that the word “barbarity” conveys.

Let’s return to Gellner for a moment. Quoting Kant, he asserts that “partiality, the tendency to make exceptions on one’s own behalf or one’s own case, is the central human weakness from which all others flow; and it infects national sentiment as it does all else.” Orbán’s nationalism has a large dose of that partiality. He is apt to describe Hungarians as being endowed with superior gifts and faculties. For example, Hungarians must thank their national culture for having the special talent to recognize truth and properly assess situations. In other words, their cultural background destined them to recognize the danger the refugee crisis poses for Europe while others, not having that necessary ingredient in their national culture, are, I guess, just too dense. He claims that “it is this spiritual force that makes us able to calmly contemplate those questions towering over Europe which frighten and deter others.” I’m sure that a great number of Hungarians will lap up all this nonsense.

Once he was confident that his followers were basking in Hungarian superiority, he moved on to the other prong of nationalism, at least as Gellner defined it. “It is a well-known fact that we Hungarians don’t like empires,” and “Hungarians don’t like it when imperial proconsuls want to determine the fate of the nation.” He went on at some length about the evil plans of this empire, but in the long laundry list there is one sentence that I find revealing. “The ‘Empire,’ in order to implement the Soros Plan, wants to get rid of all governments in Europe that represent national interests, including our own.” Although a few years ago Orbán accused Washington and Brussels of working toward his removal, lately he has by and large refrained from such allegations. Of course, it is possible that such an accusation is intended merely to tighten his hold over his followers by intimating that his very government is in danger, but I have the feeling that his fear might be genuine.

November 12, 2017
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Farkas
Guest

Dumb and dumber. So speaks the Lilliputian Napoleon of Lower Slobbovia.

dos929
Guest
I am afraid that in Orban’s case there is no logic and no valid reasoning in order to explain his political, economic, social, or any other stance. He is a common criminal, who would embrace any ideology at any time if it would suit his immediate needs. If he would see advantage in turning away from his current views and all the sudden declare sentiments towards the left leaning values, he would do it… Orban has no scruples, no ideology, just the love of power. As an example, 10 years ago, in 2007, he was preaching exactly the opposite about Russian influence, belonging to the culture and future of the West and the EU. Orban and his fellow travellers are no less than common criminals, although not so common… The way they got to and then hold onto power has parallel only in the worst dictatorial regime’s. His many practices in his policies are nearly indistinguishable to those of the Nazi regime. So, no explanation, rhyme or reason is needed in order to analyse him. He is a madman followed by other low intellectual cronies who got into power and no matter what, they will never let it to be… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Look at OH where Trump is still king. There is ample evidence that the economic situation – among other reasons – is key both in the US as in Hungary. The Hungarian opposition does not address the economic situation just as the mainstream Democratic party has nothing to say to white working class folks. Unfortunately even the Hungarian opposition believes the – made up – government statistics and thinks the economy is “booming”. It’s ridiculous, spend half an hour in Pécs, Szolnok, Szekszárd or Miskolc. Of course Orban is a criminal, he’s insane and so on – but he has a genuine supporter base just as in rural PA Trump is still beloved. Trump’s voter base in the rust belt is still intact, they love him. Trump seems to care about the forgotten, written-off white rural folks and so does Orban – in return these voters adore him and forgive him for everything. The left-wing is envious because it never received that kind of genuine love (maybe Janos Kadar). Writing off Orban as a simple tyrannical madman comfortably avoids facing reality, the – in significant part – self-inflicted problems of the opposition. Hungary isn’t a democracy but that doesn’t mean… Read more »
Guest

While Orbán declares that “Politics that discard the natural order of life have always led to barbarity”, he has no problem with his followers and himself being barbaric.

In the village of Öcsény plans to allow a few vetted and legally registered refugee women and children a short holiday, were met with Orbán’s tacitly approved selective barbarism.

The guest house owner had to abandon his kind-hearted gesture when the “civilized” Hugarian villagers “ literally threatened me, that they would separate my head from my body!…… a brick was thrown at my van. We saw in the morning that six of my eight tires had been slashed.”

So Orbán’s nationalism means behaving barbarically, in order to fight barbarism. I think he would have got an F in Philosophy class.

Marty
Guest

Orban’s fear is genuine – but only because he is paranoid.

The EU is totally impotent, the US just doesn’t really care about the CEE (ok, that 200k for the press was nice, I agree). There is no way Orban can be removed from outside. It’s ridiculous. Unfortunately it is exactly Orban who reveals the West as impotent by virtue of his staying power despite his staunchly anti-West, anti-EU, anti-democratic, illiberal revolutionary nature.

Orban need not fear. He built out his autocracy with the help, support of the Western powers (who continue to finance him) who can only appease him but are clearly unable to stand up to him. This at a time when it takes a 5 minute call for Putin to nudge Orban into doing anything. There is no way local Hungarians can ever remove him in a formally legal manner. We are part that point.

Orban just like any Saudi king or Robert Mugabe will stay in power as long as he can breath.

Guest

Marty, come on!
The “West” had good economic relations with Eastern Europe (and China, Indonesia, Vietnam, …) 40 and 30 years ago – the East Germans and Hungarians would produce good stuff in their factories at low prices for us customers in the EU …
When they became too expensive, production was moved to Ukraine and Romania first, then to China, now it’s Cambodia …

Nobody cared about the political systems there – as long as the price and the quality of their products was ok.

In a way nothing much has changed.
If they don’t like their political/economic systems – then it’s up to Hungarians, Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese themselves to change it!

Only if there’s a challenge like “No more cheap oil for the USA” – then they will use their weapons (and they’ve done this often enough …)!

That’s Capitalism!

ambator
Member

Disgusting!

Guest

A bit OT:
Last week we had to put our dog down (born in Hungary …) – after 16 (!) happy years she got really ill and the vet said she wouldn’t make it through the winter anyway and also didn’t want her to live in constant pain.
And now on my car’s radio all weekend I’ve been playing the song “Lowdown” from Chicago, one of my favourite bands.
The song’s lyrics might also apply to Hungary – look here:

Oh my
Life has passed me by
The country I was brought up in
Fell apart and died

Oh no
Love’s no longer there
Cold wind blew away the sun
That used to warm the air

Lowdown
Oh! Feelin’ pretty bad
Feelin’ like I lost the best friend
That I ever had

Lowdown
Oh! Got to find a way
Got to make the people see
The way I feel today

wrfree
Guest

Very apt. For a country and its people ’56 blew everything up. They tried to put the pieces back together and revive the busted relationships. But I’m afraid the damage runs deep. This is work that seems to have no upside as the decks are stacked on this Titanic.

It’s to be said there was once a more idyllic time to be able look to different and new horizons but it was fleeting. For some reason it would appear the country felt better to hunt for thousands of uses for knives. There appears to be a terrible infatuation for their use. And the jagged cuts seem to rip deeper and deeper as life, liberty and happiness slowly oozes out and away.

Aida
Guest

Wolfi, please accept my deepest sympathies. You had to make a terrible decision and you made the right one. The loss of a pet is so difficult to bear. We must enjoy every moment they spend with us and dread the moment they pass. Let there be a happy place for your friend in the doggie heaven he so richly deserves.

Istvan
Guest

As absurd and as frightening as some of us on this blog find Orban’s nationalist ranting to be he isn’t as absurd as Tomio Okamura in the leader of the far right party in the Czech Republic is. I mean really, a guy born in Tokyo from a racially mixed family leading the nationalist Freedom and Direct Democracy party and being elected in central Bohemia writing a best selling book titled “The Czech Dream” and being a judge on the Czech version of British BBC television programme Dragons’ Den it’s all hard to grasp. We have the absurd situation where Andrej Babiš, a Slovak-born oligarch who runs a rival nationalist party the ANO is in competition with Okamura. Both Okamura and Babiš find Orban to be inspirational from what I have read.

I guess looked at from another perspective the fact that Orban is inspirational for such characters in Central Europe is consistent with the insanity of Trump here in the USA who has legions of poor white followers who he truly would not piss on if their hearts were on fire. (From a line in the 1987 film Matewan.)

Guest

On the other hand Hungary just voted to be a part of
Deepening Defence Cooperation among EU Member States aka PESCO:
https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-Homepage/34226/permanent-structured-cooperation-pesco-factsheet_en
How does all that fit together?

Ferenc
Guest

Could HU (and some others) again ‘be in it for the money’…?

Istvan
Guest

Wolfi Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defense (PESCO), which is part of the EU, is a paper tiger in terms of conventional warfare. Without US strategic and tactical weapons lurking in the background Putin could take Paris or Berlin without question relatively rapidly. The chiefs of the US army, navy, air force and marines told the Senate armed services committee last year that conflict with Moscow would be a “high military risk” where victory could not be guaranteed. The good thing is Putin is not interested in occupying western Europe or for that matter central Europe, he prefers a more modern approach to domination that yields more profits for his oligarchs.

Guest

I’m sure you’re right there, Istvan – but military cooperation is a nobraimer for the EU imho.
One doesn’t have to consider WW3, any “smaller” military action should find the EU united, it could be a revolt in some country or Turkey or …
In a way it’s a kind of show and only a small part of the EU’s power – think about economic measures like those against Russia which really hurt.

The main point for me is:
It’s another step in the direction of a United States of Europe which has always been the idea behind the EU and its predecessors: The Montan-Union, the Common Market etc. This is of course contrary to the “Europe of Nations” which some loonies like Fidesz, the Polish government etc are trying to tell us!

Observer
Guest

Istvan
Kudos.
The prophets are from somewhere else. People know their own kind and don’t trust them, their irrational hopes/faith needs an extragenous element. In most cases.

In H’s case Orban played on the nationalism and negativism, very pronounced in the Hu national psyche, add his anti establishment/Budapest posturing. He’s still doing this full throttle and there is a lot of cold civil war mood in Hun. The prickliness, intolerance, aggression and nonsense in everyday life is palpable even under the politeness veneer and pretensions of Budapest.

bimbi
Guest

Stolpersteine: Appertaining to Orbán’s beloved Nationalism.
A recent visitor from Canada has drawn my attention to the existence of Stolpersteine, the affixing to a cobblestone in the pavement of a brass plate bearing the name and other details of a victim of the Holocaust, which he must have seen in Germany. Apparently Hungary also has some of these as stated in the website:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolperstein
but I have never seen one. The first 3 were fixed in Budapest in 2007, but that only leaves about 499,997 more to be affixed for the other Hungarian victims of the Holocaust. Where are they?

Previously Budapest used to have small wall plaques commemorating the execution of anti-fascists by Nazi and Arrow-Cross killers – but these have disappeared (between 1998 and 2002). If these too are the victims of Orbán’s “nationalism”, the action outrages all human decency.

It looks as if modern Germany can manage to do what Orbán’s Nationalistic Hungary can not.

Shame, shame, shame.

Gretchen
Guest

I have photos of 3 or 4 pairs of ‘stumble-stones’ taken in Budapest. Unfortunately my efforts at putting them into this reply have failed. This summer I found two, husband and wife, murdered by the Arrow Cross. The others had been sent to Auschwitz. Also I have failed to make note of the addresses. I have heard that they cost about $7,000–so, very costly.

Gretchen
Guest

According to the Wikipedia entry, they are only 120 Euro now.

Guest

I think we had a discussion on this some years ago on politics.hu – of course it also took some time for this to be accepted in Germany.

Observer
Guest

It’s a great idea, rememberance – I was very impressed and moved seeng these in Berlin.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – Hungary and poor (national) competitiveness
In Hungary it seems prices are not so much defined by the market, but by influence of politicians in power. Latest example Tallai, state secretary and deputy Minister of National Economy, agrees with MOL to reduce prices ‘his area’ of Mezokovesd. According to his facebook post all done, on request of the ‘local population’.
Tallai’s post: https://www.facebook.com/tallaiandrasfidesz/photos/a.470960079688006.1073741836.465622183555129/1461247887325882/
Bloomberg article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-13/orban-ally-flaunts-power-as-mol-cuts-prices-in-tax-chief-s-city

Guest

Ferenc, this is just small fry …
I wrote on politics.hu:
There’s a much simpler solution:
Get your cheap gas outside of Hungary, in Austria e g!

And it seems that many Hungarians like this solution – so they just stay in Austria and don’t return to Hungary, only for holidays…
A nice side effect of this is that they make about three times or even four times as much money – so don’t be shocked if they return with a beautiful modern car instead of their old run down stinking Lada or Wartburg …

Ferenc
Guest

Wolfi, you missed the point here, it’s not about the cheaper gas itself.
Tallai is state secretary responsible for taxation, he intervened in the local market (note: he seemed to have spoken with only one company!). And all done for his own private interest, it’s his voting district of Mezokovesd!!

Guest

Ferenc, I was just joking!
Anyway this story shows how stupid and/or naive Fideszniks are or maybe for them it comes natural:
L’état, c’est moi!

Observer
Guest

Orban, asked about this by journalists today, responded with “Congratulations (to Tàllai). All should arrange these things”.
So much for the rule of law in Hun.

Observer
Guest

Note
We often hear that Tàllai is the head of the Tax Office, which he actually is, but illegally so. This position can not be occupied by a politician/MP, but in Orbanistan Tàllai was given a new hat undersecretary for tax affairs ( adóügyekért felelős àllamtitkàr) and voillà, he in control.
So much for the rule of law in Orbanistan.

Observer
Guest

And ..

After Orban congratulated Tàllai for the above machinations, the MSZP parliamentarians decided to ask MOL to reduce the fuel prices in the whole country. Or at least in the poorer regions, I would suggest.

Guest

No, you don’t get it!
To compensate for this MOL had to raise gas prices everywhere else again today …
http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/hungary-mol-raises-motor-fuel-prices-again.34727.html
That’s the way the cookie crumbles …

Ferenc
Guest

Should give opportunities to other fuel companies to go seriously under the MOL prices and make a campaign around that…
If it’s a fair market…

Guest

Most of the other gas stations here around Keszthely (and there’s around half a dozen of them on the main through roads) are a few Forints cheaper than MOL and I’ve been wondering for 20 years why people fill up at MOL – do they really believe their gas is better?
PS and OT again:
Of course near the Austrian border gas is even cheaper again because of the competition from over there. That’s another example of higher Hungarian taxes …
20 years ago gas/petrol was really cheap in Hungary, but now?

wrfree
Guest

Re: nationalism… the political flavor of the times

Elections in the country will be coming up soon as the country fills itself up on nationalistic fervor. For the last few ‘free’ elections it would appear the electorate has not ‘voted’ for democracy as such but for some amalgam of ‘soft’ autocracy mixed in with nationalistic and Christian fervor to further nation-state interests.

The electorate just might have to be ‘en garde’. With the one coming up it just cannot know if it will be the last so-called ‘free one’. They would seem to be getting into a time where nostalgia will then be the only recourse to alleviate somewhat their position as virtual automatons of the nation-state.

Guest

Totally OT but important – Eva has reported on this and might use this topic again:
http://index.hu/english/2017/11/13/budapest_metro_russia_provokatsya_metrowagonmash/
A gripping story of what went on behind the decision for the Russian “new” M3 cars – unbelievable, straight from a spy thriller!

PS:
I was disappointed by the scarcety of new info/articles on the English Index site – but this is compensation!
Thank you, Index and VSquare where this originally appeared!

petofi
Guest

Nationalism–the refuge of morons who live in the 19th century…

Observer
Guest

Or
Nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, according to W.Churchill.

Aida
Guest

The quotation is I think “patriotism”. The English have, during my time in the U.K. has never been spelt out and hysteria it engenders strongly discouraged. Until now, that is. It is now out with a vengeance, dividing communities, friends, families. Fortunately one much welcome spinoff will be the destruction of the Tory Party.

Aida
Guest

The quotation is from Samuel Johnson 1775, not Churchill.

Observer
Guest

Mea culpa.

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