Johanna Laakso: Friends and foes of “freedom”

Johanna Laakso is a professor in the Finno-Ugric Department of the Institut für Europäische und Vergleichende Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft at the University of Vienna. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Helsinki, where she also taught until 2000, when she moved to the University of Vienna. Besides her native Finnish, she speaks English, German, Hungarian, Estonian, Swedish, Russian, and French. Professor Laakso is known to the readers of  Hungarian Spectrum as Sentrooppa-Santra and is one of our frequent contributors on linguistic topics as well as on politics.  In 2014, at my request, she wrote a post when the Orbán government established one of its newfangled institutes, the Magyar Nyelvstratégiai Intézet (Hungarian Language Strategy Institute). Her article, “Brave New Linguistics,” not only informed us about this institute but also summarized some of the most important developments in the study of linguistics in Hungary over the last couple of centuries.

The Finnish original of this article was published on Professor Laakso’s blog at http://sentrooppasantra.wordpress.com/2017/12/26/vapauden-ystavat-ja-viholliset/

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Mária Schmidt should already be known to the readers of this blog. She is a kind of a court historian of Viktor Orbán, and the general public will probably know her as the director of the “House of Terror” in Budapest, the museum which in a somewhat debated manner shows the Nazi and the Communist dictatorship as two parallel cases. She also played a very visible role in the official programme of the recent memorial year of the revolution of 1956. In her research career, she has worked with the history of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy and the fates of minorities in Hungary in the turmoils of 20th-century dictatorships. She also teaches at the Catholic Pázmány university in Piliscsaba. According to the Hungarian Wikipedia, she was ranked by the Napi.hu portal as the 30th most influential person in Hungary in 2017, which is probably due to her political connections rather than to her academic merits. In the years 1998–2002, Schmidt was officially the counsellor of the Prime Minister, and now she leads one of the new research institutes founded by the government: on its homepage, the XXI. Század Intézet (21st Century Institute) states that its tasks comprise “supporting research on politics and numerous other activities connected to the research of politics”.

These numerous other activities, in turn, obviously include a fresh publication which appeared in early December: the book by Mária Schmidt, entitled Nyelv és szabadság (‘Language and Freedom’). Curious to know what Schmidt, a historian, has to say about language, I ordered the book for my holiday reading, despite certain forebodings. Sadly enough, the reality was even more terrible. In what follows, I’ll try to analyze my bewilderment at Schmidt’s book.

The Enemies: Muslim immigrants, left-wing liberal elite, Soros

The book is a compilation of Schmidt’s political columns and opinion pieces from the last couple of years. These texts do not form a logically ordered whole but mostly repeat the same things with slightly different words. Moreover, they do not attempt to argue or to give reasons. It seems that the goal is simply to hammer the basic ideas into the readers’ heads: who are the good guys, who are the bad guys, what is the real problem in today’s political situation. For the problems, three culprits are identified. First, the “migrants”, especially Muslim ones. Second, the left-wing liberal elites and decision-makers who invite and bring them to Europe, especially the German Chancellor Merkel and her associates. And third, behind all these, pulling the strings – ta-dah, George Soros!

Why “The Man in a Bowler Hat” by René Magritte was chosen as the cover illustration remains a mystery. True, Schmidt’s book does emanate a surreal atmosphere.

The immigrants who flooded Europe in 2015 are, of course, no real “refugees” (menekült), as the “left-wing liberal media” want to call them. In Schmidt’s opinion, they all, as a caste (no exceptions are mentioned), constitute a “mobile intifada”. The “migrants” are violent, they are murderers and rapists, they are men “of fighting age” (katonakorú), they come from “areas controlled by jihadists” (p. 139), they are “militant, combat-trained troops” (p. 132), and their “luggage most certainly is full of weapons, drugs and who knows what” (p. 134). They behave rudely and insolently, even towards the “patient and humane” Hungarian authorities, do not show gratitude for the help they are given, they expect a Western European standard of living without any duties. Their goal, and the goal of Islam in general, always and everywhere, is of course to conquer and repopulate Europe. For Schmidt, Islam is not a world religion with zillions of different interpretations and practices in different environments and traditions (as is the case with Christianity as well) but a monolithic system for terror and world domination. Accordingly, the Muslim invaders do not represent different nations, cultures, or political systems: a herdsboy from a tribal village in Afghanistan and a middle-class urban entrepreneur from Syria are both part of a homogeneous mass of “Muslims”, and behind all of them looms a mysterious power with oil and money.

The flood of immigrants is made possible by the fact that Europe, after losing its national values, has turned powerless, spineless, and unable to defend itself. The words in its languages have lost their meaning, due to the tyranny of political correctness, and the political organs of the EU are held captive by the Marxist elite. What is even worse, this elite has the nerve to criticize Hungary, for instance for harassing NGOs, for closing the archive museum of György Lukács (Schmidt: only because Lukács was a Communist!) or for terminating the newspaper Népszabadság.

As for Népszabadság, the paper of the state-holding party in the party state, it is a shame that even in 2017, there can be members of the European Parliament who dare to position themselves in support of a former Communist paper! As if some thirty years ago people had worried about the fate of the Völkischer Beobachter! (p. 197)

A particularly ferocious attack is directed at Angela Merkel (who, according to Smith, hates Europeans and especially Germans, because of their Nazi past…) and at Germany as a whole: Germany is not only burdened by its Nazi past, but Socialism as well was invented in Germany, Schmidt reminds. The EU, in turn, is in practice ruled by Germany, because Germany more than any other country profits from the EU. Schmidt also plays the Nazi card (“the dream of a unified Europe was already cherished by Hitler”, p. 130), as at the end of the following example, invoking an association to the concentration camp transports:

A normal man or boy will know his duties and defend his wife, daughter, mother, or sister. Only these Germans of today have turned so brain-washed and unmanly that they are not even capable of that. The Merkelian language has by now depoliticized and thus debilitated the whole public discourse in Germany. Not only because it is endlessly tedious and monotonous, but because it lacks any content, because it never says anything, it means just letting out hot air. Merkel let the flood of Muslim migrants invade Europe without showing any need to argue for her strategy or to make her strategy public. The German citizens are content with Wir schaffen das. As if they were merely facing a logistic challenge. These people will arrive here, be collected and selected here, divided into quotas there, and then transported to their goals. If only this logistically oriented mode of action were not so familiar already! (p. 29)

The reason for the weakness of German or, more generally, Western elites is that they have failed in their Vergangenheitsbewältigung, dealing with the past. Schmidt thinks that the Western upper class and intellectuals are clinging to their victim status and guilt. Because “only the victim deserves attention, recognition, and privilege” (p. 48), elites and privileged, well-to-do groups also want to be victims. This gives rise to #metoo campaigns, the collective self-castigation in the spirit of “collective guilt” which is continuously practised especially by Germans, or more generally, the mania of former colonial overlords to blame themselves for all possible wrongdoings the colonized peoples have experienced. (As Schmidt reminds, Hungary, in contrast, has never colonized any country. Of course, one might ask how the Magyarization policies of the Hungarian half of the dual monarchy towards its ethnic minorities in the late 19th century prepared ground for the ethnic conflicts which took place throughout the 20th century. But this is probably not the proper place to discuss these issues.)

This situation, then, creates new opportunities for those interested in “migrant business”. The immigrants are not invading Europe merely out of their own free will or driven by their Islamic ideology, but they are being invited, directed, and transported. This is done by fake NGOs “intertwined with human trafficking gangs”, by diverse human rights organizations and the European Court of Human Rights and other organs of justice, whose actions are causing disaster “like a loose cannon” (p. 133) – because “invoking the state of law means questioning the people’s representation”, it amounts to “juristocracy” (p. 202). For these organizations, human rights are a “rubber concept” which they can “extend and apply at will, depending on each current need” (p. 175). (What “extending human rights” in this respect might mean is not explained in more detail, nor are examples given.) The fake NGOs, in turn, are funded especially by George Soros, the super-villain as shown to the people of Hungary in recent hate propaganda campaigns; Schmidt quite seriously compares Soros with the mighty villains who aspire to world domination in James Bond films.

Both the left-wing liberal elites and the decision-making machinery of the EU are controlled by Soros, Schmidt claims. As evidence for this, she mentions the “gas pipe Socialists” who after or alongside their political career have turned into lobbyists of big enterprises, and – believe or not – the fact that Saturday Night Live once called Soros “the owner of the Democrat Party”. If even the authors of a political satire show “treat this like a fact”, it must be a fact…

Whatever motivates Soros and his buddies to do this (beyond the simple fact of being evil) is hardly taken into scrutiny, no explanations are sought. Is “migrant business” really that profitable? Schmidt does claim that the “migrant business” is based on Western enterprises’ need for cheap labour, but elsewhere (p. 139, for example) she states that the “migrants” are unwilling to work (and unable as well, being largely uneducated analphabets), especially for small wages: they merely expect a comfortable life on welfare.

In any case, alongside the Soros network or the Soros plan there exists even a “Sorosism” or a “Sorosist world view”, probably roughly the same thing as the ideology of the “left-wing liberal elite”. The Central European University was also founded to spread this Sorosist ideology, and there – as in Anglophone universities in general – nobody will be accepted or given the floor who does not agree with “militant Sorosists”… But of course, the 87-year-old Soros is not operating alone, but probably he is being used as a gallion figure by “groups behind him who represent a certain part [egy meghatározott rész] of international speculative capital” (p. 250). Who or what are the people who constitute this “certain part”? No answer is given, but I’m afraid that many readers will find one in no time.

The Heroes: “Populists”, “Patriots” – and especially Viktor Orbán

The opposite to the opportunism and indifference of the “elite” and also the target of the elite’s implacable hate are those whom the elite dubs “populists”.

Populist is what they call a politician who is doing what the voters are expecting from him/her. In other words, a democrat. (p. 14; Schmidt presents this as a quotation from The Spectator, no more precise source is given)

Among those who are called “populists”, especially Eastern Europeans, those to whom Schmidt often refers with the pronouns (“we”, “us”) or inflection forms of the first person plural (“we know”), are particularly dangerous to the Western villains and importers of immigrants. The reason is that these “we” have already during Soviet times learnt to recognize the “Communist, Trotskyist, later Post-Communist or left-wing” (p. 93) method by which the innocent are made guilty and the hostile invaders glorified as heroes. These people, therefore, are immune to the propaganda of Soros and the arrogant Western cultural Marxists, because they still retain their national basic values and a self-respect based on them, which gives them courage.

Courage or audacity (bátorság), in turn, is the central characteristic which Schmidt in one of the last chapters of the book attributes to Viktor Orbán. Audacity is shown, for example, in the campaign to lower utility costs (rezsi), even called “the rezsi fight” (a trick by which especially elderly voters are made happy by seemingly smaller gas and electricity bills). To Schmidt, organizing “national consultations” also counts as an example of audacity, as they are based on the audacious idea that “outside of the elite, even other people can have an opinion which counts” (p. 217). (And this opinion can be expressed by checking a “yes” or “no” box following a suggestive and weighted question.) In general, audacity constitutes the core of Orbán’s political credo:

We should not wonder if these groups, lacking and not understanding any quality, are irritated by Orbán, the freedom fighter. The same Viktor Orbán who on the 16th of June in 1989, at the reburial of Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs, on the Heroes’ Square in Budapest burst into the world of politics, being the first one in the whole region to publicly demand free elections and the withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces from the country. This required real audacity, as only twelve days earlier, on the Tiananmen square in Beijing students demanding democracy had been murdered in heaps.

This myth of young Orbán as the first one who dared to challenge the occupation forces of the collapsing empire has, in fact, already been debunked. Already in March 1989, an agreement with the Soviet Union about the withdrawal of the occupation forces had been made, that is, three months before Orbán’s speech, and in April the first Soviet soldiers had already left the country. The agreement was not yet public knowledge, but the committee in charge of the reburial ceremonies was informed, and they had also discussed the issue with Orbán. The reference to China is also somewhat baffling: basically the same regime which had freedom-loving students shot to death is still holding the power, and recently, Orbán has made demonstrative approaches to the decision-makers in China. But obviously Schmidt trusts her fearless and clear-sighted readers not to draw any further conclusions.

Time for confrontation

A major part of the bewilderment which Schmidt’s book can cause in a reader outside her target group is due to style. Although the text is written for a broad and general readership, an academic author, a university teacher, might be expected to base the credibility of her text on rational and logical argumentation. One would thus naïvely expect neutral formulations which strive to objectivity and avoid a heated, emotional tone. However, Schmidt writes in the style of an agitator in early 20th century. She is not afraid of vulgar and colloquial expressions such as komcsi ‘Commie’, migránssimogató (could be freely translated as ‘migrant hugger’), or mocskos bolsi ‘filthy Bolshie’.

Schmidt’s most essential rhetoric tool is confrontation and one-dimensional highlighting and exaggeration of opposites. Whoever fails to support us and our basic values, whoever dares to criticize something we have done or said is not just positioning herself/himself as the infallible supreme judge of all deeds, s/he is our adversary in all respects and the enemy of anything good and noble. There are no options and no nuances, there are only good guys and bad guys. In politics, the choice is only between unconditional loyalty, “adoration” and “implacable hatred”.

There is a remarkable connection in how, when the USA is led by a God-fearing, conservative and value-based government, the anti-Americanism of the left-wing elite in Europe knows no limits, but when a government representing the opposite values takes over, the same Europeans suddenly start adoring America. (p. 21)

If Western European left-wing politicians criticize the policies of Hungary, this means also implying that they alone are entitled to judge others’ actions. Voicing criticism of the actions of Hungarian authorities means denying the sovereignty of the Hungarian nation. Diversity of values and cultures, cultural tolerance, the usual blah-blah of Western liberals, means hating one’s own traditional culture or a “war on traditional values”: Schmidt seems to think that appreciating a foreign culture necessarily means despising one’s own. Acknowledging the value of third-world cultures or the wrongs which third-world nations have experienced means, in Schmidt’s interpretation, that these cultures are considered “more valuable”. Similarly, speaking of the universal human rights of refugees means demanding “privileges” for “invaders”, speaking of the crimes of colonial rulers means denying “that mass murders ever happened in other parts of the world”, and fostering religious freedom and diversity of religion is, of course, “an attack against Christianity”.

This continuous simplification of a diversity of issues into one-dimensional oppositions gives rise to an endless parade of straw men. The liberals of Europe, Schmidt claims, want to “delete the borders” and make “unlimited immigration” possible. They prohibit and censor: Schmidt has also found a reference to a statement given by the German journalist Claudia Zimmermann in a Dutch radio broadcast. Allegedly, Zimmermann claimed that the WDR channel had instructed its employees to report about the refugee crisis in a positive tone, in line with the German government (WDR has demented this claim, while Zimmermann has retracted her statement and apologized for the misunderstanding). Schmidt’s army of straw men also includes the popular allegation that Western liberals do not condemn violations of human rights or equality if committed by Muslims. No examples, of course, and no evidence.

Moreover: it is claimed that liberal elites want to delete gender roles and genders or sexes in general. A good old strawman is brought forward again: “men should no more be called men, women should not be called women”. Concerning political correctness, one of the last chapters presents a rich collection of urban legends and fake news. Schmidt, as we are informed, is well acquainted with Anglophone universities which now are devoted to the “self-realization” of narcissist individuals in the spirit of the post-truth era. Wishing somebody “merry Christmas” is now automatically considered a hate crime, says Schmidt. A Canadian professor of psychology is threatened by jail after he refused to use neologistic gender-neutral pronouns in referring to persons of trans- or non-binary gender. (Refusing to conform to the university code of conduct also as concerns the use of gendered vocabulary might in principle be a problem even in the light of the new Canadian criminal code, but nevertheless the claims of prison punishment are grossly exaggerated, jurists say). Schmidt also claims that at the SOAS [School of Oriental and African Studies] in London, philosophers from Plato to Immanuel Kant have been included into the index of forbidden books because they were white and male; in fact, a demand of “decolonising the syllabus” was presented by students at some point but never taken seriously. And, as you may have heard, at university campuses in the English-speaking world normal relationships between men and women have become impossible, says Schmidt, because male students are so often terrorized by made-up charges of rape or sexual harassment…

Owls and sparrows

Already somewhere in the first part of the book, I found myself scribbling not only question and exclamation marks to its margins but also the letter combination BV as a note to myself. In my head, I kept hearing the Hungarian saying Bagoly mondja verébnek, hogy nagyfejű (‘The owl says to the sparrow that it has a big head’), the equivalent of “the pot calling the kettle black”. Take, for instance, the above-mentioned claim about how German journalists are instructed to report on the refugee crisis. How can Schmidt claim something like this while her own government has turned the state-controlled media channels into a propaganda tube of the Fidesz party and redistributed most of the existing traditional media outlets to certain circles close to the government? Or how does the alleged double standard of Merkel’s Germany, friendliness to the West and coldness towards Eastern Europe, differ from the political “peacock dance”, as Orbán himself has called his European policy?

“Owls and sparrows” together with diverse logical somersaults of similar character can be found on almost each and every page of the book. For example, Schmidt sneers at the Western elites who whine about their sufferings, without seeing the central role of ritualized self-pity (“boo hoo, our nation has suffered more than any other people in the world”) in Hungarian patriotism ever since the 16th century. The Western Marxist elite (?!) is accused of still concealing and downplaying the crimes of Socialist systems – but this is also done by the Orbán government, which still refuses to publish all the names of collaborator agents in the Kádár era. (According to the historian Krisztián Ungváry, this is already a tradition in post-transition Hungary; different governments have chosen to keep the names secret in order to be able to use the data for political blackmailing.)

The Western Marxist elite, says Schmidt, “will not tolerate debate, open discussion, arguments” (p. 182). Instead of critical thinking, they will repeat mantras and readymade formulations sent in from Berlin (as from Moscow in olden times), because “it is much easier to incite hatred and excommunicate all those who ask and argue than to invest effort into tinkering with the answers” (p. 74). Does it ever occur to Schmidt that this excellently applies to the campaigns against immigration and George Soros as orchestrated by the Hungarian government in the last few years, or to the way in which Orbán and his government avoid all questions and criticism from the opposition? In analysing the programme speech of the rector of the CEU (or “Soros University”), Schmidt points out that Rector Ignatieff will not bother to investigate the flaws of Communism separately but bundles it together with Stalinism – the same accusation, although in the other direction, has also been presented to Schmidt’s own “House of Terror”. And if Merkel’s Wir schaffen das! is an empty and void slogan, not saying anything about what and why (p. 248), in what respect is Orbán’s Magyarország jobban teljesít (‘Hungary performs better’) any better?

Moreover: in criticizing the “immigration business” Schmidt wonders what will happen to the migrants’ countries of origin, as they lose their educated young people to Europe. (Elsewhere in the book, she states that contrary to the expectations of Western liberals, most refugees are illiterate barbarians unable to get integrated.) Now this is a question we could ask of Hungary as well, considering the current exodus of educated and young people which has already led to shortage of trained labour in many areas, not only in the health care system. Schmidt can, of course, make sarcastic allegations to the behaviour of Jean-Claude Juncker, “the leader of Europe who is in a very good mood already before noon”, and the notorious unclarities around his taxation. But take Viktor Orbán, who is also known for seldom refusing a good drink, with his rumoured mental health issues and with the dense cloud of suspicions of corruption surrounding him, his family and friends – is he any better?

In Austria, the decades of “red-black” (Social-Democrats and Conservatives) coalitions did lead to stagnation and “pillarization” of society on the basis of opportunistic party membership, but how can Schmidt criticize the role of party membership in recruitment or allocation of state funding in Austria, considering how critical media in Hungary has been almost completely silenced and the holders of numerous positions and offices owe maximal loyalty (and silence) to the ruling party? And when Schmidt writes about the Western elites who have ended up “lightyears away from those who do not belong to their circles, so that they will not understand each other any more” (p. 103), I must think of the strange charity action by Zoltán Balog, the minister for human resources, four years ago: Balog took 40 poor children to a posh restaurant to eat a fancy meal including, among other things, goose breast in calvados sauce.

And in general – Schmidt, as populist politicians and speakers in general, can rage against “elites” or the “upper class” without noticing that she herself, as holder of high academic and political positions, as a protegée of decision-makers, a businesswoman who a year ago bought the weekly paper Figyelő for 240 million forints, is irrefutably a member of the elite as well. Schmidt also confidently condemns the style and behaviour of today’s “left-wing elites” (“they lack good manners and refined style, they do not offer a model”, p. 154), obviously without asking herself how this relates to her own writing style.

The worse for the facts

Schmidt not only exaggerates and sets up strawmen, she also brazenly presents some completely untrue statements. In general, her pamphlet texts seldom argue, present facts or source references, but where there are references to facts or figures, these are sometimes modified or do not correspond to truth at all. For example, in Sweden, she claims, the Muslim immigration has led to a dramatic increase of rape and violence (in fact, the high rape rates in Sweden are due to the high readiness of victims to report these crimes – in contrast to many other countries – and very wide criteria of “rape”) and more than 15% (p. 59) – or “close to ten per cent” (p. 140) – of the population are Muslims. I don’t know where her figures come from, but this looks like a decimal error. According to the statistics of the central organ of religious communities in Sweden, the membership of all Islamic communities in sum amounts to some 140,000 people (less than 1.5% of the population). The Swedish Wikipedia gives inofficial estimates up to 400,000 but notes that these are based on the country of origin or on personal names and will not help to exclude secularized ex-Muslims or people of other affiliations (for instance, Christian immigrants from the Near East).

Some statements arouse the suspicion that Schmidt is relying on extreme right-wing alternative media with their alternative facts. (As for the so-called mainstream media in Germany at least, Schmidt claims that it has by now deserved the Nazi term Lügenpresse, ‘press of lies’.) At least one such source is mentioned by name: the German Udo Ulfkotte (1960–2017), a political journalist who after the turn of the millennium increasingly published on the alternative fora of extreme right-wing and racist circles. Similar sources are probably behind Schmidt’s statement (which I find difficult not to call a brazen lie) that Alexander Van der Bellen’s victory in the Austrian presidential elections of 2016 was “rigged” (p. 152). In fact, there is a vast body of research and reporting on this issue.

The second round of the Austrian presidential elections in 2016, which Van der Bellen narrowly won against the right-wing populist (FPÖ) candidate Norbert Hofer, had to be repeated due to “irregularities” or what some would call typical Austrian sloppiness. In some electoral districts, postal vote envelopes had been opened too early, unauthorized people had been present at the counting of votes or observers had signed protocols without reading them. However, these were mostly electoral districts in the countryside where Hofer had won the vote, so that election fraud in the sense of really manipulating the votes would have required an incredibly cunning precision work. In fact, no evidence of manipulation of votes was ever presented, nor did the mathematical analysis conducted at the University of Michigan find any indications of fraud. Hofer and other FPÖ functionaries never presented any official and explicit accusations, but with continuous insinuations, they maintained suspicions of fraud among their supporters. Although Hofer admitted his defeat after the repeated election, the belief in electoral fraud continues to live on some right-wing populist fora, and Schmidt presents it as follows (this is also a nice example of her style):

Also in the Austrian election of 2016, they [= the left-wing elite] made fools of themselves. With organized fraud, although by a very narrow margin, they managed to get a typical Western politician elected, a representative of everything that we find impossible to accept or digest. A man with a Commie past [Van der Bellen has publicly admitted having voted for a Communist candidate back in his youth, at a local election – J.L.], a freemason, who later tried his luck among the Greens, now an “independent” candidate gathered to his supporters, perfectly naturally, all public figures from the past of Austria, to testify to the hopeless stagnation of the country’s political life. The left-wing liberal elite of Austria, which used to seize and still seizes every opportunity to lecture us, is still trying to hide the fact that the election had to be repeated due to organized and massive frauds and irregularities and international observers were invited for the new election round. This was an unprecedented election scandal in Europe. I hereby declare myself available as an observer, and if needs be, I can also give a short informative lecture on the importance of the integrity of free elections.

Language, freedom, and democracy?

The closing chapter is authored by Márton Békés, research director of the 21st Century Institute, a young historian already well known on certain right-wing fora. The chapter starts with these words (italics as in the original):

This book creates a home in the language. It deals with political freedom as an extension of freedom of language, and it restores the original meaning of words. While reinstantiating the meanings of concepts which already seemed to be disappearing, it will realize a conservative revolution and restore their origins. (…) The author joins Orwell in declaring: one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

Nevertheless, I don’t really understand what Schmidt’s book has to do with language. To me, it doesn’t seem very probable that Schmidt or his afterword author Békés have even read George Orwell’s famous “Politics and the English language” (1946), from which they quote. In his essay, Orwell chastises the stupidities of political language use of his times: pretentious diction, vague and meaningless formulations, stale or crippled metaphors… He also gives insightfully chosen examples of different types of stupid texts – and the fourth of them, an excerpt from a contemporary Communist pamphlet, shows a haunting resemblance to Mária Schmidt’s writing. Similar pathetically serious attempts at sarcasm with scare quotes (“the best people”), similar exaggeratedly emotional, yet worn-out attributes, similar political or quasi-religious lingo which, in effect, serves to alienate anybody not devoted to the author’s cause. Just read the following example and compare it with the excerpts from Schmidt’s book given above.

All the ‘best people’ from the gentlemen’s clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.

Schmidt and Békés are not attempting to bring about “some improvement”; they are merely seeking the “right” language. Like many non-linguists they naïvely believe that each word has its “true” meaning, that is, the meaning that “we” use (and that who belongs to “us” and who doesn’t is a similarly self-evident issue). “Freedom” means freedom in our sense of the word, “corruption” is something that “they” have but “we” haven’t. And the political credo of our leader is based on “courage”, because we have decided to see things that way. This has nothing to do with the facts that this “courageous” leader has already long ago stopped giving interviews to other than his own trusted journalists (not to speak of risking a public debate with a political adversary), that he will answer an opposition politician’s unpleasant question by simply wishing her merry Christmas, or that he can have the protocols of debated political decisions declared secret (as in the case of the Paks nuclear power plant deal).

Freedom is an often-used decoy for freeing a people of its freedom, as the Finnish humorist Olli (Väinö Nuorteva) wrote already decades ago. There is nothing new in questionable uses of the word “freedom”. More interesting questions arise in connection with the concept of democracy or – this term surfaces a few times in this book – “majority democracy” (többségi demokrácia), which Márton Békés in his afterword connects with the concept of majority-rule democracy in the sense of the American right-wing politologist and philosopher Willmoore Kendall (1909–1967). But I will rather leave this to politologists. As a linguist, I’ll return to my own business, silently wondering how a university teacher and a professional scholar can produce – even in a book written for a general readership – such shallow text which seems to shun all rational argumentation.

December 28, 2017
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Zoli
Guest
“Accordingly, the Muslim invaders do not represent different nations, cultures, or political systems: a herdsboy from a tribal village in Afghanistan and a middle-class urban entrepreneur from Syria are both part of a homogeneous mass of “Muslims”,” You could make the same argument of the European settlers which more or less wiped out the Native Americans and their way of life. They came from different countries, religions, different social strata. And at times it seemed that they will live happily among the natives. Some intermixing even produced distinct new cultures like the Metis. But in the end, the Native Americans, with their cultures, traditions, languages, way of life were demographically overwhelmed as more and more came, they were marginalized and the continent was transformed in a European offshoot. Now, PEW research recently released a study that estimates in most West European countries we could see the Muslim population grow to 15-30% by 2050 if the rate of migration of the past few years were to be sustained. So it would be pure cynicism to continue to claim that there is no danger to Europe’s native cultures being demographically overwhelmed unless drastic change of course is made.
Reality Check
Guest

What a ridiculous analogy. The European settlers genocide of the native Americans was supported by superior weaponry, technological superiority, and the introduction of diseases into the native population. The current migrant wave into Europe has none of those advantages.

You have your facts wrong regarding PEWs demographic predictions. They are in the 7% to 14% range. You conveniently doubled that.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/29/5-facts-about-the-muslim-population-in-europe/

Do you really have so little confidence in European cultures, that they would be wiped out by a 14% Muslim population? What of course is very likely to happen is that by the third generation most will be fully integrated.

There is no danger to European Native cultures from migrants.

Zoli
Guest

You need a reality check! All that is needed is demographic superiority and that is what the Europeans also in fact had as well. And no, they will not be wiped out by a 14% Muslim population. They will be wiped out by a population that keeps growing, while the native one keeps shrinking, as was the case in North America for slightly different reasons.

Reality Check
Guest
You make an assumption that is not supported by observations of previous migrant waves. Birth rates drop as immigrants become integrated into the host culture. There is no good reason to assume this will not happen with the current wave in Europe. This is the pattern seen currently in the US. https://cis.org/Press-Release/Immigrant-Birthrate-Declining-Rapidly This drop in fertility has already been seen in previous waves of Muslims to Europe. A previous wave of Turkish immigrants to Europe began with a large family culture. These group of Turks now have birth rates slightly lower than the native born population. https://www.economist.com/news/international/21697819-immigrants-do-less-raise-birth-rates-generally-believed-fecund-foreigners Young Muslim women will do what women everywhere do when given the chance. They will embrace the oppurtunties they have in Europe and will pursue jobs and careers, and as result will have fewer children than their mothers. The same racially tinged arguement was made regarding migrants from Mexico into the US. Yet between 2006 and 2013 the fertility rate among Mexicans in America fell by 35%, compared with a drop of 3% among non-Hispanic whites. There is no evidence that low bith rates were the primary reason for the loss of native populations. The spike in death rates caused by war, famine,… Read more »
Zoli
Guest

Birth rates may decline somewhat in time, but not so much the birth rates in the ME-Africa region, where there are about 2 billion people, with a population doubling rate of 35 years, and a natural & economic capacity to provide for so many people that has already been surpassed, evidenced by the poverty and conflicts that keep flaring up. So the source of colonization is endless, as long as EU is willing to keep accepting.

Aida
Guest

Europeans have, whilst also making huge advances in human well being, have been guilty of horrific acts of barbarism. In their quest for wealth they conquered the Americas. They murdered their native populations, exploited their resources to their or their paymasters’ benefit. They inflicted untold suffering on the people they captured, subjugated, transported them from their homes to slavery for no purpose other than their own financial gain. The eventual abolition of slavery could not and never even begun to undo the suffering and devastation caused by the slave trading crimes. Before we spend too much time on the largely ill informed banter on the impact of “Islam” we probably agree here that the suggested review of the impact of colonisation would be welcome as it might shine the torch on the crimes that helped inter alia to make Britain great.

Farkas
Guest
Hm. Aida, I would not debate for one moment the need to acknowledge that historically Europeans, and far from just West Europeans, had committed an enormous chain of horrific acts that retrospectively must be condemned without hesitation in terms of the ethical and moral standards we espouse in our own age. However: So did other civilizations and cultures of course, whether in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, the Far East or Australasia. Yet I don’t see these others flogging themselves ceaselessly about the atrocities committed by their ancestors, in the manner that left-wing public intellectuals, academics and opinion leaders appear to do within the ambit of our own Western culture and civilization. No flogging themselves in the least by contemporary Mongols, Persians or Arabs, or the contemporary descendants of Mayans, Aztecs, Incas or any other warring and incredibly cruel (in terms of our own contemporary ethical and moral standards) American Indian tribes and nations, or the contemporary descendants of the Chinese empire or those of the Japanese Shogunate, or the contemporary descendants of the Cambodian/Khmer empire, or the contemporary descendants of people of warring African or even Australian Aboriginal tribes, though the native clansmen or tribesmen of Africa or… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ Farkas

An excellent piece: I’m in hearty agreement.

The western wallowing of guilt must be a psychic remnant of
Christian self-flaggellation of the middle ages. I abhor it.

Of late, I think I’ve become somewhat Marxist in locating the source of present world difficulties in weaknesses of the capitalist system. It seems that population growth is only superficially accredited to religious beliefs; and that what is
really happening is that population growth is allowed to continue to maintain economic demand. I suspect that the German invite to immigrants may be somehow related to that.

I have long wondered why the UN hasn’t established an office to determine the capacity of countries to support their ideal level of population. This should’ve been done a long time ago. Only the Chinese have realized the importance of controlling their population in the 20th century.

Farkas
Guest
@petofi 1. I think that the underlying causes of overpopulation in retarded non-Western societies are, in the first place, religion, tradition and poverty; secondly, the overwhelming need for as many children as possible as a hedge against a miserable, poverty stricken old age; and thirdly, the blessings of capitalist civilization reaching an ever wider population in the Third World, who in the first instance will produce more and healthier children, and only a generation or two later will start to slow down with multiplying like rabbits, in order to actually start enjoying the increasing prosperity made possible for them by economic globalization. 2. I don’t think there is any need to get involved in conspiracy theories about overpopulation. It cannot be stopped dead world wide, unless all nations of the world would resort to the Chinese method or worse, something that is quite unthinkable on many levels. Increasing economic demand in the Third World is simply a natural consequence of traditional kinds of manufacturing being dramatically cheaper in retarded countries than in advanced ones. However, we are seeing the beginnings of a reverse flow, with the advent of artificial intelligence taking over cybernetic controls in advanced manufacturing. 3. In either… Read more »
Aida
Guest

There is little point in worrying about how different societies assess their past. That is no reason for not doing it.

Often the perpetrators of savagery and large scale cruelty have been made into national hero figures. By looking at their actions in some detail we can assess what level of public adulation should come their way.
Those whose present wealth is a product of historic crime should be subject to scrutiny if they should be allowed to retain them.

Farkas
Guest
@Aida December 29, 2017 2:00 pm “Those whose present wealth is a product of historic crime should be subject to scrutiny if they should be allowed to retain them.” Succinctly put. The problem is that what you would regard as a historic crime was not a crime at all at the time it was committed, but on the contrary, a feat of adventurous derring do and/or service in the cause of king and country and/or a matter of taming what was regarded at the time as the primitive savagery of subhumans. Had those who committed what you regard as a historic crime operated within the moral and ethical codes of a 21st century liberal sensibility, and knowingly and deliberately violated those standards, you could pronounce them guilty with quite some justice. But that was not so, and to pronounce them guilty of that crime, or of any crime at all, would not only be unjust, but utter and complete ahistorical nonsense. That is so, even in the case of the horrific deeds of the Spanish conquistadores in the Americas, or of the Belgians in the Congo, or of the African slave trade across the Atlantic. Also, would the principle so… Read more »
Aida
Guest

Many interesting points, Farkas. Clearly the devil will lie in the detail.
Let us establish the principle first. My propoposition is in two parts. The second, the confiscatory, part is very difficult and needs careful thought and any action would need broad consensus if we are to avoid committing injustice.

However, the reassessment of the real achievements and conduct of adulated National Heros” is much easier and potentially less controversial. The exercise may not be simple but may help to undermine the commonly held belief that there are multiple standards depending on whether the guy is regarded by the state’s propaganda chiefs as a “good comrade”.

The idea that since it was not a crime at the time the exercise has no value is questionable. Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes are part of the Law on Nations and in most of the civilised world now part of national laws, mostly without any time barring provisions, unlike other offences.

Thank you for your input.

Yes, the 19 Century repertoire is represents for me the peak of the art of Opera. I would include in that certainly at least Mozart’s three da Ponte works. Early 20 Century has great works.

Observer
Guest

Farkas
Hear, hear. Kudos.

Guest

@Zoli the troll:
With the ridiculous comparison of the invasion of the technologically superior Europeans in the Americas (and Australia too, crazy Melanie!) to the refugees (!) from Asia and Africa fleeing war and poverty you have shown again what kind of lunatic you are!
This isn’t even fake news – it’s bullshit squared!
A new record on the level of stupidity …

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Wolfi,
With your kind of management, very soon native Europeans will be fleeing to Asia and Africa.
Yes, the refugees should be helped and accommodated BUT in their own countries! 🛑STOP the wars!

Ferenc
Guest

oh, your so kind hearted… to help refugees… only in ‘their own’ country…

Ferenc
Guest

PS: planning to go to e.g.Allepo?

Zoli
Guest

The Europeans were also fleeing war, poverty, persecution. And the lunatic is obviously you, given that you cannot do some basic math. The native population is shrinking, the colonist one is growing, so eventually what will happen? A five year old kid could figure that one out, but evidently not an ideologically indoctrinated adult.

Istvan
Guest
My own wife who is a member of the Seneca nation (as are our children who are 1/8 Seneca) here in the USA would find the idea that it was demographics that overwhelmed the Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations, a democratic government that pre-dated the United States Constitution. Her nation was militarily destroyed by superior technology and diseases for which native people had no resistance to. There is a museum on the Seneca reservation that depicts this destruction for any who care to learn about it https://www.senecamuseum.org/Default.aspx. The Iroquois were and are intelligent with a developed military culture (many have served in the US Army including in our war against fascism) and they realized they need a powerful ally to defeat the white encroachment and blocked with the British during the American Revolution. When the British lost they were relegated to tiny parts of their ancestral lands or faced death by settler governments. The absurdity of the analogy to the destruction of the Native American people and the refugee crisis in Europe is actually consistent with the absurdity of the arguments of Mária Schmidt that were discussed in Johanna Laakso’s essay. The Fidesz supporters have internalized this logic in a… Read more »
Zoli
Guest

Yes, there was that. But would your wife wish for native Europeans to also suffer a more or less violent, but similar fate, where at most there will be some people in the year 2200 who will be able to say that they are 1/8 Hungarian? Even if it happens in a less violent manner, which is not assured once the colonists become majority in Europe, I think it would be just as tragic.

Observer
Guest

Zoli
If in the near future by some quirk of nature your “mély magyar” kind disappeared form the face of Europe, such getting rid of your dead weight will greatly boost the development of Hungary.
Much better than the hoped for AI for the Deutsch, Szijjárto, Kosa group.

Zoli
Guest

Yes, that is exactly what the European colonists were saying about the natives in North America. Getting rid of them was considered a prerequisite to progress. Glad to see a modern day progressive admit to desiring to see some ethno-cultural cleansing. At least we can talk honestly.

Guest

You’re cute in a way, zoli!
Let’s apply your thinking to Hungary:
We all know that the Roma multiply like rabbits – so they must soon overwhelm the rapidly shrinking number of Tiszta Magyar.
What do you propose to do?
What is Fidesz doing?

Reality Check
Guest

A five year old kid might do better than you and not make unjustifiable assumptions about future fertility rates. See my comment above.

Zoli
Guest

It is not just fertility rates, it is also the constant inflow, check my comment above!

Reality Check
Guest

No government in the EU has called for limitless immigration. Your paranoia is unfounded.

Zoli
Guest

Actually, the EU is looking to change the Dublin agreement with a quota system, with no cap, but rather an automatic redistribution based on agreed proportions. In other words, millions will come, millions will be distributed to member states. You should read up on that! So, in effect, it is limitless and each country would be subject to compulsory quotas that it cannot refuse.

Farkas
Guest
@wolfi7777 December 29, 2017 3:03 am The respective identities of nation states are mostly of two kinds. One kind of national identity is defined in terms of a dominant native ethnic group and its unique language, as for instance in France, Lithuania or Japan; the other kind is defined in terms of a constitutional consensus between a multiplicity of immigrant and native ethnicities, principally in countries of the New World, as for instance in Canada, New Zealand or Brazil. In the case of Hungary it is of course only the Hungarian language that can serve as the sole and unique definer of national identity, since demographically Hungarians are made up of a very complex ethnic mix, even though most of them pride themselves on some imaginary ethnic purity. These two kinds of national identities do not mix easily, as is glaringly obvious, for instance, from the pathetic failure to integrate Third World immigrants and/or “guest wokers” in West European countries over the past half a century. In this connection however it must also be pointed out that the continuous inflows of immigrants into New World countries originated principally from Europe, and only to a very minor extent from elsewhere in… Read more »
Guest

Where do you see the pathetic failure to integrate Third World immigrants and/or “guest wokers” in West European countries over the past half a century.?
In Germany e g most guest workers have integrated very well – whether from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Yugoslavia …
France and Britain imho had more problems with people from their former colonies – North Africa, Pakistan etc!
That was the governments’ fault as I see it

Michael Kaplan
Guest

Good summary of the odd beliefs of Professor Schmidt. Please notice I don’t say scholarship, as Schmidt is not a serious scholar. Many of her “facts” are alternative facts with no basis in reality. For example, Schmidt’s comment that Hungary was never an “imperialistic” power was corrected in this blog-accurately- by actual facts regarding the treatment of ethnic minorities in 19th century-early 20th century Hungarian history. Many other very basic facts -for any graduate student in history- are also commented on in a realistic/academic fashion, which is clearly not the case with this very odd “historian.” Thank you.

Farkas
Guest

Correction, Mr. Kaplan.

Schmidt Marcsa is not a historian, notwithstanding any academic pretensions she might have had thirty years ago.

These days she is simply a malevolent, though transparently moronic propagandist for Fidesz and extreme right wing Hungarian nationalism.

Most Hungarians being pretty extreme right wing nationalists, they lap up the nonsense she dishes out, just like most Germans did that of Goebbels eight decades ago.

In fact, she is exactly the kind of court Goebbels that Orbán and his mafia need.

As they say, there is a lid for every pot.

Marty
Guest

OT: good interview about the fake news propaganda war Orban’s government is waging.

http://fuhu.hu/ilyen-szintu-alhirgyartas-nem-volt-rendszervaltas-ota/

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks, Marty!
YES YOU CAN! short, positive and to the point…

J Simon
Guest

Bill Gates with perhaps more restraint than some Hungarian commentators but with equal force and conviction warns Europe about migrants.
Africa’s exploding population will simply overwhelm Europe and this exodus will have to be stopped or European society as we know it will disintegrate. Bill Gates is an authority on Africa, and Orbán has found an unexpected ally in him. Austria is sending troops to the Brenner Pass. Hungary’s policy regarding the migrant crises seems to be vindicated.

Aida
Guest

Nothing could be further from reality. VO is a major obstacle to a continental effort to deal with the problem. We do not need leaders puffing ill informed mandacious garbage, serving principally his ambition to indefinite retention of his malevolent power.

The Gates theory is one of many versions of the future. VO is a clearly defined figure who presents risks to the rest of us and to a rationally managed and orderly world.

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Aida,
Re: Orban “presents risk to the rest of us”. Please clarify: “rest of us”. Why do you think that our world needs to be “managed“ by you and why do you think that Orban’s “illiberalism” is a great threat to your kind of management? Forgive me for my ignorance but I had no idea that Neo-Liberalism needs to be “managed”. As far as I can understand, the markets supposed to take care of everything and this includes the management of Human Resources.

Farkas
Guest

Neo-Liberalism? What exactly do you mean by that? And why “Neo” and why “Liberalism” with a capital “L”?

Any idea what you are actually talking about, or are you just talking through your hat?

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Farkas,
Yes! With a capital “l”! (I just simply wanted to make your life fulfilled)

Aida
Guest

The “rest of us” has no special meaning. It means just that.
The world by which we mean human society and those creatures who have to endure having been inflicted by them, has to be managed because its machinery is not run from space nor from heaven. The responsibility for managing is a collective one that rests on all of us.
You might be able to get some insight into why Orban and the likes of him fail the first test. They base their power on division, promotion of hate and distrust. The purpose is to achieve benefits for a narrow class at the expense of the rest.
I never mentioned illeberal or liberal in my post.
As for the market, it has a role and it is an important one. Society must accommodate the needs of the sick, the old, the young and the poor and the vulnerable. That task requires judgment and good management and above all wisdom.
I spelt this out although you probably do not deserve my efforts. Either you are an ignorant fool, or more likely, doing a wind up.

Melanie Zuben
Guest

Aida
Re: “task requires judgement and good management and above all wisdom”

Are you talking about Victor Orban?
The ex-communist countries are up to their guts with your kind of “management”. They haven’t even recovered from the effects of communism and once again they are presented with another one of your “collective” brilliant ideas re: refugees/migrants. And what if you got it all wrong?! What then? Oh, yes . . . You will apologise sixty years later . . .and life goes on.

Aida
Guest

Nothing is guaranteed to work. Having lived under communism in the past is not an answer to abandoning basic decent values, social solidarity, careful and thoughtful management of issues. Is it the alternative for ex communist countries to surrender to gangsters just because they, the gangsters, were shortchanged by Stalin?

Member

AIDA: “VO is a major obstacle to a continental effort to deal with the problem.”

Thank you for mentioning this. It must be said sometimes, because Orbáns’ warmongering and his propaganda machine claim the opposite:

– it is the EU, that is working on a solution to the refugee problem in many directions
– due to his warmongering and Anti-EU propaganda Orbán excludes himself as a serious negotiation partner for finding solutions
– Orbán has never been interested in finding solutions, he prefers to fight against the EU, because he is in constant need of enemies
– Orbán and his corrupt gang let in already 10th of thousands of people from the east (also lot of muslims), without proper checks, so his hullabaloo about defending Europe against migrants and terrorists can only be hypocritical.

Anyone who denies this is ignorant.
If those trolls and haters (many of whom are here migrants themselves) feel good to let out their aggressions against other people and minorities, then they shouldn’t take the Orbán mafia as their heros. Orbán is just cheating them as he does with anybody else.

Ferenc
Guest

“Orbán has never been interested in finding solutions”
Ever found any compromise aka.negotiated agreement with others OV has made? I couldn’t…
…OV’s Will must be The Law… for everybody else…

Guest

Reminds me of the saying:
My way or the highway!

Reality Check
Guest

Bill Gates said nothing about European society disintegrating. He is concerned that too great a rate of immigration will overwhelm the local economies ability to absorb the increase. This a far cry form the racist nonsense you spout about the loss of European culture.

Guest

Anyone who uses Ulfkotte (or his publisher Kopp Verlag) as a source has disqualified herself/himself immediately!
Kopp is (in)famous for its conspiration theories – from UFOs to 9/11, Flat Earth to Moonlanding – you name it it’s in one of their books …
And this is the level of Fidesz Hungarian politics now – how low can you go?

Live long and prosper
Guest
Live long and prosper

It alarms me that people like Schmidt, by which I mean bigots of low intelligence, have a voice in Hungary, and that politically adept individuals like Orban are influenced by them. A thoroughly toxic combination which bodes ill for Hungary’s future. Can anyone identify any reason to be hopeful that Hungary will be saved from the filth of its own ‘elite’? Is there a precedent in history? I can’t think of one. It seems Hungary is unique in having a national character – as personified in its leaders – which embodies the worst blend of pride, self pity and envy.

Farkas
Guest

Yah, Hungarians have been world champion specialists for centuries in shooting themselves in the foot. These days they should perhaps take a page out of the Romanian, Slovakian or Czech playbooks, and learn something from them. But I am not holding my breath.

As the delightful, though often curmudgeonly Professor Komoróczy would say to a student who had the misfortune of giving the wrong answer to a tough question on some obscure point in ancient Syrian history, looking daggers at that visibly shrinking unfortunate: “Ennek nem lesz jó vége, fiam!!!”

:-))))

Ferenc
Guest

Schmidt, together with her ‘friends’ OV&Co, is just afraid for each and every individual human being different from herself… leading to inhumane behavior towards other human beings…
All resulting in such, with chicken-hearted-ness, produced works, like the one reviewed above…
The question is how she and like-minded people can be helped to overcome all of this and be able to ‘with open heart and mind’ encounter other people and live peacefully together on our globe…

PS: I wonder: Who gave permission to use Magritte’s painting on the cover? Do they know, accept and/or agree the book’s contents?

Member

Concerning Schmidt, especially when she vents hate about Germany, I have always the impression, that there is a lot of envy.

She wouldn’t be so aggressive, if Hungary was more successful. She especially hates, that some western countries (Germany) are (more or less) successful, rich and have power though being democracies and not being so noisy.

Ferenc
Guest

Possible that Schmidt is lead by envy now, don’t know about her opinion in the past about matters related to Germany.
Personally when I lived and worked in the past in Hungary, generally speaking, I sensed an over-estimation/admiration for Germany.
May be the current, by OV&Co since a few years pushed, anti-German view is like a sort of ‘compensation’ for what I sensed in the past, possibly enlarged by the subdued envy, you mentioned.

PS: recently I’ve been commenting on other sites, and astonished about the negative view by OV supporters (Hungarian and foreigners) about the German media, they are even using that to try to defend the media situation in Hungary (as more diverse… and therefore more free…)

Farkas
Guest

@Winston
December 29, 2017 3:56 am

And of course not at all “nice” on her part, especially given her obviously ethnic German family background (and notwithstanding her one-time marriage to a super-rich Budapest Jew who departed from this earthly vale of tears about a decade ago).

Of course it would be generally very hard indeed to find anything “nice” at all about that harpy.

:-)))

wrfree
Guest

That Greek allusion of ‘harpy’ brought on another where ‘history’ was taken from the Greek ‘historia’ or ‘inquiry’. Schmidt’s conception cannot serve it as such. More a demonstration of spewing ‘polemics’….from the Greek ‘warlike’. Would seem to fit very well indeed in the current literary, rhetorical and belligerent environment of the country.

Jean P
Guest

Symbolism of the cover picture.
The holy ghost obscures the eyesight of man.

Farkas
Guest

Exactly.

Perfect as cover picture for the farrago of deliberate lies, misdirections, misconstruals, and misrepresentations contained in the book.

Though I doubt that Schmidt Marcsa would be capable of seeing either the appositeness or irony of her choice for this cover picture.

Guest

After reading some of the analysis I gave up again – Eva, I have to admire you again for being anble to read and digest all of these “alternative facts” that Schmidt is able to weave together into a large strand of idiocies!

This masterpiece of her is only trumped (pun intended) by the US extremists’ poster boy Milo Yiannopoulos – here’s an interesting and even funny analysis of his attempt to write a book:
https://www.avclub.com/the-editors-notes-on-milo-yiannopoulos-self-published-b-1821631210

Ferenc
Guest

If you like you can hear, and may be meet and speak with ‘m at “The Future of Europe” international conference 2018.Jan.23-25, Budapest!!
http://europajovojev4.eu/en/#program
who are organizing this sort of nonsesne? … check the partners…

PS: the ‘organizer’ is publisher of the reviewed book!!

Ferenc
Guest


Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet – Eh Ya Ye

Was just listening and reading the liner notes to this song:
“Like much of Trio Da Kali’s repertoire, this is a song of advice. It tells the story of a marabout (a West African term for a Muslim cleric, diviner and healer) who boasts falsely about possessing supernatural powers. To this day, in Mali and surrounding countries, marabouts are in great demand. Indeed, it is believed that they possess special knowledge and skills that enable them to solve all kinds of problems. In this song, the marabout claims to be able to conjure jinns (genies), spirits who are mentioned in the Koran and who can help the marabout in his tasks; but the marabout is lying and the jinn fails to appear. In a nutshell, this song is a parable about the importance of being honest and recognising one’s own limitations. Life is short; your reputation will outlive you…
Do you really want to be remembered for your lies?

…addressed to Frau Schmidt and all her believers…

Alex Knisely
Guest
The essay disappoints — to point out Mária Schmidt’s illogic should be enough to discredit her as author and historian, without the repeated descents into “whataboutism” in the latter part of the text. “Schmidt writes against X. How can she do so when Fidesz do Y, which is practically X?” An example: — And if Merkel’s Wir schaffen das! is an empty and void slogan, not saying anything about what and why (p. 248), in what respect is Orbán’s Magyarország jobban teljesít (‘Hungary performs better’) any better? That Fidesz do Y is of course deplorable; that ‘Hungary performs better’ is of course empty noise. But “tu quoque” is not acceptable in argument, and to deploy such examples detracts from the force of argument against Schmidt. *** The text also is poorly edited for English. Dement does not mean what the author thinks it does, analphabets and gallion-figure are not English terms (illiterates, figurehead), and “gas pipe Socialists” might better be “gas pipeline Socialists”, to provide a few instances of Germanisms that should be combed away. *** I should like to read more from the author, nonetheless, particularly about the politics of Magyarisation and the resentments that it caused.
Jean P
Guest

Johanna Laakso’s mother tongue is Finnish. I am ready to allow her a few slips in other languages. It doesn’t detract the slightest from the high quality of her essay.

Farkas
Guest

Exactly.

Ferenc
Guest

Nitpicker [literally meaning remover of nits, the eggs of (head)lice], in othe languages (found through wiki):
German: Korinthenkacker – meaning shitter of the smallest raisins
Bavarian (south German): Dipfalscheissa – meaning shitter of points
Dutch: Mierenneuker – meaning fucker of ants
Danish: Flueknepperi – not sure, could literally mean “flyfucker”

interested in more (descriptions for Alex Knisely) in other languages

Farkas
Guest
1. Sometimes “whataboutism” can be perfectly justified, albeit not as an argument, but as a means to further discredit a source that insists on pointing to the mote in another’s eye, whilst ignoring the beam in his or her own. I think that this post by Johanna Laakso is one of those cases where, given the circumstances and context, the rhetorical device of “whataboutism” is perfectly apposite. 2. If you google Hungarian history in the 19th and early 20th century, and in particular the nationalities question and the forced Magyarization issue in that period, you will find an enormous selection of papers in both Hungarian and English, with a very wide range of views on the subject. My own view is that from the very start of the Hungarian Age of Reform at the dawn of the 19th century, it had always been a mission impossible to reconcile Hungarian national interests with those of the nationalities that formed majorities in more than two thirds of the then Kingdom of Hungary or Greater Hungary and Transylvania (which became incorporated in Greater Hungary only after the Compromise of 1867). The Hungarians lost their 1848/49 War of Independence very largely because enormous segments… Read more »
Alex Knisely
Guest

Farkas, thank you for an informative sketch and summary. I look forward to pursuing the leads that you have suggested.

wrfree
Guest
Prof Sentrooppa-Santra’s demolishing of the Schmidt-Bekes practice of writing ‘history’ reflects an evident observation found on a ‘1984’ poster ‘If the words don’t add up it’s because they (Schmidt-Bekes) took the truth out of the equation’. Regarding the ‘shallow text’ from that a reader should glean that the words used then are simply that , just ‘words’ jumbled and then attached together to form some jargon or lingo in keeping to push along the ‘history’ that they would like to create. I believe the two writers cannot understand nor do they wish to understand Carlyle’s last sentence in his work on the French Revolution…. ‘I’ll stand it with me, if I have spoken falsely: thine also it was to hear truly’. Carlyle and historians like him knew they had a higher calling to their craft and to the public who read them. It was almost as if it was a sacred duty to do their absolute best in studying and writing history. They knew they had to insure that their works would be done and read on a basis of veracity and trust and that writer as ‘ego’ had to be curtailed. There was a dogged ‘carefulness’ to their work… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Dear MS Laakso,
Kudos for your charitable optimism, in considering any Schmidt piece, and for your tenacity in actually reading it, but it’s time and effort wasted. Schmidt is not “a university teacher and a professional scholar”, but rather “an agitator in early 20th century”, which has already been established, after which one can just check if this Orban mongrel has learned some new tricks.
Obviously it hasn’t, we’ve been listening/reading these hate mongering, platitudes and nonsense for years.
Only for the newbie it is “baffling” how can one e.g. hate communists and like the Chinese, Azeri or Kazakh regimes at the same time;
we are not “bewildered” by the lack of rational and logical argumentation in Schmidt – they don’t use any in the Orban world, and yes
they use a very “heated, emotional tone” with their “vulgar” and vicious language.
Add exaggerations, twisting (csusztatás), bold faced lies and brazen bagoly/veréb-ing, such are the schmidts and bayers here.

Henri Beyle
Guest

This is a really comfused hodge-podge of nonsense. The system is simple. Get a quote, add some negative adjectives and move on…no arguments, no refutations, just adjectives. Grow up and try to argue.

Jean P
Guest

Great name.

Guest

You maybe know him by his pen name:
Stendhal
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stendhal
Of course this Beyle lived almost 200 years ago and fought for Napoleon against the Russians …