The far-right Orbán government’s attack on György Konrád

It has been going on by now for a whole week, and there is no end in sight. I’m talking about the incredible onslaught against György Konrád, the internationally renowned Hungarian writer, recipient of numerous prestigious prizes, and the president of the International PEN Club between 1990 and 1993. Abroad his best known work is The Case Worker, which made a deep impression on me. He is a wise man whom I admire.

Although Konrád is tolerant, he finds Viktor Orbán dangerous and harmful. On the basis of a recent interview, I suspect that Konrád’s dislike of Orbán goes back a long way, maybe even as far as 1989 when the young firebrand demanded the immediate withdrawal of Soviet troops despite an earlier agreement with the organizers of the reburial of Imre Nagy and his comrades. Konrád doesn’t hide his true feelings about the Hungarian prime minister. Last April, at the time the Orbán government was trying its best to shutter Central European University, he wrote an open letter to Orbán in which he listed the prime minister’s sins. Konrád ended his letter with these words: “The most valiant patriotic act on your part, Sir, would be to resign. In your retirement, you could amuse yourself with your toy train and your little stadium (stadionka) where you could kick the ball into the empty gate.”

The theme of Orbán’s retirement returned in a somewhat stronger form in an interview with HVG that appeared on January 4. The occasion was the appearance of Konrád’s last book, Falevelek szélben (Leaves in the Wind). The conversation was mostly about his life because the book is part of a trilogy on Konrád’s past. However, at the very end he answered a few questions about recent political events. He told the reporter that he could see the end of the Kádár regime and the fall of the Berlin Wall ahead of time. The reporter wanted to know what “his prediction is in the present situation.” He wished for unity of the opposition and was pleased that “a great force pulls Hungarians to the European Union and not to their dictators.” And then came the final sentences, which has caused incredible upheaval in right-wing circles. Konrád said that “mysterious movements one day can take such a turn that the prime minister, if he doesn’t want to share the fate of Nicolae Ceaușescu, will voluntarily go somewhere. As a benevolent man, I want him to go to Felcsút.”

György Konrád / Source: HVG / Photo: István Fazekas

That sentence sent the government propaganda machine into high gear. The first government financed publication that took notice was Pesti Srácok, which published a short article titled “György Konrád is dreaming of the execution of Viktor Orbán by firing squad.” Clearly, Konrád has become senile, says the author. After all, not long  ago “he told tales” about the anti-Soros campaign being “anti-Semitic.” He would find it “reasonable” if Hungary were punished because of the laws enacted by the Orbán government against NGOs and Central European University. And a year ago “he was gushing over Soros” who, in his opinion, “is as great a benefactor of Hungary as István Széchenyi was in the 1830s and 1840s.” Surely, comparing George Soros to Széchenyi is blatant blasphemy for the staff of Pesti Srácok.

This article obviously got under the skin of the editor-in-chief of HVG, who “hysterically threatened our site with a lawsuit,” arguing that the Pesti Srácok article was “a lie from beginning to end.” That prompted the far-right site to write another article. Here three authors sat down to outdo each other. This time Konrád was accused of Jim Crow justice. As if that weren’t enough, the authors decided that Konrád “would have no mercy even on Orbán’s wife. After all, the Romanians also executed Ceaușescu’s wife.”

It took Magyar Idők four days to come up with its first opinion piece on the Konrád quotation, written by János Dénes Orbán. His article is somewhat more sophisticated than the primitive pieces of Pesti Srácok. The bulk of the article is about the Twilight Zone the liberals have built, which bears no resemblance to reality. In their world there is dictatorship, poverty, a lack of media freedom. Then he tries to decode Konrád’s closing sentences. What really excited his imagination was the reference to “mysterious movements.” Perhaps Konrád knows about some hidden forces, which Charles Gati talked about in 2012 when he outlined the possible ways the Orbán regime could end. Of course, this namesake of the prime minister twisted Gati’s words beyond recognition, just as is now doing with Konrád’s. Konrád, he charges, is plagiarizing. About a year ago Gáspár Miklós Tamás brought up the example of Ceaușescu in connection with the possible end of a dictatorship.

Once Magyar Idők discovered the topic, it had difficulty letting it go. A few hours after the first opinion piece came the second, with the intriguing title “Bolshevism kicked down the door.” Bálint Botond, apparently a sociologist, once thought that Konrád was a good writer, but that was before 1990. When as a young man he read a new Konrád book titled The melancholy of rebirth, he discovered that the book was nothing but “a dastardly diatribe of a pathologically extreme man written in a somewhat acceptable style.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the opinion piece is his interpretation of the 1970s and 1980s and the role of Konrád and his friends, who were victims of the Kádár regime. One way that Kádár handled pesky writers, philosophers, and sociologists, he writes, was actually quite ingenious. He forced them out of the country. This is what happened to Iván Szelényi, Ágnes Heller, and, of course, Konrád himself. According to this great anti-Bolshevik author, Kádár was smart because if he let them stay in Hungary, they might have gotten the upper hand in intraparty fights. And “these extreme liberal groups could toss the strongest dictatorship into chaos.”

Magyar Hírlap couldn’t miss the opportunity to publish an opinion piece by Dániel Galsai, a frequent contributor to this far-right paper. He asks: “Will the world be more beautiful, better, more truthful, and more humane when György Konrád is no longer alive? A Christian can give only an embarrassing answer to this embarrassing question: Yes.” By the way, the title of this masterpiece is “Letter to a peddler of souls.”

Although I’ve shared only snippets from these articles, I believe that even this much gives readers a sense of the tone of the Orbán government’s propaganda machine.

January 11, 2018

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50 Comments on "The far-right Orbán government’s attack on György Konrád"

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11956
Guest

Balogh blog – why do you waste your time on the little trivial guys?
Show some vision please – write on the big criminals, the regimes of Hungary, Poland, Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, Turkey!

Farkas
Guest

Duh?

petofi
Guest

All Hungarian politicians are ‘little guys’.

All Hungarians are lilliputians, but with a twist–ill willed and treacherous.

Member

I completely disagree. I think it’s good that the blog covers important people in the cultural realm as well as the shenanigans of corrupt politicians. And the government media and propaganda machine is a key part of the criminal governance of Hungary.

Observer
Guest

This blog is about Hungary, isn’t it? There are others in and for the world.

petofi
Guest

re: attack on Konrad

Everyone knows that Konrad is a jew so an attack on him has Hungaricos
salivating…countrywide…

wrfree
Guest
Re:’Balint Botond, apparently a sociologist, once thought that Konrád was a good writer, but that was before 1990. When as a young man he read a new Konrád book titled The melancholy of rebirth, he discovered that the book was nothing but “a dastardly diatribe of a pathologically extreme man written in a somewhat acceptable style’ Balint I believe has been pushing the levers in the Pavlov/ Skinner box for quite a bit as his review is of extreme exaggeration. But it’s par for the illiberal course. The ‘programming’ is doing its job as it continues on to get rid of critics who don’t tow the lines. Konrad besides all other writers like him understand the predicament. The following is what he notes from a demonstrator shouting on 15 March- ‘A Colorful Day’: ‘Long live Gyorgy Konrad, the greatest Hungarian writer! But not too long’. Mr. Konrad knows where everything’s at today in his sad and wayward country. He will unfortunately have to wait quite awhile to see his dream of a public and private morality in a position of ‘supporting each other’. Until then he can only continually turn to literature which is the ‘legal code of our humanism’… Read more »
dos929
Guest

The hallmark of the Orban-FIDESZ-regime is to destroy everything and everyone that doesn’t agree with their criminality…. In a normal democracy such a government would have to resign even after one such incident. In a normal democracy…. Ooooh hell with it…. Hungary and the Hungarians are doomed with the EU sitting quietly on the sidelines…

Member

Oh yeah. And you and your Konrad-like mega democrats will tell us what democracy is right? I say let’s let the Hungarian people decide in April if they want Mr. Orbán to be the leader or someone else from the self-appointed so called democrats.

wrfree
Guest

On ‘democracy’ , it sure looks the ‘illiberalist’ kind is now front and center stage. That’s only for those who want freedom under ‘restrictive order’. It seems the majority wants it. That game arguably can only go so far. Pretty soon the ‘balance’ in political life occurring now with suppression will go to more and more disorder.

Mr. Orban knows how far he can go just like Kadar. Things is events from history have blind-sided know it alls. It can put a hurtin’ on a country and a people when ‘balances’ go out of whack especially with a government that seems to be doing business from the back rooms of smoky stuffy kocsmas in the dead of night.

Observer
Guest

tr2011
The people may properly decide
if the regime would let them read papers, listen to radio, look at posters othe than Orbàn ones.
if those who disagree and offer alternatives could bring their message to the people
If the people were not under constant and massive bombardment by the regime’s media.
If the Orban mafia didn’t steal hundreds of billion and use some of them in politics.
if the regime didn’t threaten and persecute people who disagree, etc etc.

Btw what’s tr2011? Tyranny as from 2011?

petofi
Guest

Correct.
Now, all you have to do is come around to the fact that the people…”Ils meritent”…as it is written in the Peugeot ads–

Member

While Fidesz’s attack on Konrad is revolting, the fact is, he knew it was coming. Konrad is not a stupid man. When he mentioned the firing squad, he knew what kind of revenge the party media would take.

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks Eva!
I had noticed that there was something going on in HU media around György Konrád, but didn’t check what it was really.
What I take from Konrád’s quote is: When OV will stay in power, what is possible to cause such a rage within the Hungarian people to copy Romanian history? So far, the last 8 years, OV&Co have exceeding everybody’s expectations in the most worst sense.
Have read and heard recently too many times words like: “Sometime ago we wouldn’t have considered this possible to happen, but now it did.” My question/statement is then: And what can happen in the future? I think only worse…
Basically I am deeply worried for the peaceful future of the people living in and around Hungary!

Ferenc
Guest

OT – case of Ahmed H
Continues today in Szeged, was planned for verdict, but progress seems slow that it’s doubtful.
Tweets live from the court room at
https://twitter.com/demeteraaron
https://twitter.com/eda_seyhan
https://twitter.com/freetheroszke11

What happened between courts: according to “freeroszke11” yesterday “members of our solidarity group are being controlled and harassed for several hours by police in Szeged downtown”

Ferenc
Guest

Anybody here has thoughts about possible/expected outcome of this case and reasoning for it?
Judge really independent, or possibly influenced and/or “worked on” by political powers?

Ferenc
Guest

ca.12:30: Last video watched in court room.
Judge asks if either side wants to present any other evidence – they don’t.
Next hearing March.14 and 19, should be verdict.
Till then Ahmed H. will be guided handcuffed and by masked security back to prison. Since 2015.Sep/Oct, because of ‘terror charges’, awaiting behind bars a fair verdict…

PS: personally surprised by ‘early date’, expected after election and before summer (Art.7 vote in EP!), as that would proof my suspicion for political influence (i.e.best for OV&Co). Possible that date later than March could not be given now, am no legal expert, just a human being immensely furious about this case…

Observer
Guest

You are wrong suspecting political influence, you should be certain. In systems like ours it is inherent. It’s another matter how much the judiciary and the individual judges can resist.

Ferenc
Guest

I like to be certain with proof.

PS: pretty disappointed in the low amount of comments in this case here (not only now, also earlier)

zsuka
Guest

Due to lack of time I don’t comment very often. But I’m following Ahmed H.’s case and I appreciate it very much that you mention it on this blog now and then.

Ferenc
Guest

Magyar nemzett, Jan.12: “Ahmed H. did not stir up the crowd”
https://mno.hu/belfold/nem-ahmed-h-tuzelte-fel-a-roszkei-tomeget-2439664
Above conclusion based upon videos shown in court room and 40 pgs description by the Szeged court of the videos.
Still Ahmed H. is called a terrorist by the HU government (in their special Jan.08 facebook album and recent TV appearances), while he’s awaiting final verdict in prison since 2015.Sep/Oct.
Call it ‘typical Hungarian justice’!

Member

You may have missed Zsolt Bayer in Magyar Idok on January 6, written in his usual hateful tone. He opines that Agnes Heller lets the nazi mob out, puts a “kosher stamp” on them, and Konrád gives the directives to the now-transformed-to-bolshevik masses to lynch the enemy. “These rats would never win an election,” says Bayer. In Bayer’s characterization, Konrád is an effeminate-faced [“elasszonyosodott arcú”], decrepit, disgusting scoundrel.
http://magyaridok.hu/ahelyzet/csocselek-es-ertelmiseg-2647006/

Observer
Guest

Bayer and the whole gang should be glad if they don’t hang from the lamp posts (to use Bayer’s own words).

I don’t know what these mad dogs and fascists can be successfully indicted for, but I know what they deserve.

Observer
Guest

And Tnx for the link – it was very painful masochism to read it.

Member

“Will the world be more beautiful, better, more truthful, and more humane when Viktor Orban is no longer alive?”

I am not remotely “embarrassed” (as a Christian) to give an unequivocal “yes” to that question. He and his disciples are thoroughly evil people.

Kond
Guest

Sure, the world will be a better place without him.

Istvan
Guest
Konrád of course has seen a great many things in his life time and but vision of Orban being lined up against the wall and shot in the manner of Ceaușescu is pure fantasy. Far more likely the end for Orban will be similar to that of António de Oliveira Salazar of Portugal who built an enduring dictatorship with some elements similar to the emerging Fidesz dictatorship. Salazar died in his own bed, but really in a most fascinating manner. In 1968, Salazar suffered cerebral hemorrhage. Most sources maintain that it occurred when he fell from a chair in his summer house. In February 2009, there were anonymous witnesses who admitted, after some investigation into Salazar’s best-kept secrets, that he had fallen in a bath instead of from a chair. As he was expected to die shortly after his fall, the Salazar appointed President replaced him with a place holder ruler and the dictatorship went into slow collapse culminating in the so called Carnation Revolution in part led by younger Army officers in 1974. I knew several of them and met Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho then a major, effectively the Portuguese Army killed off the Salazar secret police in armed… Read more »
Jean P
Guest

We cannot know how Orban’s end will be but we can have our preferences. I prefer neither the Ceaușescu nor the Salazar scenario. I think he should be tried and sentenced when rule of law has been restored in Hungary. I know it is the least likely to happen.

petofi
Guest

“…when the rule of law has been restored…” ?
You must be joshing. The ‘rule of law’ only exists when the defendant has neither the money, nor the wit, to pay off the judge-

Member

What do you mean by far-right government? And why don’t you call Mr. Konrad a far-left writer?? Another awfully biassed post with tones of lies.

Jean P
Guest

“far-right government” is a generous name for the criminal gang in power. All good writers (beginning with the evangelists) are far left. It is not nessessary to mention it every time.

Guest

Little fascist troll just look at wiki (I know you won’t because you’re too stupid to read longer sentences …) – Konrad was hunted by the communists under Kadar too:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gy%C3%B6rgy_Konr%C3%A1d
Your Fidesz government is a strange mix of totalitarian fascist and communist ideas!

Exhack
Guest

Sad this. I spent a memorable two hours with Konrad in 1985 during a swing through eastern Europe. On the other hand it’s quite a distinction to be persona non grata under authoritarian regimes of the far left AND right!

tappanch
Guest

Re: April 8, 2018 election.

The eight categories of voters of Hungary

voters with Hungarian address (2 votes: list + district), voting:
1. in her/his home district
2. in her/his home district, 1 precinct/district
3. in another Hungarian district (registration needed)
4. abroad at an embassy (registration needed)

voters with no Hungarian address (party list votes only)
5. mailing in her/his vote before election day
6. dropping off the ballot at a consulate before election day
7. dropping off the ballot at a consulate on election day
8. dropping off the vote in Hungary on election day

Votes in categories 1 through 4 will see a decline,
while votes in categories 5 through 8 will double compared with 2014.

The three periods of vote counting:
(election day + 1 day): category 1; 2014: 4751944 list votes
categories 5,6; 2014: 62972 votes tabulated

(election day + 3) until (election day +6) categories 6,7,8; 2014: 62579 votes

(election day + 6): categories: 2,3,4; 2014: 167786 list votes tabulated.

tappanch
Guest

1+2+3+4 final party list results:

Fidesz: 43.54%
Left: 26.21%
Jobbik: 20.68%
LMP: 5.46%
14 other parties: 3.71%
Ethnic lists: 0.40%

5+6+7+8 results in 2014:

Fidesz: 95.49%
Left: 1.16%
Jobbik: 2.28%
LMP: 0.45%
Other parties: 0.62%

tappanch
Guest

2+3+4 results of the counting on April 12 & 13, 2014:

Fidesz: 39.48%
Left: 26.00%
Jobbik: 20.25%
LMP: 9.98%
14 other parties: 4.07%
Ethnic lists: 0.22%

Left, Jobbik unchanged.
A strange 4% shift from Fidesz to LMP.

Member

I’m not sure I understand – when you say “in her/his home district, 1 precinct/district,” what does that mean? How is that different from someone voting in her/his own district?

tappanch
Guest

By the Fideszian election law, the counters have to leave out one precinct per district from the post-election counting. They mix the votes of this precinct with the votes coming from other districts and from the embassies 6 days after the vote, and count them together.

tappanch
Guest

There are six days to manipulate the votes. We can never learn the numbers in categories (1+2), 3 or 4 in the districts, only the sum (2+3+4)

Ferenc
Guest

“have to leave out one precinct per district”
?? So you mean votes from a voter in her/his district can be used/counted, without her/his knowledge, outside her/his disctrict ??

was it introduced by Fid (or already in the old law)?
what was the original reasoning for such “selective/manipulative” counting?

Michael Kaplan
Guest

I have been reading books by George Konrad for many years including “The Case Worker” that Professor Balogh commented on. Perhaps his most relevant book per the blog and comments is Konrad’s “A Guest in My Own Country”. He survived the Shoah and communism. I think he will be long rememberd after Orban’s departure.

Certainly, Konrad knew what “trouble” would occur in comparing Orban to Ceausescu. I doubt he meant his comments to be taken in a concrete fashion. I suspect-but could be mistaken-that his comments were meant to hint at the very serious decline of liberal democracy and honesty in present day Hungary.

In any case, I think Professor Balogh has done a great service be commenting on the hysterical government attacks on many Hungarian intellectuals including, but not limited to Konrad.

A rule of law trial would be the preferred end of this regime. I hope for the best.

I

Jon Van Til
Guest

I’d be interested in knowing how the seasoned and distinguished Mr. Konrad handles the comments of his critics. He might be wise enough not to pay them the least attention—and simply press the “delete” button (as might also be a practice advised to George Soros, another defender of
liberty who has seen it all before). Of course, in earlier days of the
Hungarian “s…hole” (its odor somewhat sweeter these days than the Trumpian cesspool?), it might have been better to rip out the pages and put them to a more functional daily use…

wrfree
Guest

Speaking of ‘s…hole’, nothing like POTUS plugging the Zsolt Bayer school of language. Takony and s@@@ ..what a combo to be wading in. Kind of gives the aromatic essence of some dissolute environments.

petofi
Guest

SHITHOLES

And still the Republicans line up behind Trump. This fact baffled me for a while until I realized that the Republican Party is fighting for its life. To let Trump sink now, is to say goodbye from ruling for atleast the 8 years after the next election. In fact, the Republican Party might disappear altogether.

(Now, if we could only get Hillary, and the dyke-dominated Democratic Party to disappear as well…then we’d have something!)

petofi
Guest

Some years back, I may have written about my elderly Russian friend who had opined that Russian corruption will overtake and infect the world. We now see this happening.
(I’m quite certain that Brexit had a lot of Russian involvement, too.)

But now, US corruption, thanks to Trump, has really taken
an awful turn: Trump’s manner of “I alone decide” has left American institutions floundering, with judges fighting to stay afloat in their jobs. Worse still, by making decisions like allowing Florida to do offshore drilling but not other states is really throwing open the doors to corruption. Essentially, Trump has set up a situation where anyone can get what they want as long as they find the right way to approach him (and pay him off). So much for the Clinton’s dribble through their foundation: Trump, if he can last the run, can probably garner a trillion for himself….

petofi
Guest

What has been the best investment in the last 20 years?
The Russian financial support of the Trump…

wrfree
Guest

They appear to have the ‘useful idiot’ don’t they? To think that individual who can be called an eegit follows men like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Lincoln and those of their caliber in the stewardship of the United States of America is astounding. 🙀

We have in the final analysis a narcissistic child who likes to play with boxes of matches. If it keeps up Lincoln’s ‘ a house divided’ could go on to be irretrievably lost through presidential arson.

How we have been visited by this pestilential disturbance in the political element will be one to be pondered for quite awhile here. And there are more follies to come in the POTUS political circus.

petofi
Guest

Trump is just a tool, and may even be subject to manipulation like the Manchurian Candidate.

No, the Russians have found a tremendous triangulation: on one side, the great upshot of the economy (which I don’t believe–I think the Russians have bought some of polling outfits) ; then the other side is having bundled the future of the Republican Party in with maintaining the Trump presidency; and third, the continual harping on ‘fake news’ which sows confusion in the country. In other words, the whole country is ‘bagged’; and, like three cats in a sac, are viciouly at each other’s throats.

Who needs to spend billion on arms: the basement boys have bewildered the american mind…